Lindsay Luv is a DJ and lifestyle curator at the very top of her game. She started her career in NYC, but now she makes her home in sunny Los Angeles where she spins records for some of the biggest names in the world. She is a truly global personality and has spun parties everywhere; from the top of the Empire State building to huge events in Dubai. Some of her major clients include Victoria’s Secret, Phillip Lim, Richard Branson’s Virgin, and she also happens to be a cultural insider for the Andaz Hotels. In the following interview, we chat about how her career took off, her fashion style and her fast-paced, unpredictable schedule. Read more below …
“DJ AM was a huge inspiration to me – his sets were about showcasing great music…”
How did you first get into DJ’ing – did you always have a love for music growing up?
I have always loved music and grew up with parents who inspired me with their vast collection of vinyls from the Stones to Neil Young to Blondie and Jimi Hendrix. I was that kid in school who was hitting up lots of local shows, buying the bootlegs of each concert, and sharing my finds with anyone who would listen. I started my professional path working in the music industry from various business angles: digital distribution, brand development, A&R, artist bookings and assisting on the management team for The Raveonettes. But my stint in event marketing as the NYC Program Director for a Chicago-based music marketing firm had me booking artists like Chromeo, The Presets, Justice and the late DJ AM, who became my mentor into the DJ world. Our mutual interest in discovering emerging artists and sharing our finds had him suggest I give DJing a whirl. From there I took my vinyls and basics to a friend’s club basement in NYC during the day and taught myself how to spin. An eventual residency at club Ella led to more and more bookings in NYC club/events scene and eventually things spread nationally and internationally.
Were there any musicians or other DJ’s that inspired you to go this route?
DJ AM was a huge inspiration to me as his sets were really about showcasing great music and throwing in zingers- the unexpected within the expected. He didn’t just give the crowd what they thought they wanted- i.e., top 40 radio hits- he gave them what he was feeling. Tunes that make you say, “Who sings that, I love it!” In a landscape that was very much still a ‘boys club’ I hadn’t seen a lot of, if any, females rockin the decks and I wanted to shed some boundaries there. One of the only female DJs I knew of and played with at the time was Roxy Cottontail, and while we have very different styles I had a lot of respect for any woman holding court in that scene so early on. Also, there is my old friend, and fellow 80’s music lover, Cindy Kim who I would play with often in NYC.
What did you study in college? Did you spend a lot of college partying?
I studied communications in college at the U of MASS Amherst. I spent a healthy amount of time partying but nothing more than the average college kid. I was really there to get an education so I put in all the work and I graduated with high honors. I guess I saved my party pants for New York City to follow!
What are the best and worst things about DJ’ing that a lot of people may not know about?
The best things are getting to help introduce and break out new artists and tunes. There are a lot of parties where people come up to me asking about songs and artists I played and as a music geek first and foremost, this is the utmost perk of my job! I also think the change of scenery is inspiring and motivating. Through my touring and every event and scene I spin I get to work with different people at different venues for different crowds. I never get bored and never know what to expect walking into each gig! I also have made friends and mini families across the globe- people I can call on and say ‘Hey I’m coming back to ___(fill in the blank)” and they are there across the globe waiting for you!!
As for the worst things: I think the technology coming out today is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, programs like Scratch Live allow you to sink up your laptop to vinyl that has taken DJs a long way from lugging around crates of records. However, other programs took some of the tech work and love out of it and leave us with that ‘anyone can DJ now’ stereotype. I am old school in that I only use vinyls and I think all DJs should be able to beatmatch without a program doing it for them. Even if you suck to start with it is better to earn the respect through trying than cheating.
One other caution: when you work in the party scene you deal with some unruly or intoxicated people at times. While on occasion I might sip a celebratory flute of champagne, I am sober when working. Being approached by aggressive drunks or people who won’t let up on requesting a song is definitely not a perk.
You’ve done a lot of major celeb and industry parties and gigs for big global brands as well – do any particular gigs stand out as some of the best?
There are so many great gigs but the ones that stand out the most are spinning at the Playboy Mansion on my first night moving to LA from NYC. It was so iconic to my move! Also, spinning for Armani Privé in Dubai in the tallest building in the world- the Burj Khalifa- was insane as well as spinning for Maybelline at the top of the Empire State Building in NYC.
