What got you into EDM in the first place?
It's actually kind of a funny story! I wasn't really into any electronic music to begin with, but I frequently went to music festivals. I was at Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores for probably like the fifth year in a row, and I had seen that one of the artists was named "Alison Wonderland," and just thought it was clever and so I wanted to check her out. The way my schedule had worked out that week, I knew probably was going to miss her set but there was a massive storm on the beach that caused a rain delay and pushed her set back. Whenever I made it to the festival, she had just gotten on stage. My best friend and I chilled in the back of the Boom Boom tent and just watched this tiny little blonde Aussie absolutely slay it. Up till that point, I was so used to seeing dudes up there pressing buttons and pumping their fists but I didn't know what they were actually doing. I didn't quite get the hype or appeal of actually being the DJ. But when I saw Alison Wonderland jump down to the edge of the stage and sing over her own vocals, getting such an extreme amount of crowd engagement, that's when I said to myself, "Holy shit, what is this all about?" Right in that moment, my best friend turned to me and just casually said "That's totally something you would do." I laughed it off and we spent the rest of the weekend telling every festival-goer that I was a DJ.
What has been your experience with the Atlanta music scene thus far?
Honestly, I had kinda a slow start in the Atlanta music scene due to some personal reasons and maintaining some gigs back in Athens. I've been living here a little over a year, but I didn't really hit the ground until about three months ago when everything really starting coming together for me. I started searching for places that supported electronic music or hosted house and bass events. After that, I made an effort to go to as many events as I could at places like Alley Cat, Project B, and Wildpitch. I spent a lot of time at Alley Cat in particular and their frontrunner, Hernan, was super friendly and helpful by providing a lot of insight and advice into my own endeavors.
One of the eye opening moments was getting to play at Sunday Swerve. It was there that I really discovered the community around electronic music in Atlanta. I had previously thought the Atlanta EDM scene was hurting and scarce, but I met such incredibly talented DJs and producers at Sunday Swerve and was absolutely floored by the community and support. Everybody involved is here because we love the music and it shows with their willingness to support each other as well as any newcomers. I was welcomed with open arms and genuine inquiries about my own talents, endeavors, and ambition. I also was brought on at Wildpitch, where a lot of those I met at Sunday Swerve overlapped. It's really an incredible community. I'm only bummed it took me so long to find it!
Recently, I made my debut at Iris and had an amazing experience! William Leclair is the most talent, kind hearted, incredible person as well as a fantastic producer. He's amazing and I'm so floored he wanted to bring me on with him. Such great vibes. I'm definitely a go-getter with unquenchable energy and drive, but these people have definitely inspired me to continue forward to reach my full potential, and then some!
Early on, someone warned me that my credibility would always be in doubt so I've broken my back to make certain I could beat match blindfolded and never depend on BPM displays or wave forms. He had been the one to insist I get CDJs and learn with tape over the BPM meter in order to play entirely by ear and I'm extremely glad I did. It's been really nice especially recently to have people and other DJs surprised to see me "flying blind" or playing without having my files analyzed by Rekordbox. It's definitely something I take pride in. So of course there have been challenges. I've sent hundreds of emails and messages I'll never receive a response to, disadvantages placed on me for being a female, and plenty of other rejections that have absolutely nothing to do with my gender. It's a constant grind that every aspiring artist faces. Challenges are presumed and I've no plan of staying down at anything that tries to knock me down.
Most important, favorite, or memorable experience so far?
Goodness I don't even know where to begin with this! I've been so lucky to have played some really cool gigs. The time that stands out the most to me would probably be the time I got to play at The Georgia Theatre rooftop for Flux Pavilion's after party. I had so many friends show up and it was absolutely crazy. We got rained out near the end but the entire crowd was screaming my name. It was surreal. I still go back and watch the videos to this day.
Also, when I met Alison Wonderland it was a pretty riveting experience. I used to spend a lot of time researching artists to learn about how they got to where they are today. Meeting her allowed me to turn a huge corner with that mentality. I was able to thank her and share my own dreams and ambitions and hear her vocalised support, which was simply unreal. But more importantly I came to realise that these people are people just like us. There's no big secret to getting where they are, or achieving my own personal goals. What she did for me as an inspiration is absolutely incredible. After I met her, I went on a 2AM tattoo adventure with her photographer. Now I have "Calm Down" in her handwriting tattooed on my side along with a video her photographer took that got posted to Alison Wonderland's social media page. It was unforgettable but also an important lesson I learned in living my life to the fullest and following my own path instead of trying to emulate the path others took.
Looking beyond the local scene, of course there's Alison Wonderland. My dawg. I wouldn't be here without her and meeting her was life changing. Artistically, Lido is my personal production God. Then there's Hucci. Fuckin' Hucci. Love that guy. There's also Stooki Sound, Senojnayr, and Mija. Oh and Haim. Totally unrelated but those girls are the most musically talented and incredible individuals on the face of the earth. Don't even try to fight me on that!
I also want to call out Julien Baker and Halsey as well. They seem totally random and different, but they're both strong lyricists and exceptional poets. They altered the way I write songs because they gave me a sense of liberation from traditional boundaries and expectations. Halsey has such an ethereal and otherworldly magic about her music, while Julien is extremely grounding and honest. They both hold an extremely powerful amount of influence over me as an artist.
I'll always love the vibe of a house or bass gig. However, with my own teetering emotional states and having music as my therapeutic release, there's absolutely no telling the direction my music is going to take. All I care is that I love it and I am confident in it even if the rest of the world turns out to hate it.
As a DJ, I do take almost every gig I'm offered. I love the challenge of accepting a gig for a type of music I've never listened to. I love the challenge of tops and pop and conducting a crowd. I love watching people bang their heads over an explosion of household noises. I just love music in any and all forms. I hope I get opportunities to play all kinds of it for as long as I can.
Overall, I'd love to be a semi-successful DJ and artist under my own name. Nothing huge, I'd be happy to fly commercial! I'd also love to be an overall well-rounded producer. I'd love to release and produce my own records as well work with other artists. I just think it'd be so cool to drop a bass album and then crank out a hip hop record for a rapper, or some alternative electro vibe shit for a vocalist. Even have a hand on a Top 40s pop record. I don't even need the credit. If I can make a living on nothing but music, that's all I really need. For me, it's not about the fancy things, money, or even a huge fan base. I just need me, my art, and my honesty. Nothing else but air and a whole lot of love.
A big thank you to Kello Romo for taking the time to answer our questions! Follow her on social media to be in the know about her next gigs and new releases!
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