Music : Interview with DJ Di, woman with sound
Photo by Ralph Stewart
DJ DI has been holding down events all spring, most recently at The Wharf in Edgartown to support Women Empowered. Earlier this month she spun beats for The Vest Fest at The Lampost in Oak Bluffs with the bands Dukes County Love Affair (DCLA) and Master Exploder.
The Times recently sat down and asked DJ DI what she does to remain inspired and keep things fresh for her Martha's Vineyard audience.
MVT: What's your full name, age, and where are you from?
DD: My full name is Diana Reilly, I am older than 20 and younger than 40, and I grew up just outside of Boston and in Mexico City for one year when I was eight.
MVT: When did you start deejaying?
DD: I bought two turntables in the early 90s after meeting a cool crew of deejays via a record store that I had been working at in western Massachusetts, yet had been collecting records for many years prior to that.
MVT: What musical artists/deejays, if any, inspired you to begin this journey of spinning vinyl live?
DD: While there are so many fantastic and moving producers out there, most specifically, my local Island homies, I would say that my inspiration is more conceptual. The only thing cooler than playing and listening to records is being able to utilize this concept to bring a community together on a dance floor. I am inspired by the whole package: creating concepts, searching for music or deejays, finding venues, collaborating with artists, creating a buzz, working together. Paying it forward and relating it locally is real important too.
MVT: How would you describe the music you spin?
DD: In simple terms: Turntable music. Electronic music. Dance music. While I really try to keep my crates as fresh as possible, I tend to adere to the worldtronic/tropical/deep-tech house/broken-beat vibe. I also love to play cosmic-nu-balearic disco. Rare grooves are dope. Swing house is so ridiculously fun to play too...so many to choose from! It really does depend on the venue and context. It is a balance of playing what you truly believe in, while forming a symbiotic relationship with the dancefloor and letting them in and actively participate.
MVT: What motivates you to search for new, unique, international music to mix with?
DD: I was collecting records long before I was actually deejaying, so collecting records, music, and sound comes quite naturally to me...perhaps a little too much so. I definitely tend to buy more when I am actively playing out regularly. It keeps the crates fresh, inspires me, and I almost see it as my duty to keep the listener and dancefloor interested and re-inspired on a regular basis.
MVT: Do you prefer spinning alone or with another deejay? Can you explain the major difference in the experience of performing solo or working with another artist?
DD: I enjoy any situation that involves playing records. I really do. Be it playing in my room alone, hanging with homies, playing out. If I am the only deejay on a line-up for a night, although I may be the only one playing records, I am playing with you and the folks on the dancefloor — so I don't look at that as playing alone. Playing with many deejays in a line-up is so cool too. You bounce off of each other, I learn so much in this space...this scenario works best when all egos are checked at the door and you show up for the right reasons and simply have fun with it.
MVT: What up-and-coming events are you involved with next?
DD: I am really excited for this upcoming season. I co-run a promo outfit by the name of Bombshell Sound, agents with the best partner a gal could ask for in Tararose Macuch. She is holding things down in NYC, yet we are planning a small festival for late August here on the Island. I am, locally, running a smaller division of that by the name of HI LIFE, and will be announcing quite a few events shortly.
The first event, Sound System, is going to be Saturday, May 28 at the Shephard Fine ArtSpace in Oak Bluffs, which I am co-producing with Sherry Sidoti/FLYEvents. I have also confirmed the Whiskey Barons/Flavorheard crew from Boston for The Lampost on Thursday, June 23. I have collaborations with Cuzzin Andrew, Ricky Prime, and Pretty Ninja in the works. Lots of cool matters of the turntable will be afoot this season as well as an art installation involving solar-powered music boxes...details forthcoming.