Over the last few years, I have heard the name Emily Lewis so many times that if I was paid each time. . . you know the saying: “I’d be rich!” The odd thing was that I had never met her. We’ve danced around the same circles so often that I thought that, one of these days, I’d be bound to bump into this woman who I hear great things about – I was wrong. We still have yet to meet in person. But, on a great note, she’s now DJing under the name DJ Double Dutch and I was able to catch her for an online interview about how this all came to be and what is to come next!
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): When did you have that moment when you knew you wanted to be a DJ?
DJ Double Dutch (DDD): I have always wrapped my life around music and performing. Singing lessons, piano, guitar. . . the whole thing. Problem was, I was awful at all of them. So for a while I slipped into acting and LOVED that while I did it. But the need for playing music stuck! DJing seemed like the most amazing way for me to make people dance and play my favourite music up on stage! It has been exactly what I missing and I love it.
RMM: What was the first record you bought?
DDD: The first record I ever ASKED for (besides the obvious Sesame Street and Sharon, Lois, and Bram), was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. My fifth birthday was based on that album. It was a break-dancing theme . . . we busted out the cardboard dance floor and all.
The first record I ever bought with my own hard-earned money was MC Hammer’s Hammer Please Don’t Hurt Em . . . I’ll say no more.
RMM: What is your favourite album and song of all time?
DDD: I could lie and say it’s some great hip hop album or Top 40 or something. But the truth is is that it is Paul Simon’s Graceland. And my favourite song, is off of another Paul Simon album (Rhythm of the Saints) and it’s called ‘The Coast’. In reality, there are no better beats (from the African to the Brazilian) to dance to than the tunes off of these two albums.
RMM: What was the first event you played and/or put on?
DDD: I’m lucky enough to have so many great friends in the industry (music and bar/club) so I had some pretty great shows right off. My very first show was a set with some amazing bands: The Salads, LoFi and Dodger. I also spun between their sets. I was absolutely terrified. But what a great way to get thrown into the mix!
RMM: So what is your current DJ/production setup? What hardware/software do you use?
DDD: I first learned using Serato and Technique Turntables. Since then, I have simplified to using a Hercules mixer, combined with virtual DJ and my MacBook Pro. Some people would say that I “sold out”. But, the honest truth is that most of the clubs/parties/weddings I play don’t even know the difference. And it is about 150 pounds less gear to lug around. You say sell out? I say smart as hell!
RMM: When you play, is it a pre-planned set?
DDD: I never go in with a complete pre-plan. I usually decide as I get the feel of the room! It’s more fun for me that way, too! I do everything from country parties to house and drum and bass. Keeps me on my toes. But, for example, every Tuesday at Che Burrito and Lounge I do 9’0s party . . . then I go in with a pretty clear-cut idea of what I am going to be playing.
RMM: How would you define your sound?
DDD: As I said above, I am pretty versatile. I think that is why I have been successful. I’m not the trickiest of DJs and I don’t use tons of effects (although I respect those guys immensely and am working on new things all of the time). But I can honestly say that I feel that I shine at making people happy! I’m not a DJ that thinks that I am too good to play requests. I feel as though I am really good at catching a vibe on what is working for a room. I just LOVE making people groove.
RMM: What are your plans for the next one to three years?
DDD: My goals are to become a full-time DJ. That means no more bartending or side jobs! I’d love to play in Toronto more often and maybe start busting out the old turntables for some higher end gigs! I’m also starting a party/wedding booking company. I have so many friends that are great DJs and that have fantastic bands that I have full confidence that we could book an entire wedding season, Stag ‘n Does and private parties year ’round!
RMM: What’s your “go to” song that never fails when you have a crowd of duds?
DDD: This works 100% of the time – ‘Let Me Clear My Throat’, DJ Cool. Like, every single time. Lately, I can bust out anything by Calvin Harris or Swedish House Mafia and it takes people from sitting and grooving to killing the dance floor right away. Oh, and again, right now, ‘Thrift Shop’ by Macklemore (but those type of songs change from month to month). I remember when it was ‘Gangnam Style’ not too long ago. Now, it would clear the dance floor immediately! People are fickle.
RMM: How big is your vinyl collection? Tell me all about it!
DDD: Considering I am pretty much all digital now. . . I still have a huge vinyl collection. It’s like, 90% old school hip hop and dance (from the early ’80s to the early 2000s). Everything from Salt n Pepa, Kon Can and Dream Warriors. Hahaha – remember Kon Can? Craziness. I love busting out that stuff!
RMM: If you had a time machine what year would you go back to and why?
DDD: Ugh, that is one hard question! Being the giant jazz and swing fan that I am . . . it’d probably the roaring ’20s. Now, those cats knew how to throw a party! The dancing, the fashion, the clubs. So sexy.
But, if I was to go back to a more recent time, it would be the early- to mid-90s. I LOVED going to clubs in that era (I’m totally aging myself) but Alice Deejay, Technotronic, Daft Punk . . . c’mon . . . Classic amazing dance tunes that still work today!
RMM: What do you do with yourself outside of the dance music scene?
DDD: I go to a lot of rock shows! The Hamilton music scene has something amazing going on every single night. And Toronto is right around the corner. I’m also just a little obsessed with movies (I studied film at the University of Western Ontario) so I spend hours a day watching them. I try to get to the theatre a couple of times a week, too. Oh, and don’t forget patio season is just around the corner . . . my No. 1 favourite outdoor activity!
RMM: Do you think being a female in this industry has helped you or hindered you?
DDD: It has 100% helped me. In fact, I feel as though I have gotten some extra opportunities because of it, which maybe a little unfair, but I just have to prove to people (once I am there) that I am just as good as the boys! So, I work really hard to do that.