An Interview With DJ Wawa

Michael McKinney speaks to the Brooklyn-based DJ about their winding journey through the music industry, connecting with the Brooklyn dance scene, developing a different way of viewing music through...
By    December 6, 2023

Image via Luis Nieto Dickens

Show your love of the game by subscribing to Passion of the Weiss on Patreon so that we can keep churning out interviews with legendary producers, feature the best emerging rap talent in the game, and gift you the only worthwhile playlists left in this streaming hellscape.

Michael McKinney understands the cultural importance of Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci.”

Dance music is a global industry at this point, but it never stopped being hyper-local. That’s what happens when an entire style is built around the body, around the intimacy of a long night out bumping elbows with strangers. Music takes on a different kind of power when it’s played into a dimly lit nightclub. It develops histories; it conjures possible futures; in the smallest of ways, it changes lives. Dance music takes its sounds from across the world, but if it’s about one thing, it’s about bodies colliding in the pursuit of momentary elation. It’s about motion, and joy, and straining towards something greater between the kick drums.

DJ Wawa, a Brooklyn dance-music mainstay at this point, understands this. They moved to New York in 2015 and fell in love with the city’s queer club circuit, walking to Bossa Nova Civic Club as often as they could. After they fully dove into New York’s techno scene, they started DJing themselves, exploring the intersection between gritty techno and souled-up house records. Since then, they have burrowed deeper into their sound and grown to rep Brooklyn ever harder, becoming a fierce advocate for queer nightlife and the individualism that a great club night can offer.

Their sound, meanwhile, has grown more and more idiosyncratic. During the early months of COVID-19, Wawa took the opportunity to lean into literal crate-digging, getting away from Bandcamp and Discogs in the process. At this point, they haul a bag of records from gig to gig, stopping by local record shops in an effort to find material they connect with. This approach—deep, analog, and offline dives—was once the norm, but it’s now a bit idiosyncratic, and it ensures that you’re unlikely to hear most Wawa selections outside of their own sets. Their best work does double duty: they’re history lessons in Black American dance music that offer a direct line to the rhythms that mean the most to the selector in question. It’s a tricky balancing act pulled off with aplomb, a celebration of umpteen histories that ultimately works as a way to flip the dance floor inside out.

Ahead of a gig in Minneapolis, we had a chance to speak with DJ Wawa, digging into their relationship to NYC’s nightlife scene, reckoning with the commercialization of dance music, the appeal of spinning vinyl, and how they practice vulnerability.

Talk to me about your way into the music industry.

DJ Wawa: My career started at a booking agency called Surefire. I used to throw indie rock shows and DJ during changeovers. That booking agency had Andy Stott and Bok Bok, and Rashad and Spinn, and Pearson Sound and Kode9 and Ikonika. In 2012-14, that felt like a niche in America, but now, that stuff is really big. That’s how I got into it; I felt my way around. I got obsessed with everything the booking agency was doing, and it was all dance music. San Francisco isn’t super focused on that; it was interesting to be in this world that felt new, exciting, and a bit unknown. It felt like we were fighting for a world that most people didn’t care about.

I was always looking to move to New York. With the work at the booking agency, we were booking artists from all over the country. Everyone would go and play New York, no matter what. New York is always happening. For maybe a year before I left, I was like, “This is cool, but I think I’m gonna try to move to New York.” I wanted to be where things are happening. I finally did it when someone offered me a $500 apartment, in 2015!

I lived with a DJ, Chrome Sparks. Our place had, like, three walls, and we had a connected wall. It wasn’t great, but it’s really hard to make that move, especially from San Francisco. That was a really big catalyst for helping make that thing happen. Because I worked at Surefire, I kind of knew what was going on. I knew that Bossa Nova [Civic Club] was cool. I knew that Aurora [Halal] and Daniel [Martin-McCormick] were out there doing Mutual Dreaming stuff. I met Aurora and Daniel because they were on the booking agency. That’s the first time I heard them talk about Sustain[-Release], a bit before it started. I already knew what I was looking for, but I didn’t know the scene. Before I had a job, and when I worked at a restaurant, I went to Bossa every day and hung out.

