We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Fults and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda, what role has risk played in your life or career?
In my opinion, risk is essential for any person wanting to move forward in their career. Personally, risk has played a major role in where I am today in my DJ career. In 2017 I took a giant risk regarding my established and secure career and DJing. In early 2017 I decided to quit my 10 year secure job in the healthcare industry to focus on traveling and my DJing career. This was something I struggled with and went back and forth on until I finally decided to take the leap. This was a giant risk that could have gone two ways. Luckily for me, it went the right way and it helped me grow and establish connections for my DJ career. I determined that the reward definitely outweighed the risk in that particular situation. Unfortunately, I see many people struggle with risk today and whether or not they should take a leap. I try to live my life in a way that encourages risk taking because I believe that this is the only way that we can move forward and truly improve ourselves.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I was raised in the city of Santa Ana, in a middle class and modest home by parents who were born and raised in the South (Tennessee and Texas). Growing up I would say my parents were pretty strict (probably due to their southern upbringing), and I think that might have had something to do with me becoming somewhat of a wild child during the later years of my college days. From elementary school thru high school, I was a straight-A student as well as an all-star athlete, and because of my athletic accomplishments, I was even recruited to play soccer at the college level. However, my life from age 6 to 19 consisted more than anything of school, sports, church, Girl Scouts, playing piano and listening to mostly oldies music (50’s & 60’s) in our house because all the other stuff out there was, according to my mom, tacky. Of course, it was a good life, and to this day I still love oldies music, but I felt trapped in a bubble that wasn’t showing me everything that was out in the world, especially the variety of music and people in it. Well in 1999 (I was 19) that bubble was finally popped when I was invited to my first party, or better known as a “rave”, by a good friend from High School. It was an experience that changed my planned life course. At the time when I was invited to this party, I was at the point in my life where I was moving from playing soccer at a community college and on to playing at a division 1 college. The season was just about to start and this party had completely changed my thinking. For the first time, I didn’t want to continue to play soccer. I knew I wasn’t going to be a professional athlete in the future, so why should I continue to play and be confined to just school and soccer all day every day? Instead, I could be going to these parties that felt like home, which the soccer field did not feel like anymore. So just like that, I quit the team and became immersed in the electronic dance music (EDM) and “rave” scene from 1999 to 2002. I would go to these underground warehouse “raves” and “raves” out in the desert or forest almost every weekend. This dance and music culture was so creative, open and accepting to all who entered it. I would meet amazing artists, dancers, musicians, and people from all over the country. I could dye my hair funky colors and wear outlandish outfits, and I would be accepted. I could be me. It was undoubtedly a community like no other. I would listen to the electronic music being played, the people dancing, and it completely blew my mind and filled my heart with joy. I would watch the DJ’s and listen to the story they would tell in their sets through the songs they choose, and I knew that I wanted to learn to do what they did someday. At this time, because the scene was still underground, the DJ’s didn’t get paid a lot of money and would be playing in a corner or on a tiny stage, not really facing the dance floor, just in their own world keeping the dance floor moving. It was more about the music they were playing then how they looked or trying to put on an over-the-top show while they played. These were the vinyl days, so you would see crates of vinyl on the floor and the DJ’s pulling out records from their covers, flipping to the side they wanted, and setting the needle to the start point. I miss seeing that today. After about a year of going to these parties, I decided I wanted to actually learn to DJ. So I saved my money, and I bought a pair of Technic 1200’s. Since just the turntables were so expensive for a struggling college student, I couldn’t afford a mixer, which is obviously an essential part to this whole process, so a friend gave me a pretty worn down 2 channel Gemini mixer with a broken crossfader that he had no use for anymore. Not a glamorous set-up for most, but it was a dream to me, and I could finally start to learn to mix records. My good friend and a DJ himself (DJ Glimpse), who to this day is still a super talented DJ/Producer, would give me lessons and take me to record shops to establish my own vinyl collection. I knew when I started to