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DJ Icon

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

As one of the most dynamic DJs to come out of San Francisco, DJ Icon has graced the decks from NYC to London. Blazing the way for female DJs everywhere, she demonstrates that hard work and diligence in the DJ craft is what is truly important. Playing everything from her recognized breakbeat to dubstep, she’s always got a great crowd going and grooving to the beat. Answering some questions for SF Station, Icon gives us a glimpse into her jet-setter lifestyle.

SF Station (SFS): How long have you been DJing and what got you into it?

DJ Icon (I): I started going to raves in the Bay Area in 1996. At the time, I was full of teenage angst and going to loads of punk shows until my friend brought me to my first rave, a Funky Tekno Tribe party at the legendary Homebase warehouse. I immediately fell in love with dance music and, from that point on, was dedicated to dance music culture. Soon after I linked up with some friends who owned an underground record store called Frequency 8 and produced parties under the same name. I started collecting records, helped with the parties, and shortly after my love of music inspired me to start DJing. In the beginning of my career, I played mostly at raves, and as I progressed and built my name, broke through to the international club circuit.

SFS: Are you originally from the Bay Area?

I: I was born in Hong Kong and grew up in the Bay Area in San Francisco and Concord. I moved to New York for a few years from 2000-2003 then returned to San Francisco, where I belong! I feel another move is imminent but San Francisco will always be my home.

SFS: Tell us about breakbeat and how does it feel being one of the pioneers?

I: Thank you for the accolade but I wouldn't really say I'm a "pioneer" of breakbeat since I wasn't responsible for releasing the tunes that sustained the genre, but I have been playing it since 2000 in all its incarnations. Breakbeat has changed many forms throughout the years: nu-skool, tear-out, ragga, electro, booty, miami bass. To be honest, for the last few years I've been more on the electro house tip but lately I've been playing breakbeat again as there has been loads of good stuff coming out. I don't believe in pigeonholing myself into one genre; I like to stay diverse and be able to rock any type of audience. If you've heard me play recently, you would have heard breaks, electro-house, tech-funk and even some dubstep! Gotta keep it interesting, you know?

SFS: You've done so many gigs in so many places, what have been some of
your memorable ones?

I: I've been lucky enough to have traveled to many places for DJ gigs. I have to say, out of all the shows in all the cities, my most memorable experiences have been playing at Burning Man. The energy on the playa is amazing and indescribable. For those who have been there, you understand why it would be amazing to share my music with the most open-minded, energetic, happy and appreciative crowd in the world! Playing on the dance stage at Coachella was also pretty damn cool.

SFS: Who are some of your favorite personal DJs, worldwide or even here
in the Bay Area?

I: There are so many DJs and producers that inspire me. Overall, I think Richie Hawtin is the best DJ I've ever seen or heard; he's a technical genius! I remember seeing him play a 6-hour set at WMC a few years ago and I was in awe of his skills and his flow. I also like DJ sets by Fake Blood, Utah Saints, Herve, Jack Beats, AC Slater, Sinden. Also, recently I've been loving the sound of funk-revivalists like Ali B, Fort Knox 5 and A Skillz. Ali B has a weekly funk night in London and it's the best party I've been to in a long time...

SFS: You seem absolutely ageless! What keeps you pushing through all
these parties?

I: Haha! Thank you! That is lovely to hear, although I don't feel very young at all sometimes. To be honest, I think the reason I've been able to stay in the game for this long is because I don't do drugs or drink that much. I prefer to have my head straight and not get caught up in partying.

SFS: What's up next for you, any plans to release anything?

I: I definitely have plans to collaborate with some other producers in the immediate future. I've already done some work with my good friend Janette Slack (Air Recordings, UK) and we plan on producing more tunes together when I return to London next. Keep posted for a DJ ICON release!

SFS: Any words of advice for aspiring female/male DJs?

I: The best advice I could give an aspiring DJ is to practice, network, and stay on top of new hot music. Networking gets you in the door, talent keeps you in the mix!

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