DJ Spotlight: Kathleen Evans
NYC’s house fusion DJs reveal their partner dance backgrounds, how they started DJing, thoughts on fusion music, and more!
1. What is your partner dance background?
My background is pretty eclectic – I’ve done a little bit of a lot of things! In middle and high school, I did a lot of dancing in school musicals, and I took flamenco dancing in high school and college. I learned to salsa dance in New Orleans and got into the scene in San Francisco. I started bhangra dancing after that and performed in a professional bhangra group for a bit. Contra dancing for a few years led to blues, which ultimately led me to fusion.
2. How did you get started as a DJ?
I’ve always loved covers, and I remember really enjoying the acoustic cover of the hip hop song “Cyclone” that was going around the fusion scene. I started collecting danceable covers as a hobby, and after I’d found 50 or 60, friends suggested that I start DJing. I began at house parties, and Flouer gave me my first big opportunity at a Broken Blues night in January 2015.
3. What do you find to be the biggest challenge as a fusion DJ?
I used to think that it was consistently sourcing new music, but now I’d say it’s letting go when I need to. I may have the best song, set, or idea in the world, but my main goal is the keep the floor happy. If the floor doesn’t like what I’m playing, I need to recognize that and find what they DO want. And that can change so much night to night! It always keeps me on my toes.
4. What is different about how you listen to music as a dancer vs as a DJ?
As a dancer, I go with the flow and mostly just look to have fun. As a DJ, I’m much more vigilant. I need to listen for flow in a set, volume and sound quality, problematic lyrics, and attune myself to the feel of the room for each song. DJing has also ruined me for music I hear in everyday life! Anytime I hear a new song, I’m always partly evaluating whether I can play it on a fusion floor.
5. What do you love most about being a fusion DJ?
I love the variety! Fusion is the only style where I get to learn and collect a little bit of everything. Finding a completely new music style is just another opportunity to introduce a new element to the dance floor.
6. What’s a track you’ve discovered recently that fusion dancers will love?
I’ve really been digging “Wolf Den” (the live session) by Leah McFall lately. It’s such a beautiful late night track, and her voice has this ethereal quality that reminds me of the opera singer in the Fifth Element.