You were close by, right?

DJ Wawa: Yeah. I lived a 15 minutes’ walk away. I’d go to raves on weekends, and I’d meet people, and I’d go back to Bossa. People would tap me on the shoulder: “Hey, we met this weekend!” Slowly, I created a scene around me, and I started dating people who were big in that scene. Everything before the Ghost Ship fire was really exciting, before warehouse parties went up. There was no real limit to where they could go, and there were so many warehouse parties every weekend. It was really special; you didn’t know where the party was until a few hours before. After Ghost Ship, fire departments and police departments around the country started shutting down warehouse spaces.

That’s when Brooklyn went from warehouse spaces to clubs: Nowadays, Elsewhere, Public Records, Mood Ring. Bossa Nova is the center of everything, but everything else popped up. “Competition” is one way to put it, but there’s just so many people there; the scene is so big. There’s so many dancers. People just needed more: more places for people to DJ, more places for people to bartend, more places for people to work security. That’s the sickest thing about it. There’s more places to play, but in general, there’s just more places for people to work in the scene while also participating in it. That allows us to not take it too seriously; it’s not competitive, because there’s enough space for all of us. If you’re doing good work, and you’re trying to make things connect, things will happen.

Is this post-GHE20G0TH1K?

DJ Wawa: Yeah. Post-GHE20G0TH1K and in the middle of Discwoman. Discwoman has a lot to do with this—the scene slowly became a more accepting place for Black people, queer people, trans people, and their art and stories. Slowly, over time, the world shifted.

After the Trump election, people had to reckon with a lot. That opened a can of worms with all these queer and trans people; there was more space for alternative mindsets in the club world. Post-pandemic, it’s started to come to fruition. Everyone was stuck on the Internet for such a long time, and that’s where these conversations happen: Community Bread, and all these queer spaces that found themselves on the Internet, kept the scene moving. Post-pandemic, there were a lot of queer, Black, and trans raves. People woke up to a scene where all the DJs are Black or brown and queer, but that took work. It didn’t happen overnight.

When you were booking in San Francisco, did you understand club music as a predominantly European thing?

DJ Wawa: Yeah. Even at that booking agency, I didn’t hear much about Detroit or Chicago. The closest I got to it was hearing DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn play in 2013, at Monarch in San Francisco. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. The people making 160 now are mostly influenced by Rashad. Rashad and Total Freedom have a lot of influence on the music that’s being created now.

Seeing Rashad and Spinn play was the first time I really saw Black people on stage, doing dance music in a way that was incredibly different. Moving to New York helped me reckon with that: the Make Techno Black Again situation, and its Chicago and Detroit roots. But all that had to come from going to Bossa and hanging out with people there. My boss was from Canada, and he had a lot of connections with dubstep. We had Mala, DMZ, Coki, a lot of the Deep Medi people—all those guys. It was cool, but it was focused on the United Kingdom and the left-field bass scene. We didn’t really have house-focused people or many techno folks. The conversations were never about history; they were about what we were trying to achieve.

Moving to New York was an eye-opener. For one, New York’s queer scene was bigger than San Francisco’s. My biggest experiences with the queer and trans scenes in my generation have been in New York. I came out as queer mostly through my experiences in New York. I didn’t have a lot of experience with other Black and brown DJs until I moved. After I moved to New York and started DJing, I noticed I was really only hanging around DJs, and I only had stuff to talk about with them.

Did you know New York’s queer scene was good before you moved?

DJ Wawa: I had no idea. When I went to my first warehouse parties and saw trans queer people so heavily represented, I was in awe, because it was so different and new. Those parties were super memorable. They were about the community, not what DJ was playing.

