DJing is one of those careers that everyone wishes they could have. It appears to be enjoyable, and it is said to be simple, with potentially large returns. The road to becoming a successful DJ, like any job with the potential for worldwide success and recognition, may be difficult. The way you play is everything since your music is what controls the crowd’s mood. dela Moon is a Los Angeles-based DJ that specializes in drum and bass electronic dance music. She has a wide range of interests and experience of years in the underground scene.We got in touch with her to understand the struggles of being a DJ and how she stays well balanced in such a tough industry.
What got you into dj-ing ?
When I started DJ-ing, I wasn’t actually trying to DJ. At the time, I was dating a DJ and he would take me record shopping and after a while I got tired of listening to his records, and wanted my own. Slowly, I grew interest in creating mixtapes and it was just something I found really fun. When I shared the mixtapes with my friends, they all suggested I should start playing. Back then there weren’t a lot of DJ’s so I went with the flow and started playing at random gigs I would get and then eventually people started offering to pay for my flight for me to come play for them. I’ve always liked music but I never would have imagined myself as a DJ.
How did you come up with your DJ tag ‘dela Moon’?
Dela is a nickname that I had been given when I was in high school. It comes from my full name Christina Delafuente. I grew up in a predominantly white neighbourhood and my last name was the only Spanish word around. So my friends would call me Dela and as I grew, it just stuck with me. When I joined the Moon Tribe collective, I was called delaMoonTribe. After a while, I didn’t want to be linked solely with Moon Tribe, so I abbreviated it to dela Moon. I kept the moon because I really love the moon.
What were the struggles you went through when you started out ?
One of the reasons why I didn’t want to DJ was because I had severe stage fright. I didn’t want to even face a crowd. I would make other people play before me till there were no more people left on the dance floor because I didn’t want to face the crowd. Since being in-front of crowds would put a lot of pressure on me, I figured the easiest way to ignore it was to let other people play before me. At the time I was also learning how to teach yoga and I was facing the same problem as when I was DJ-ing. Whenever I would stand in-front of a class, I would start hyperventilating which would cause my voice to break. That would then escalate into me assuming that everyone was judging me. For the first year of teaching, I would come home exhausted and fear the next class. Although for DJ-ing, it stuck with me for six to seven years at least. As I grew older though, I realized I just had to push myself and there was nothing to be scared of.
What is the largest crowd you have played for?
I don’t think the number of people you play for validates you. The highest number has probably been a couple of thousands. I don’t like playing at huge festivals though. Instead I prefer being a part of the underground scene where there’s a good crowd that really appreciates the music, where there is enough room to dance. The most fun I’ve had is with around 800 people and the energy was great, people weren’t suffocating and were thoroughly enjoying. When I’m DJ-ing , I like to be on the ground, I don’t like being put on a pedestal because then you don’t get to connect with your crowd. Most of my favourite moments have been at Moon Tribe, where I have just been playing for my friends. Bringing joy to the people you know really feels amazing.
What genre do your crowd react to the best ?
At the moment it’s been drum and bass, that’s what I have been playing the most. It’s a really energetic genre so that is what gets the most response. Although, on soundcloud, I receive the most plays on my down tempo sets. I also play techno sometimes but I’m still figuring myself out as a techno DJ. It’s only been a few years of playing. I feel like you come into your own genre after a few years of playing.
What is your most memorable show ?
One of the most magical moments I experienced was at the 2018 Oregon Eclipse festival. It was really cool because people from all around the world traveled to Oregon to attend this festival. There were International crews that traveled to make this event happen and the production team did such a great job as well. I watched the eclipse with thousands of people and played at 5pm. The energy at that stage was amazing. At first there were only a few people but then all these people joined and the whole dance floor started jumping.
Who is someone you looked up to as a DJ?
There are a lot of really talented producers and DJ’s out there. The moon tribe had some really talented people and even though they were not world famous, they were some really great individuals and I always tried to strive and do better and be like them. My ex boyfriend who taught me, is a really good techno DJ and has been in the industry since the early 90’s. I admire all of the people who keep doing it. The ones who started way back then and are still going are very inspiring. Those people who were the pioneers who are still doing it are the reason why I’m still doing it.
How did the pandemic affect your career with clubs shutting down and events being canceled ?
I lost all my income for that whole year. Luckily I do other side jobs. I teach yoga, I give massages, I am also a graphic designer. Part of the reason I do that is because I have seen the industry scene crash, not when I was in it as much but I knew a lot of DJ’s then and their parties just stopped. I remembered that and I realised I wouldn’t want to rely on DJ-ing as a career. You never know how long you will be in demand, so I think it’s wise for any entertainer to have a backup job. Since your popularity is trending, you never know when things go wrong. I actually enjoy doing yoga and massage a lot. I like helping people on a more personal basis.
If you could choose any other career path for yourself , what would it be ?
I’m pretty sure I would still have the side jobs that I have right now. I have these interests and music has not stopped me from doing the others. I was a graphic designer first and my music journey started somewhere during that phase and along the way I started training as a yoga teacher. I also went to school for Ayurveda and have been practicing it for a while now. My latest interest has been trying to create a music label. I’m sure that I would always be doing yoga though. I got into yoga because of a back injury and I got into massage because I couldn’t sit at a computer desk for too long. If not for these, I would love to do travel journalism, because I really like travelling and I think it would be a lot of fun. I also wish I could be a computer programmer, but I don’t think I have the patience to do code.
What is your advice for anyone stepping into the music industry?
My favourite piece of advice that I apply to everything in life is to expect nothing. If you don’t expect things, you will be satisfied and content. You do things because you feel like it and not because you are expecting something out of it. As far as going into the music industry, I would just say everybody has their own process. Some people find success very early into the industry while the others might take longer. I just hope that if they are getting into the industry, they are doing it because they really enjoy and love music. If you do what you love and have fun while you are doing it, then the universe takes you where you deserve to be. Just follow your true nature and be happy and grateful.