‘LL: Any unique situations or obstacles being a woman in the industry? You even say in the beginning; your boyfriend didn’t take you seriously.

AB: I mean I still think women in male-dominated industries always come up with the same issues. It’s always about not being as paid as much, not being taken as seriously, being put in roles that are more geared towards women so a lot of times, club promoters will ask me if I want to host versus DJ. So, I always say no. Because that’s not what I’m here for. It’s kind of like, it’s hard and the thing I’ve also noticed over time which is also true with a lot of male-dominated industries, the people who have really helped me along the way, and have given me a platform, have been other women. Overall I would say women helping women is how you succeed in this industry.

‘LL: Is there camaraderie among women DJs?

AB: Yeah and not only with DJs, but women who are in a position to book for events because there’s a lot of women who booked me. There’s a lot of women who recommended me. There’s a lot of female artists who supported me. That’s why I’ve noticed over time.

‘LL: It seems as if women are usually the gatekeepers in these industries. Not visible but usually the people you probably need to go through to make something happen. Also as a Latina, does that give you a different edge or make you stand out in any way or maybe create obstacles?

AB: No, not obstacles. I think the community is very supportive and I’ve met a lot of amazing people. Latin Mix is a great platform. It’s been a great platform for me over the years and I actually won an award in 2011. It’s just groups like that. The Latino community overall has just been very supportive of me so that’s given me an edge, but I don’t really see any obstacles except that I’m not, I don’t play a lot of Spanish music. So, a lot of people have reached out to me to do all Latin parties, but I don’t specialize in that, I specialize in hip-hop so that might be the only challenge for me is turning down gigs.

‘LL: So, you grew up on hip-hop. Who were you looking up to? I know you mentioned Funkmaster Flex but who were you trying to emulate when you were practicing?

AB: When I was practicing, I really watched a lot of Kid Capri’s shows, videos. I’ve followed him. When I moved to New York, DJ Camillo was a big influence. He’s a great DJ. I would say, like, other than that, I think I just kind of had a vision for myself and followed that, what I wanted to do. Each year it was a new goal. Okay, this year, I want to release my own music or this year I want to travel internationally or this year, I want to be on radio, or you know? So, there was [always] something I was working towards.

‘LL: What’s been the biggest or most memorable moment for you so far in your career?

AB: Well, I think the most memorable for me because it’s what people still talking about is being on Hot 97 on Funk Flex’s show. I felt like all of New York was listening. My social media was blowing up. At that time, a lot of people didn’t know, but I was having a really hard time and had moved to Ohio the month before. When Flex called me to do Hot 97, I had to fly back to New York, and it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. That platform enabled me to get bookings that sustained me to be able to return to New York. So, it was this pivotal moment for me where I was almost giving up, you know what I mean? I was at this point where I was like, maybe this isn’t for me and it’s so hard and I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but they called me and asked me to get on the show. Then people started calling me, saying I was so good! And they just started booking me like crazy, so I moved back.

‘LL: Any special advice or saying that’s stuck with you?

AB: Just practice. I mean for me as a DJ, or even as an artist, practice your craft, don’t give up and just be consistent. Keep going because you know the hard work really does pay off. I always feel like when I put in the work, it pays off.

‘LL: How do you balance being a DJ and being a mom?

AB: That’s always been a challenge for me. I’ve been very fortunate. My son was born when I was attending Penn State and luckily, I had a really supportive group of friends and family. I was able to graduate college, and he was on Penn State campus with me. He’s grown up knowing me as a DJ so it’s kind of like, we don’t know anything else. There was time when he was younger I missed out on a lot but was also able to have more a flexible schedule to be there too. So yeah, it’s a challenge when I must travel, luckily, my family is always very helpful. I mean I’m a single mom so that’s a double whammy. I mean it’s any career where a single woman has challenges. But my son is now 16 and very interested in DJing as well. So, I’m getting him started a little.

‘LL: How do you begin to sift through and find music?

AB: What people don’t realize as a DJ, I spend a considerable number of hours just filtering through and downloading and organizing music. It’s definitely a job in itself and not only that but I also have to arrange bookings and travel and all of that. It’s a lot.

‘LL: What do you have going on right now?

AB: I’m doing SiriusXM this month, I’m a featured mixer for a woman, all women, mix show which is going to be really cool.

‘LL: Nice, when is that?

AB: It’s happening in March. I [also] have a new podcast series. I’ve been doing podcasts for a long time before a lot of people jumped in and started doing them. The new podcast series is called Miami Nights and it’s all new music. I also became a partner in a new recording studio in Miami, Miami Recording Studio, so I’m using that opportunity to create platforms for artists that come there to record and use my expertise or knowledge to help guide them, like the role of A&R without the actual record label. Helping to transform and guide artists because a lot of artists, I would say 99 percent, have no clue about anything or where to start. All they know is they want to record a song but have no idea what to do after that, so I’m really excited about that opportunity. So yeah. I’m doing a little bit of everything.

Keep up with Amanda Blaze online via her website djamandablaze.com as well as on twitter @DJAmandaBlaze.

 

 

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About The Author

Navani Otero is a New York City based multi-media journalist. Her work has been published in The New York Post, Latina, XXL Magazine, In Touch Weekly, msnNOW and MTV News. The self-professed music junkie splits her free time helping out on The Heavy Hitters Radio Show on SiriusXM and mentoring aspiring teen writers. You can read her observations on life at www.navaniknows.com.

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