How MAAD Turned DJing Into a Profitable Career

June 27, 2024

Read the full interview on BPMSupreme.com!

If you see MAAD DJing a function, you know you’re at the right place.

Born in New York, and now residing in Los Angeles, MAAD is a beautiful singer, songwriter, producer, DJ, and model who boasts her own unique sound and style that captivates audiences almost instantly. MAAD stands for self-expression, inspired directly by her father’s musical talents and her mom’s work as a stylist.

In describing herself, MAAD states she’s an “all-around creative. I recently got into loving directing things. We shot this thing and I was like, this is easy. I edit. In general, I’m a creative overall.”

While she first started as a recording artist, it was only natural for her to begin DJing for one reason: to play her own music! With an unwavering love for music, her sets cover a variety of genres, with house being her current favorite.

We spoke with MAAD in downtown Los Angeles to discuss how she got into DJing, her first gig, her favorite song to drop in a set, and more!

Being from New York, when did you fall in love with music?

Music has been a love of mine since I was four. I first got into dance lessons at the Dance Theatre of Harlem. I went to Harlem School of the Arts. I was always surrounded by creativity. My mom was and is a stylist. My dad was a pursuing musician; he came from South Carolina to pursue music. It was embedded in me from birth, so I ran with it. It’s mine. [laughs]

When I met you, you were really going hard with the artistry. All of a sudden, I see you at every event, doing your thing on the turntables. I love this for you! When did the DJing start? 

So I actually got into DJing to be able to play my music. It worked out. I learned from Quiana Parks, and another producer and DJ named Stadium Status. It was great to be around them because I got to learn firsthand. Quiana would come with me to some of my gigs and be like, “Don’t do that.” [laughs]

But it was great, because I was able to go see them play and stand behind them, and really understand the craft. DJing definitely took a life of its own. But as of recently, I’ve found a way to combine them both, which has been great. We just did a show for Qveen Herby.

I love her!

It was great. We did her Teragram Ballroom shows. By we, I mean RM47. We did a DJ set, and we mixed our songs into it and performed that. Just trying to find that balance of being able to do it all without feeling like I’m closed off to one.

What were some of the “nos” that you were doing?

Oh my God, playing songs to the end. Kind of playing whatever the fuck I want. Still, there’s a balance that you have to have. You can still play what you want, but you also have to be very good at reading the crowd. Obviously for corporate events, people aren’t really paying attention as much as they would in a club setting. So you have a little bit more freedom at corporate events.

But clubs, oh my god. They are really banking on you to come and deliver. There’s a lot of pressure for me when I do club settings. Although I love it, I prepare for days. When in fact, I know what I’m doing, but I feel comfortable when I really know at least the first 15 songs for me to feel at ease. Then I do my thing.

How did you learn how to DJ?

Man, the first piece of equipment I ever got was a Numark mixer. It was this very small toy-looking mixer. I’d go to YouTube and watch videos. I’d find songs that I really loved and tried to mix them together. Being a musician helped because I pay a lot of attention to the keys. I hate mixing songs that are off key. But now with Serato and stems, it makes it a little bit easier for people to blend, because you can really drop parts of the song out.

When did you start learning?

I started learning to DJ maybe ten years ago. I’ve been doing it for a while. I might be giving the wrong number because I’ve lived in California for eight, so maybe longer than that.

What was your first DJ gig?

My first DJ gig ever was at The Row Hotel in Times Square. A friend of mine was like, “I want you to DJ my party.” I was like, “Bro, I don’t think I’m ready. I’m still figuring this out.”

I DJed it for her for free. That night, the hotel was like, “Do you want a residency here?” I’m like, “yes actually!” Because at that time, I was working at a restaurant as a hostess and waitress.

I was a server too! 

Hated that shit. I’d go to the bathroom and literally cry. Like, there’s gotta be something else.

That is so dope that the hotel said that.

Yeah, ‘cause I really was not confident in myself yet. Sometimes, you have to push past that fear. Because if not, you’re hindering yourself all the time. Shout out to the Row, which was really great. That gave me ammunition to pursue other things in DJing. That’s how I got my first booker, his name is Artie Kenny and I give him so much respect. Still someone I work with to this day. Yeah. But he’s become a friend of mine. He booked me for my first major gig for Cartier in Texas. It was fun. I was like, “Oh, this is different. Y’all get bags for this! Okay.”

And how long are you DJing at a Cartier event?

It might’ve been a three-hour gig. It was really easy.

And you can’t play the same song twice in those three hours right? 

You can, but when you have enough music on your computer, you shouldn’t have to. Because people will remember. “Oh, you played that Michael Jackson song already. Girl, you trippin’.” But I have had very long gigs as well, where eight hours — and my soul just leaves my body every time. [laughs] I just cannot.

First of all, why didn’t they find two DJs to split the eight hours?!

Because a lot of times, clients are trying to cut corners and save money.

What is your setup?

Currently, I’m just on USBs. At home, and this is my new baby, I have the CDJ 3000s. And I recently purchased the V10 mixer, which is a big ass mixer. I love it. I love all of the things that it can do. I still will play on Serato if I have to for certain gigs. But I really love the joy of USBs, because I like to just throw it in my bag with some headphones and be done.

Favorite song to drop in a set?

Besides my own? That’s a good question. As of recently, it’s obvious, but I really love Tinashe’s “Nasty.” I have a Jersey club version. She’s really cute.

Biggest pet peeve as a DJ?

Sometimes not being able to go out and enjoy. [laughs] Enjoy being outside. When you’re a DJ or musician, you’re going there and lowkey listening for things. When in fact, it’s okay to just go out and have a good time. It’s trying to find that balance of being like, “Yes you DJ, but you do not have to be a nitpicker when you’re outside. So what if somebody fucked up on a blend? It happens to the best DJs, so go ahead and enjoy yourself.”

Advice for aspiring DJs who want to follow in your footsteps?

For aspiring DJs, I’d say know your music, download a lot of music, and practice. I know people that are again, some of the best DJs in the world, but they still practice. How can you go to a gig and not fully know how to operate everything? I’ve had to teach myself how to take equipment down and put it back up. I was at a gig once and I literally did not know the equipment inside and out, it held me back. It was in the beginning of DJing. Now, I be looking at these sound techs like, “how do you not know how to do this?” Know everything that the sound tech knows. Know your music, know what songs can work together, and go from that.

Anything else you want to let us know? 

RM47, we’re a duo. We’re both solo artists that came together during the pandemic. We’ve worked together for years, but it’s been nice because we’re also finding our groove with DJing. I’ve been not only a solo artist, but a solo DJ for a long time. So finding how to DJ back to back with someone and sharing that space has helped me grow even more as a DJ.

Read more interviews by Shirley Ju.

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