That was the beginning of my raving life. In San Francisco, I was focused on work. I was a music fan, but my first job was the money-making part of music. One of the biggest changes, for me, was trying to get to know people, and the scene, on a human level. People throw parties, and they sacrifice a lot to make the scenes what they are. People in smaller towns stay in those places to build scenes. Understanding what motivated them helped me understand my own motivations. At the end of the day, we’re here because we love music; we’re here as vessels. Back in the day, I was a bit more obsessed with the “scene.” The scene will change, but music is always there. For me, it’s about staying in touch with the music and transmuting that love to a crowd.

You’ve talked about getting radicalized at Fourth World in 2015. Tell me about that.

DJ Wawa: That was my first time diving headfirst into the Brooklyn underground. I had moved to New York maybe two months before. I’d gone to warehouse parties and stuff, but that was the beginning of a really beautiful relationship with Brooklyn dance music. Back then, Fourth World was made up of local DJs. Something about that party was really eye-opening for me; it showed a world that really took care of its own. It was everyone in the neighborhood, but it was just a hint of how big that scene was. My first Sustain was in 2016. That’s where I met my first long-term partner. I had to go to Sustain to go deeper.

I mean, Sustain’s definitely for the heads.

DJ Wawa: Especially then! Now, it sells out immediately. This music was still niche. Recently, a lot of people have been talking about how their relationship with the scene has shifted as it’s become more mainstream. It’s exciting that so many people got into this during the pandemic. It’s a bit different, though, in a world where 60% of the audience at Nowadays doesn’t know what’s happening, or where 70% of the audience at Basement doesn’t know. It’s sold out every weekend—650 tickets, every Friday and Saturday. That’s great; it’s a sign of a healthy scene. It’s interesting dealing with a scene that’s growing up again.

There’s lots of people who didn’t go to parties before the pandemic, who were introduced to it through the Internet. They didn’t go to things, so they didn’t learn etiquette. That will always happen, of course. There will always be people who go for the party and never come back. You’re trying to grab those people who were just like you when you started. You want to find the people who are trying to go deeper; we’re always trying to switch something in people’s brains that helps them say, “I like this scene; I like this world.”

Talk to me about reckoning with that increased commercialization.

DJ Wawa: I didn’t work a lot during the pandemic. As someone who’d been working in dance music for 10 years, I was happy to have a break: I had a chance to re-evaluate things. I had a weird housing situation, too; I ended up moving in with Russel [E. L. Butler] and my buddy Clay Wilson. I started to play records again. I developed a relationship with older music.

For me, I stay away from Bandcamp. I stay away from listening to music on the Internet, outside of NTS Radio. I’m trying to find music I connect with, and I’m trying to deliver something different in my sets. I’m trying to deliver something that you can’t Spotify, and that you can’t create outside of listening to me. A lot of that stuff comes from playing records that I didn’t know about before I bought them. They’re not big now, they’re not big on Bandcamp, they’re not big on Spotify; they may not be on the Internet. It was about finding a way to differentiate myself from everyone else. For me, it was: How do I create a voice that’s my own?

During the pandemic, we were all on Bandcamp. Unless you’re really searching Discogs, you end up in the same circles as other people, and that’s totally fine. It’s supporting music. But, for me, finding a way that I can do this often and at a high capacity was about going in on records. First, it was about learning how to play records in a dance-music context. I’ve been learning that on the fly for the last two years. I’ll travel, and I’ll go to record stores and buy things that I’ll only find there. My bag has become really individual, and I feel that translates every time I play: people are listening to songs they haven’t heard.

Was this a conscious thing, where you said, “I’ve got to set myself apart?”

DJ Wawa: This was in 2021. DJing was back in full force; it came back really quickly in New York. It was moving. I said, “I’m not really moving yet. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing.” I was trying to rediscover myself after a year and a half of not DJing. Playing records allows me to feel [that connection] a bit more. Building a relationship with the new songs I’m playing, and watching crowds enjoy this unique experience, has been lovely.

