( ENSPIRE Music ) A Spotlight on the Genre-Transcendent DJ Who’s Taking the Music Scene by Storm
ENSPIRE Contributor: Gabrielle Maya
Samantha Michelle brings genre-transcendent experiences with her DJ skills to all industry-leading events. She is a rising star in the male-dominated industry which is being a DJ. Born in Toronto but London-bred, Samantha Michelle has opened for music legends such as Duran Duran, Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson, LCD Soundsystem, Miley Cyrus, DJ Ruckus, and Bachman Turner Overdrive. She headlined shows with audiences in the thousands. Her music creativity consists of remixing the classics and contemporary. She goes to disco, EDM, rock, soul, and pop; let’s just say there’s a little bit for everyone to enjoy. She has brought her flair to nightclubs, media outlets, members’ clubs hotels, and more
What kickstarted her DJ career was a night at London’s Groucho Club. Ten years later a happy accident turned into a full-time career. Samantha Michelle now goes between New York and Los Angeles. Her sound and creativity have taken her to Burning Man, Beverly Hills to the South of France, and the Swiss Alps. In her recent work, she has worked at private events for top brands such as Bulgari, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Harper’s Bazaar, Meta, Audible, Rolling Stone, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Carolina Herrera.
Samantha Michelle has headlined exclusive events and esteemed nightlife locale establishments such as London’s Loulou’s, New York’s Butterfly, and LA’s Soho Houses. Other venues included Christian Louboutin, bicoastal gigs for Dolce & Gabbana, Soho Desert House Coachella, and Hamptons events. She helped kickstart the launch of Lotus’ new luxury race care event, the Canadian Consulate’s Oscars party in LA, and the Cinetic Media party at Sundance. She is a musical force to be reckoned with and always brings an energetic atmosphere to any type of event.
ENSPIRE interviewed Samantha Michelle about her career as a DJ, her music inspirations and DJ idols, her creative DJ process, and how she sets up her events.
What music artists inspire your mixes and why?
My style is nostalgic and I love weaving classic elements from soul, jazz, funk, and gospel into my mixes. My sound’s caught in the sweet spot between past and present.
What is one of your favorite events you recall headlining for and why?
I just played Diner en Blanc NYC for about 4,000 people in the streets of meatpacking. It was surreal. The energy was electric. The mayor turned up, requesting “Empire State of Mind”… I dropped the levels to let the crowd belt ‘New York! New York!’ out into the streets together; the feeling of everyone united in their love for this amazing city, was special.
Are there any DJs that have inspired you over the years?
For sure. I’ve opened for Mark Ronson a couple of times, he’s an inspiration as both a DJ and producer. We share a love for funk, but I think you hear his greatest work in longstanding collaborations with women like Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, and course, the late great Amy Winehouse. I also love female DJs like Nora van Elken, LP Giobbi, and BLOND:ISH.
Describe a night out at one of your events what are your strategies when you perform?
Oh, it’s a lot of fun. That’s the hallmark of the Samantha Michelle experience!
Any advice for new DJs, what is the proper etiquette and how do you promote yourself?
My advice to DJs on the up is to trust your instincts, that’s your well of magic as a DJ – your impulses, mood, and feelings. And of course, you gotta practice! I make mixes all the time at home. I’m always building out my library of tracks and exploring new mixing techniques. As far as promotion, don’t overthink it… just put it out there. You and your sound are going to evolve as you grow, so be where you are, share it out, and see what happens!
Your DJ career seemed like a happy accident at the Groucho Club in London, describe that night and how you realized being a full-time DJ was in the cards for you?
I took over from the DJ at this party at the Groucho and started playing silly tunes that everyone sort of knew and loved but were definitely not expecting to hear, and I watched the magic happen; folks letting loose, shedding that self-awareness and coming together in a sort of spirit of togetherness. It was really special; from that night on, people kept asking me to DJ parties. Initially, I was resistant; eventually, I caved, and as soon as I got to learn how to actually DJ and play with proper equipment, I realized that there was something here for me.
Walk us through your creative process, how does a DJ set come to fruition?
Whenever I prep a set, I’ll sift through my catalog of music and build out a digital crate essentially of say 10 or so hours of tunes so when I’m up there, I’m working from something I’ve already prepared for myself. Sometimes I’ll stick within it and sometimes I’ll jump around but taking that time to imagine the party and give thought as to what might be socially right, gives me the freedom to experiment and to play. I never preset anything. I’m all about reading the vibe and the energy.
What has evolved in your DJ career, and what can audiences worldwide look forward to in the future?
So much has evolved. My goodness. I started out playing rockabilly and Northern soul and now I’m like a house, EDM girl crafting live mashups across four channels. I’m constantly working on upping my game from a technical standpoint because the more you learn, the freer you are to take risks. I’m also getting clearer with myself on the messaging of my sets and what I want to create energetically and represent… positivity, inclusion, fun, love, joy, and kindness. That’s what I’m about.
Samantha Michelle has been featured in The Bare Magazine, Eyes on Hollywood, Blowout Magazine, Galore, and DJ Life Mag to name a few. Recently, she performed at Paramount’s 2023 Grammy party. She continues to play at Viacom and Wall Street Journal events during the Cannes Lions Festival. If interested in booking DJ Samantha Michelle, go follow her Instagram page for updates and booking information.