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Meet Robi D Light, DJ in NYC’s LGBTQ Nightlife – Flygirl Interview
Posted by Mandy Randhawa on July 19, 2017
Meet Robi D Light: LGBTQ DJ on coming up in NYC
If you’re familiar with the queer scene in New York, you may have heard of Robi D Light. Last year, Robi won Go Magazine Reader’s Choice Award for best R&B DJ. She’s spun for everyone from Nina Sky to The Rockefeller Foundation to the Harlem School of the Arts to the Stonewall Community Foundation—and she’s bringing her distinct New-York-bred vibe to Hershe, our banger of a Pride closing party.
But first, check out her experiences as a female DJ and earning awesome gigs.
Flygirl: How did you start DJing?
Robi: After graduating college, I lived in Portland, Oregon for a few years. I was hanging around the community radio station, KBOO 90.7FM, volunteering to do different tasks. I hosted a few late night music shows, took a stab at reporting, and operated any equipment I could get my hands on. It was in this setting that my curiosity with DJing began.
A few years later, I saved up enough money to buy two Technics turntables and a Vestax PMC05 mixer. Spent a long time in the bedroom practicing until finally, some years later, I played my first gig at a coffee shop in Brooklyn!
Flygirl: ￼You’ve spun for big name stores and worked with Jam Master Jay’s company. ￼What’s the most memorable gig you’ve ever played?
Robi: Working with Scratch Music Group has been an incredible experience. The most memorable is definitely when I was asked to open for Lady Bunny. She’s such a hoot in the DJ booth, wonderful wit and humour. I giggled throughout my entire set. It was awesome.
Flygirl: What was it like coming up as a DJ in a city like New York?
Robi: Humbling. There is a lot to learn, so much to wrap your head around. Most of what I know now I acquired on the fly in real time at real, live events. I made a ton of mistakes. I’m still figuring things out, but most of the foundational skills are set, which is a great feeling.
Flygirl: The DJ industry is notoriously sexist. Did you have any challenges as a female DJ?
Robi: Yes, of course! It’s almost always the same scenario. You arrive to your gig. The “sound guy” assumes you have no idea what you’re doing. And then the little dance begins. My favorite was when this guy demonstrated how to connect my headphones to the mixer. Really dude? If I don’t know where the headphones go, I should go work at Wells Fargo or something! Boy bye. Out of the booth!
￼￼￼Flygirl: You play at both clubs and huge stores like H&M and Sak’s. Are there any interesting differences between playing at a club and say, a Topshop?
Robi: At a club, you are engaging with a live audience: people who are eager to dance. Any wrong turn, and they’ll let you know immediately. I think in that setting it’s best to take some time early on to gain the audience’s trust. In a store, your role is to create a fun and upbeat environment. Shoppers will definitely cut a rug here and there, but mostly they are browsing so you can feel free to showcase a new routine idea or try out some interesting tracks at any time.
Flygirl: ￼With New York’s rich history of music, have you found that your style has been influenced ￼uniquely because of that history?
Robi: ￼Definitely. I think my DJ style, the techniques I use, is very New York. Back when I was first starting out, I studied the sets of some of my favorite local DJs and tried to mimic the skills they were using. You’re not just playing tracks willy-nilly. A good DJ knows which track to bring in, ￼when and how to bring it in, and how to take the current track out.
Thanks for taking the time, Robi!
Grab your tickets to check Robi out at Pride’s grand finale, Hershe!