So many things went into figuring out what worked for me. My relationship to music has changed, so I’ve been trying to chase that: How has it changed? Where’s it going? I’ve been having a lot of fun recently, asking, “What is DJing?” I play a lot of all-night sets, and I play a lot of listening bars. Those are nice, because you get to play things that aren’t necessarily club tools. I played with Marcellus Pittman earlier this year at public records. I had a three-hour-long opening set. For the first hour of any party, nobody’s really there, so I played a lot of Brazilian jazz and chill-out stuff as people were coming into the room. If I’m going to a party early, I’m probably going to want to have a smoke, and drink, and talk with my friends. So when I’m playing early, I want to facilitate that. Eventually, we always get to the dance-music portion. We start off in this weird slow zone, and we end up in this hype zone where everyone’s ready for the headliner.

In June, I played at Hot Mass, and I threw in city pop at peak time, because I’ve been listening to it a lot. I went to a cool record store in Portland in March; by June, I finally listened to everything, and I said, “Some of this stuff is ready for a dancefloor.” It was wild to watch all these people go nuts for Japanese jazz out of nowhere. If people are expecting me to play four-on-the-floor, we can do that. But we can do so many things! There are so many ways to keep a crowd going. That’s why, whenever people ask me what I play, I just say “dance music.” That’s the catch-all term.

I’m not trying to steer people in a house, techno, or disco direction. We’re here for dance music. Every time we play, we’re celebrating the idea of dance music. My ideal DJing is a celebration of dancing. People do all the shit during the week that they don’t necessarily love, and we—DJs—are the thing that they go to on the weekend. We’re the opportunity for people to lose themselves from the stressors in their lives. It’s important to come through, to transmit love and energy. I like to say that every time I pick a song, my life flashes before my eyes: every song I picked before, every song I’ve ever heard. Every situation informs the songs you’re going to play, because that is the thing. You start off somewhere in a musical journey, and then you find dance music, and then you say, “I’m going to do all this.” But you’re really at your best when you reconnect with that original music sense. Whatever music you don’t think is cool from when you were a kid—it’s got good ideas. You were drawn there for a reason.

Do you find yourself playing stuff you listened to when you were younger?

DJ Wawa: I grew up listening to G-Unit in high school. The Game was big; 50 Cent was big. There’s so many great ideas in hip-hop. Maybe I don’t agree with all the lyrics, but the beats of that time [2003-2007] are great; they’re informative to the stuff I like now. It’s easy to draw connections between the stuff I was listening to as a child and the things I listen to now. Even my dad listening to smooth jazz influenced the music I play now.

I went to a talk with Underground Resistance, and Cornelius [Harris] said something that really hit me: “It’s a DJ’s job to play music from different areas.” The DNA is all there. Dance music is dance music, no matter the area. It’s our job to link them together and show how the music is connected.

Talk to me about Hit Factory Records.

DJ Wawa: Hit Factory has been lovely. It’s really evolved: there’s the NTS show, which we share with people in our world who deserve a spotlight. It’s always been about collaboration. Me and Clay lived together, and we were like, “We’re making tunes: we’re the hit factory.” It’s about making things and not feeling like you need to hold onto them; it’s about getting the inferiority complex out of your head and pushing things forward.

The idea behind Hit Factory is simple: we need to share the shit that we make. We need to not be so [precious about it.] I’m glad that NTS has given us an impetus to do it every month. It’s important to have an outlet, because if you make work and don’t release it, you can’t let it go. If you’re making something, not finishing it, and then making something else, you’re never developing. You’re just treading water. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the only reason that anyone’s found success is because they’ve had the courage to put things out. You can conceptualize and theorize everything you want to do, but sooner or later, you’ve got to just do shit, or nothing is gonna happen.

You have to put yourself out there. It’s not a competition, but it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle if you’re not advocating for yourself. And advocating for yourself feels really weird! But it’s important to exercise vulnerability [in that way].

You mentioned that you’ve started moving towards vinyl. Tell me about that.

