How did you get your start?
I got my start in the electronic scene about four years ago. I started out as a go-go dancer dancing for Havoc. I had the opportunity to do shows with Havoc for Darude at Club One Fifteen. I was asked to be their Promotions Manager of Oklahoma City by Jef Diamond. And that’s about when things took off for me. My first show was to manage Mystic Sanctuary. I went from being a dancer to managing dancers and doing stage management. So, things moved fairly quickly and within about four months, I found myself working with the guys behind Robotic Wednesday’s and also traveling with Jef for Havoc. Around that time, I decided to quit my day job as a social media director for a car dealership. So, from that moment on I decided to do promotions work full time. I became the Brand Coordinator for Havoc, and we worked in four different cities Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. I also did weekly marketing for Robotic alongside campaigning for their larger shows as well.
After I had been traveling for a while, Jef and I met to chat about a few dilemmas that we were having. One of them involved me substituting for DJ’s that fell sick, from things such as food poisoning, which did occur. Most of the venues that we were going into didn’t have resident DJ’s; also Havoc wanted a female face to DJ, so I was well equipped to fill those roles.
So, to round that story out, I was sent home with the CDJ’s and was told the best way to learn was to start practicing. I just dove in head first. Of course, I had their aide, and I also had great mentors for that. After awhile I began to pick up DJing and became a face for Robotic, all the while I feel in love with the idea of being able to escape the daily rigors of being an event promoter. When you are bombarded with all of the tasks of an event promoter, sometimes you don’t get that opportunity to escape. The silver lining there is that with all of the craziness going on, I’d have an hour where I could just go and play, yes there is a crowd there, but I’d have the opportunity to play for myself and have fun again. It would help me to keep abreast of why I was doing what I was doing. Now it’s a running joke when people ask me how I got started. I don’t have a musical background. I learned to count to 8 because I was a dancer. It aides in that department a lot.
At what point did you decide that dancing would take a backseat and DJing would become your main focus?
It happened around the time I got promoted to Promotions Manager. It’s pretty funny, and there were things that Jef would tell me about outfits “It’s so small don’t worry about it.” I used to be totally concerned about looking perfect. Once Mystic started and I started managing, it kind of hurt me because Mystic was such a big event. I wanted to be up there dancing, but then I realized that there is so much more that I must do in this bigger role. And in that role, I could be of better use to the events and promotion side of things.
Then I found DJing, and it became a better outlet for me. It wasn’t necessarily my core focus, but it did provide me with more opportunities than just being a dancer. Not that one is better than the other, but becoming a DJ allowed me to be more professional and present myself as such. Obviously, as a female in this industry, it is hard to get 100% respect if I’m in booty shorts and fluffies opposed to setting up equipment at shows and playing on them. I feel that it’s a little easier to get people to listen to me. That’s probably one of the biggest determining factors in why I pursued a DJ career.
As a DJ what can we expect to hear from you?
I love hip hop music. So, trap is always going to be what I go to. As far as my playlist, it is all over the place. Since I favor hip hop, I’m always going to go back to roots there. RL Grime is by far one of my favorite artists. Other than that, I love Future Bass, and I love being able to chill out to that. Anything bass music, whether it’s future bass, bass house, trap, give me any of those, and I’ll love it. I typically find new music by going to SoundCloud and researching what my favorite artists are liking. It allows me to dig into different music that I may not have heard of if it weren’t for them showing it some love. I don’t think anything is more rewarding than when I play a track that anyone hasn’t heard and they fall in love with it as much as I do.
Do you feel as though it’s a fair market for female DJs locally?
