DJ Alkimist to Mix Up Your Best Night Ever

A little Q P & A (Pelonkey & Alkimist) with another of our fave DJs, DJ Alkimist. She’s classically trained in viola, and didn’t you know formal teaching translates nicely into rockin’ deep house parties? Read on.

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P: How long have you been DJing?

A: Professionally, for about five years now. I’m actually a classically trained musician. I’ve been playing viola for almost my entire life, and I taught myself violin shortly after that. When I moved out to DC [from Washington state] I had for whatever reason stopped playing. I missed music. The Beat Refinery had just opened; I took classes, and I learned from other Pelonkey DJs; Stylus Chris & As-One taught me how to DJ and how to get back into music.

It’s totally different from the classical scene. When I moved out here I was just looking for adventure. Getting into the artist and DJ scene, those have been so fun. The more I get involved with it, the more people I meet… it’s a really solid good group of people.

P: How did you go from taking classes to playing professionally?

A: I had a job in DC – I was an executive assistant and hated it – but the timing worked out really well. When I was finishing up my education at Beat Refinery I got fired from my other job. There was a moment of me sitting in my apartment thinking Wow, I have no job, and I’m living in one of the most expensive cities. With nothing to fall back on, what if I just try the DJ thing? I’m going to roll with it and see what happens. I put myself out there. I was writing my information on napkins for people, crashing gigs, crashing places where corporate people were, saying “If you need a DJ for your party, call me!” Stuff like that. For some crazy reason it all worked out.

P: What was your first official DJ spot where you realized, “I’m making a name for myself”?

A: I got an opening spot at Josephine for DJ Impulse, which was really cool, and I booked a company holiday party.

This is a wild story: It was my birthday, and I was celebrating at the 9:30 Backbar, and there was a guy there who had heard of Beat Refinery. I said, “I’m a DJ!” and he said “Really? Our company is looking for a DJ for our holiday party.” I wrote my email address on a napkin and gave it to him. He asked me what my rate was, I named a number that at the time I thought was really high, and they said, “Great! You’re hired!” That’s when I thought, Woah, I could make this work, but I need to organize it better.

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P: Have you been able to combine your viola training with DJing?

A: DJing is all music theory. Everything I studied as a classical artist has come into play. In terms of combining the two, it’s still an experiment. I have an electric viola, and it’s been fun to plug that in to crazy pedals, loop pedals, and beats – I also produce music – and I’ve been thinking of putting together beats that I’ve made and doing crazy effects and viola stuff on top of that. Maybe adding in a vocal element too.

P: DJing is music theory?

A: A really good DJ, whether they’ve been trained or not, has a good understanding of keys that sound good together when you’re mixing or blending songs, keeping things in complementary keys, and all of the counting and phrasing and beat matching. All of that is music theory.

P: What genre do you play?

A: Right now I play everything. I have a lot of open format gigs, so depending on the crowd, you could literally be playing everything from reggaeton to EDM to hip-hop. For a year and a half to two years, I had a deep house party that was a weekly thing that was really cool.

P: What do you love to play most?

A: I really love super underground stuff that people hear and go, “Oh my God, what is this?” and you’ve been digging for weeks to find the coolest tunes that no one has heard before. I really like bass [jungle bass] and new funk, alternative R&B, some latin music, future house, all of that stuff.

P: What kinds of gigs do you play?

A: I do a lot of clubs and bars, I’ve done fashion shows and artist exhibitions, a lot of private parties, corporate parties, birthday parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, divorce parties. Just everything and anything. In-store gigs. I love just watching people come in, and they’re grooving and dancing. You never see people dancing while they’re shopping; it’s so fun.

P: Anything crazy that has happened that stands out?

A: Recently I opened at Soundcheck for Anevo. I’d never spun at Soundcheck, and I rolled in and they had this huge LED screen. They put my logo up there, and the crowd was amazing. They were all loving it, having so much fun. I don’t know if I’ve ever played for a group where 100% of them were super happy, wanted to be there, loved the music. I didn’t even know how to contain myself. I was really happy with the whole thing. Then Anevo showed up, and he was like, “Hey, do you wanna keep going for another half hour?” He could tell I was out of my mind having so much fun. And I got to play all deep and future house, so that was fun, too.

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P: What’s it like hunting for new songs all the time?

A: Oh man, I love it. Before I had lots of gigs, in the beginning days when I had one gig a week, I would spend 40 hours a week getting music. I’ve become more efficient with how I find it. I’m part of a couple record pools, but for the cool underground stuff, you have to dig for it. I scour music blogs, Soundcloud, cool YouTube channels that will put up artists that nobody has heard of but are making cool music. I look at sites like beatport, but mostly I just have a list of blogs I go through.