DJ Wawa: I’m usually trying to go for whatever the crazier things are. Human Head is my favorite record store in New York. They have a fantastic new arrivals section, and a fantastic Chicago section. Mostly, I’m trying to find really good condition records that I have no idea about. I’m trying to listen to as much stuff as I can. Usually, that involves me going to a record store, getting a big stack, and then listening to everything.

Digging deeper has been fun; it’s a different way of looking at music. It’s away from algorithms. It’s away from the Internet. It’s away from situations where other people have found music before you. It’s about that discovery: it’s about going into a store and taking a chance. I’ve noticed that, as my collection and sets get more built, it gets harder for me to find records that fit in. The music I’m looking for feels so precise that I’m searching in the unknown for unknowns. I don’t know what’s going to fit, so being in a place where everything feels a bit random helps: Who knows what’s going to happen next?

Do you worry about getting stuck aesthetically?

DJ Wawa: Playing records is a little different from playing CDJs, you know? The bag I’ve got with me tonight is the same bag I had last week. I didn’t change things too much. So, it takes a bit more effort to change: it takes more practice, more sitting at home and devising where I’m trying to move into next. It’s harder to shift things, but it just takes more practice. It takes more willingness to say, “Okay, I have a lot of records. What else fits this vibe?” The listening is a bit different from pointing and clicking. Everything just takes a bit more effort and a bit more time.

In a way, working with vinyl might encourage the thoughts you’ve been working through recently: “What is it to DJ?” “Why am I doing listening bars versus club nights?” If you’re working with a tighter selection, you might need to be more acrobatic.

DJ Wawa: Absolutely. It’s a part of performing as well. I enjoy the reaction people have to me playing records. When you see someone playing records, it takes people out of it a bit. I enjoy the commitment; I enjoy having a bag; I enjoy planning things out. I’ll take everything out, look at everything, and decide what’s going back in. It takes a bit more to make a new set, but that’s a really exciting challenge. On my flight here, I said, “Maybe it’s time to start building something new.” I started conceptualizing: thinking about what records I didn’t bring, that kind of thing.

Do you curate your bag based on where you’re going?

DJ Wawa: No. I curate based on what I’m listening to. For me, it’s important to play the stuff I already play, and to introduce that to whoever I’m playing for, because it’s all new to them. I know one other DJ from Long Beach; his name is Shawn Dub, and he works at Human Head. Last time I went there, we were talking about playing records. I said, “I play a lot of the same stuff.” He said, “That’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re a DJ; you’re supposed to break records.” That old-school thinking might be different from what kids today might expect.

For me, playing music I’ve connected with matters so much. When I used USBs, sometimes I’d play songs I didn’t know super well; and it wouldn’t always go well. Maybe something happened two minutes in that I didn’t like, or maybe my relationship to that music wasn’t ready for the responsibility of a club night, which is to make everyone kind of forget about their issues. Familiarity with the music I’m playing is important for keeping everyone in that suspension. I have to stay in that suspension to keep everyone else there, and that requires knowing the tunes you’re playing well enough to translate them from start to end.

A while back, you mentioned Total Freedom. A few things you’ve said make me think of his work: DJing as a performance; conceptually breaking down what a DJ does; and this state of suspension. A lot of his sets are really explicitly built on that. It sounds like his early stuff was important to you—tell me about that.

DJ Wawa: Yeah! Especially the GHE20G0TH1K stuff: The Fade to Mind and Night Slugs stuff. In a way, a lot of us are Total Freedom’s babies. Total Freedom taught a lot of us what CDJs could do besides just playing music.

Who’s “us”?

DJ Wawa: This entire generation of post-Night Slugs DJs, and especially kids who were in the club scene when GHE20G0TH1K was around. The music Total Freedom made was so different; it was using CDJs as a performance piece. It was super industrial and heavy. Total Freedom was—and is—such a punk DJ. That whole GHE20G0TH1K crew was. Total Freedom embodied and translated that. He was one of the more incredible DJs of that time. Him and Rashad are a huge influence on what dance scenes can look like when they push boundaries.

