Name: Lindsey Caldwell
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Lives in: NY
DJ Moniker: DJ Lindsey
Current DJ residence: FAM at Von
Latest Remix/Project: Featured on the Work It EP. Vocals on “I Believe”
Last record collected/bought: Listening to a lot of Clams Casino instrumentals and that Afrika Hitek project.
Favorite fashion brand/designer: Too many to name. William Okpo, Opening Ceremony, and for Henry I am obsessed with Bonpoint!
Tom Tom Magazine: Congratulations on your first child Henry with husband DJ Myles! How is it being a mother?
Thank you! Being a mother is the hardest most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life. Before Henry I was such an independent person. I never relied on anyone for anything and now there’s someone who relies on me every second of his day. It’s overwhelming and I am so glad we decided to have him. We are so lucky to have a healthy baby and he is a constant reminder of what life is really about. It’s easy to get caught up in a lot of bs working in nightlife and having Henry grounded both Myles and I a lot. We’re learning to enjoy life in the daytime too (haha).
Any new changes or impacts now that you have to sustain the balance of being an artist and mother?
Right now I am trying to figure out how to best ease myself back into work. Henry is only three months old now so everything is so new and having him turned our lives completely upside down. There’s nothing in What to Expect When You’re Expecting about a mom who is a DJ so I’m just flying by the seat of my pants. There are no family bathrooms in clubland! I recently DJ’d a corporate event and this was the first time I left the baby at home, the 7l square foot space was full of people and there were only two bathrooms in the venue. One women’s toilet and one men’s stall and urinal. I had to set up in the men’s stall to pump breastmilk so I didn’t hog the women’s bathroom. So I am straddling the toilet while men urinated in the urinal next to the stall I am standing in. That’s when I realized that things are not going to return to normal for a long time. I decided when I got pregnant that I was going to put Henry first and everything else I did would have to work in with what’s best for him so even just feeding him formula rather than breastfeeding is not an option for now. I am basically starting over from scratch and re-branding myself so that being a mom and career work best together. We women really should get more props for what we do as mothers, I guess you just don’t really know what it entails unless you live it.
I also want to make a point to say that I was really afraid to stop DJing long enough to have a baby. Most of my peers didn’t even know I was pregnant! I was petrified of not getting booked. I knew that I wanted to have kids but I was so afraid of what it was going to do to my DJ career. I actually had this conversation with another female DJ. We discussed how scary it is to stop DJing for long enough to start a family and the physical limitations and since I don’t know one female DJ who’s done this and continued being a DJ after, it’s a scary unknown.
Thing is, no matter what your career already has a bit of a shelf life anyway, I don’t know of any retirement age DJs that are still just making their living on the road or just DJing in one city. You have to reinvent yourself in this industry. Most successful club DJs (who don’t produce or do corporate events) are simply the flavor of the month and after nightlife moves on to someone else, making a living becomes a struggle. So far, I’ve found success just taking more daytime corporate events (especially when I was pregnant), and less night time club gigs. Once Henry is old enough (and if I want) working on the production side of things will help me be able to do night time gigs again. Most likely I will continue in the direction I am in now since I enjoy it so much. Maybe I’ll find some music supervision jobs as well.
One of your noted resident party “The Hump” with your husband DJ Myles was awarded People’s Choice: Best Party by Paper Magazine. And you also have another popular party “Negroclash” at APT in NYC. Can you give us more insight into how your famed party/events shaped the former and new NYC nightlife and community?
That’s hard to say. I would hope that it would have shown anyone who wanted to do something strictly about music that they can find success with that. We did The Hump for exactly one year and it was so much fun because we knew that it was going to be for people who appreciated hearing 90s music by artists like Group Home or Monica album cuts and Deee Lite, Armando and Lil Louis and more than the obvious or ironic stuff. The fact that it was a successful weekly party in NYC at that time was so rewarding. Negroclash was an indescribable experience. I think more than shaping nightlife it just reminded music lovers and especially lovers of that particular sound that those artists that we had as guests are incredible and to explore those records in their collections again. Hopefully some of those records are still lingering in DJ bags still now (or crates in Serato, I sound old talking about records and record bags don’t I?). My newest residency is with DJ Eleven, Sure Shot and Myles. We do a party at Von called FAM. It’s another music for music lovers kind of party. I feel so lucky to be able to do parties with such talented DJs and to be treated as a peer rather than the token girl DJ. I really believe that they respect me as a DJ and that’s all I could ask for as a female in this industry.
Aside from being a DJ, you also work as a producer and singer. You’ve sung backup vocals for the Rapture, Great Weekend (Ynot), and for other musical projects. How do you feel about the current rising of female DJs around the same common realm as you, any advice for the younger generation females?
