It is Mother’s Day weekend here in the U.S., so what a perfect time to introduce you to a new ‘Mom in vinyl’. Misty is a vinyl DJ from Toronto, Canada currently living in Osaka, Japan! She’s spent the last decade plus selecting the best in Rock n’ Roll, Soul, Funk, Vintage R&B, Punk, Alt. Rock, Retro and everything in between to spin at bars, clubs, corporate/private events and across the airwaves in Toronto, NYC, LA, Mexico City, Tokyo & Osaka. These days she predominantly plays vintage R&B and soul music in all its forms on vinyl. She’s a proud founding member of Toronto Soul Club (you may remember DJ Nico we interviewed who was also a member). DJ Misty is currently on self imposed “maternity leave”, but you can find her as resident DJ of a monthly Osaka party, The!! Beat as well as on the weekly show Night Beat Radio exclusively on radiocore.org. She is also half of the record store, Night Beat Records with her husband.
Outside of DJ’ing/collecting and selling records she enjoy traveling and exploring off the beaten path experiences, which she blogs about. She’s also blogging about her experience becoming a parent in a foreign country over at: www.fujiiyamamama.com She is studying Japanese so she can get better at speaking it and making the most out of living in Japan.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you to get into it?
I started DJ’ing for fun when I was in college so that my friends and I could hear the music we liked when we went out and it just exploded from there – both my love of DJ’ing and the opportunities I’ve been fortunate to have with it. I’ve been around music my whole life with a musician father and a house full of records growing up.
Another reason I started DJ’ing which I haven’t really spoken about was to help me with social anxiety. Being the DJ gave me a reason and a purpose to go out and whenever I felt overwhelmed I could “hide” behind the music in a DJ booth. I’m grateful to have worked through my anxiety (though it still crops up from time to time) but DJ’ing was a way to support that!
What is a day in the life like?
Now or then? Now, I’m a full time mom to a sweet baby but my house is full of records and music all the time. My husband owns the record store Night Beat Records so we are surrounded by records, literally. As a DJ every day and gig is different, from weddings to playing records in a club and always dependent on the crowd and dance floor. Now with COVID, I’m proud to say we’ve taken our monthly party The!! Beat and started live-streaming it monthly .
But a typical day always starts with coffee and sees me working on radio show Night Beat Radio, prepping for a gig, organizing records to sell and taking care of my baby. Back when I lived in Toronto I also worked full time in social work, so my day would see me working in a women’s shelter before coming home and getting ready to go DJ a gig at night or on the weekends.
In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
I’ve been lucky to get to DJ some really cool events. One that sticks out to me was DJ’ing an exhibit called “The Science of Rock ‘n’ Roll” at the Ontario Science Centre where Steve Cropper (of Booker T & The MG’s and songwriter with Otis Redding) performed.
I’ve also been able to travel and DJ in cities like NYC, Mexico City and Tokyo. I was thrilled to be able to DJ the Tokyo Halloween Ball back during my first visit to Japan in 2016 (and I’ve DJ’ed it every year since)! The 2016 Halloween Ball was memorable because there was a huge language barrier between myself and many of my new friends but I played a Toronto record by a group called The ‘B’ Girls who I didn’t realize were very popular in Japan! I had a whole bunch of music fans jumping up and down in front of my booth singing along to all the English lyrics at the top of their lungs. It made me realize how much music can transcend borders and was a magical moment.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
The hardest part has at times been dealing with men who don’t believe women can know a lot about music and record collecting, or men who have expected my attention at gigs while I’m trying to work. The worst thing that ever happened was a gig where a man got angry that I couldn’t have a full conversation with him so he tried getting my turntables to skip and when I stopped him from doing that he picked up my box of records and threw it across the bar. I think I blacked out in that moment but he definitely got what was coming to him!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
I think the best first step for anyone who wants to get into vinyl collecting, DJ’ing, etc is to get to know other collectors and sellers and to explore their own cities DJ scene to find events they like if they haven’t already been immersed in any music scenes. Otherwise I think my advice is to just go for it! Try it out and work with other local DJ’s and promoters when you can.
Another suggestion is to immerse yourself in the music you’re playing. Learn about the artists you like and why they made the music they did. Nothing irks me more than DJ’s or collectors of 60’s soul music saying “don’t bring politics into music” when that time was incredibly political for Black artists.
If you love the music but can’t appreciate the struggle and social climate that went into making the music then you aren’t truly “listening”.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
I am a vinyl collector! I’ve loved records since I was a kid growing up with them in the house. Now I mainly collect soul and vintage R&B 45’s from the 1950’s & 60’s but have an eclectic mix of genres in my collection from punk to jazz. I think for me, it’s finding songs that aren’t well known or available on other mediums that made me really want to dig into finding records.
As far as DJ’ing goes, while I do DJ digitally at times there is something about the physical feeling of playing records that tickles me. Now helping my husband with the record store has put me into the world of dealing records too so I’m learning a lot more about their values and how much of an investment records truly are.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about?
The prices and values of vintage records have been increasing since the onset of the pandemic which is something I didn’t expect to see. Another shift has been the move for many DJ’s to start streaming online. I think that’s a great medium especially given the climate but it also worries me that regular club nights will fade out in favor of livestreams. As brilliant and innovative as live-streaming is, to me it just doesn’t compare to DJ’ing for a dance floor. That said, as a Toronto gal living in Osaka with fabulous DJ friends around the globe it’s been a real treat to get to watch/listen and at times even DJ with friends far away.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Keep buying records! And support your fellow DJ’s and DJ friends however you can; whether it’s tuning into their livestreams and tipping when you can, sharing their events or tagging great DJ’s on social media, and going to their in person events as things start opening up.
Promote the city you live in and the DJ’s/events you like, keep building a supportive community with other music fans and have fun. Music has always been a means of delivering a message and also escape. Let’s not lose sight of that.
Anything else you want to share? If not, tell me what you’re listening to:
I can’t wait to get back to traveling and DJ’ing with some of my friends around the world. Currently, I’ve been listening to and loving more 60’s ska and rocksteady music because my baby absolutely loves it.
Find DJ Misty:
Night Beat Records: www.instagram.com/nightbeatrecords/