mix that I wanted to play and focus on the genre of House. At these parties I would see incredible House DJs such as DJ Dan, Felix da Housecat, Bad Boy Bill, DJ Irene, DJ Collette, and Groove Armada, just to name a few, and that was the music that continued to flow through my veins when I went home. However, learning to play wasn’t easy, and beat matching was a nightmare. I would practice for hours at home and in front of my friends at house parties, but the truth was I wasn’t very good. I was beginning to think that maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a DJ after all. After a few years, I got better at it, but certainly, I wasn’t at the level of some of my friends or the DJs playing at the parties I was still going to. By this time it was now 2002 and I was graduating college. I was 22 years old and I needed to pick a career, and DJing clearly wasn’t going to be it. So I made the decision to put my Technics in storage, dye my hair back to a “normal” color, and disappear from the community I loved so much in order to become a “responsible adult”. For 9 years I didn’t touch a record or turntable. On November 7, 2011, my father died unexpectedly from a massive heart attack. He was only 66 when he died and he should have had so many more years of life to live. I was 31 and I still had my life, which I didn’t want to spend unhappy or regretful because the reality was it could end at any moment. My father’s death was a wakeup call that my life needed a serious reboot. So I dusted off the records, turntables and the worn out mixer and started to practice mixing my records again. I practiced when I could while at the same time I was juggling an adult life. After a few years, I felt I was ready to try and play in front of people again. Well, unfortunately, at this point, vinyl was a memory of the past and everything was digital now. Plus almost everyone you talked to considered themselves a DJ. However, on the positive side, Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and huge dance parties were mainstream and finally accepted. Plus headlining DJ’s were now getting paid massive amounts of money. It was definitely a new generation and a lot had changed in the past 10 years. I asked myself, should I really go for this again now that I’m in my 30’s and the industry is so saturated? The answer was of course YES! Screw it, this is what makes me happy and age is just a number anyway. I knew if I wanted to try again to be a DJ it was going to take a lot of hard work, but hard work does not come without reward. At this point, since I was no longer a struggling college student, and instead was pretty successful in my corporate career, I had the means to upgrade my equipment to join the new era. So I did. I bought new digital turntables, which played USB’s, not vinyl records, and a new fancy mixer that had 4 channels, sound effects, and of course a functioning crossfader. I was 34 now, and I had decided to set an aggressive goal to learn the new digital format and play at a bar or club by age 35. As I was trying to navigate how to use this new format and equipment, I was extremely fortunate to meet, just by pure luck, another amazing DJ/Producer, DJ STRIP (Tommy Marini). He gave me a ton of digital music (which would have taken me months to collect), a handful of lessons on the new equipment, and loads of valuable information and advice which helped me to become a solid and more diverse DJ (Top 40, Hip Hop, Latin and House music). After about a year of dedication and practice, I booked my first gig on my 35th birthday. I accomplished the goal I had set for myself, and that night DJ AmandaXO was introduced. It’s been 5 years since that first gig, and I am beyond blessed and grateful that I have been able to play at so many various bars, social events, schools, and top clubs in Orange and Los Angeles County. With this new journey, I have met and been inspired by so many amazingly creative people and DJ’s in the industry. To this day I still have my Technic’s and vinyl records. Although they aren’t used very often by me anymore, I will never get rid of them, as they will always be a reminder of where and how I started.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Since I love to hike, I would definitely start the day with a beautiful hike of Ocean Trails in Racho Palos Verdes. Afterwards, I would hang out in DTLA, stroll Melrose Avenue, and possibly visit an art exhibit like Cakeland LA. Finally, ending the evening with a visit to the Dr. Seuss like restaurant Barton G’s for a wonderfully whimsical dinner experience.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Moving out of your comfort zone always takes having support and encouragement from your loved ones. I definitely would not be as successful or as confident as I am right now if it wasn’t for those few people who kept me going even when I thought I wasn’t good enough. From my close friends like Saara, Kelly, Bianca, Jessica Louise, who have always found a way to support me at my shows or help me with my brand, to the promoter(s) and booker(s) who continue to have faith in me to book me for their shows (Soluble Recordings, Tyler Klvana), I thank and love them all.
Jessica Louise Imagery Soluble Recordings Snowden Events