I think over the years I’ve learned so much about this industry and the thing I always tell younger DJs is that things are always changing. And the DJs that are the most successful are the ones that are doing something different and that thing that sets them apart is something that they are genuinely into. I think most people can see through someone pretending to be different but can pick up on it when someone is passionate about what they do. I think if you stick to your guns you will always find success. If you like a certain style of music then stick with that basic style. You can always incorporate the tasteful bits of the trendy stuff that you think work well with your overall aesthetic while staying true to yourself. And, don’t be afraid to dive into it. DJing is a full time job if you want to be taken seriously and have a long career don’t try to balance that with a million other jobs. You have unique billing and taxes that you have to be organized to deal with, contracts and then you are your own marketing, management and PR unless you hire someone but that’s a lot of coin out of your pocket. You are your own boss yet you have clients that you have to deal with and that is a LOT of work! There’s no way you can get to it all and be successful for very long if you’re juggling other unrelated jobs. Don’t be afraid if it’s your passion, I learned that the hard way.
A lot of what I learned, I learned from new DJs coming up after me. I remember being really angry about the fact that DJs who couldn’t blend two records together or didn’t own one piece of vinyl were getting gigs because he or she was some popular socialite. But, ultimately I figured all I can worry about is what I do and how I want to be perceived. I learned that this was the new way of the world of nightlife and if I wanted to fit into it I needed to be flexible by expanding my skills and figuring out where I wanted to fit into how things had changed. Just being a good DJ that knew a lot about music wasn’t enough anymore. At the same time I let go of some of the rigid “a DJ must do things this way” style of DJing and I think that made me better. And that’s all because of those new DJs that (no shade) knew absolutely nothing about the skill of DJing that were doing their own unique thing and in turn did well.
Many are familiar with your relationship and work with Opening Ceremony. What were some unforgettable experiences with them and are there any future projects we can look out for with OC x DJ Lindsey soon?
I was one of the first employees at OC, so yeah most people who are familiar with the brand will know me from seeing me in the store for years. They are like family. I’ve done some pretty amazing things with them. They took me to Japan and I curated music for the Japan store and DJ’d the opening which was really fun. Myles and I did a mixtape to promote all the Japan happenings as well. The overnight party celebrating the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics was fun. But, just being in the store every day was awesome because I got to experience the brand’s growth from the beginning. I really learned a lot from them. They are such a fun, creative bunch and that shows in the massive success they’ve found in a relatively short amount of time. I think the fashion industry appreciates a brand that not only has a really good product but also injects so much fun into everything that they do. There are so many fun stories and amazing friendships that I made during the time I worked there, my closest friends to date were co workers there. Carol, Humberto and Olivia all gave me every opportunity to grow with the company in one way or another, but I have never really aligned myself too tightly with any other brand or DJ and I think that’s how I want it to be. Like I said before, I really do best as an independent entity and as much as I was tempted to go work for OC, I just wanted more to make my own way. There are definitely days when I look back at that choice with some regret but I think overall I am happy with the career choices I’ve made. I would love to work with OC more in the future. It’s just a matter of figuring out what would work best for both of us.
You have two records released with DJ/Artist Eli Escobar “Lovely Feeling” on subMercer Label and “I Believe” in Dither Down Records. Also, a second time in doing the show music for designer William Okpo. What is next to come from DJ Lindsey?
As much as I want to spell out this grand plan, Henry has put a temporary kibosh on my ability to schedule anything. Since he was born I have just started taking on things little by little and as he gets older (and I can sit him down long enough) I will definitely be doing more. There was a time just after he was born that I was thinking, “I am just going to quit working and just be a full time mom” but, hell no. I just can’t do it. Emails come in asking me to be involved with things and I just can’t turn them down! I enjoy it too much. I am just really lucky (thanks mainly to DJ Myles working so hard) that I can pick and choose which things I do. I really want to do more music, Eli Escobar and I work really well together, it’s just easy. He knows exactly what he wants and communicates that clearly to me and we get stuff done really quickly. So, hopefully we’ll get the chance to work on more stuff. We have a couple of other songs that haven’t been released so maybe those will come out. I still have tons of unreleased stuff with The Twilite Tone, hopefully I can do another season with William Okpo and there are no signs of FAM ending any time soon so you can catch me there with DJ Myles, Sure Shot & DJ Eleven.
Interviewed by LIAISON FEMME & G*LEE
Photographer: Awol Erizku
Creative Director: G*LEE
Art Director/Stylist: Mari J Brooklyn