Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hip + Urban Girl of the Week: DJ Vivi Diamond

Everyone could not stop talking about how good the DJ was at The TIFF Diet Coke Party last month. A hot and talented girl DJ? Yes people! DJ Vivi Diamond rocked The Hoxton hard that night and kept us all preoccupied while we waited until midnight for Estelle to finally hit the stage. Who really stole the show that night? I'm pretty sure it was Vivi, which is why she is our Hip + Urban Girl of the Week!

How did you get into DJ-ing?

I played classical piano and listened to and collected records my whole life. When I was 18, my best friend sat me down in front of a pair of turntables and for the first time I realized that I could mix any song of any genre that I wanted. After a lot of practice, music collecting, and listening to the DJs I had always admired, I started getting out into small clubs. Thanks to support from my friends and lots of amazing people in the industry in Toronto, I began performing regularly.

When did you get your big break?

Definitely Circa. I was invited in as a weekly resident on Fridays by Matt Sims, shortly after its opening in 2007. Even today, many of my contacts at my current shows have stemmed in one way or another from my time there.

How do you describe your DJ style?

I play dance floor bangers ranging from today's and yesterday's best electro and top 40, and all the classics in between. My goal is to make people re-experience songs they know, in a way they’ve never heard before. 

What's it like DJ-ing live-to-air on Kiss 92.5?

It's crazy. Trying to satisfy the club goers and an invisible audience becomes quite a challenge when you factor in going to commercials, keeping track of your playlist, playing all clean language and the general timing associated with being on air. It was very overwhelming at first, but almost a year into the process, I'm beginning to enjoy the experience more and more. I also have gained new, young followers, who contact me through social media, that I never would have been able to connect with before. It is very exciting!

How do you deal with drunk people with bad requests?

I used to deal with this problem poorly: trying to reason with people and explain to them why what they were requesting wasn't suitable. This got me in to a lot of trouble. I have found it is a lot better to just say yes and smile at people, even if their requests are ridiculous, and play what I can. Sometimes, I might suggest an alternative, if I have something that might suite them. I usually output this frustration now by laughing about it with friends and other DJs, we all have some pretty amusing stories.

Favourite tracks right now?

Tough one! For club tunes:

Someone Like You - Alex Dreamz & Jeff T Remix - Adele
Champagne Showers - R3hab Remix - LMFAO ft. Natalia Kills
N*ggaz in Paris - Jay-Z & Kanye West

For personal, I'm on a Motown kick right now, so anything that makes me want to sing!

What kind of DJ system do you use?

2 Tech 12s, Mixer, Serato, Macbook Pro & Denon 1000S for the radio show.

Where did you go for college/university and what did you study?

George Brown for Fashion Management

Is there anything you would have done differently or advise others about?

I wish I had some computer/technical background. I have been producing for just over a year and still have only basic skills. At some point I would like to pursue courses in music production and engineering. 

What are some of the perks of your job & what do you like best about it?

I get to take all the vacation I want! I also get to participate in really cool events, meet amazing people, work with incredible artists, travel and see great places, and of course, I often get free swag. The best part about my job is that I get to do what I love. I get the opportunity to set the soundtrack for people having the time of their lives and it is an experience like no other. 

What is your typical day like?

The days I don't play, I usually sit at home listening to music and producing. Sometimes I work on songs, sometimes on edits for my weekend shows, other times - new mixtapes. Occasionally I'll have a special event that I'm preparing for and spend time working on it. Days that I perform, I sleep in late, enjoy my breakfast and watch the previous night's Jon Stewart and prepare for the night's festivities. I'm also known for eating dinner in the club right before I play, it gives me energy for the night!

What are some of the disadvantages of your job?

There is no security in being an independent contractor. Clubs close, nights change hands and sometimes money isn't as easy to get as it should be. A disadvantage of being me is that I'm a girl who likes to dress up and have fun and it has been tough at times getting the respect I thought I deserved. I just tried to work hard to prove those people wrong and now I work with great people who have been nothing short of amazing!

What advice can you give to other hip + urban girls looking to get into DJ-ing?
Start by collecting a lot of music you love (BUY your music!). Then find a friend with a set-up or buy some really cheap equipment (Head over to MOOG Audio on Queen St for great advice on a starting kit). Play around until you get a sound you like. Record your practise sessions and listen and improve on them. Play house parties! Then put something you are happy with out there, and start contacting friends who may know people involved in the industry. Pursue this until you have made some money, invest in better equipment and then there is no limit on what you can accomplish.

Where are your favourite places to hang out in Toronto? 

My place with friends, dinner & wine! I don't go out much, I try to save most of my money for travelling. 
Where would you go on your dream vacation?

Too many to name. I went to Peru, Brazil & Argentina this summer, which had always been my dream. Now? Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Thailand, and anywhere and everywhere in between. I want to see the whole world!

What would you tell your 20 year-old self?

-Give up fashion and pursue music full-time.
-Stop regretting all of the mistakes you've made, and just look at the amazing future you can have.
-Stop being afraid of travelling, it will change your life. 

What life advice do you have for hip + urban girls out there trying to figure out what they want to do?

Don't be afraid to try everything. You never know what you will love, and never know what you will be good at. It may surprise you! I never in a million years would have thought that I would have ended up a DJ, but I couldn't be happier. 

New Mixes!
Tweet Vivi: @DJViviDiamond

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