P: Do you plan out your set before your gig?

A: [Laughs] No, I usually roll in and do it all on the fly.

P: Even with thousands of songs?

A: My organizational systems need some work, but I start with the venue; sometimes they’ll give you guidelines: ‘we want to hear these genres,’ but if it’s an open format, I already know like 5,200 songs that are good party starters but aren’t bangers, so you won’t be giving everything away in the beginning. A lot of times I’ll sneak in stuff that I like that’s still dance-y to test it out. I squeeze it in between two good songs that I know they’ll love, so just in case it fails I can say, “Just kidding!”

P: Favorite song right now

A: The Major Lazer remix of Nobody Has to Know by Kranium – I love listening to it, dancing, playing, watching people dance to it. I’ve been addicted to it ever since I heard it first come out.

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Ready to book DJ Alkimist yet? We know, we know, she’s fantastic. No really, we know. One of our featured entertainers and a sweetheart to boot, she will rock your party socks off.

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DJ Fanci: For when a casual night in just won’t do

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DJ Fanci is fierce, energetic, charming, and talented. I’ll let her do the talking.

How long have you been DJing?

I’ve been DJing for five years now. It definitely was supposed to be something I started for fun – my first job out of school was in radio, so I had already formed an interest starting in college – but when I could finally afford to buy my first set of equipment, I started playing around and realized it could be a career. I’m all self-taught. I looked at a lot of videos on YouTube, but never formally took a class.

When did you realize you were good enough to go pro?

A few months in. I was doing mixes and having my friends listen to them, and they were saying, “Hey this is really good,” and it turned into a few gigs. I already knew my music, and I realized I could really rock a party.

How did you move from amateur to pro status?

I just linked up with another DJ who heard one of my mixes; he was one of my cowers, so we were both beginner DJs, and we wanted to get into lounges. I started doing hookah spots and lounges where [the DJ] is more of the background music. Then somebody had a birthday party there, and that brought the biggest crowd I had ever played for. They were dancing the whole night, and I thought, Oh my God, I am doing this! This is me right now! So I started to do clubs after that.

Do you have any tips for someone looking to break into the club scene?

Link up with somebody! I feel like a lot of people are always so scared of people taking something from them or stealing their stuff… Link up with someone to become a dynamic duo or with someone who is where you want to be. I knew this was something I wanted to do, but having somebody to link up with in general made the pressure less intense. That’s a lot to have on your shoulders [when you’re just starting out].

And just do it! [Practice DJing.] That’s so basic, but truly, if it wasn’t for my homeboy, who was like, “Hey, do this gig with me,” I wouldn’t have gotten out of my bedroom. I was too scared to mix live in front of people. I would make a prerecorded mix and send it to people, but you have to put yourself out there. You have to fall.

Do you have times where you fall?

Sure! Recently this happened to me during the holidays. I don’t know what I was playing, but the guests were looking at me like, “Girl don’t ever play that again.” I have go-to songs and go-to playlists. I used to have a joke: “When in doubt, play Beyoncé.” There are certain hits that no matter how many times they’ve heard it, the crowd loves it. Those help me reset and go into another mix.

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What is your preparation like before gigs?

I don’t create a playlist. I do have a collection of “new shit,” anything that’s really hot that just came out. I strategically play that stuff because some people know it, some people don’t. I do prepare a lot with new music, practice how I would transition. For the most part I’ve been doing it so long I feel very prepared when I go in there. I know I have the music so I can go in any direction I want to go. If it’s less club and lounge then I will prepare a bit more; especially with an all-ages event, I want the flow to be right. Sometimes I do think we get into a flow that we are used to at clubs, but it’s a different type of flow for a corporate event.

What’s it like when you’re a guest at a club?

I just like the party. I started DJing because I love to party, so as long as [the DJ] is paying attention [to the crowd,] I’m good Sometimes I feel like DJs DJ for themselves, but it’s for us! Not you. As long as they can keep me dancing.

I do love when DJs randomly throw it back. Some of the time DJs get into default mode, so we [in the audience] think, Now they’re probably going to play this song. Well, when they can throw you a curve ball, throw some old Nelly in there, then I’m like “Heeeey!” That’s when I start paying attention. When they start playing something cool, then I want to know who the DJ is.

What might surprise people to learn about a DJ?

There’s a lot of music out there – people don’t realize how much – and it takes a long time to really get your library up. I know a lot of DJs are just like, “Oh, you need a few popular songs, and you’ll be good to go,” but some of the stuff people ask you for, the reactions you get to those good hits, that stuff takes a lot of time. It’s a constant thing. You’re constantly looking for music.

