This month's DJ Spotlight is DJ Bekefi! We sent our resident blogger Kat to catch up with her a few weeks before the drop of her very first EP to hear about her transition from professional athlete to pro-mixer and why she’s so passionate about life behind the decks.
How long have you been working at Gymbox?
I started just over three years ago as a Sales Guru, and then I was a Sales Manager. I left and came back to Victoria Gymbox as a DJ two months ago.
When did you start DJing?
I started in Denmark, Copenhagen, 5 years ago. My grandmas’ brother used to be a DJ, back in the 80s/90s, so I was always so into it. He has a huge vinyl collection so music has always been in my life, trance music especially.
How did you get into it?
My best friend in Denmark used to be a DJ. She once said to me “what would you do if money didn’t matter, if you could do anything?” and I said “I’d love to be a DJ.”
She had a set and said to me “come on stage and try it”…so I did, and I got it right. Since then, there was no question that this was going to be my future.
I taught myself, worked hard to buy my own DJ gear, and it went uphill from there!
Were you doing anything before then?
At a young age, my parents had to decide whether I went to music school or sports school, and they sent me to sports school.
I used to be a professional athlete - I was a basketball player for many years. Then I quit at 21, and at 22 started DJing.
Do you still play basketball?
Not really! But I do boxing now at Gymbox, and I also do long-boarding.
I love boxing. When I was in uni I studied physical education and sports science. I had a Thai boxing and martial arts course, so that’s when I started.
How have you found the process of transitioning into DJing as a career? How long did it take you to get gigs?
I was one of the lucky ones - a month after I started DJing, I got jobs. So basically since day one!
I was lucky enough to be a full time DJ in Denmark. I had residency’s, played big-time gigs, I even travelled to London for gigs.
…But I was practising all day, all night. It was on jobs that I had to learn from my mistakes. Making mistakes in a club is kind of shit, so I had to make it as smooth as possible.
What’s your favourite music to play?
I would say my music is like a smooth transition between minimal, deep-tech, a bit of deep-house…I like mixing it with vocals, and also left-field house…it’s a mixture of deep sounds.
Who are some of your favourite artists?
I love Nina Kraviz! Her song Ghetto Kraviz…in an interview, she said she produced that song within two hours. Now I produce, I know how hard that is! I can spend nearly a month on something, sit on it and change it 100 times. She was my first love as a DJ.
Then I really love Or:la, and I went to a festival and I saw Paul Kalkbrenner for the first time…he blasted all the subwoofers, I loved that.
Nina Kraviz was my first love, but now I love a lot other DJs, upcoming ones like Willow - she’s from England as well. Or:la is Irish…I only really mentioned female DJs! Not on purpose, but I admire female DJs.
Do you feel like being a female DJ has made your experience different in any way?
It definitely used to be a boys club…In every profession really, I would say it’s like a boys club. But now there are more and more female DJs, actually proving that we do have two ears! [laughs] It shouldn't make any difference!
I’m not saying I’ve experienced huge issues being female in this industry, but there have definitely been a few times where I’ve had to prove myself…
I want to be so good that they can’t employ anyone better, whether they’re male or female.
What’s the main difference between DJing in Gymbox and DJing in a club?
DJing in the gym is so different from DJing in a club. In the gym, many people have their headphones in, especially in Victoria as the DJ is kind of hidden. When you’re in a club, everyone’s staring at the DJ, and they’re the main focus.
When you’re DJing in a club, you can look at someone and have a connection, that’s what the main difference is…Someone in the gym is not going to start staring at me, because that would be creepy! [laughs]
I feel like being in a club, and in that atmosphere where people are there to listen to the music, makes it very different.
What’s been some of your favourite places to DJ?
My favourite place would be a place in Copenhagen called KB18 , and Heaven here in London.
Have you got any festival bookings coming up?
There’s no festival bookings yet, but I’m playing a party in Boxpark, and then another really exciting thing is my production is going to be released, my first EP!
It’s going to be on Spotify, Apple Music, everywhere….so that’s exciting! From that, bookings will come, and I have a few residency’s coming up. Then I’ll probably fly back to Copenhagen to play a couple of gigs.
How does DJing in London different to DJing in Copenhagen?
London is huge! 10 million people. Denmark altogether is five million. Copenhagen is one million, so there are not many clubs you can go to there. In London, the selection is huge, so that’s why it’s hard to make it as a DJ here, everyone wants to!
In Copenhagen, once you’re in the scene it’s kind of easy as there’s basically three clubs you can go to as a house and techno lover. That’s it. Once you make it there, you have gigs all around…It’s smaller, and it still has that underground feel. It’s a scene, it’s very different.
What are some of your aspirations for the next couple of years?
I want to be a full-time producer and DJ. I also want to teach people, maybe be a tutor for female DJs who just want to try out DJing and who aren’t sure what they should do.
And production definitely, I want to make it there. I actually had a meeting with a big-name music manager and he said “if you don’t produce, you are going to just limit yourself. Producing will make the difference,” so that’s what I’m going to do, focus on production.
I’ll be staying home, at my computer, trying to make some amazing beats!
When will your EP be out?
16th May! It’s going to be chilled-out, deep-house - it’s called ‘Fresh Air Frequency’. You can close your eyes, listen to it and imagine you’re outside with the birds, it should give you that feeling.
I should mention, I also have a radio residency: that’s my biggest love! I have my own concept called ‘Mind Your Soul’ every Sunday from 12 - 2pm on House 559 Radio
When did you start doing that?
About a year ago! It’ll be my anniversary there the first week of June.
There will probably be a celebration - I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I’ll probably pick my favourite tunes of the whole year and make a mix of them.
Finally, what’s your favourite part of being a DJ?
The connection with the crowd, the feeling…it’s a massive high! The first time I got beat-matching right I was like “oh my God, what just happened?!” It’s unreal.
The fact you can inspire just one person on the dance floor, or in the gym, and they have the same kind of feeling as you…the connection that you make through music is amazing.