International DJ Von Kiss is not one to "blend in." From her signature neon yellow locks, to her stylish 90's Chola fashion, and phenomenal DJ skills, she leaves a lasting impression wherever she goes.
As an open format DJ and an ex-go-go dancer for the hottest clubs in San Diego, she combines her deep love for dancing and music to effortlessly pack dance floors. It is no surprise that music lovers from Tokyo to Ibiza are drawn to her, and promoters and club owners have her rocking sets throughout the country. On top of all that, she also throws her own Queer Latinx Party called "Besos" every month!
We got a chance to talk with DJ Von Kiss about her career, life, and her music. And got to know more about our favorite jet setting DJ. At the end of our conversation, we also asked her to do what she does best, grace the turntables and give us a mix to get that summer vibe going — she did not disappoint!
If you love to dance and you are ready to party this summer, turn up your Tivoli Audio radio, and get ready to be inspired by her words and music!
Let's start from the beginning. How did you get into DJing and producing?
The first time I set foot in a nightclub, I knew I had found my "Happy Place". I loved going out to clubs and dancing the night away. My love of dancing soon led to a part-time job as a go-go dancer in some of the best nightclubs in San Diego. I danced on stage with some of the best DJs in the early-mid 2000's. By listening to all these incredible DJs up close and personal I got to hear their unique ways of mixing. The more I was around DJs and nightlife I started to wonder if I could become a DJ. I felt like my love of music and my experience as a dancer were great attributes to get me started.
In January 2004, I took the leap and went with one of my DJ friends, Yusef Tarzi, to Guitar Center and bought 2 Technics and a Pioneer Mixer. With the help of Yusef and many other DJ friends, I learned the basics of DJing (this was pre-YouTube days lol). I started to build up my record collection and started practicing until I had my first gig in 2005... and I've been DJing ever since! I started producing in 2010 because I felt like if I wanted to become a "Festival DJ," I needed to make a name for myself as a producer. I have produced a few tracks and made some remixes, but I know I haven't quite tapped my full potential as a producer yet.
What has been your career highlight/highlights?
Oh, man DJing at the Summer Sonic Music Festival in Tokyo for Rye Rye was incredible. Also, DJing in Ibiza for Velvet Ibiza was amazing. There was also the random DJ set I played at M.I.A.'s Coachella afterparty back when Kanye headlined! I have been DJing for over 15 years now, so there are many highlights, but this past New Years' Eve I was asked to DJ a special NYE Livestream with one of my DJ Idols: Richard Vission!
Has it been a curse or a blessing coming up as a female in a male dominated industry? What have been the biggest challenges?
I love being a woman. I think that being a female in this world is full of challenges, no matter what industry you are in. I am excited for the day that more females find themselves in positions of power so that equality in the workplace will be more prevalent. I would say that the biggest challenge I face as a female in this industry is just deciding on whether or not I should get pregnant!
What advice would you give your past self?
Take more risks! Embrace your confidence and push yourself to go beyond your comfort zone.
We’ve gotten a chance to get to know your beautiful wifey through your Instagram feed, she seems awesome. How important is it to have a partner as supportive as your wife and what role has she played in helping to build your career?
My wife Valerie, is incredible, to say the least. She did my makeup for my first ever DJ press pics and all my press pics since then! Valerie is my number one fan, and she has pushed me to be the best DJ I can be. She has also encouraged me to raise my rates and get on the mic more to engage with the crowd. My wife is my best friend, and I am so thankful for her support. She has also helped me book quite a few gigs with her own connections.
Give us 4 songs that inspire you and closely describe your style of music.
Wowww, this might be the hardest question yet! Ok, I’m going to try and keep this simple. Let me start by saying, I am an open format DJ with a love of so many genres and eras of music. As far as my DJ Style of Music let’s go with:
- Losing It - Fisher (this style of future house is a must play in my prime-time sets)
- Shake That Monkey - Too Short (This is a classic Booty Shakin/Twerk Anthem and I love Booty Shakers)
- Pony - Ginuwine (I love to drop this one towards the end of the night. I love to play throwbacks, especially “sexy time” ones)
- Bad Bunny (I love mixing in Latin jams and this remix is so fire!!! It was my favorite song of 2020)
How do you prepare your sets? And how is your style different from other DJs ?
I prepare my sets based on the crowd that I expect to be at the venue, which can be tricky when it's a new venue and city. I try and make sure that I have the newest "Hot Tracks" to play and a folder full of "Solid Tracks" that should work in any city/country. I think that because I've been DJing for 15 years and I learned so much from watching other DJs, I now have my own unique style that blends all the DJ knowledge I've gained over the years. And also... as a person who loves to dance... it is always my ultimate goal to make the crowd move!
Which Tivoli Audio product do you have and what do you love about it?
I have the Model Three BT radio. I'm obsessed with the old school analogue aesthetic of the radio and the sound is so crisp and clear.
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Can you tell us of any projects you are working on or upcoming projects?
I have been throwing my own Queer Latinx Party called "Beso" every second Friday of the month for over 2 years and I want to expand it to more cities.
My Beso Party was started over 2 years ago in Houston at Pearl Bar (which is one of only 16 Lesbian Bars in the country). It is a Queer Latinx party and it is so fun! The dance floor stays packed the whole night. I play a mix of Reggaeton, Cumbias, Banda, Salsa, Merengue, Latin Trap, Latin Pop, and more! I started this party because I noticed that there were a lot of Latin music lovers that would come to my shows in Houston and I felt like I needed to dedicate a full night to them. I am half Mexican and I love Cumbias and Banda, so it makes me happy to know that there are so many people that support my party.
If you loved her mix and want to hear more, follow DJ Von Kiss on her Instagram @Vonkiss. You can also find her live streaming on her twitch channel: @DJVONKISS and don’t forget to head over to www.vonkiss.bigcartel.com for that merch.