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March 2012

THE outfit is retro sportswear. Her eyes are as bright as the shoulder length platinum hair. The lips are Marilyn Monroe deep red. And her mood is as uplifting as
the music she makes. Music that has led Ronika to be dubbed “The Madonna of the Midlands”.

“I’m happy with that,” she chirps, over a lunch of bread and paté at Broadway’s café. It’s a vegetarian paté; Ronika, a.k.a. Veronica Sampson, has been a convert since a bad experience with a chicken while on holiday in Bulgaria at the age of nine.

“I love Madonna,” she continues.

“Early Madonna was the first music I ever got into. I was a massive fan. She has an amazing back catalogue of pop tunes but she’s not my main influence.

“I guess we do have similar sounding voices. For a long time I tried to fight against that but then I accepted it’s just how I sound.”

She adds: “I make pop music inspired by 1980s dance music – disco, old school hip-hop and early Chicago house.”

Her first three EPs, released on her own RecordShop label, won Ronika national attention from the likes of the NME, The Guardian, The Mirror and The Sunday
Times, tipping her for success in 2012.
Her latest EP, Automatic, is due out next month and has already earned the approval of Chic’s Nile Rodgers, who sent her a message on Twitter saying the
track was “dope”.

“Which is amazing because he is a musical hero of mine,” she beams.

Ronika met the disco legend last year when she was picked to appear at the Red Bull Music Academy in Madrid.

“Up and coming dance music producers from all over the world apply for it and they choose 30. I was lucky enough to get picked with one other artist from the

“There were lectures by people like Nile Rodgers, Bootsy Collins, Bowie producer Tony Visconti and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan.
“Then at night Red Bull took over the city and there were shows in all the key venues by the likes of Chic, Aphex Twin and Peaches, who I got to support.”
In June she’ll be playing the Lovebox Festival in London on the same day as Chic.

Tonight Ronika teams up with fellow Notts ladies Nina Smith and Harleighblu at The Bodega and in July the trio are part of an array of local talents playing the
Splendour Festival at Wollaton Park.
Few Notts musicians can claim to have had such national acclaim as Ronika, particularly for an artist who is self-releasing her music.
“I got a BBC bursary to set up my label,” she explains.
“My name was put forward by 1Xtra DJ Mistajam. He’s a friend of Joe Buhda who is a producer I worked with.

“That money got me started. I employed a press company to promote my first EP and they’ve stuck with me ever since.”

She is also managed by Partisan PR, who do the press for the likes of Aloe Blacc, Damien Rice, David Gray and Rumer.

It has helped spread her name across the country and beyond.

As well as Madrid, last year she played New York, as part of the CMJ Festival, a showcase of new music.

“An American booking agent who books shows for Robyn, the Gallaghers and Keane asked me if I’d like to do it.”

She’s also been interviewed for Time Out in Japan and is due to play a show in Poland soon.

And listen out for her voice on Radio 1 soon, as she’s featured on the next single by hit dance producer Herve.

Like many wannabe pop stars, Ronika started out with a guitar.

“After Madonna I got into old soul music like Al Green, Curtis Mayfield and Sly Stone, so I was learning jazz chords and writing soul inspired songs when I was 13.

“When I was 14 I got into a band with two guys from school making trip-hop and drum ‘n’ bass. We even had a track played on BBC Radio Nottingham by Dean Jackson, who was actually my science teacher.
“And we’d play in nightclubs around the city.
“At 16 I got my first set of decks and began DJing at house parties.”
She was born in Sherwood but grew up in Lowdham with two older brothers, whose music tastes had a big influence on her.
“Chris was very into all kinds of underground dance music so I started quite young on house and techno, drum ‘n’ bass and hip hop.

“Andrew was into Pet Shops Boys, New Order and new wave.”

Andrew runs Lee Rosy’s Tea Shop across the road on Broad Street, while Chris works at West Notts College in Mansfield.
“They’re both musicians and definitely influenced what I was listening to growing up”, she says.
Her parents, who are now retired (mum was a social worker and dad worked at the CPS), were not musical at all.
“Their hobbies are chess, crosswords and gardening,” she laughs.
“They didn’t listen to music at all. Maybe we are all into our music because we were musically starved.”

At 13 Ronika was searching out house parties in Forest Fields and clubbing in the city a year later.

“I’d also go to all-nighters in Brixton when William Orbit was DJing because he was the dad of one of my friends at school.”

After A levels at Clarendon she studied sound engineering at Confetti, at HND then degree level.
“I wanted to make my own music inspired by producers like Squarepusher, who blew me away. It was hip-hop and old electro mostly.”

The sound engineering skills helps her create her own music but she also passes them on to youngsters, working for Nottinghamshire County Council.
“I do music production with teenagers who have problems or are in care. It’s really good because they get a lot out of it. And we have a good time because I’m not like a teacher. We have a good laugh.”

She lives in Carrington with husband John Sampson, himself a musician, frontman with alt-rock band Swimming. His brother, Pete, is the band’s drummer but is also acclaimed beatboxer THePETEBOX.

“We get home from work and sit on our laptops making music until it’s bedtime,” she says of life at home, which is also shared by their cat, Chairman Miaow.

“It’s been an amazing year so far and I’m ready for the rest of it. First there’s the release of Automatic and then I’ll be looking to releasing the album, which is already finished.”

Automatic is out on April 9, available as a limited edition 7” vinyl and download, Go to for details.


“Destined for pop greatness in 2012”
The Guardian

“Ronika might be your next favourite pop singer… you have no excuse not to be very excited by this”

“Immaculate… the sort of effortlessly-confident, natural pop sensibility that labels spend years and millions of pounds trying, in vein, to manufacture”

“Let’s party like it’s, er, 1984”
The Mirror

“Her handling of the source material is so adept and the results are so fab.”
The Sunday Times

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