Name: Olivia Dope
Born & Raised: Brooklyn
Occupation: DJ, Designer & Dancer
XO GIRL: I don’t think people even realize that being a DJ takes a lot of work. Seventy-five percent of a great party relies on you! That’s a huge responsibility, how do you get prepared when you’re booked for an event?
OLIVIA: First off, I’m SO glad someone realizes the importance of the DJ (lol). The promoter/host may be the center of attention but its the DJ that controls the mood of the entire night. So if I decided to play depressing opera music all night your party is over before it starts. Thats how much power the DJ holds. What I usually do to prep myself actually has nothing to do with playing actual music. I pick what outfit I want to wear to express/inspire the current mood I’m in (90′s hip hop, 80s pop, etc)… The music I play that night directly reflects that.
XOGIRL: What kind of music influences were you introduced to when you we’re growing up?
OLIVIA: Being of Guyanese/West Indian decent, the genres of music I first introduced to was reggae, soca & calypso. My father also had an extensive R&B collection so I knew who of Stevie, Diana Ross, Barry White, Donny Hathaway, and other amazing artists like them by age 5. But I also wanna send a shout out to my parents for getting cable when I was 5 (lol). I watched MTV EVERYDAY so I was a young fan of bands like Nirvana, R.E.M., Green Day, Soundgarden, etc. Just lucky enough to be exposed to different styles early so the love grew naturally.
XOGIRL: There probably still more guys DJ’s dj’ing than girls, some girls would be a bit nervous about trying to pursuing it because of that. What pushed you to do it anyway?
OLIVIA: In 2008, after giving birth to my awesome daughter Ava, I also gave birth to fearlessness. Motherhood made me realize I gave birth a human being, I can make anything possible if I really wanted to. I love music so I want my happiness to be apart of my livelihood. So from that point on, anything I wanted to accomplish, I spoke it into existence then took actions necessary to make it happen, exactly how I wanted it to. DJing was no different. Yes, its a male dominated field but I made it work for me, a working single mother. I’m not in clubs on school nights like the men are, but I’m teaching middle school kids DJing classes after school dj’ing all the fashion & art events that I can bring Ava along with me and she can be exposed to culture. I made it work according to my lifestyle.
XOGIRL: You’re not only just a good DJ, we’ve noticed your style. What era of fashion influences your looks?
OLIVIA: Thank you! I really appreciate the compliment! As far as my style, I love all things pop culture. My favorite eras are 50′s glam/pin up (Marilyn) , 80s glam pop (Grace Jones), 90′s hip hop (TLC). Like I said before, it all depends on my mood at the moment.
XOGIRL: What was your most memorable moment while playing?
OLIVIA: My most memorable moment while DJing was when I DJed for Lil Kim during The Blonds New York Fashion Week party. It was just a really dope moment to be spinning for someone’s album you listened to on repeat growing up, now I was playing those same records while they performed live right in front of me. Surreal.
XOGIRL: Top 3 songs that make your heart smile?
OLIVIA: Top 3 Songs that make my heart smile are:
1. Why Don’t We Fall In Love – Amerie
2. Rock The Boat- Aaliyah
3. Rock With You – Michael Jackson… Clearly I’m a sucker for love, lol.
XOGIRL: What’s the toughest part of being a DJ?
OLIVIA: The toughest part about being a DJ is the financial respect. From the time we are booked, we don’t stop collecting songs and making playlists to create the perfect party for our clients. And on top of that, equipment is expensive & heavy, so there is a lot of work besides arriving at the party and playing for 4 hours. A lot of the time, people forget that and try to under pay the same people who make or break your event.
XOGIRL: What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
OLIVIA: The best advice I can give to someone who wants to become a DJ is study the craft. Study some of the greats and how they rock a party, the songs they choose, etc. Once you have an idea of what they’ve done to become a success, find your niche that will help you stand out from the rest.