There are a lot of difficult professions when it comes to being a part of the music industry or being involved in event curation. The one position that is never overlooked though is being a DJ. When you think about it, pretty much every emerging or well-established artist has their personal DJ. Any music-related event you go to has multiple DJ’s who spin for a period of time. Although this may look like someone who’s just spinning records and shuffling a few songs on their Macbook, being a DJ actually takes a lot of talent and a wide range of music knowledge.
I had the chance to chop it up with DJ Nolita about her inspiration in becoming a DJ, some key factors in being a great DJ, staying consistent with social media, the pros and cons of being on the road and more in our interview below.
1 – What got you into DJ’ing?
I have an extensive branch of musicians in my family. I was going to school for fashion design and immediately realized I wanted to wear the garments and not make them. So I graduated high school with a fashion major and taught myself how to produce music and DJ in the process of preparing for my senior year graduation.
2 – Being a DJ obviously means you have a love for music. Was that always the case for you growing up?
Yes! Not to toot my own horn but I always felt like I had a good ear for music. I’d always play a song and just know and feel it in my heart that the audience I was playing for would enjoy whatever I pressed play on. In growing up with many musicians in my family I was introduced to music and the industry extremely early on. Spice Girls was my favorite movie growing up, around the time I could remember I lived in Queens with my mom who wasn’t around very often due to career choices and whoever came to visit myself and my babysitter at the time was subjected to watching spice girls at least 4 times before they left. I was 6.
3 – When were you able to get your first set of DJ equipment?
Luckily, my mom made sure I had all the equipment I needed as soon as I brought to her attention that DJing was something I seriously wanted to do. But my mother was always extremely supportive in anything I wanted to do, so any hobbies I ever told her I wanted to participate in or get into she would always make sure I had the proper materials to get myself started.
4 – Did you always see yourself pursuing this as a career? In other words, did you see this as something long-term or did you look at it as a hobby?
I did not. I thought I was going to be going to F.I.T or NYU obsessing over college papers and deadlines. I feel like I have a lot of balls kind of just going for my dreams and winging it because that’s a big risk, sort of like a gamble. Things are going pretty smooth though. Once I confirmed with myself that I loved the exploration of music, what I can do and how I can create my own to make people experience any emotion, I started to see it as more of something I could do long term.
5 – What was the first DJ gig you got? How did it happen?
I honestly don’t even remember. I do remember it being in the Lower East Side Manhattan, and my equipment at that time was really heavy.
6 – The road to recognition as far as being a DJ is a bit more different than most creative professions. How were you able to build your name up and get the looks you deserved?
I think a lot of the recognition I get as a DJ comes from not only my style, taste, aesthetic and respect for the arts but as well as the respect I was getting before I was a DJ. When I was a lot younger I was always like the lil hood princess or the little girl that everyone looked out for because they knew my family or people my family affiliated with. More on a creative side I think a lot of the recognition I get just comes from how I’ve grown my brand from dirt, how dedicated I am, driven and bossy. Everything has to go a certain way or be of a certain stature or I won’t attach my name to it and I take pride in enforcing that with any project I endure, any event I DJ etc.
7 – In your opinion, what are some key factors that make a great DJ?
Main key factor or little rule I try to stay on top of is to consistently, visually remind the people that I’m for them. It’s so many different aspects to being a DJ that I feel like often people get stuck in one realm and they forget that there are one million other categories that contribute to this one thing. What a lot of people don’t notice is that me specifically I’m doing 50 jobs at once to make sure whatever artist I’m on is going to get picked up by whomever we discussed. I’m playing A&R, I’m doing artist development, I’m setting up radio placement for artists, blog placement, making sure their music is getting promoted etc. A lot of DJ’s want to be the star. And that’s not our job. Like Yeah! it’s totally cool to be seen but what are you doing to contribute to good music getting where it needs to be? What can you do for an artist aside from getting them on one radio station or just putting their music in your mix? The most important factor is to make the music the star and the star the music.
8 – What are some things you struggled with in regards to building your name and craft?
I struggled mainly with getting the attention of the bigger brands I wanted to work with but realized that’s something that does happen with time. I learned pretty fast how to produce and DJ, and at the moment I felt comfortable I was jumping on the idea of working with corporate brands, not considering the fact that I still had to keep working on this new craft and it would all come in due time.
9 – You’re about to head out to Miami in May for the Rolling Loud Festival and do a set with Bali Baby as well as a full-blown tour with her. How did you manage to link up with her?
Yes! I’m extremely excited about the #PlayGirlWorldTour Bali and I linked through an A&R that wanted us to meet and catch a vibe because she needed a DJ. We immediately clicked and from that point on it was just like “come be my DJ for A3C.”
10 – You’re also about to DJ an upcoming event with the music publication Daily Chiefers on 4/20. How did you manage to link up with the site and make that happen?
I have no idea. They contacted my team and we made it happen. I’m extremely excited though. Myself, Smokers Club and Daily Chiefers have all been following each other for a minute now so it was only a matter of time before we set up the big link up ting.
11 – In your opinion, what do you think is a better experience – being a DJ and playing at a variety of different events or being on the road with a particular person and/or group? Why?
Definitely, love touring with a particular group/person but I would have to choose being a DJ and playing at a variety of different events simply because I started DJing for myself and not for anyone in particular. And tour gets tiring usually towards the end just being away from home so long and constantly being on the road in comparison to spinning at a variety of different events. I get to rage out and show people what I feel like pure genuine fun and happiness is like.
12 – Social media is crucial to building any name or brand. Although DJ’s offer a different type of service than most, how do you think a rising DJ should go about utilizing social media? What are some key tips?
I’m horrible at social media so I’m gonna give tips on what I think we should all do including myself. I would say stay extremely active and consistent with posts, and if you’re gonna go for it, go for it and don’t hold back. People often feel like they have to have X amount of numbers to achieve something and make it great and that’s not the case all, just be consistent and if this is your goal from jump stick with that goal. Be respectful and organized, communicate with people that may look up to you, be kind, mind your business always, don’t trip too much and if you have to think twice about posting it you probably shouldn’t post it.
13 – As a DJ, what has been the most important piece of advice anyone has given you?
Tuck all my cords so no one knocks my power out.
14 – What can DJ Nolita fans expect from you in this second quarter of 2018?
More new Music, more opportunities for artists to be heard, DJ Nolita Merchandise will be dropping soon, and the rest you’ll just have to get watch out for.