Where do you find your music?

I’m on MP3 websites. I’m registered to a couple of sites where DJs share music. A lot of times I like going out and listening to other DJs because then I say, “Hey, what’s that? Is that a mashup or your original?” Of course, Soundcloud. Exchanging music with other people. I just recently had a gig where I had to play a lot of house – non-vocal house – so I reached out to Neekola and said, “I know house is your thing, shoot me some artists you’re looking into.” I like to link up with those people who have a niche to find some cool stuff.

Top three songs you’re loving right now

Work” by Rihanna; I love that song right now! “Alingo” by P-Square; he’s an African artist, oh my God, he’s amazing. Also “$ave Dat Money” by Lil’ Dicky.

What genre do you specialize in?

“I love remixes. I’m hip hop at heart. But I love pop-type dance music. I spend a lot of time researching hip hop remixes that have a dance movement. Something that gets a lot of attention. Even among other DJs, they’ll say, “Where do you get these remixes, these are crazy!” I spend a lot of time looking for those crossover trackers.

What type of events do you do?

All types. Lounge, club, retail. I’ve been booked for fashion shows, and I do regular in-store DJing. Exclusive retail events with giveaways; I do that kind of stuff.

What should people know about you?

I am a girl power enthusiast. I am all about women doing great things. I love when I meet girls and they say, “Oh I wanna be a DJ…I could never do that!”— Yes you can! You can do that! I love doing awesome women things.

 

Go book this fine DJ immediately! No doubt you’ll be in good hands tunes.

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Our CEO, DJ Neekola, had an amazing birthday party at Heist last month!

Content modified from Ciera Gallub‘s post on DJ Neekola’s blog on 11/5/14.

Were you there at Pelonkey CEO DJ Neekola‘s birthday party at Heist last month? What a great night!

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Not only did Neekola want to celebrate turning 21, she also wanted to show off her amazing tech startup, Pelonkey!

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We were giving away awesome swag and raffling off some super cool prizes! Chuck Levin’s sponsored a couple pairs of headphones as well as an entire JBL sound system!

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Congrats to our Pelonkey winners!

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All proceeds from the raffle ticket sales went to both the Meant 2 Live Foundation and Pelonkey’s crowdfunding efforts!

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Neekola had such a great time rocking out with all of the Pelonkey DJs on the decks that night, and she even hopped on herself for a minute!

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A big thanks to all of our DC DJ’s that played that night at Heist – Hi Def, Wizdom, Welbot, Oz, Alkimist, Vicious, Phlipz, Ri5e, Dirty Hands, you’re all amazing!!

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And thank you to Heist for hosting such a great event!

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Huge shoutout to everyone who came out and partied with us – you’re all the best!

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Make sure you all sign up for Pelonkey! We want your talent and your party needs – our Pelonkey team will take care of you!!

Tonight is Pelonkey CEO DJ Neekola’s birthday at Heist!

Tonight the Pelonkey team celebrates our wonderful CEO, DJ Neekola turning 21 again! We are all rockin’ out at Heist tonight to celebrate, as well as give away some awesome raffle prizes from Chuck Levin’s! Featuring a killer line up with a DJ Takeover, the city’s best Pelonkey DJs will be shredding the decks to make for what is fo sho to be a truly epic night!

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Pelonkey will be reppin’ some awesome swag and announcing the raffle winner late in the night for our amazeballs prizes, including a JBL sound system and DJ headphones! Buy a couple raffle tix at the door, and these will enter you in to win the booty! Note – if you’ve already signed up on the Pelonkey site before 5pm today, you will automatically receive 2 free raffle tix! If you sign up tonight at the event, you will receive 1 free ticket entry! Otherwise, everyone is welcome to purchase the tix, 1 for $5 or 3 for $12. Purchase away because proceeds will go to the Meant 2 Live Foundation, as well as Pelonkey’s crowdfunding! Heist bartenders will be shaking up some fantastic specialty cocktails and drink specials, so come on out for a good time! Everyone will be there anyways, so you may as well come and show Neeks some love on her birthday and say hi to your Pelonkey team. See you tonight!

Pelonkey DJs Neekola, Alkimist, Phlipz, and Vicious spin at Heist for DJ Beaini’s birthday bash!

Modified from Ciera Gallub‘s post on DJNeekola.com 9/18/14.

Last Tuesday night at Heist was off the chain! Not only did a handful of Pelonkey‘s best DJs get together for the infamous Heist Industry Tuesdays evening of shenanigans, it was DJ Beaini‘s birthday bash celebration!

