Interview by Kristen Sinclair
The self-dubbed DJ First Lady of the Los Angeles party scene, Allie Teilz, knows a thing or two about the industry for someone so young. The now 21 year-old all-vinyl DJ and Arizona native cut her teeth working at a Phoenix record store before booking her own concerts at the Rhythm Room and Crescent Ballroom at the age of 15, to New York venues 285 Kent and Daddy’s a year later. Boasting an eclectic record collection encapsulating R&B, disco, classic hip-hop, funk, soul and house, she has spun alongside Thom Yorke, M83, Frank Ocean and Lorde and rocked official parties for events as prestigious as the Golden Globes and Coachella. With a client roster that reads like a list of the biggest names in global entertainment, the R. Kelly superfan Miss Teilz currently provides tunes every Tuesday night for Nightswim at LA’s Hollywood Roosevelt hotel. So how would Allie’s enviable lifestyle best be described? Put quite eloquently in her Instagram bio, for her it’s all about “adventures in the land of good groove.”
KS: Name one record that is always guaranteed to get the party started.
AT: Missy Elliot is the patron saint of dance floors! Any Timbaland Missy collab is a certified floor filler…. ‘Pass that Dutch’ and ‘Beep Me’ are my go-tos. ‘Love Has Come Around’ by Donald Byrd is also a magnetic, beautiful track that is another favourite of mine. And shout-out ‘Blow the Whistle’ by Too $hort!
What inspired you to spin records for a living? Who and/or what influences you as a DJ and the music you play?
Music was my first love and my escape growing up in a conservative environment. As a kid, whenever I went to parties I always ended up in the corner either petting the animals or changing the music – usually both! [Laughs] Music is a way I found to connect with people and transform a vibe. A good song can take people out of their comfort zone and make them sweat out the problems of the day, and that is so beautiful to me! My biggest influence has been DJ Premier and Larry Levan, the legendary Paradise Garage DJ whose style smoothly glided between all genres while introducing others to the funkiest, rarest tracks, staying rooted in inclusive good times and an unmatchable style.
You are an all-vinyl DJ and in recent years, vinyl sales have soared – why do you think this is? What makes you choose LPs over MP3s?
MP3s are definitely convenient and accessible but they exist in a messy, vague universe, one cluttered with emails, social networks and other distractions. Records, vinyl – that is an experience, a conscious decision for a sonic exploration… there is so much weight to that! You care so much more about what makes up your music library because you spent hard earned money on it, investing in a collection rather than stumbling upon a free download link, pirating something random or force fed to you. Also, it makes you listen to an entire record rather than only a single and there is a lot more you can get out of music this way. I totally have a Spotify account but there is a time and place for the vinyl experience and people are realising this, and investing in a pretty timeless musical experience they can pass down for generations – that’s pretty cool.
What is the importance of crate digging in keeping your sets fresh?
There is a statistic that says only 30% of music exists on the Internet or in MP3 form; crate digging produces incredible, unknown funky fresh gold and helps to develop your unique taste and knowledge. Soak in those liner notes and collect some insanely crazy jams from an unknown legend – crate digging does that!
There are lots of great female DJs like yourself out there yet the industry seems male-dominated; why do you think so few female DJs make it big?
I don’t think it’s an issue of girl DJs failing to make it big, but more a problem about the lack of girls pursuing DJing and music as a career. The music industry is extremely male dominated and we need more girls! So, to all the ladies out there interested in music, pursue your dream and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
You’ve been working in the entertainment industry since you were a teenager, (eg. doing production for Jay Z and Kanye’s ‘Watch the Throne’) which obviously involved a lot of hard work and dedication. What drove you to succeed from such a young age and what advice would you give to those starting out?
My advice to anyone starting out with anything… first off, listen to Alan Watts’ talks on YouTube; specifically the one about society being a hoax… wow, is that eye-opening! Once you realise and understand your power, never stop believing yourself. Take the time to find your voice, find your passions and pursue your wildest dreams with full intensity – and ignore the haters!
You’ve provided tunes for official parties at The Grammys and Coachella to spinning alongside the likes of Lorde and Thom Yorke – do you often find yourself feeling starstruck or is it simply a case of doing what you love?
My early training in producing events and music showed me to view everyone as equals, and that no one deserves special treatment. That has stayed with me forever and I encourage others to either do their thing and fan girl out, or shake off the starstruck-ness and have a genuine interaction, which can be much more beautiful.
You spend your Tuesday nights DJing Nightswim at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel in Hollywood, but if you could jam with anyone anywhere, who would it be and why?
I want to jam with Leroy Hutson, Bobby Caldwell, Roy Ayers, Thundercat and Donald Byrd on Mars because why not?
You’re currently working on designing your own range of your signature colourful suits – apart from sneak peeks on Instagram, what can you reveal about your upcoming line?
My line is going to be affordable, animal-free and made for badass girls of all shapes and ages. I want to make sexy and bold women’s suits for all the ladies of the world.
And lastly, a nearly impossible question: you can only listen to one album for the rest of your life – what is it and why?
Marvin Gaye’s I Want You on repeat for eternity – listen and you will see why.
Images courtesy of Allie’s Instagram.
Kristen Sinclair is a French and Spanish student from Ireland. Music trivia geek. Bowie fangirl and wannabe disco diva. Red Hot Chili Peppers devotee. Diet Cokehead. Lipstick junkie. Virgo. Tea lover and writer of wordz at www.bowiebrokemyheart.blogspot.co.uk.