Exclusive Interview With New York Based Techno DJ – Miss Sheila
Miss Sheila was born in South Africa, then moved to New York by the age of 7, there she lived her childhood and as a teenager moved to Portugal where she soon discovered clubbing, dance music and DJs. Fascinated by the art of mixing records and music, she decided to learn and she quickly gets invited to spin at a local night club were she is heard by a DJ agency that immediately proposed management. In 1999 Miss Sheila started to spin on a regular basis at the hottest underground clubs and festivals in the country, that helped her get much attention and in 2001 she was nominated for the best newcomer award by Dance Club Magazine.
Since then she has received lots of TV, magazine, and radio exposure. Miss Sheila has gained notoriety for her vibes, at the time weaving from house music to tech house and techno. She has played in Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, USA, Canada, Africa, etc. and has also played alongside many of today’s superstar DJs.
Miss Sheila released the track “Sheila’s Temptation” co-produced with Joeski on Tango Records in 2001, that gave way to her future releases as a producer till nowadays, on labels like Autektone, Happy Techno, Unity Records or her own imprint Digital Waves, were she releases original tunes by national and international talent. Miss Sheila has proved to be consistent, charismatic and a friendly DJ, she’s definitely taken female DJing into a whole new era in her country and now looks forward to showing the world why her unique technique and rhythm gave her the title of Queen of Techno in Portugal.
1) How Did You First Get Into DJing And Producing Electronic Dance Music?
I got interested in djing after I started going to my first raves and clubs, that same year I opened a bar and built a dj booth where I started exploring the art of mixing, a short while after that I was invited to play at a club where there happened to be a Artist agent who was there with other DJ’s he represented and he signed me on the spot. I started producing electronic music about 2 years after I started djing, it was a must if we wanted to stand out.
2) Who Are Some Of Your Biggest Influences In The Industry?
I used to have many back in the day but as my skills evolved it also became harder to wow me. Nowadays I definitely look at Charlotte de Witte and other women like her who have finally broken the barrier in the djing world that was mainly male dominated.
3) Can You Walk Us Through Your Process For Creating A New Track?
Well I normally start by defining exactly where I want the track to head , after that I begin to mess around with beats and baselines until I get the perfect groove, then come the synths where I try to fit them seamlessly to the beats. Once all is put together I look for the hook or even better the cherry on top!
4) How Do You Prepare For A Gig? Do You Have Any Pre-Performance Rituals Or Routines?
Well I spent the week looking for and buying new music to play. Once I’m at the gig I usually get a drink and then feel the crowd so that I know exactly where I need to be sound wise to get the party started.
5) What Has Been Your Favorite Gig Or Event To Play At So Far In Your Career?
I’ve had many, too many to choose one specific one, I’ve been blessed to play amazing gigs and events all over but I feel more than ever that now the sky’s the limit.
6) What Do You Enjoy Most About Performing As A DJ?
It’s what I do best, it’s what I love to do for many years now. I have the privilege to choose what I know as great music and share it with a crowd that wants to listen to it as much as I want to play it for them. It’s the perfect storm.
7) Can You Share Any Memorable Experiences Or Anecdotes From Your Time As A DJ And Producer?
Well I have plenty that have made me laugh, cry and even run like for example many years ago I was playing at a beach party and the booth was a little hut made out of wood and hay, some how the strobe controller sparked and set a small fire to the hay, I tried to run at first but the door to the hut was crowded with other people trying to get out so I literally grabbed my records and stared to put out the fire, it worked thankfully but I did mess up some records. After that I cried! LoL
8) How Do You Stay Current And Find New Music To Play At Your Gigs?
Well I’m always on top of my game, I listen to a lot of music and can easily pick up on the ever changing styles even in my generation, and I’m one to appreciate that, I call it consistency in evolution.
9) What’s Next For You In Terms Of New Projects Or Goals?
My main goal now as a dj is to share my music and skills with the world and continue as a producer to evolve and have my music played by the best and heard by all.
10) In Your Free Time, What Do You Like To Do Outside Of Music? Do You Have Any Hobbies Or Passions Outside Of The Industry?
Yes! I’m a recent mom and there’s nothing I love more than spending time with my son!
11) How Do You Adapt Your Sets To Fit The Energy And Vibe Of The Crowd At Each Gig?
I have enough music for any situation that may appear from high energy or dark melodic and much more. FYI there’s always the bpms! I must confess though I favor high energy uplifting techno.
12) What Are Some Challenges You’ve Faced As A DJ And How Have You Overcome Them?
My biggest challenge was being a woman! When I first started I quickly realized I would have to work twice as hard to earn the respect of my colleagues and the industry that was mostly male dominated as I mentioned before, and it was like that for well over a decade of my career, thankfully things have changed and nothing gives me greater pleasure knowing that I was a part of the change.
13) How Do You Think The Electronic Dance Music Industry Has Changed Since You First Started Out?
Well for one it’s changed a lot due to the extreme abundance of music, events etc.. Back in the day the “underground music movement” was exactly that “underground” it was known to a few people only. So now it can even be considered mainstream but again that’s called evolution and I can appreciate it entirely.
14) What Do You Hope To Achieve With Your Music In The Long-Term?
I hope to leave my mark in the electronic dance scene although I do believe I have accomplished that in my country and I am very grateful it’s time to leave it on the rest of the world, who knows!?
15) Can You Share Any Tips Or Advice For Aspiring DJs And Producers Who Are Just Starting Out In The Industry?
Work hard and work with passion, stay humble on your way up because you might just cross roads with everyone on your way down.
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