I have also DJ’ed for fascinating celebrities: Richard Branson for a massive Virgin charity event…totally charming.I spin regularly for Victoria’s Secret and have worked with most of the Angels. I remember sharing an intimate moment spinning a VS event the day after Angel Behati Prinsloo (with whom I became friendly) got engaged to Adam Levine. She shed some happy tears talking about it at this tiny press event –and it was special to share that moment with her and the VS family. Also, my best friend and host/judge extraordinaire, SPICE GIRL Mel B, had me spin with her performing on the Today Show in NYC during Christmas time and the snow was coming down around the tree and the whole thing was magical! So many more but these are a sampling of 3 I enjoyed a lot!
What’s the club/nightlife scene in LA like right now? – is it cool or are there some things you would love to change?
I started out in LA working largely in the club scene- I was a 3+ year resident DJ Saturday nights at the Mondrian Skybar on the sunset strip and rocked at other hotspots including TeaRoom, Las Palmas, The Roosevelt Hotel, and many more. But as the events’ world started booking me more and more I have kind of shifted to largely spinning high-end events these days stateside and clubs more internationally. LA nightlife is often subject to that ‘boys club’ mentality and makes it very tough for the lady spinners to book the headlining slots at the desired spots. I do think LA party-goers tend to like the tunes a bit more commercial than say NYC crowds. It is harder to break records here when many are just waiting to clock in their top 40 favorites. With that being said, LA has been pretty great to me in every scene— and nightlife has the same goal all over the world: to let loose and have fun dancing to great tunes!
What are 3 tracks that are guaranteed to rock at a party – no matter where you are?
Hmmm- I really feel like that changes with the times and the landscape of each party. If the club is more commercial then Wiggle by Snoop and Booty by JLO & Iggy will always perform. If it is a general house club most Aviici tracks will get the job done. And if it is an indie crowd, artists like Santigold and Solange are solid. If it’s a very general/more mellow crowd you really can’t go wrong with “Love Never Felt So Good’ by Michael Jackson!
What else do you do when you’re not DJ’ing – you seem like a really entrepreneurial type of lady?
A lot of my business ventures these days are behind the scenes in Sound Design and Blogging. I am currently a Cultural Insider for the Andaz Hotels, a Sound Stylist for Ian Schrager’s Public Hotels, an ongoing sound designer for Victoria’s Secret official Spotify and TheFuture.fm channels as well as for Lucille Roberts gyms, and I blog regularly about my happenings at http://lindsayluv.com. In addition I love to sketch my design ideas and recently collaborated with Andrew Marc on the LUV leather moto jacket which sold exclusively at Bloomingdales. A lot of my free time still revolves around music and ‘music meets fashion/lifestyle’, but in my extra spare time I love hiking, Bar Method, cooking and interior design!
Do you have any new ventures/gig coming up in 2015 that you’re really excited about?
In this world everything tends to come at you 2 weeks to 2 months before it happens so it is hard to ever give a great answer to that question. But there are always new exciting things coming in so stay tuned to my blog http://lindsayluv.com to follow along! I definitely have some potential touring to new places around the world (Berlin in March) on the docket as well as another possible design collaboration and much more stirring for the new year!
What’s your fashion style like – any particular brands or styles of dressing that you’re into?
I like to say I am rock n’roll chic. I love black and layers of black and moto jackets and cool boots or spiky heels. I only experiment with trends that make sense to my innate style and generally gravitate to a noir NYC style feel. But my home base is sunny California now so sometimes I stray into bohemian territory! I love high end couture and ready to wear designs, and especially enjoy my go to wear from TopShop, Rag&Bone, Urban Outfitters, Mcqueen, Mason, Pam&Gela, Versace and A.L.C. as well as all the cool stuff from brands I work with like Express, Guess, Victoria’s Secret, Phillip Lim, and Michael Stars, to name a few.
Sometimes do overly eager guys try and get your number while you’re playing a gig?
Haha, it definitely happens. But generally I think the female DJ position might be intimidating to most guys. It’s hard to approach as we are working hard and focused and not as easy to just start a convo with as say a girl standing at the bar.
Lastly finish this sentence for us: I love MUSIC because ….it is the soundtrack to everything in life!
Keep up with all of DJ Lindsay Luv’s major moves here.
All images by: Shannon Cottrell Photography
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