Asli, 25, has been DJing for two years. She loves it when people celebrate her music – and hates it when you call her a DJane.
As a DJ, you have to be well connected in the nightlife. In addition to DJing, I also work as an organizer and do party series in Mannheim and Stuttgart, where I also stand at the bar from time to time. I’ve been playing hip-hop for two years and work a lot with African and Brazilian influences. Being a DJ has become easier today than it used to be. The technology is more accessible, you don’t need tens of thousands of records or turntables anymore. If you start DJing with an electronic DJ controller, i.e. a mixer and MP3 files, you’ll get in there pretty quickly. As a result, there are currently an incredible number of DJs who want to play in clubs. You have to assert yourself in this market first, it takes some time until you have made a name for yourself and people take you seriously.How I learned to hang up
I’ve always loved going dancing, but most of the time at parties the music that really suited my taste was never played. Then two friends of mine started DJing and I wanted to try it myself. When I had enough money together, I bought a DJ controller. A few months later, I was at a house party. The music there was not cool at all and did not bring any mood. Then I hung up spontaneously and everyone freaked out. I found the feeling so cool that I said, I want to do that from now on. After a bit of practice, I started hosting a hip-hop party series with friends. Then came the second party row. Since then, I have also been booked by other clubs for their parties.
As a woman, it takes longer to be taken seriously as a DJ. Guys often come to parties and tell me which song to play. I find that blatantly offensive – I don’t tell them how to do their job. Once someone came here after my gig and said: “I wouldn’t have thought, but it was already cool.” Then he gave me a note as a tip. It also happens that guys reach into my blender. Of course, this is not possible. In general, however, it is unfortunately part of the job that everyone always thinks they can do it better than you. Every DJ experiences that, it has nothing to do with a woman or a man. I also don’t play certain songs because I’m a woman, it’s about the music. By the way, I don’t like the word DJane, which has become so established, but has nothing to do with DJing itself. The profession is called disc jockey – i.e. DJ.
I have almost 10,000 songs on my computer right now that I could play on a DJ set. There are songs that I play every night and there are songs that I play once in five gigs. But I also plan before each event what the mood should be and what music I want to play. I usually get the music via iTunes or buy the whole CD. I don’t see myself as an artist. In order to really be considered an artist as a DJ, you should also produce your own music. Nevertheless, I do not see myself as a service provider, because in my work there is a lot of my own taste in it and thus also a lot of passion.A typical working day
Everyday life depends on whether I am booked or hosting my own parties. At my own parties, I am the first person in the club, set up, make decorations and talk to the door or the bar about the course of the evening. Then it starts, first relaxed music runs until the people arrive. It all depends on the mood. If people want to leave, it goes off. If you are booked externally as a DJ, you first come to the club for a soundcheck, everything is ready, then you plug in your electronics and start playing music. What many forget is the time you spend doing your job during the day. You spend hours looking for music and preparing it for the club. I pre-sort into playlists at home, so I always have the right songs ready for a set.
In fact, earnings are always different. I know many organizers and bar owners, so I play for less money. In a bar I usually only take 100 to 150 euros, although I play there all night. In clubs you don’t get more at the beginning, but now I have bookings that are between 250 and 400 euros. On average, I get 800 euros net per month. If you play more gigs a month, you can make a very good living from it. But I don’t just work as a DJ, I also work as an organizer and manage an artist from Mannheim. So DJing isn’t my only source of income. By the way, the job is not done with two to three hours in the evening. The preparation takes a lot of time and most of the money is then put back into new music, which you buy for the next gigs.
Because I’m usually awake until 6 a.m., I have to plan my week very carefully. Even though I usually don’t drink anything when I hang up, I’m totally in my ass after a three-hour set. Then it would be better not to have much to do the next day. It also happens that I hang up on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Then I’m usually dead on Sunday and turn off my phone. As a DJ, you always have fun and celebrate, but you are still fully focused and have to entertain a club full of people.
I want people at my gigs to feel like they can dance and look like they want. I also find it cool and not at all disturbing when people ask me what a certain song is called. That’s a compliment to my work and I’m happy when people get to know new music through me.The question that is always asked at parties
When I say that I hang up, everyone is incredulous at first. Most people don’t see it as a real job and think I’m just partying. When I tell them that I’ve already played at a festival, had gigs in Berlin and Düsseldorf and organize two party series myself, people take me more seriously and think my job is cool.”