New York DJ and Levi’s Block Party campaign star Natasha Diggs has played alongside the likes of Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Mark Ronson, Grandmaster Flash, Q-Tip and Rakim. Grazia Girl Gang Ambassador for Music Megatronic joined her on the decks this summer at Soul In The Horn, the club night she founded in New York, and they’ll be reunited this week when the DJ brings her collection of vintage vinyl to Barbary for the very first 501 Friday on 19 October. Meg finds out what we can expect from her set...
Meg: What’s the first record you bought and how did it make you feel?
Natasha: One of the first important early records I bought that opened up my world to really exploring music more deeply was appropriately titled Expansions by Lonnie Liston Smith. When I heard this amazing piece of cosmic jazz/funk, I remember thinking, “There's music like this out there? I have to find all of it!”
Meg: How did you start collecting 45s?
Natasha: I was always open to checking out 45s along with 12-in LPs but one day early in my digging career I came across a shoe box of mint-condition 45s in original factory sleeves at the Salvation Army thrift store - all kinds of soul disco funk that to this day are still staples in my sets. I held my breath as I went up to the counter to ask how much for the box of maybe 80-plus 45s. When she told me $12, my heart beat fast and I had to hold my poker face to contain my excitement of the complete lottery I had just hit, but that box put me onto so many songs I hadn't heard before, and also made me realise that certain things only came out on 45 and vice versa. After that it was on! There was no way I was passing up the 45 section in whatever digging situation I was in - plus for me 45s make sense as they're lighter and easier to carry around when I'm travelling and I can put them in fly vintage 45 boxes to match my outfits!
Meg: Have you always wanted to be a DJ?
Natasha: Growing up I went through different phases of wanting to be a dancer, an artist, and a fashion designer. Luckily part of my job as a DJ enables me to dance frequently, and the other two dream jobs are still coming to fruition - stay tuned!
Meg: You’ve played alongside some of the world biggest musical artists and DJs. Who were you most humbled by?
Natasha: I think opening for Roy Ayers was really special. One of my favourite artists of all time, in his lifetime he has been responsible for creating some of the most soulful and spiritual contributions to music. Now in his late 70s he continues to spread his beautiful message and love vibrations around the world. It's so inspiring to witness as it's something I aspire to do every day in my work and hopefully throughout the course of my life.
Meg: Does music influence your sense of style?
Natasha: Absolutely! So much of my style influence comes from album covers of the ’70s and ’80s, the colours, accessories, details, and of course the music itself. I dress according to the music I'm feeling at the moment or playing for the evening.
Meg: If you had to pick one genre forever...
Natasha: Good music! Does that count? If not, maybe Brazilian music, bossa nova. It’s so evocative and emotional from joyful to melancholy it always touches my heartstrings in a special way.
Meg: Where is your favourite country for crate digging?
Oh my so many! India made for some very adventurous and hilarious digging stories. Japan always has the fire exclusives, and you can find almost anything you can dream of in mint condition - at a price of course. The Midwest of America is full of gems. It seems like every neighbourhood block had an independent 45 pressed up, it's endless really.
Meg: Describe your set in four words
Natasha: Soulful uplifting love vibrations.
Meg: House party or night club?
Natasha: A night club that feels like a house party!
Meg: Pool party or beach rave?
Natasha: I'm a beach girl all day! Nothing like jumping into the ocean after making people dance on a sandy beach!
Meg: Festival or arena?
Natasha: Festival! Bringing together artists and listeners in a more open intimate space-- usually somewhere in beautiful nature - with more time to connect and exchange energy.
Meg: What do you do when you’re not DJing?
Natasha: I chase the sun, meditate, stretch, treasure hunt, play keys and work on music.
Meg: What advice would you give to your 17-year-old self?
Natasha: Believe in yourself more. Know your worth. Step into your power!
Meg: Any words of advice for young female DJs starting in this industry?
Natasha: Stay in your truth and follow your heart and find your unique voice and expression. Avoid comparing your path to anyone else's. Your growth and story aren't meant to look like anyone else’s.
- Don’t miss Natasha Diggs plus Megatronic, James Locksmith and Dan Greenpeace at the first 501 Friday at Barbary on 19 October 10pm – 3am. RSVP here, call (+971)4 247 6688 or email email@example.com
Photos: Marcus Derricotte and Janette Beckman