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DJ Riki Rocket Interview: “Getting to Perform For a Crowd In Person Is Such A Privilege” | Chicas & Hershe
Posted by Mandy Randhawa on June 24, 2022
DJ Riki Rocket is a Canadian DJ and electronic music producer.
She navigates the DJ & music industry as an Indigenous queer woman.
Read on for her story, how she got started, and a decade spent in the UK music scene.
We are so grateful to have you as our resident DJ and can’t wait to celebrate Pride 2022 with you.
Flygirl: You are a true polymath, with demonstrated talent in sound design, promotions, music production, skiing, and, of course, as a DJ. Do you find that each of your roles in the music field spark new creativity in the others? For example, how does working on sound design influence your work as a DJ?
DJ Riki Rocket: Learning sound design for digital media has definitely created a broader mindset for my production and DJ’ing. Understanding frequencies and knowing how to make impactful drops while blending genres and transitioning bpms allows me to create a more diverse soundscape for the listener and during a live set, I can create more of a musical journey.
Flygirl: Do you have a favourite way to work with sound? If so, what part of it do you love the most?
DJ Riki Rocket: I love producing and playing on my keyboard and creating a bassline that makes me smile. It’s my favourite thing to do and then I have to play it out on all my different speakers and tweak it and play it so many times—and then it just sits in some folders on my computer haha. I have started so many productions, but it’s hard to sit still and finish one at a time. I usually have 4 or 5 tracks that I bounce around between. I really enjoy it, and often I don’t release my favourite tracks and edits, but I will play in live DJ sets.
Flygirl: You started DJing while living in Brighton, England. Had you grown up with a lot of music around? Was being a DJ something you’d thought about for a while?
DJ Riki Rocket: I grew up watching Much Music and loved all kinds of stuff in my early teens, my family listened to rock, which I didn’t mind, but I liked any kind of dance music I could get hold of. The first time I saw a female DJ was in New Zealand in the late ’90s. I remember keeping that flyer for a long time, and it was so inspiring to see this beautiful black woman spinning vinyl records in a lounge. I hung out after and asked her where all her music had come from, who was making it, and where to get hold of it. She said, “London baby, you need to go to the UK.” I was hooked, inspired, and wanted to see these clubs she talked about, so I made my way there in 1999 and stayed for the next decade.
Flygirl: Who are some of your musical heroes or influences?
DJ Riki Rocket: I have quite a few, but all for different reasons. Living in Brighton and going to legendary parties like The Big Beach Boutique with Fatboy Slim, especially the one in 2002 with 250,000 people. That was unreal, and after that I did start my DJ career. I love Norman Cook, he’s awesome and has great energy and is lovely to be around. I would say Dulcie Danger and King K from Brighton were definitely some influences when I was living there and JFB also, I was a student of his at Access to Music in his turntable classes. He’s a legendary DMC Champ. Sam Divine is a big inspiration too, love her. Production-wise I would have to give props to Dr. Fresch, who has given me feedback on some of my productions and Pineo & Loeb who have taken the time to have one on one phone calls to discuss music and production with me. Anyone who is passionate about music, creating a scene and giving back to the community is a hero in my eyes.
Flygirl: What do you love about being a DJ?
DJ Riki Rocket: Playing something so unexpected at the right moment and watching people get that nostalgic thrill, dancing the night away with friendly faces and feeling so carefree and happy. I love those joyous moments.
Flygirl: As an Indigenous, queer, female, we imagine there are many challenges you have faced in the music industry. Do you have any advice for anyone who might be facing similar challenges, anything you want to share that you’ve learned or that got you through?
DJ Riki Rocket: It’s a big and wonderful world and there is room for you to shine. If your local music venue doesn’t book you or appreciate your style, then throw your net wider. Network online, find promoters and event managers who you think you’d be a good fit with and ask for future gigs, find mentors, create and share your work, and never take criticism personally.
Flygirl: The Vancouver Pride theme this year is Together Again, as Pride, and the whole country, return to more in-person events. How did Covid and the shift to virtual events affect you as an artist? As a person? Did you find you were able to be creative during the isolation times, or was it a challenge? Are there any lessons or learnings you want to share from that time?
DJ Riki Rocket: Dang you Covid! It was sad and hard for sure. Watching good friends lose their business and livelihoods was absolutely heartbreaking. I did learn to stream and broadcast, which is nice to keep learning, but overall it was a major challenge for me mentally and emotionally. I found the isolation hard. It was great to have the ability to connect online, but nothing beats the real thing.
Getting to perform for a crowd in person is such a privilege and now that we’re back, I am living for it, and I’ve been creating my best production and sets recently. The only certainty in life is uncertainty. Change is constant, life goes on, carpe diem and all that jazz, those lessons are timeless.
Flygirl: What is the next goal you have for your music career? Or What is a dream of yours for the future?
DJ Riki Rocket: I want to keep producing tracks that I’m really proud of. I’m gonna make an effort to travel more and take those international bookings again. Future dreams include becoming a record label boss and curating fabulous festival lineups and events with mama Rupaul where BIPOC and queer artists are the main headliners.
Thanks for chatting with us, DJ Riki Rocket! To get to know her better and check out her work, head over to her website.
And don’t forget to get your Pride tickets here.