Boasting one of the UK’s most vibrant nightlife scenes, Newcastle is not short on dance music talent. One of the the city’s most exciting exports is DJ, podcast host and radio presenter, Ellie Scougall.

As a DJ she has played alongside the likes of Gorgon City and Paige Tomlinson with backing from BBC Introducing. Whilst her podcast Inside the USB is an honest and entertaining portal into the careers of some of biggest DJs and producers of the moment including Sam Divine, Hannah Laing, Will Clarke and more. Quite literally living out the eat, sleep rave, repeat motto, Ellie ups the energy every Thursday in her Weekend Warm Up radio show on Spark Sunderland airing her top drops in dance music.

We put the mic to Ellie and she answers UR 10 questions.

1.What inspired you to launch your podcast Inside The USB? 

Back in September 2022, I dropped out of uni and took a bit of a gamble going back to Newcastle and starting a new job, with the intention to pursue broadcasting and DJing on the side. I was studying psychology and enjoyed it, but didn’t really feel fulfilled or like I was getting anywhere and really wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a radio presenter and working in music.

I played a few gigs in my local area in Newcastle but was struggling to find my feet and didn’t really know anyone within the scene. I found that there weren’t many females who were DJing and felt a bit out of place/overwhelmed by how dominated the industry was by men and really wanted to create a space for women to connect and support each other in the industry. At the time I was working with BBC Newcastle on a project for Children in Need and was working with a presenter Matt Bailey who used to run a men’s mental health podcast which we got chatting about and from those conversations, it inspired me to start up my own podcast which I’d been toying with the idea of for a while and just do it without worrying what others would think. At the time, it felt quite scary as I still didn’t really know much about the industry so had no idea how it would go. I put the idea out on my Instagram and the response was really great. I went away to create some graphics and did my first interview with BBC Radio 1’s Maia Beth.  

 2.How do you prepare for an artist interview? And what are your tips for a great chat? 

 Before speaking with an artist, I prepare a spreadsheet with some questions and topics tailored to the artists and what they are about, as well as their audience. I look at their RA, socials and Spotify which help me think of more interesting ways to approach the artist when asking them specific questions. I tend to interview artists who I already know or are a lover of their music which really helps as I feel creates more of an authentic conversation. I love all aspects of dance music from house to techno so I have found that I am really passionate about all the artists that have appeared on Inside the USB.  

In terms of tips for a great chat, asking open-ended questions that allow the guest to really explore their answers and makes scope for a new idea/topic work well. I like to think of the podcast episodes as more of an open discussion than a direct interview as it always flows more in a conversational style rather than asking a series of questions. Being open-minded and being a good listener helps a lot too! 

 3.Who would be a dream guest to join you on the podcast? 

Love this question! I get asked this all the time. There’s so many to choose from. I’d say my top three would be Peggy Gou, Pete Tong and Fred Again.  

4.As a DJ yourself, how would you describe your sound/energy behind the decks? 

 I would describe my sound as upbeat and energetic, very 90’s inspired. I play a blend between house/garage but also love to throw some disco in there too!  I’m always dancing behind the decks; I love bringing the energy up every time I play. As a DJ, I feel if you aren’t enjoying the music, then the crowd definitely won’t be. So energy is a staple! 

 5.Do you have a bucketlist venue that you’d love to play in the future? 

Being from the North, a real dream venue for me would be to play in Manchester at The Warehouse Project in the depot, the energy in that room is insane. Also, the new Drumsheds venue looks mega. 

 6.What is the best DJ set you’ve seen in 2023 and why was it so memorable? 

 Ooo, tricky one! I’ve been lucky enough to see so many incredible DJ sets this year from Ibiza, to UK festivals. But one set that really stood out to me was Sarah Story’s set she played at World Headquarters, an intimate venue in Newcastle. She played a heavy underground set and the energy was mad. The sound system is one of the best in the north east, so you can imagine how much of a vibe it was! I literally didn’t stop moving for two hours. She invited me into the booth with her to be her hype girl as well so that also made it pretty memorable haha, it was great! 

 7.Newcastle has provided huge dance talent over the years, from Patrick Topping to Ben Hemsley, can you share some upcoming DJs and/or producers from your local scene who should be on our radar? 

There’s so much amazing talent coming from the north east at the moment! I feel so lucky to be a part of a community with so many aspiring DJ/producers. Definitely giving a shoutout to: Matthew Fenton, Max Jones, Sazzle, Niamh Ingram, Luis, Tom Beadmore-Gray, Keegan Mcquade, Lewis Taylor, Cottam and Adam Lance. 

 8. It’s the last party on earth; the crowd are shouting, “One more tune”. What track do you play as your encore finale?  

100% I want your soul by Armand Van Helden. Such a classic, I always find any excuse to play it! Without a doubt one of the best songs ever.  

 9.Outside of music, what other passions do you have/ how do you enjoy spending your time? 

Besides listening to music and podcasts, with the music industry practically being non-stop, I find it quite hard to let go and do other things away from music and podcasting, but when I do I love doing fun activities with my friends and going out and about. Also love spending some chill time too, either on a walk or watching a good film. 

 10.Finally, what are you most looking forward to in 2024? 

I’m going to be focusing more on producing so I’m really excited to get stuck into that. Also got lots of goals, focusing on my radio and broadcasting skills. My absolute dream is to broadcast on national radio so I’m going to be working away at trying to make that happen in the future! And of course, I can’t wait to get back to Ibiza for summer 24! 

Ellie can be found on Instagram at @elliescougall and listen to Inside The USB.

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