Being a DJ is very key to music, because they usually determine what are hits and what are not based on their sets and what music is played on radios, clubs, and different events.
A female DJ is hard to come across by especially one who knows how to use her advantages of being a good-looking woman and knowing how to be a successful DJ in a society full of judgemental people.
A DJ is a tough job because not everybody can handle the pressure you have on yourself when dealing with people and different crowds. With talking to DJ Niara Sterling on why she decided to be a DJ, “I chose it because it just clicked. I had to try it out before I knew I would love it.”
Niara Sterling, a young DJ based out of Brooklyn, NY and The Nations Capitol, Washington DC. She’s new to the scene and she is coming with a head full of steam.
Niara is one with utmost purpose (meaning of her name). Her purpose right now is being an authentic beautiful black lady DJ. Being a DJ is not always an easy career and its very hard to get recognition when many people are into the profession. Being a black female DJ could be a tough to but because with her knowledge on how to finesse the system she will get any chance to.
In an interview with Niara we had a sit-down about many different things regarding her profession and her love for being a DJ. While talking about gender roles within DJ’ing, female DJ’s have an advantage especially if she’s attractive. Many people book female DJ’s off their beauty and haven’t even listen to any of her mixes or been to an event she was DJ’ing at.
“I’ve had someone book me without even listening to a mix. They liked my style and of course my Instagram gave me some leverage.” said Niara.
Oppose to men who usually have to put more work into the profession and there’s more male DJ’s in comparison to females.
The respect for female DJ’s has risen with many out her doing their thing. With that it helps many lady DJ’s like Niara to have the opportunity to do what she loves and keep gaining more and more clout. There is usually no disrespect towards lady DJ’s but many do judge them and may not take them serious. Niara said, “I haven’t experienced someone being disrespectful towards my profession. They may not take me seriously, but it doesn’t bother me because I know what I’m capable of.”
She has had many different gigs wither it be at Marvin’s, where actually she had a monthly set there or other gigs she’s been previously booked for. She only speaks life so as I talk about her gigs and which she like and least like she had this to say:
“I’ll just highlight my favorite event, which is my monthly sets at Marvin’s. That crowd lets me do my thing and they’re always left satisfied so it’s equally enjoyable for them and me. It’s also an opportunity to spin for my friends. The ambience is beautiful and it’s just a great time”
Many DJ’s around the world are usually music producers and like to make different types of music and just have so much love and passion for it. Niara started off DJ’ing because of her love for music, and just first started off just creating mixes and putting them on her soundcloud ( soundcloud.com/niarasterling ) and then it took off from there. She never actually had any DJ equipment or like any virtual DJ, so what she did was inquire with a well-known DJ out the DMV, DJ Sixth Sense.
“He invited me to one of his gigs and had me get a list of music together to play at his gig.. After that night, I fell in love with it. It was so fun.”
With being a DJ there is tons of different equipment and things to make your job easier. For a newer DJ that’s still educating her self in the profession she’s learning on the fly. Revolving to equipment she likes the way CDJ’s and turntables feel when she scratches. “I have more control. Controllers have loose jog wheels and they’re really not made to scratch with. Although, controllers served it’s purpose. The FX allow you to get creative with your sets.”
Many DJ’s do rehearsed sets rather than live sets. Doing a live set is tougher for a DJ because they are choosing songs on the fly against a rehearsed set in which you could make a playlist and just let it play throughout the event.
Rehearsing and practice are totally two different things, its tough to rehearse a whole set because of not knowing how the crowd will react to it.
” I can’t predict everything they’re going to dance to. Naturally as a DJ you know what songs blend well together, or what songs are going to get the crowd hype but you let the crowd decide how you move through the night.” said Niara. Although live sets do allow you to get creative and experiment with the crows and music even if it isn’t that great, you could change the song right then and there and continue on the vibe.
“I’m currently transitioning from my controller to CDJ’s and turntables so I practice on that equipment as often as I can. I practice on my controller, if not everyday, then every other day. Even if it’s a 30 minute session.”
Regarding practice, being a DJ practice is an everyday thing also, the update of a music library. Practice is very key because you don’t want to ever lose a beat. Practice can help you master your craft and can help you improve on each attribute whether it be scratching, mixing, feeling the vibe, music levels, and sounds.
There is new music coming out everyday and being a DJ you have to stay up to date with everything. Whether its underground or mainstream updating music is key to being a DJ, because if you get a request from a person at an event you want to be able to provide them with the request and not be empty-handed. When being asked on updating music, Niara had this to say, “All the time. I have to stay current with music. Especially during my down time, I just download music.””
Requests are actually a plus but good be very annoying. Many DJ’s usually don’t take request because they like to do their job and feel the crowd and keep the vibe going on. Crowd has to be patient with the DJ because most likely the song that one is requesting will be played just won’t be played when they request but when the DJ feel its correct for the vibe.
“Sometimes I take requests. If the requested song fits with the vibe and the tempo aligns up, I’ll spin it right then. It’s all about finding the right moment to play it. The crowd has to be patient with the DJ. One bad transition can mess up the mood.” said Niara.
Lately, many artist now-a-days can make it off one or two catchy songs and it goes mainstream. Many songs are played over and over on the radio or at parties and clubs. For example, the recent hit “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd & Gucci Mane, is frequently played over and over and DJ’s usually are hesitant of recycling songs in a set but if the crowd is into it then it usually works. The same tunes being played over and over can be very tidies for a DJ. Niara said, “I definitely get tired of playing the same songs but it’s not about me. I’ve learned how to play the same hit records and blending them with songs that the crowd may not be familiar with. Especially when it comes to the gems I find on Soundcloud.”
Many DJ’s feed off others or like to be influenced by some. With Niara her two most influential DJ’s are her close friends Jahsonic and DJ K-Meta. Their style is very unique and they are very versatile with their music selection. Both having such a large music palette, its impossible to become boring with them because you will tend to hear multiple different sounds a not just one generic sound.
“There’s too much music in the world to be confined to one genre. They know how to bend genres during their sets and and they know how to mix well.”
With being a DJ you like to set goals for yourself, many want to be able to travel the world and DJ different events across the world. Others, want to be like DJ Drama or DJ Khaled and work with artist and produce albums and hot mixtapes. Niara goal is to be a working DJ, in a sense that she wants DJ’ing be her sole profession. Also, to travel in different places around the world DJ’ing and being able to take care of herself by doing what she love.
With being a DJ many are producer of many different types of music.
“I want to learn how to make my own beats from old school samples.” said Niara
Niara main focus is improving, growing, and staying consistent with herself. She is very engrossed with herself right now trying to learn her style and what she likes. Over the next couple of years, I asked where do she think she would be, “I see myself still living in Brooklyn, New York in the next two – three years, DJ’ing full time and learning how to make my beats.”
A young motivated talented DJ, Niara, who is dedicated to perfecting her craft wants to better herself every chance she can get. In her profession she feels she must stay true to her self because there is no blurred lines in being stern about who you are and what you are trying to do with your profession. Also, with these attributes come respect and to always stay 100 to yourself and everyone else along the journey.