Catch “DJ Honey” during her set in Europe and she’ll probably be donning a chic pantsuit with a pair of heels. But if you attend an after-hours house party in Los Angeles, she’ll be killing it in a streetwear look with some sneakers.
Bringing together her love for connecting with people over music, embracing fashion and traveling the globe, the international DJ who calls LA home has played gigs at renowned music festivals and world-class events. Her all-time favorite place to work: Bali.
“DJing in Bali was definitely one of the top peaks of my career,” she says. “I was 23, I was opening up for Diplo, and I was just like, ‘I can do anything. I’ve got this, I know I can do it all.’”
Honey moved from Dubai to California to attend college in the States when she was 18 years old. Not long after that, her sister took her to her first Coachella music festival.
“I think it was Skrillex, Diplo, RL Grime and Baauer, and seeing that connection with the DJ and the audience, it just took over my body and soul,” Honey says. “I was like, ‘I want to do this.’ I want to feel that same energy and connection that the DJ felt with the crowd. I think it was RL Grime’s set that really was just like, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
She bought the equipment and locked herself in her room for months, teaching herself how to DJ by watching YouTube videos. Once she had the technicalities and started getting booked, she realized the most challenging part of DJing was something she’d have to learn with a live audience.
“I think people think you’re just picking a song and playing it, but it’s not that,” she says. “You’re really reading an entire room and keeping the energy building.”
Now, Honey makes sure to arrive at venues early so that before she even steps up to the DJ booth she’s already read the crowd’s vibe. After feeling the energy of the room, Honey says she’ll know what song to start with, which unlike DJs who use their laptops, she accesses through her USB.
“It’s kind of fun because you’re just scrolling and you have all of these songs you can go through,” she says. “… It’s definitely an in-the-moment selection. I don’t really like to create ‘sets’ because how can you prepare for a set when you get to a venue and it might not be like anything that you prepared.”
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Honey’s biggest pet peeve when she’s working is people tapping her on the shoulder with song requests.
“People don’t realize when you’re DJing you’re controlling the entire club, the entire venue, the entire energy,” she says. “If you lose focus for one minute, you’re going to ruin the whole vibe for everyone.”
When Honey DJs in Europe she says sometimes she won’t even arrive at the venue until 3 a.m. Meanwhile on the West Coast, clubs are wrapping up around 2 a.m., or things might move to a house party. Regardless, she says some of her favorite memories are made after 2 a.m.
“Those are the moments where I wake up the next day and I’m just like, ‘That was so fun,’” she says. “The people that you’re with, the people you meet at 2 in the morning, you’re all on the same vibe and energy and flow and it’s just like, let’s have a great night.”