I think yes and no. I think that there is a slight advantage in as far as being a face. As a girl DJ, I also feel that people put too much focus on that. I’ve said this before, “I never want to be the girl that gets by only on her looks”. I feel like I have more to provide than that and I will always stick to that. I feel as though that’s what I struggled with for a while, and that people looked at me as just a girl DJ without skill. I believe that I had a lot more to prove. For the first year or so I struggled with that notion, for instance, I felt as though if I went out and had a bad set, I would never live it down. I would stress myself out. I would be very particular about my playlist, and I would make sure my entire set flowed together. I would go and practice over and over. Now, fast forward to current affairs, I feel as though I earned the respect of my peers and fans of my music. I’ll never forget it when I was booked for Life In Color, one of my friends messaged me and said, “Well I guess they need a girl for the line-up”. I fired back, “Really, dude?! No, I created a press kit and was professional and submitted it just like you could have. It has nothing to do with me being a female. I was a professional, and that’s what you have to do if you want to get booked for these shows.” I feel as though I needed to convey that. I believe that I’ve come to a place that’s a lot better, but I felt it, in the beginning. I felt a lot of pressure in never being able to mess up because if I did my legitimacy would fall through.
It seems as though you’ve made some large strides. You currently have an event that marries your love for gaming with your passion for music. How did LVL Up come about?
Well, it’s something that I wanted to do for a long time. It’s funny because I got out to these events and a lot of people that I talk to or would get close to were all pretty introverted. I would notice that we would all leave these shows and hop on parties online and play games. Whenever I started realizing how many people that liked electronic music plus gaming, I thought to myself, why isn’t this together? I’ll sit at home and play video games anyways, why not do them at the same time. I felt as though an event like that could be something. I got asked by GameStop to be their DJ for late nights. I think that is really what drove me to the conclusion that having an event that married the two would be a great idea. Also, I think at some events mainstream music is favored but what I noticed is that at GameStop I could play whatever I wanted and people got into it. So, I wanted to host an event for people with similar interest to hang out. Ultimately, I wanted to create something that would bring those people together.
So, what goes into hosting an event of this nature?
Okay, a lot goes into it. We have a team of about four people plus our residents. We have someone that hosts our card tournament, a video game host, and then there’s Jesse Strange and I. I handle the promotion, Connie runs our table top gaming, Johnny from Click Gaming does our video gaming, which has been hosting tournaments for about 20 years. I met him through GameStop. He is also a professional Halo player. Therefore, he was definitely on my radar to co-host this event. It’s a cool all-star team that got together. And I like Anime, so I added that in.
So basically, what goes into it first is a month worth of promotions. We try to find to fairly active DJ’s to be our guest in the main room we host the games, we’ve done Super Smash Brothers, Mortal Kombat, and Rocket League just to name a few. Our next event we are doing Mario Kart. We try to keep fun games on board. We also host tabletop gaming. It tends to get pretty serious. We’ve hosted Magic the Gathering and recently hosted Yu-Gi-Oh. I was unaware of how many people played that. It was huge! Evidently, it’s a really big deal. Things got super serious that night. Next, we are hosting a Pokémon tourney. Eventually, we plan to host Dungeons and Dragons. We want to make sure this is done the right way, in light of the length of the game and integrity of the gaming experience. Plus, we have Anime on a reel. We are doing Death Note at our next event and that just so happens to be my favorite. I’m super excited about that!
Ultimately, I enjoy the diverse crowd. It’s not your average nightlife crowd. I favor bringing them together. Some of the people that come out are experiencing gaming on that level for the first time. It then becomes something that they are interested in just from attending this event. That is in the grand scheme of things, why I love doing this event. We will give away way cool prizes like NES’s. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun as well!
Photo Credits: Ti Nguyen
What’s next for you moving forward.
I have LVL Up that is… of course… going to be my baby at this point. I’m possibly going to do patio parties in the summer, that will run Memorial Day through the fall. It will be held once a week. We plan to host it at Sauced. I’m also working with Subsonix now. They have quite a few shows coming up that I’m involved in. I’m excited to get back to my marketing roots with them. I’m also really focusing on having fun with what I’m doing and remembering why I started. I think sometimes we get caught up in the inner workings of the business side of this industry, and we tend to forget the core reason why we do it. So, I just want to keep that at heart.
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