Music and Art In Your Backyard

DJ M. Elle

I’m a Chicago based DJ, and I got my start when a friend suggested I select the sounds for an artist friend’s listening party. I had always loved finding music and exposing people to it, but during that experience is when I fell in love with doing so “live”. I’ve been on a journey ever since to learn and grow as a DJ, and I’ve been blessed to find support and community amongst male and female DJs.

In addition to music, writing is another love of mine. I also spend time songwriting and crafting and so these days have added a guitar and Ableton to my arsenal. 

One of the things that shaped my ear was the fact that growing up, a wide variety of music was sought out and played by my parents. I was able to listen to mainstream and more experimental soul, funk, jazz, disco, world, and pop – a lot of the sounds that are incorporated into hip-hop. I also gained an appreciation for melody and sound hearing my grandfather play piano religiously and my father play the guitar and other instruments like the kalimba. 

As far as inspiration, many things motivate me – from Frida to obscure musical genres to a conversation. I’m also inspired by the creativity of various DJ’s, producers, poets, artists, musicians and entrepreneurs I come across or I am lucky to know. Generally people who deal with sound, art, and self-expression on their terms. They all inspire me to continue to do the things I love wholeheartedly and to let go of fear. 

Overall I want people to take something away, I don’t get to define what that is per se, I just try to set a good vibe by playing good music and a maybe a few things that are new to you. I love when people come up to the booth and ask what I was playing because it’s something they want to experience again after they leave. 

I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like I’ve played my best show or reached the apex yet, but a great experience I had recently is being part of a line up of DJs for the Silver Room Block Party in Chicago. In addition to it being an amazing event I’ve loved and supported myself for so many years, it was really awesome that around the time I was on, I was able to share the stage with two other dope female DJ’s. 

Right now, probably, time is one of my challenges. A DJ friend and I were talking recently about the challenge of making more time to simply practice and experiment. Malcolm Gladwell talked about having 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in your craft and I firmly believe and aspire to that. 

I always have ideas for future mixes in my head and I never want to feel like I’ve already put out the best one. But thus far I’m really fond of a project I did pairing hip-hop and soul with songs from one of my favorite albums “Here, My Dear” by Marvin Gaye. And I guess I’m probably most proud of my latest mix Looking for Trouble. It’s got an eclectic range of sounds and a feel good vibe and pace throughout.