Whether you like it or not, being a DJ these days can be a hard sell… the alternate is being a DJ and producer who can kick it in the club and studio! Cue Tori Levett, a musically inclined soul with a knack for both.
Just after the release of her latest single ‘Crazy’ and ahead of her headliner set at the next Stoney Roads party on the 22nd with Motorik, Lucy Cliche and more (yeah we had to do it!) we caught up with Sydney-sider to talk where it all began, her work with Keep Sydney Open, a pretty hefty instagram following and of course some tips for those starting out in what can be a fairly daunting scene.
SR: You’ve burst onto the music scene in a huge way, DJing and producing. What kickstarted it all and where do you see yourself heading?
TL: I grew up loving music, I played instruments throughout school and would make songs and upload them to my Myspace page. It was all for fun because I didn’t think it was possible to ever make a career out of it. When I turned 18, I started club promoting and through that, I met heaps DJs, artists (some of them being my favourite at the time) and other club promoters and I was super inspired that they were sharing something they loved or created and where making people happy and dance while doing so.
I then thought why not just try DJing and I practiced for a very long time in my bed room before I played my first show. After I played my first couple of shows, I knew this is exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t stop until I made it happen!
I hope to see myself joining all my favourite artists on festival lineups and touring around the word. I know that It’s not going to be easy and I am going to have to work really hard but I am definitely ready. I think I will always be learning through myself and others and I am excited to see where it takes me.
SR; You recently dropped some wisdom for Keep Sydney Open. What drove you to get involved in that sort of political activism?
TL: The lock out laws are something that directly effects everyone including artists, industry and music fans alike. I have supported KSO since day one and was stoked when they reached out to me to speak at their last event. Even as there is talk of relaxing lockouts and new government funding for live music, the situation continues to get worse. Take the closure of World Bar for example, where I played some of my first headline sets. Now those event staff and promotors are out of the job. It’s going to take a long time to repair.
SR: What are your tips on Keeping Sydney ‘Open’?
TL: Get out to club nights, support your friends DJ set, go watch a local band! Type Keep Sydney Open into Google and maybe write a litter to your local MP telling them lockouts suck.
SR: You have a bit of an Instagram following, does that play into you as a DJ and Producer or do you keep them seperate? Are there any preconceptions people have about your music or sets before you play them and their response after?
TL: I have always incorporated my music and DJing even when I had small following. It is something that I have grown with my music. I think like every artist I also like showing my other side and other things I get up to like surfing, travelling, don’t we all? At the end of the day it’s a tool to promote my music career, but there are two sides to every coin and there are a lot of preconceptions that come with a social media presence.
I know I don’t fit the typical persona of a normal DJ and I struggle with this everyday. I often get the typical comments, ‘she’s only up there because she is a girl’ ’surely she can’t actually DJ’ and ’she doesn’t make her own music’ but then I get comments after from people being like, ‘Wow, that set was actually sick, you just proved to everyone that you are actually really good’ or ‘the music you play is super hard, I wouldn’t except that from someone like you’ etc. and it sucks because people still expect to see a cliche introverted guy making dance music.
I spend most of my time when I’m not in front of the camera focused on my next show or my next release. It all makes me more determined to prove that I work hard, and I’m good at what I do.
SR: How helpful is having a background in music for a DJ? Any tips for those looking to start out?
TL: I think It is helpful but definitely not a must. I think Djing has also taught me a lot about music as well as the other way around. I didn’t Start properly producing and singing until after DJing for a couple of years. Definitely knowing the basics with a few instruments helped.
My tips (which I have to remind myself everyday):
– No one ever said it was going to be easy
– You are going to fail a lot, but keep going
– Don’t listen to people being negative about your career, just do you
– Surround yourself with supportive people that are actually happy for you
– Believe in yourself and don’t wait for other peoples approval
So big tick for Tori Levett and one to watch! Those inclined to see her behind the decks should head along to the next Stoney Roads party on the 22nd of December at The Marly (powered by 42 Below) with Motorik Vibe Council, Lucy Cliche and many, many more.