What DJs, parties, and scenes are you looking towards for inspiration?

DJ Wawa: Lakuti and Tama Sumo are big for me; Octo Octa and Eris [Drew] are important, too. Right now, I’m enjoying queer scenes in different places: Minneapolis, Richmond, Columbus. I’ve been playing parties in smallish places which have big queer scenes that you wouldn’t expect. People have been building up these scenes for years, and people really show up for the parties. Even in places where it feels desolate, there are beacons.

Some places are always going to be cool. But these smaller places are really dependent on the promoters, and the people who DJ there, and the people who want to make stuff happen. I enjoy watching people take the lead in those places and have club nights where they bring me out and show me what they’re up to. New York is great, but we’re a little spoiled. Traveling and seeing that it means just as much to people outside of big cities is really cool. It’s a really great beacon of hope for dance music in America.

I imagine that if, 10 years ago, I’d told you that queer clubbing would be here now, you’d have a hard time believing me.

DJ Wawa: Queer clubbing wasn’t a big thing ten years ago. Clubbing was still in its infancy in America. We were coming out of the brostep thing. The underground was there, of course, but it wasn’t about queerness; it was about Resident Advisor, coolness, access, and gatekeeping. It wasn’t as much of a sharing scene; it wasn’t as much of a scene that tried to protect the people’s integrity. We have a lot of people with a lot of experiences now: the people who have grown up in these worlds just have more experience. A lot of them have experience with queer culture; a lot of people have come out; a lot of people are queer. It’s been exciting to watch that happen. But, back in the day, there weren’t as many outwardly queer DJs. The scene was dominated by people who could afford to throw parties and had the knowledge of the scene.

Is the scene dominated by anything now, or is it too diffuse for that?

DJ Wawa: Some scenes are trying hard to center queerness, especially in places like London and the UK and Berlin. It feels like queerness is now here to stay, but maybe Cocktail d’Amore was bigger ten years ago. In America, it was about people finding this music and finding themselves through it; it was about people finding their identity with other people who were at these parties. It all boils down to experience, because I don’t think we had all that language: for trans people, for polyamory, for non-heteronormative relationships. That wasn’t a big topic of conversation, but now, it’s huge. The kids coming up are a lot more open in their queerness and in their ideas of alternative relationships than we were 10 years ago, because conversations, theory, and the Internet are in a different place.

I’ve watched parties go towards a more queer-dominated space in the past 10 years. It’s taken a long time, and a lot of people have worked behind the scenes to make this happen. DJs get a lot of love, but there’s lots of people who curate and facilitate behind the scenes. They’re just as important to making the scene we have now. There’s not as many beefs between promoters and DJs. There’s always petty bullshit, but for the most part, it seems that we’ve been exposed to so many things: George Floyd, the pandemic, the Trump election. We had to reckon: “What are we doing here? How are we doing this for each other? How are we going to keep doing this thing while the world is constantly fighting against us?” I think everyone has found that we do it together.

That’s what it ought to be about, I’d think.

DJ Wawa: It got there eventually. 2015/2016 was probably the end of the generation of people who booked shows when I was working at a booking agency. That group aged out, or maybe they were less connected with things going on as Brooklyn became more of a haven and the conversation started to change. First, it was women, and then it was people of color, and trans people, and queer people. The conversation has grown to the point where people are saying, “The bouncers at these parties need to understand there are queer and trans people here. If they have a problem with that, they need to leave.” You can’t create a space for harm reduction until everyone acknowledges what the world is like.

Where do you want the scene to go next?

DJ Wawa: I love how young it is. I’m excited for the hard-and-fast thing to blow over a bit, and for music to continue to change. DJing isn’t necessarily going to a club and playing the 140 stuff; there’s so many sounds, and there’s so many interesting ways to get a club going. For me, that isn’t hard and fast. I’ve been in that world for the last year or two. I played with musclecars last week, and I said to them, “It’s so nice to be around people playing songs.” There’s tunes; they’re not afraid to go away from what people are expecting.

