We had the good fortune of connecting with Ericalandia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ericalandia, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Ha! I just realized in being asked this question how much risk has played a huge part of my career, in every echelon. Where shall we begin?
For me, from a human perspective it feels like taking risk is involved where groundbreaking, new things happen. Seeking out and reaching for unchartered territory and ushering things into existence is often accompanied by the sensation of flying blind, of being unsure & uncomfortable. You have to manage fear, doubt, stress internally as well as from people around you. But taking the safe-and-known route never has seemed to be where the magic happens, right? So you listen to your gut and refer to your internal compass and move in a direction of inspiration and passion. That’s what I’ve always done. Honestly, I hijacked my degree in Biology due to my love of music & djing on the radio and took a job at a record label. It was the precursor to becoming a dj full-time. Because at that time, djing as a legit profession by-and-large did not exist as it does now. Can you imagine? Being at the frontier level of sorting out a career that literally just isn’t a thing yet?
The next layer I’d speak to is girls have been historically very much socialized away from taking risks. Being courageous is typically a adjective reserved for boys. There’s all sorts of data to support this idea. I felt like there was always this subtle, underlying message to be safe, to seek security and be responsible or dependable. I also feel that women are warned to tread carefully into male-dominated territories, which the music industry by far, is dominated by men. When I started interning at my college radio station in my teens I was one of a very very few girls djing. I could count on one hand the notable & well known women across the country who were doing it, period.
In fact, my whole path has been riddled with risk now that you’ve got me thinking about it. I had been djing (on the radio) and writing for music publications for a decade a-la-carte to a “real jobs”. When I observed that I had a few friends and peers who were successfully pulling it off full-time. I finally started to try, envision and plan that for myself. Of all the things, I decided to move to NYC from the Bay Area and go full-time all in one swoop. That was probably one of the biggest leaps I ever took. It’s extremely dicey moving to a new city as someone who is self-employed and entrepreneur, let alone to our biggest U.S. metropolis. To a certain degree you have to develop an entire new network and understanding of the landscape. During that time I definitely leaned on my full-time dj senpai to re-assure me that I could pull it off. It took me a lean year or 18 months to get off the ground and it was super amazing from there.
Now, as an artist, creator and a vibe-controller.. I historically have carved a different path out for myself. Musically speaking there are a couple different ways to come up as a dj. Often a bedroom dj will move into bars and clubs and very much be bent around crowd response because it is a necessity to making a night successful. I know a lot of djs who get burnout this way because they get too far from music they like to listen to or they simply have to play the same things in infinite repetition.
My experience has been very different, I’ve realized. I started in radio as a taste maker, breaking new artists and being in the space of highlighting the unknown and sharing new music with listeners. I did all this music education in the vacuum of a radio station air-room where there was no ‘crowd response’. And again with journalism, I was offering up reviews of mostly brand new producers. So naturally my dj sets include this kind of dynamic. I’ve had countless conversations with peers around ballpark what % of music we can ‘get away with’ playing – known tracks vs. unknown/new music. It’s a fascinating discussion to have. I feel like I come away from those conversations feeling a renewed confidence in my path. Thanks go in part to using my internal navigation with both music, and the types of gigs and clients I choose to work with.
I will tell you a caveat though.. sometimes being ahead of the curve can sting a little. You can be playing a new genre called ‘Dubstep’ on a Coachella stage one year to crickets and almost no response, when one year later Skrillex is in the tent nextdoor playing a new genre called Dubstep and everyone is losing their sh*t. Sometimes it takes people a little longer to catch up. This is part of the rollercoaster of taking risks.
On a last and very personal note, I would be remiss to not mention the most intimate risk of them all which I have not talked about nor been asked about in past interviews. You’d have to look closely because of makeup, but I naturally am covered with a very extensive birthmark and it has been a long process to feel comfortable in my skin and in the spotlight. I hate to admit it but I have quite a few survival mechanisms at play with it and I’m constantly wrestling with what feels like a risk, in being seen if I’m going to be 100% with your awesome existential question. I feel lucky that the universe keeps providing scenarios for me to keep chipping away and getting more refined with my authentic self (and happiness) which seems like the biggest reward to all of this risk.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The impression I get about how I stand out is from how people describe me after they’ve seen me in a space. They say “It’s so obvious how much you enjoy djing and love the music you play”. I think that enthusiasm is infectious as a dj, especially because they are almost giddy and practically shining as they reflect this back to me at the end of an event. People often describe their experience of seeing my joy and enthusiasm for what I do. I think it’s is a little bit rare, given how long I’ve been djing. First of all, every dj is different in delivery and second, people can burn out. I have carefully cultivated how I navigate and how much I’m out and about. It’s often about quality over quantity in terms of inviting people to share in that energy with me. I used to think of the dj booth as a bubble or a forcefield and it is that, in terms of a control center but also with music.. curators create a sonic fabric, a temporal experience.. a transient nebulous world to float and move through for a period of time.. and all of that for me is summed up in the word Ericalandia.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Must do-s for me in Los Angeles are simple things, I love hiking, biking, the ocean, yummy food and chilling. So I like to take my humans to Echo Park Lake, The Japanese Village (for HoneyMee, Sushi, boba, shopping). I love bike riding the LA river path and Spoke cafe in Frog Town. Special field trips like Catalina Island, Huntington Gardens and the LA Arboretum are my jam too. And then there’s parties. There’s always parties to go to. I’m lucky I know all the good djs.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow, my ability to work and perform is a giant global collage of people supporting, trusting, appreciating and inviting me to curate vibes for their events. Each time I play, I have someone to thank for that opportunity. So for anyone reading this that has played a part in that, appreciate you. That being said, I’d like to thank a few crucial people here in Los Angeles for including me in events that have changed the landscape of my life. Those would be DJ Francesca Harding, Azul Amaral of Grand Performances, Subsuelo dj collective, Roy Choi and the Line Hotel, Sanrio, Everyday People NYC/LA, Converse LA, Top Shop LA & the Coachella/Goldenvoice family.
Like you photo – Farah Sosa Purple DJ photo – Mikey Avila Japanese Village (braids) – Bichuda