( ENSPIRE Music ) An Exclusive With World-Renowned DJ Kim Lee, Pianist and Host of MTV Asia
ENSPIRE Contributor: Janelle Harris
First tickling the ivories at only eight years old, Kim Lee turned her passion for music into a legendary career as a DJ. She got her start in the United States and spent years rubbing elbows with icons like Skrillex, The Black Eyed Peas, and Diplo before she garnered worldwide fame after the Asian press discovered her talent. She is now touring the world and showcasing her talents.
DJ Kim Lee wants to be there to inspire others to chase their dreams. She talks about touring the world, making new friends, and also the sacrifices she had to make. Lee is a strong and inspirational icon that wants you to chase your dreams.
What inspired you to become a DJ?
Growing up, I always had a passion for music and started playing the keys at 8 years old. Long story short, The Black Eyed Peas encouraged me to DJ. I attended Scratch Academy in Los Angeles and, the next thing you know, the Asian press said I was the biggest DJ in the United States. I received so many bookings overnight. I traveled to Asia, did my thing, and discovered it’s a great market. Word got around, and now, here I am touring the world.
What is the art of music?
Music is an art because it is the manifestation of an individual’s emotions, expressions, and creativity.
Talk more about your experience working with other DJs in the industry.
The DJ scene is very small, so the dope thing is that everyone is extremely supportive of one another, especially on the Electronic Dance Scene. I’ve been friends with Skrillex, Diplo, Martin Garrix, and so many others for years. It’s great to have friends in the industry who call and check-in to see if you’re doing well. Skrillex is a great friend of mine who’s truly been there for me.
How do you use your expertise to influence others in the music industry?
I use my platform to motivate and inspire others. I receive messages from fans every day. I’ve come a long way, and I’m at a stage in my career now where if I can help someone in any way, I will.
Why do you think there are more male than female DJs?
Honestly, anyone can learn to DJ, but if you really put yourself into it and tour the world, it’s deeper than DJing. It’s a sacrifice. You’re always on the road. For me, I haven’t turned down any shows since 2012, and so I’ve worked every single weekend. The hustle was real, but I saw the opportunity and discovered my passion. During this time, none of my relationships worked because I was always away, and it’s hard to balance both your career and personal life. I’m at a better place now that I’ve learned to take control and find balance.
What are some of your greatest accomplishments?
Playing the Main Stage at the Ultra Music Festivals in Asia is one of my proudest accomplishments. I’m also incredibly proud of my work hosting MTV Asia. It took hard work, a lot of prayers, and manifestations to make it happen.
How has the current pandemic impacted your business and career?
I had to cancel six shows in March. I was sad, but I always try to look at the positive side of every situation. I have different projects outside of DJing, so I focused on those projects. Canceling the shows forced me to slow down, which I really needed. I’ve been living the fast life all my life, so it’s been great to slow down and focus on other important things in my life beyond my work.
What advice would you give someone who wants to mirror your success?
Stay focused. It’s so easy to get distracted. Train your brain to be mentally strong and disciplined. Don’t listen to others; listen to the voice inside you. I work hard and play hard; when it’s time to work, I don’t play.
What sense of purpose do you draw from your culture or community?
I think my journey in this lifetime is not just being a well-known, sexy DJ, or whatever you call it. I’m here to inspire and motivate people, to make a change, and show the world that females can kill it in this industry. Nothing is better than receiving messages from people saying, “You inspire me. Thank you!” That means more than anything.
What’s next for you in 2021?
My next big chapter in life is full of change. I’ve been quietly working behind the scenes. When the time is right, the world will see.