Californian Epiphanies.

Every gig is different, every crew is different, and every vibe is different; best believe you better be able to adjust.

Heyyy yall! So its been a while, and I’m glad to be back sharing my opinions, experiences, and whatever else in between. I’m currently on a flight headed back to ATL from San Francisco, where I was for the weekend for a gig at club F8 with the Polyglamorous crew. This was my first real “out-of-town” gig, and I must admit, the DJ life seems that much more appealing now. I mean, that fact in itself that people are willing to fly you out, give you a place to stay, pay you, and buy you dinner is pretty dope if you ask me. I’m still new to the DJ game, so this type of shit still kinda amazes me, humbled and grateful would be an understatement. On the plane ride arriving into San Francisco I sat there looking down at the mountains in sheer amazement, wow….mountains! You don’t see those much where I’m from, I felt like a big ass kid; amazed by the beauty of the world, and equally amazed to be experiencing it first hand.

This gig helped me learn and recognize the importance of being able to be a chameleon while in the DJ world.  Every gig is different, every crew is different, and every vibe is different; best believe you better be able to adjust. In the past and coming weeks I’ll have gone from playing Beautiful Sunday in Detroit, a super soulful/black/old school crowd, to playing Polyglamorous, a super gay/white/male crowd, to next weekend playing TechnoFeminism, which I’ll assume is a super femme, weird, and techno crowd. I used to question DJ’s whom “play to the crowd”, but I actually kind of get it now. Of course, stay true to yourself and your sound, yet you also gotta give the people want they want, and what they like. I’m all for “educating a crowd” musically, but certain shit just doesn’t feel appropriate for certain crowds/venues, so why even bother?

After this gig I also realized just how much more music I need to acquire, and that I’m still pretty far from mastering the art of  reading a crowd. I do my best, but it hit me this weekend that these out of town gigs aren’t always the most simple. In a lot of instances you’ve never been the venue your playing at, nor am familiar with the sound, set-up, or crowd. This is something that has to be assessed in the hour or less time you have at the venue before your set. I guess “big time” DJ’s can do shit like show up right for their set and leave right after, but in the words of an epic Josey Rebelle tweet: “raver first, DJ second”. The reason I think I’m even remotely a “good DJ” is simply because I’m first and foremost, a die-hard fan of the music and the culture. I like to get to the the party early for one, to scope out the scene/try to catch the vibe, and to secondly, legit have a little time to party and dance. If I ever do “blow up” I’ll be that DJ you see at the bar or on the dance floor chopping it up with the people and supporting the other acts. I get that sometimes there may not be enough time to “hang or socialize” before a gig but if time permits, I don’t see the harm in doing so.

The first day of this trip I was ecstatic, and I’m not sure if it was my own insecurities or that strong ass California weed that brought upon my “over-thinking” on day #2, but I think its safe to assume it was a combination of the two. I sat there gazing down upon the beautifully designed flyer with my name and photo on it and all of a sudden became eerily fearful and self conscious. Am I good enough for all of this? Do I deserve this? Am I really as good as people claim? Did I let the promoters down? I felt like crying in that moment. Some of the shit that has happened/is happening to me is still pretty surreal, and believe it or not, its not always joy that comes from huge things happening in your life. Honestly, it can be scary. Scary (to me) because unfortunately, I often worry about letting people down. And yeah, people are quick to say you can’t “let the people down”, you can only “let yourself down”, but thats bullshit. I want to entertain the people, I want to make them dance, I want to make them smile, I want to make them cry, I want to inspire them…that’s a lot to deal with sometimes, and its not a simple task. DJing isn’t just about you, its about the people. I’m not DJing to simply entertain myself, I can do that at home. I’m DJing to entertain the people while sharing the music that I love… thats not a job that should be taken lightly, or for granted.

My insecurities also stem from the hellish place called the INTERNET where I’ve been seeing a lot of talk lately about disadvantaged groups of people getting illegitimate shine in the industry simply because they come from disadvantaged demographics, and aren’t truly deserving of their current success based skills. These posts, tweets, etc. always make me feel a bit uncomfortable because I wonder if thats how people feel about me and my current success. I’ve had a nice little ride in the past year of me playing out, and I hope that people don’t think I’m only getting booked simply because I’m a woman, or because I’m black. This whole shit kinda feels like the affirmative action debate to me. Sorta like being the only black girl at the University and wondering if your white classmates resent you because you had a lower GPA than their best friends who didn’t get accepted because the school needed a more diverse student body. I mean, I know my tracks are good, ain’t no doubting that. I also know that my mixing isn’t bad, and that I’m capable of doing shit like pulling off a set after people like Omar S. and Kyle Hall. Am I on their level in terms of skill and selections? Hell no. Am I capable and brave enough to get on the decks after them and still make people dance….YES. So to anyone who feels that some of us are not worthy of the gigs or attention we receive, the only thing I can really say is “don’t hate the player, hate the game”. As a player, most of us are taking up on any opportunity thats presented to us, and would be a fool not to. I remember when someone told me I should turn down a gig, or ask to play first instead of headline because I was nervous and still new. Mannn, If I had listened and started out turning gigs down because I was nervous or new, I’d still prolly only have one or two local gigs under my belt. Which why I realized its not always good to entertain people and their antics/opinions.

Where I’m at with things now is that I’m simply going to worry about myself, and not about what anyone else is and saying, doing, or thinking. People aren’t always going to like what your doing….I’m coming to terms with that…all I can do and move forward and do ME. I watched a  documentary last week where Jimmy Iovine of Interscope, in a clip  speaks about why race horses race with blindfolds on. They race blindfolded because if they took the time to look on either side or behind them they’d lose sight of the race and lose. This can applied to humans as well; when we take the time to look everywhere but ahead, we get distracted, and in return, fall behind. I don’t know about yall, but I’m striving to be the horse with the blindfold on. I’m done looking around, I’m looking to the future, and I hope to see you there.

 

-ASH ❤

Author: ashlauryn

ASH LAURYN is a DJ and party promoter hailing from Detroit, MI who is currently based in Atlanta, GA. ASH specializes in underground dance music, and says most of her influence stems from her roots back home in Detroit. As an active member of the dance music community for over a decade, ASH hosts her own event series called ORBIT, and is currently a resident DJ with Atlanta’s Deep South crew.

One thought on “Californian Epiphanies.”

  1. This one definitely hit close to home in some ways since I’m also new to playing out as well. I will think really deep into situations and second guess myself often. I don’t have the variety of music to play to a crowd but I def want people to enjoy my sets. Good blog post ❤

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