Interview with DJ CLA

by Marc Jay
07.09.2010

Marc Jay: So as long as I can remember, men have been dominating the DJ world, but right now, there is a very special girl, by the name of DJ CLA, who has been playing in Vegas and on the West Coast making a storm.  Today we’re at Azure Pool, where she’s getting the party jumping. Tell us a bit about yourself.  Where did you come from?  How did you become a DJ?

CLA: I come from California. I fell into DJing. I was in college and it was a side job that I did on the weekends… extra money, you know. One day I was at a gig, and I was watching the crowd dance. I think I was getting paid $20 an hour at that time, and you know, that’s pretty good for an hourly rate. It didn’t feel like work for me and that’s when I realized I wanted to DJ. I was like, “Wow, everybody’s happy around me, I’m playing music, they’re dancing, they’re having a great time. Maybe I want to pursue this a little bit more.” So I bought my own turntables, practiced at home, hit up house parties, fraternity/sorority parties, and just got my feet wet here and there. I graduated college, ended up moving to Vegas, and then, meeting a lot of people in this town and this industry, I saw that you could make a living being a DJ here. So, I just got into the scene here, made good connections, good friends, learned from them, went to clubs, and studied my friends who DJed. Luckily, a lot of my DJ friends are guys that have been in the industry for like 15 years, so it definitely helped as a female, because female DJs weren’t really big during the time that I started. But I think in the past four or five years it’s really started to come up. You want to see a hot girl, right?

Marc Jay: I love watching you. I always think watching you in the booth alone is an experience because you’re jumping up and down every minute. You’re having your own party in the DJ booth.

CLA: Hell yea! I have my own party! You know, I want to have a good time just like the people out there.  If they see the DJ having a good time, then they’ll have a good time. That’s how I am, if I see somebody having a good time, I want to dance and have a good time.

Marc Jay: Now I know you play all over Vegas, but give us some places where you’ve played in town.

CLA: I’ve played at Voodoo Lounge—I was a resident there—it was one of my first residencies. I’ve played at Club Rio and right now I’m a resident at TAO, I’ve been there for about two and a half years—TAO and Lavo. I played at Revolution, the Beatles Lounge, and I’ve done a couple one-off events over at Jet.

Marc Jay: I see you so often at the airport. I feel like you must work at an airline.

CLA: Yea, I live in my suitcase.

Marc Jay: How do you get most of these bookings, and where are you playing mostly now?

CLA: Unfortunately, I don’t have a manager right now—I do it all by myself. I have friends who support and love me and believe in me, and I think it’s mainly word-of-mouth, so I get referrals from that.  I’ve played in New York... I used to be a resident in the Bahamas; once a month they’d fly me out there.  I’ve been to New Orleans, Portland, and Texas recently and I go to LA a lot. I work for a promotion team out there who’s gotten down to San Diego, to Orange County, Huntington Beach.  Oh, and I go to San Francisco once a month—every third Friday, I have a residency up there. I just try to hit up the market—you know, West Coast is where I’m from and where I live, so that’s pretty much my base. I hope to do more internationally next year… that’s my goal.

Marc Jay: When you look at the top 100 DJs, there probably aren’t even 10 girls on that list. Why do you think that is? What advice would you give to girls reading this who want to pursue a career of DJing?

CLA: It’s been a male-dominated industry since the beginning. Unfortunately there are gender stereotypes—like, oh, guys can do things better than girls—but I want to prove that as a female in this industry I can rock it the same or even as better than a guy. Just being surrounded by positive friends and DJs who support you is great. It’s not competition, it’s just about love and teaching and sharing your knowledge. Fortunately, I’ve had friends like that like Vice, Eric D-Lux, Scratchy, a lot of the Skam artist DJs.

Marc Jay: So a lot of people notice you, not just because you’re a great DJ, but because your whole arm is covered in tattoos. What do they symbolize? When did you get them done?

CLA: The reason why I got this and a lot of tattoos on my body are because of a period in my life. I love Japanese culture. On my left arm are cherry blossoms and I just started adding a Geisha girl and butterflies. Cherry blossoms symbolize femininity, power, change—I’ve been going through that.  And a Geisha is a person of the arts—they’re good at their craft, whether its poetry, music, conversation—they’re loyal to whoever they’re with.  I’m loyal to my music.  I’m loyal to getting forward and just being positive and pushing out the music. My compensation is just seeing everybody happy and just being humbled by people who come up to me and say, “You’re an amazing DJ. Thank you for tonight.”

Marc Jay: I also hear that you’ve just taken a new residency at a new hot spot pool. Tell us a bit more about that.

CLA: Yes, I just got Azure Pool at the Palazzo Hotel Fridays. It’s called “Femme Fridays,” with female DJs. It’s amazing.  It’s a really nice intimate pool.  Everybody has a good time, they tan, and there are great day beds, cabanas, and the food is amazing. I just had a wrap—a vegetarian wrap—and it was actually really, really good, made by Wolfgang Puck. I like this pool. If you don’t like that crowdedness and not having your own space, and you want to dance, this is an amazing pool to go to, for sure.

Marc Jay: How would you describe your style of music?

CLA: I play everything from hip hop and R&B to reggae and house. I love house and electro—deep, vocal, soulful house. I think being open to many genres as a DJ will open more and more doors for you, instead of limiting you, and it definitely has brought me so much farther than if I was just DJing hip-hop or if I were just DJing house.

Marc Jay: You say you don’t have an agent at the moment. How does somebody get in touch with you if they want to book you for a special event?

CLA: Yes, for sure. I have my own website, www.djcla.com, MySpace—it’s myspace.com/spinningaddiction. I also have a twitter @DJCLA and a Facebook as well (facebook.com/djcla).  My booking information is on my website. There are also a couple mixes you can download from there as well as a resume with past residencies, a bio, pictures… so you can find me on there.

Marc Jay: How did you come up with your name? 

CLA: Well, you know, it was so hard to figure out a DJ name, so my best friend actually came up with a name for me. C for Carla, my first name, and then LA because I’m from the LA area—so CLA.  Also, during that time, LL Cool J’s song had sprung—it used to be one of the popular songs and in the beginning of the song he goes, “They call me Big LA,” so she’s like, “This should be your start-up song.” I would just throw that on during house parties and everybody would get wild, so I just stuck with it.

Marc Jay: Tell us what the future holds for you. Where do you see yourself in the next five, ten years?

CLA: Next year, my goal is to go international.  I want to hit up Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, you know, just get in that kind of market, because if you go international, it’s pretty big. The states are limited—you can only go so far. I also really want to get into producing, making my own beats.

Marc Jay: Who are your top favorite DJs?

CLA: It’s crazy… some of them are big, and some of them are not, because some of them are my friends, and I still look at them as rock stars, but they’re also personal to me.  So, number one is Vice. Vice is amazing, reason being he’s so versatile and he always knows how to keep up the energy. For house music I love Deadmau5, Morillo is always amazing, Roger Sanchez—I saw him for the first time in Miami at WMC. There’s also Chuckie. I love his beats, his electro beats, the horns just gets everybody hyped.  And Guetta is good, I love seeing Guetta.

Marc Jay: Finally, is there a message you want to give to our Clubplanet readers?

CLA: For all the support and all the love from my fans and people who respect female DJs going into this craft, and have an open heart and have open ears and an open mind… thank you for ROCKING IT OUT!

Click here to follow Marc Jay on Twitter! Click here to become a fan of Inside Sin City with Marc Jay!

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