If I’d like anything to change, I’d like for DJs to not play to what people are expecting. Maybe that’s going to take a bit of growth from the scene; the scene is still figuring out its post-COVID identity. Back in the day, it was club music, and then it went to house and techno, and now we’re back into club music. A lot of people play records now: we’re in a turntablist’s world again, and a lot of DJs play. That’s in part thanks to Eris and Maya, but they’re also just influenced by each other.

I’m really enjoying how deep everyone’s going. I’m constantly introduced to stuff I haven’t figured out yet. I hope that continues, and that people start to ask what DJing can be. You have so much power when you DJ, so to do something different, to bob when people expect you to weave—that’s impactful. It’s: “Oh, word, I can be myself. I don’t have to be what’s expected.” The more experience people have DJing, the more people are going to realize that. I hope to see that more; I want to hear more people deviating and playing shit they connect with.

Sometimes, I get hired to perform DJ—I show up, I play the songs, and I do the thing. But, sometimes, I get hired to spin. There’s a crowd, and we do the thing, and we have a good time. I hope people will have DJ experiences where they get away from performing DJing and towards spinning.

I assume this means the ideas of playing into versus against expectations?

DJ Wawa: Yeah, definitely. Not every party ends up being a place you can spin, but in the best situations, you get to go off the beaten path. In the middle of a set, you might realize, “Oh, I’m about to spin now!” As Cornelius said at that Underground Resistance talk, you get to link DNAs a bit more rather than playing what you’re expected to play next. I know that’s a bit abstract, but the idea is: I love to be surprised. When people feel it’s time to go out and be different, I hope they can do that. Rather than playing stuff so the crowd can have a good time, play stuff so you can have a good time with the crowd. Some of my favorite DJ sets are when I look at the crowd and say, “Damn, that looks fun. I’m jealous.” I like that relationship.

What’s next on the horizon for you?

DJ Wawa: I haven’t had much time to sit down and focus on myself. I haven’t had a lot of time to think about doing something new. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing over the past six or seven months, and it’s been really tight, and I’ve hit everywhere. But I’m excited for change. It’s good to have time to be able to do that. It’s one of those things where I’m worried about not having bookings, and my partner’s like, “You always get bookings.” You’re always worried about work; you’re always worried about making money. But I’m hoping that, over October, I can take a month, be proud of what I’ve done, and maybe make a mix or two or figure out new blends. I’ll work on Hit Factory stuff again and play a few calmer video games. For the most part, it’s trying to figure out how to deal with time and discipline.

I’ve found myself doing a career that takes a lot of focus and energy. I’ve found a home base in the scene, and that’s great. But I’ve gotten a little bored. I’m finding the need to play things that are different or reach a different audience. I want to do things a little differently. So I’m trying to reckon with how I’m spending my time, and I’m trying to be slightly more productive, in terms of making music and blending more. I’m trying to not worry so much about the things I can’t control. The things you can’t control are whatever, but the things you can matter—how hard you’re working, how much time you’re putting in, how much energy you have. I’m trying to build a schedule, like, four hours DJing, four hours listening to music or producing.

It’s really hard DJing and producing and finding an off button. The work never ends; the experiences come hard and fast. But progressing takes a lot of time and personal effort. So I’m really excited to have some time to figure out the next iteration of what I’m doing. There’s a lot to be proud of, and I’m doing well. So how do you keep that going without putting too much pressure on yourself?

I’m really excited that the positive experiences I’ve had recently are going to be the catalyst for growth, for trying something different and seeing what’s next. That’s the thing: it’s always about change. In a scene that moves forward relentlessly, how do you change alongside it? How do you grow? For me, it’s vulnerability, and relationships, and falling in love. Playing house music and being in a relationship, and exercising love and vulnerability, is really informative to how I move through the world. I’m taking all the positivity and trying to use that to make something new.

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!