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Je’li Daniel | Founder, Red Light Vinyl and DJ

DJ, curator of sound, vinyl vixen and founder of Red Light Vinyl, that is Je’li Daniel a vinyl select(tress) and all the hats she wears. As the founder of Red Light Vinyl, an all female vinyl collective, Je’li is running the day to day operations, and curating music sets for online radio broadcasts worldwide in London, Istanbul, and most recently France. Red Light Vinyl works with businesses to better service the community’s entertainment needs, such as serving sounds for campaign parties like that of former female runner of city council Aura Vasquez, to local non-profits such as S.P.Y (safe place for youth), an organization empowering young people experiencing homelessness to thrive through providing community, and housing solutions that address racial + social inequality. She is currently building a residency at female owned and operated Bar Franca, in Downtown LA doing an all vinyl night every Saturday.

At the moment she says that her work is her life, and she isn’t quite to a place where the work stops; however still finds therapy in taking a day here or there to go to a new record store outside of the city to remind herself why she does this and refresh her passion. She loves swimming and recently joined a gym to motivate herself to get healthy and stay both mentally and physically balanced.  Her ultimate goal is to visit buddhist temples more often, sit, meditate, adjust and breathe. We also can’t forget to mention she has a 3 year old husky, because we love pets around here!  

How did you get into your industry / What motivated you to get into it? 

It all started when living in Brooklyn 8 years ago, working in the field of creative production, and fine arts photography as that was my background and main focus then. I met some super hip Brooklyn natives who were DJ’s. We hopped around town like a pack of wolves, from Bedstuy to the L.E.S (Lower East Side)! I began to learn to play digitally, and my friends were so nice and encouraging for me to step in and play nights at certain venues giving me more confidence and money on the side.

When I moved back to LA, I met a girl at my then place of work, we became close friends and found many commonalities in music, vintage and vinyl records. We started out in a small wine bar where we’d hang after work a lot. The bar was equipped with a full turntable setup and said, “You ladies can come and spin here anytime!” So we brought records that we already had in our own personal collections, and began playing.  We started promoting the nights and it has grown from there. We played a lot of classic west coast sounds, like War Band (my favorite band of all time) classic rock, funk, Beatles, Bossa Nova, disco, etc. People loved it, as it was a rare look for two female vinyl DJ’s one black girl, one white girl, and we played off of the 70’s revolutionary meets disco image, it was a mix between Barbara Streisand – Donna Summer‘s WET album and Gloria Steinem – Dorothy Pitman Hughes FIST RAISED Picture!

What is a day in the life like?

I treat my day as if I am stepping into a work office, does it always work out that way?! Hell nah! But I try! I have been self employed for over a year now, and am very new at it! It’s another epic “rise and fall soon as covid hit” story where I decided to go full time freelance DJ; literally right before we got hit!  But, like many other creatives, taking off on their own during this time, it gave us the opportunity to take that ride of self discovery, a self value upgrade and reset, and to bestow some self-compassion for ourselves and others most importantly.

My day consists of outreach to businesses and networking with establishments that I’m drawn to  with a desire to play at. I’m still crunching numbers, collecting receipts for end of year biz write offs, creating write ups and pitches to bigger establishments, in the midst of continuously studying new music to curating future sets, or for the specific commissioned event.  I have a desire to collaborate internationally which is an ongoing process, but I know I will get there!  A preset vision is the key, then making sure to write these visions down so I don’t forget!

In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?

Ok, two cool things! A fellow female vinyl collector reached out to me by the name of Briean Elan aka @vinyl.reflections inviting me, and 6 other other female enthusiasts and collectors to make a reel called “The Black Queens of Vinyl Challenge“.  None of us had ever met each other in person, or followed one another on social for that matter, this was strictly a movement made to bring women of color who collect vinyl of all genres as a hardcore hobby to light! We were asked to pick our top 2 to 3 records and passed them to each other (screen to screen), it was such a rad experience as I never knew there were so many sisters in the game! Still flush every time I think of that project, and we all made new friends!

Also, I was commissioned to DJ at the Peterson Automotive Museum it was a special exhibition showcasing off road vintage motorcycles, it was a pretty big epic event. I got to learn so much about the history of vintage motorcycling and a whole foundation that supports the 150 year old culture. I had the honor to meet a female NASA scientist who designed the latest Perseverance Rover on Mars, super cool! I was able to use Betty Davis’s “This is It” album cover for personal promotion and historical representation, it’s the super erotic woman empowerment driven image of her on the motorcycle.

What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?

Finances! Balancing my funds as a freelancer, when you are unsure what’s coming in or not coming in, being under paid, employer’s still having this misconception of DJ’s being paid peanuts (especially female), and the most annoying is chasing the money after the job! Not being efficiently paid on time, or mis-written checks on the employer’s end, it’s such anxiety and the reason why I have been going forward working with more corporate related events rather running around bar to bar, so not down for that struggle anymore!

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?

Go for it!!! I have been asked this question by a lot of ladies that had been interested in collecting and/or pursuing a career in the DJ world.  I always reach my hands out and offer them the opportunity to come spin with me or collaborate on music projects with Red Light Vinyl (RLV) ! It’s so much fun exploring this world and goes without saying, its better with women!

For resources, I have a full list from vendors to venues and I am happy to answer, support, or chat about anything specific. Please reach out, I am ready to be of tangible service!

Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it? 

I am an absolute hardcore vinyl collector! I have been since I was 16, taking in my auntie’s and uncle’s cachet of records. For some reason people are under the impression I always need them, like going hungry for food, so they are constantly gifting and donating their collections or passing them over for me to resale, or to just play. My apartment is now a live/work studio, which I love, but it can be overwhelming as I wake up sometimes with random piles of records in places where I just want to sit and be civilized! I am constantly shifting them around. I was drawn to collecting vinyl because it is analog and fits hand in hand with my film photography, which is where I started in high school, so that motivated me to attain having a full audio – visual analog lifestyle!

What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? 

For my industry, the path has been fully cleared and open to walk down for female vinyl DJ’s in LA as of late! It is so exciting to hop on social and see my fellow lady DJ’s local and international out at events, traveling, or representing their collections by taking the time to curate full write ups on their knowledge and personal taste of newly pressed wax.  It’s so inspiring and entertaining and I am excited that it has become an international enterprise! 

During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?

A sweet lovely and endearing message… All I have is, to say I just love you! And I love what you are already doing, because it came from you and no one else.  I am a natural born humanitarian and will always strive being “the supporter”.  That is why I have tried to keep Red Light Vinyl alive, it is fundamentally a collective of lady DJ’s to support the community and to keep our music enthusiasm vital.  The way to support is to want to be in the circuit with us either physically or afar. It is healing and it is a movement!

Anything else you want to share? If not, tell me what you’re listening to: 

Find Je’li


Je’li: @chromequeen 

Red Light Vinyl: @redlightvinyl

Facebook: @RedLightVinyl

Website: www.worldwidefm.net/episode/artform-radio-jeli

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