Jayda Abello is a vinyl DJ and multi disciplinary visual artist from Atlanta, GA currently creating in the Tampa Bay Area. She has a monthly residency at Hotel Haya in Ybor City, where she plays an open format blend of r&b, pop, 60’s, disco, and more with Latin sounds splashed throughout. As a Jill of all trades, Jayda designs all of her own flyers and enjoys giving herself an artistic challenge with every new DJ gig booked. She has also released a self published autobiographical diary comic “Numb Blonde” (2020), and keep an eye out for her at Bananas Records in Saint Petersburg, FL where she will also be hosting a Record Store Day event next month.
In her free time Jayla loves to cook any and everything. “I’m always finding new recipes on IG that keep me excited to get in the kitchen and I find it really grounding for me.” She also love binging astrology and Human Design videos on YouTube, and tries to be outdoors on the beach or poolside as much as possible, “the sunshine recharges me and activates all of my super powers, I’m convinced!”
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you to get into it?
I’ve always DJ’d here and there, over the past 10 or so years. I started by playing records for friends at my own after hours parties in my apartment back in the day. I eventually moved on to bars, often playing before, after, and in between bands at local venues around Atlanta. In 2021, I started pursuing it as an actual job, and I’m loving it!
I had been in the service industry for a very long time, and made the decision not to return post-pandemic, which has been really good for me. The first time I paid rent with DJ money, I felt so happy and proud. I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing now and I’m excited to keep going down this path because I feel like it’s bringing me closer to my truest self.
What is a day in the life like?
I’m deep in a self care season so lately I try to start each day with coffee, smoothie, 3 pages of journaling, EFT tapping, and a little yoga but it doesn’t always happen that way. I’m a brand ambassador/promo model in the beverage industry by day, so that usually requires me to drive long enough to listen to a podcast that inspires me. I check instagram, respond to DMs, update my website, all that stuff. I collect a lot of inspiration for my flyers by things I see on instagram and put them together on my iPad. I have a room in my house dedicated to music and art, so I spend a lot of time in there just listening to records or chipping away at one of my many unfinished art projects while my dog, Magic sleeps underneath my chair. The best part of any day is when I get to make a connection with somebody.
In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
Weeks before the pandemic exploded, I got to play in New York on Valentine’s Day with my friend, Melissa Lopez, at a launch party for a female-run porno mag called Daggers. It was the first time I’d DJ’d after a 2 year break and the only time I played out while living in NYC. I thought I had put DJing behind me but that night put the fire back into me and reminded me why I loved it so much in the first place. I had so much fun and it was the confidence boost I needed after going through some recent hard times. I had no idea that night would become such an important memory to me—a month later, all nightlife came to an abrupt halt.
Another, more recent memory I love is supporting my friends in Mattiel two nights in a row at The EARL last November in Atlanta, my hometown. On the second night, my mom came out and it made me feel really good to have her there watching me do my thing. I played a bunch of songs just for her that night and I could tell it made her feel really special.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Sometimes it can be a challenge to discern what the client says they want from what they actually need. It’s important to take directives seriously when you’re given them, but it’s also important to remember that a DJ is hired for a reason. It’s understood that you’re the creative authority in this situation and sometimes that means knowing better than the person who hired you. Sometimes the originally specified vibe just isn’t hitting and it’s up to you to be able to pivot and bring the energy back up and keep the drinks flowing. They’ll be relieved and thanking you when you do!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Do not, by any means, underprice yourself. Set your rate and stand proudly by it; do not let people lowball you because they will try. I know so many femme creatives who struggle with knowing their worth when it comes to charging for their services. Listen: you’re an amazing, unique person with an amazing, unique energy performing live with your amazing, unique record collection, a thing that cannot be easily replaced. It should cost some money to get you and your records out of the house.
And trust your intuition on all fronts! That means knowing the next song to play and knowing which gigs to turn down. You’re a DJ, you already know how to read a vibe, so just apply that to all of it.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
My vinyl collecting habit came purely from Teenage Me thinking it was was cool to collect vinyl and wanting very badly to be cool, hahaha! But really, they’re just cool and I love how tactile they are. It may sound stupid, but they seem to have their own magic. I got an original pressing of Raw Power and I swear it just feels special. I appreciate how much space a record collection takes up and how difficult they are to move. When I was living in New York, I actually stopped buying them because I just didn’t have the space for anymore, my room was so small and my crates were just swallowing the common area. I live in Florida now and share a house with my boyfriend, where I have plenty of space for new records and it’s been really exciting to get back into it.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about?
I’m really excited about Ree De La Vega’s new venture, A/V Radio!! Atlanta is getting blessed with a new 24 hour independent streaming radio station, and she has already secured such a diverse list of talented contributors, it’s gonna be really cool. I see a lot of DJs streaming online now and I think it’s a brilliant way to generate extra income and connect with people.
What started out of a lockdown necessity for a lot of folks has become a regular offering, I know some people who are making good money and building solid community space, all from hanging out and playing records online.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Share, share, share! Share the cool record you found at the estate sale, tag the DJ you saw last night in your stories, bring a friend to the record store, help somebody set up their at home stereo, surprise your parents with a stack of records from their college days, just spread the love. There’s already so much exclusivity in this culture and gatekeeping is a joy thief.
My favorite thing ever is putting other people on to something that adds value to their life, so I encourage everybody to do that!
Anything else you want to share? If not, tell me what you’re listening to:
Always and forever into punk and all things Brit Pop (two of the biggest influences on my personal style) but come by my house lately and you’ll likely hear some city pop, drum and bass, or Sade playing.