Image: James Caswell (Press)

‘It Was Always Just The Music For Me’: Dameeeela Rationalises Her Love of Nightlife

Dameeeela has spent the past half a dozen years casually becoming one of the Southern Hemisphere’s most in-demand DJs. The Yuggera woman holds down a couple of club residencies in her home city of Brisbane and is frequently heard broadcasting on the city’s premier independent radio station, 4ZZZ.

Dameeeela has supported a truckload of artists at the upper crust of contemporary hip hop, pop, R&B and electronic music, including A$AP Rocky, Charli XCX, Skepta, Anderson .Paak, Channel Tres, and RÜFÜS DU SOL, and kept the wheels turning at Splendour In The Grass, Listen Out, Laneway and numerous other major festivals.

Next cab off the rank is Vivid LIVE, where Dameeeela joins Astral People’s 10 +1 birthday celebrations at the Sydney Opera House on Friday, 3rd June. Dameeeela will be throwing confetti on the Sydney management, events, and recording label alongside UK jazz drummer Yussef Dayes, Melbourne neo-soul collective Hiatus Kaiyote, psychedelic soul voyager Jitwam, Noongar soul singer Bumpy and jazz fusion ensemble Mildlife.

Music Feeds spoke to Dameeeela about her love of the nightlife, DJ habits, and debut single ‘The Shake Up’.

Music Feeds: You’ve done two Boiler Room sets this year; one for Sugar Mountain in February and the other for Umami Collective in April. Was that a dream of yours?

Dameeeela: Yeah, very random, but big accomplishment. I think every DJ’s probably got that little checklist in their brain where they want to do it.

MF: Did you start DJing when you were fresh out of high school?

D: I came out of high school and went to Europe for almost two years and then came back from that and just bought myself some decks and then taught myself on YouTube.

MF: Were you going to a lot of clubs and parties while travelling? Did that make you want to DJ?

D: Yeah, definitely. The club culture was obviously very different overseas, but it’s still that sense of freeness when you’re dancing with all your friends until the late hours. So, same concept, just a little bit differently presented.

MF: Can you remember what sort of feeling you got from going out dancing that made you want to get more involved in that scene?

D: I specifically remember always being on my own. So, I would not wait around for my friends to leave to go to the next club. I’d just be a little lone traveller, and it was always just the music for me. I just wanted to hear different kinds of music every night and experience it all and create all those crazy memories, like being in the DJ booth with Disclosure and it was so hot that night and everyone was shirtless and there was such a fun, freeing energy.

MF: Are you still doing the same kind of thing now?

D: I’ll drive from gig to gig and just dance all night even if it’s until super late. It’s the same but just a little bit of an older version.

MF: You have a vast knowledge of music – you’ve done all ambient sets, all Indigenous sets, and a lot of different styles of dance music. Are you naturally driven to find new stuff? Or do you have to make a point of looking for new music?

D: A bit of both. Some weeks, because I have the Spotify Track IDs now and I update it every two weeks, so sometimes I’ve got way too many songs to fit in the playlist. But then there’s some weeks where I’m just like, wow, I haven’t listened to music all week.

Music fatigue is such a real thing. Like, I drive silent sometimes because now that it’s my life, I can’t just listen to music and enjoy it as easily. It’s like, “Oh, I could play this song in this set” or “I wonder when this artist is touring.”

MF: How do you usually discover new music? Do you listen to internet radio and DJ mixes?

D: Yeah, I listen to a lot of different NTS shows, so that’s always the best way for me. There’s such a huge variety on there. And actually a lot of Soundcloud still – it’s still such a fun, underground, no rules environment on Soundcloud. It’s so fun, every time, to go on a deep dive on Soundcloud.

MF: You’re on the lineup for Astral People 10 + 1 at the Sydney Opera House, with Yussef Dayes, Hiatus Kaiyote, Mildlife, Jitwam, and Bumpy. Is it a buzz to be part of this show?

D: Yes. So much. Anyone that knows me knows that the top artist of my dream ever to open for is The Avalanches. The Astral show last year, there was talk about them playing it and I lost my mind. But this lineup’s still so incredible.

MF: Were the Avalanches a big influence on you?

D: Yeah. I love anything that’s just different and unique and boundary pushing, which is like every single track by them. You never know what to expect, it’s just so fun and intriguing. I could listen to Since I Left You six times in a row – I think I have before without even realising, because every song flows from start to finish.

MF: Earlier this year you put out your first single, ‘The Shake Up’ featuring Tjaka. Tell me about Tjaka.

D: I had them on my radio show, Right Here Right Now, which is on 4ZZZ. It was a live video that we streamed on Facebook and put it on YouTube and they just did a whole performance. That was their first ever performance.

They had some pads and stuff, where they had dancey stuff in the background and they were playing didjeridu and rapping and beatboxing and stuff. And I just thought, I want to hear this in the club; I just want it to be a little bit harder. So I just made what I wanted to hear in a club, which is some sick didjeridu and a pumping dance track.

MF: ‘The Shake Up’ is out on NLV Records. Is producing going to become a bigger part of what you do?

D: Yeah. At the moment I’m working on a remix for someone else and the second single.

Dameeeela plays Astral People 10 + 1 at the Sydney Opera House on Friday, 3rd June, w/Yussef Dayes, Hiatus Kaiyote and more

Dameeeela is supporting Hermitude at the same venue on Thursday, 2nd June

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