"If there's a driving force behind my drive, it would be the knowledge that I've come further than I ever thought I would, by doing something based on the pure joy of it." - DJ Ayescold
Ayesha 'AYESCOLD' has the masses completely enveloped in her dynamic mixes and has dance floors all over the nation grooving to tunes meticulously curated by the sound maven. Her creative and fearless mixes usually have a foray of new and vibey' music masterfully mashed together with classic loops and sounds from around the globe. Notably this all encompassing tone in Ayes music selection is a great example of her upbringing. In her words :
"I come from nowhere and everywhere" - DJ Ayescold
She has been a resident in two different hemispheres, 2 different coasts and 3 different states in the U.S......Impressive. Now currently settled in D.C. her colorful background is a great ingredient to her music. As a DJ she breathes new life into the meaning Disc Jockey and brings it back to what they brought to the masses as their birthright.....discovery. Dj Ayes does just that as she releases her mixes and gets on the decks at parties
Her spirit and her pursuit to continue to grow and inspire sonically is what is most eye - catching about this Young Creative. As she continues to work the quintessential doors have been opening for the budding DJ. She is garnering more and more with her music and even starting to jump on the production side. (YASSS!) Time is of the essence and DJ Ayescold isn't wasting a second of it. Plug in close your eyes and Let DJ AyesCold take you around the world.
You’re a trained musician but how did you start as a DJ?
While I'm formally trained to play the piano ('been playing since the age of six), I actually went on a long hiatus from playing after the 10th grade due to a pretty bad teacher. She taught using tactics of shame and humiliation - she sucked the life out of me. A few years later, while living outside Los Angeles I taught myself the guitar through Tablature. DJing definitely does come from an appreciation and understanding of music, but I also have a natural desire to show people a good time, share, and create spaces where you feel things. Crazy things.
All of the above led me to start DJing (without a name) in DC living rooms and basements, pretty consistently, two years ago. After some pretty amazing experiences I decided to take it in the direction of a career. This past June I left my day job, to focus full-time on DJing, building my personal brand, and also producing my own music. Money is definitely tight but I hope I can use this time to invest more in myself as a DJ.
When was that moment that was like – you know what I’m going to put my music out into the world and see what happens!
Hmm I don't think I had one moment where I just decided to put all of myself out there. I think it has been a very gradual process. I started by putting out a mix one night when I was lonely (I think it was 'Underwater Party') -- I was going through a break up at the time. When I'm sad I isolate myself. I ended up using that downtime to record mixes, dig for music, and experiment with mixing beats. Now I rely on making mixes as a form of catharsis. Whenever I'm feeling creatively blocked, down , or confused, making a mix helps me feel grounded again.
However, I do recall a moment (about a year ago) where I decided I was going to try to live without fear. In other words - no longer having the fear of failure shaping my actions and choices. While I saw it as a crazy experiment at the time, it's still my motto today, and it's ultimately what led me to push the DJing further than I'd imagined.
Do you remember you first mix? Do you work with vinyl as well?
(((Coincidentally I mentioned my first mix in the last question)))
I started DJing digitally. At the time, that format felt the most accessible to me, because I could work with a lot of music I had already accumulated in midi format. However, the more I DJ, the more I listen to classic soul, samba, funk, go-goand hip hop, and want to play rare LPs that I find at record stores and garage sales -- especially those cuts from around the world in the style of Gilles Peterson or Madlib. I have a small collection of vinyl, but I haven't yet been able to work it into my flow yet.
Now that I have more time on my hands I've acquired two turntables I can practice at home with, but I'm still in the process of acquiring all the equipment I feel I need to do it smoothly. However, I have some Serato control vinyl’s already on their way -- they'll allow me to play digital music on actual turntables (it's the best of both worlds).
Was it your upbringing that adds to the variety in your mixes?
Completely. I moved around a lot as a child- and spent a lot of time in different parts of India, and the USA. Like America, India is extremely diverse, and even more so from a linguistic standpoint. A major part of me grew up expecting diversity-- and seeing a lot of strength in it.
So when I started DJing, I intuitively wanted variety in my mixes, as to me that makes music interesting. I also really enjoy the challenge of bridging drastically different styles of music together, in a single coherent mix.
While I've always seen diversity as key to a strong music selection -- not everybody agrees with me. I've had people come up to me and tell me that they want to hear a smoother mix, that they want their dance floor experience to feel like they're listening to one single long track. That's definitely not what you should expect from me :)
Is there a certain region of music you are really into right now and/or in general?
You know, while most global music with some bass is trendy right now, I've always loved Caribbean, Brazilian, and West African music. I used to be obsessed with Bob Marley, Steel Pulse, Barrington Levy, and Sizzla. In 2010 I went to Brazil and really got into Samba, Tropicalia, Baile Funk, and Brazilian roots reggae. There's an entire surf culture obsessed with reggae and dub out there, it blew my mind…
Has there been anything on your journey so far that has stumped you whether it’s in the business, or your music etc.
Well, there are definitely obstacles… My skin is definitely thickening as I spend more time in this industry as a young woman of color - I am getting more used to expecting things like sexism, but I'm also getting better at calling it out. I've definitely found coping strategies to deal with some of these things though. For example, playing dumb can really get some men to feel comfortable and be more polite. Who would have known?
As young woman and someone who is really doing amazing things with music do you feel more of a divide or less?
While the sexism is real, I feel more unity than division right now. Doing music has allowed me to connect with so many different people - and build a sense of community through a shared passion. I'm super grateful for the network of artists and dope people I've been able to build over the past year, irrespective of gender.
My work is definitely driven by my desire to create. It's my love of the craft that sustains me, and the joy of music that keeps me consistent, and wanting to learn more as an artist every day. I'm thrilled and inspired that women find it encouraging-- I definitely hope I'm strengthening the view that women can be competent DJs and producers.
I have mad respect for all people out there doing what they love, and not letting the sexism, their gender and sex, or other social constructs hold them back.
What would you say is the biggest driving force behind your drive?
So, technically I no longer have a day job…
I had been working at a non-profit downtown doing research for a little over two years. About a year into it I began DJing. In the beginning it was awesome to have a creative outlet while still being financially secure. Being in 'the work 9-5 then grind from 5-9 zone' made me feel alive in the beginning, but eventually it started taking its toll on my creativity. I started to feel like I didn't have enough hours in the day, week, and month to really grow my sound, skills, and brand as a DJ. As I was balancing several gigs a week with my day job, I couldn't find time to listen to music, practice, or collaborate with other people.
I basically gave myself a year and worked backwards to quit the day job, and finally did so in mid-June. It's quite a step for me, because now it's taken my commitment to this project to an entirely new level. I guess if there's a moment where I completely put myself out there, it would be now :)
If there's a driving force behind my drive, it would be the knowledge that I've come further than I ever thought I would, by doing something based on the pure joy of it. This awareness keeps me pushing-- who knows what the limits of a project (or person) are when you're driven by love. I'm really optimistic about the future.
Stay up to date with DJ AYESCOLD next events and upcoming releases. Most importantly get privy to her amazing mixes.
You Can also catch her this weekend Spinning at TRILL ELECTRO #NBD Hit the link for more info.