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Heist was stuffed with dancing people all night long, popping bottles, sparklers flying, and nuttiness ensuing, all thanks to Neekola, Vicious, Phlipz, and Alkimist bustin’ out their killer jams. It was such a great party!

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Tuesdays are always awesome nights at Heist, and celebrating DJ Beaini’s birthday only made it that much more fun for our awesome Pelonkey DJs to perform! Make sure you catch the next Industry Tuesday at Heist! They are not nights to be missed!

DJ Neekola and DJ Hi Def shred the decks at Heist!

Modified from Ciera Gallub‘s post on DJNeekola.com 9/17/14

Last Saturday was completely nuts (in an awesome way!) as Pelonkey‘s DJ Neekola and DJ Hi Def spun out some crazy beats at one of DC’s most popular night clubs, Heist, one of Pelonkey’s partner venues!

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DJ Hi Def opened up the night with his heavy house style, adding a kiss of hip hop and modern jams, making the crowd go crazy!

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Around midnight, Neekola rolled in with her pink hair a’blazin’, creating waves with her bass beats!

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The dance floor was full the entire night, with people still partying when the lights turned on. Nobody was ready to go home! Make sure you check out Heist the next time this Pelonkey duo hits the decks – the party doesn’t stop!

Pelonkey DJs rock the decks at Heist for Industry Tuesdays!

Written by Ciera Gallub, COO and Staff Writer

Our amazing DC DJs were back at it again last Tuesday night! DJ Oz, DJ Vicious, Phlipz, and Pelonkey‘s very own CEO DJ Neekola shredded the decks at Heist for their Industry Tuesdays!

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Switching back and forth for various sets, some heavy house, hip hop, electro, and modern hits were mixed and mashed, keeping the bottles popping, the tables full, and the dance floor packed the entire night! We can’t wait to have our awesome Pelonkey DJs rock the night at Heist again! Catch different peeps every Tuesday night, making magic happen. To make your table reservations, click here – see you there!

Digital DC teams up with Pelonkey for the Summer Kickoff Reception at Capitale!

Last month, Pelonkey provided two of our awesome DC DJs, DJ Costi and DJ Hi Def, to mix and mash up some super dope beats for Digital DC‘s Summer Kickoff Reception!

Hosted by Carlos Gray, Mayor Vincent Gray‘s son, the event brought together awesome people from the DC government, including 1776 mentor Erin Horne McKinney!

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Starting off the night was Pelonkey’s DJ Costi, feeling out the crowd with some upbeat lounge and house music. Halfway through, DJ Hi Def kicked into club mode, mixing in some hip hop and a little modern house. What a great vibe from the two of them!

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Capitale proved to be an excellent space for the networking party, which consisted of NFL Pro Sports, startups (mostly from WeWork, another event sponsor), and real estate members.

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St. Louis Rams Safety, Rodney McLeod, was in attendance with a few of his football buddies, attracting quite a crowd!

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With Lulu’s ice cream also in attendance sharing the delicious love, it was quite a successful event all around!

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Pelonkey was happy to be a part of the Summer Kickoff Reception!

Pelonkey Partners & Advisory Board Happy Hour!

On Wednesday, Pelonkey brought together its fabulous partners and Advisory Board members together for a meet and greet group happy hour! One of our great Advisory Board members, Tony Cord with DC Innovates, hosted the happy hour at his beautiful penthouse over in Thomas Circle, with yummy food sponsored by Chix (Eat Responsibly).

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Stylus Chris and DJ Alkimist came out from the Beat Refinery DJ school to meet our awesome Pelonkey Board! The Beat Refinery teaches people how to be an awesome DJ, and they have partnered with Pelonkey because they believe in the mission – this business will disrupt the events and entertainment industry! Performing artists aren’t always the savviest on the business end. Pelonkey provides a secure business platform for the entertainers and puts the power of their contracts back into their own hands. The Beat Refinery is completely on board with that! Another Pelonkey partner, Heist Lounge owner DJ Dirty Hands came out for the celebration! Heist allows Pelonkey to host sponsored events at their venue at no additional fee, with a heavy emphasis on the DJ market for entertainers.

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Other awesome Board members that came out were Victoria Michael with VM Relations, Rich Shea with HiBall Events, Eddie Fam with Meant 2 Live Foundation, and Steve Britt with Leach Travell Britt Law. DJ Neekola gave a quick update to everyone about all the exciting things that have been happening for Pelonkey, including our most recent win at Tech Cocktail in Vegas a couple weeks ago!

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It was an awesome evening, and everyone had a wonderful time getting to know each other and being the DREAM TEAM that they are! Thank you, guys! Pelonkey wouldn’t be what it is today without all of your awesome support!