We chatted with Evie about her DJ career and what she’s accomplished through Babes Only. She’s become a leader in her field and hopes to inspire other women to make their mark in Chicago. Stay tuned for new mixes and events and follow her on social media!
My name is Evie, short for Evanescia. I’m 30 years old, a DJ and the founder of Babes Only.
Music was very impactful for you when you were young, noting in an interview with Lyrical Lemonade that you “couldn’t take a bath without the radio on.” Out of all the musical professions to pursue professionally, why DJing?
It kind of fell in my lap. Being in Chicago and hanging out with my DJ friends, I became interested and after a few lessons, I realized it was more than what I expected. I was in the studio every day after my boyfriend went to jail because I needed something to distract myself. I’ve known my friend Vic Mensa since he was very young through Kids These Days. He had signed to Roc Nation and was setting up studio sessions to work on a project. His producer, Smoko Ono, taught me how to use a DJ controller and Vic let me borrow his controller for two months, allowing me to practice. I kept asking to do things to develop my craft and my friends helped me get gigs. I love that my career is involved in music because I genuinely love music, it’s given me many opportunities. I’m learning how to produce and I want to be part of more festivals, but they book producer-DJs who can play their own music. If I want to get there I know I have the outlet and help I need. I just have to focus on it.
You mentioned a few times that while your boyfriend was in jail, you started your DJ journey to fill your free time. Was the goal to get to where you are today?
I didn’t even have a goal or a vision. I think mentally at the time I was doing whatever I could to not be sad or emotional and instead focus on being productive. I didn’t fathom what I could potentially do with DJing. It made me happy and I loved doing it, plus I was making money and meeting people. I wasn’t thinking that in two years I would be doing this or that. That happened recently. While I am doing it for work, it’s relaxing. It’s exciting when I can experiment with different genres. Even if I haven’t used a certain genre before, I know that I can. After DJing for going on four years now, I still love it.
In an Instagram post, you captioned that “the strained relationship with [your] father made [your] relationships with men more complicated than they needed to be and, as a result, you “accepted some shitty things and people.” As you’ve grown older, how have you evolved your philosophies about self-empowerment?
I have a nephew in a situation right now where his father is incarcerated, and he doesn’t have him around. When I look at him, I think about how I was feeling and it makes me more empathetic to where I want him around me more. He’s learning how to DJ from me and I got him into drum lessons a few years ago. People don’t know about my relationship with my family or my past, but it’s the same for me because I don’t know those things about other people. Things happen in life, but you can’t go over or under or sideways, you have to go through. It’s helped me have more empathy, patience, and compassion and I don’t really see it in a bad light anymore. I used to feel bad that my dad wasn’t in my life but then I realized that’s not my fault. I was fortunate to have an awesome mom. My mom is such a great woman and that’s what I have to be thankful for – the things that I do have. I’m me today because of my mom. I may not feel bad anymore, but there are other people who may feel sad about these things. It makes me resort to ideas with Babes Only, maybe creating an event for people in the same situation. In the long run, it’s only going to hurt you as long as you let it.
Have you ever felt that you have to work twice as hard to prove yourself because you’re a female DJ?
One time I was DJing and the venue’s mixer was messed up and I wasn’t able to connect somehow. It wasn’t my fault because it was their mixer, but the guy at the microphone said, “She doesn’t know what she’s doing!” and sent someone over to come help me. I did need help but that rude remark pissed me off and changed my energy. If a man was up there, would he have made that same comment? Maybe he would have, maybe not. I felt because I was a woman he was being extra fucking rude. When it comes to women DJs, men are more likely to think we’re not going to be good or know what we’re doing or think our transitions are going to be bad. There’s a lot of doubt among men but the energy and reactions from women are lovely. At times being a female DJ is harder but I will say I know I got a majority of my gigs this year because I’m a woman. There are pros and cons but I wouldn’t change it. I’m excited to be where I am, meeting and inspiring other women. It definitely is more male-dominated and there are shady situations with that, but things are getting better in the industry with female collaborations. I’m excited to see how the next couple years go.
Do you have any advice for women who are trying to break into male-dominated fields?
Working with friends is what really helped me. I do work with dope artist friends who have big followings, but their support didn’t come in the form of promoting me for the purpose of getting me followers. It was more helping me get gigs and introducing me to people and actually supporting me. Understand that there’s no time limit on anything. There’s no rush and you’re not in a competition with anyone. If you rush your work, it doesn’t get the proper unveiling and when you’re not putting your all, it ends up being a waste of time. Stay true to whatever makes you happy.
Your first gig was a sold out Towkio ft. Kehlani show at the Metro. How did it feel to play for such established artists so early in your career?
I was very nervous and ended up forgetting what to do for a few minutes, but I was excited that I had my first gig. Throughout the set, I didn’t really try to interact with the audience and it’s something I’ve learned is important when it comes to performing in front of large crowds. I’m trying to get better with that and do a little more mic-talking. The Delta is my residency and I know what I can do there but sometimes at random gigs, you have to pay attention to the crowd and see if they like what’s going on because if they don’t, it’s your duty to make sure that they do.
When putting together your mixes, who is the audience you have in mind?
Myself. I pick my favorite songs at the time, create the mix and hope people like it. I haven’t made any in a really long time but I’m hoping to drop one before the end of the year. I make them so that if I want to hear a certain genre, I have a mix for it. Usually, when I take a shower, I’m listening to my mixes. I really make them for myself, but on Soundcloud, I do get positive comments. When I’m DJing, if there’s a bunch of people around and I see three people dancing in the corner, I’m happy. Any type of positive feedback is good for me, even if it’s minimal.
You created Babes Only for women to be unapologetically creative in all aspects of life. How did you know it was time to create this space?
I was sad in Chicago and not getting over my boyfriend being away, which led me to run off to California. I was happy that I wasn’t reminded of things, but I was away from my friends and family. I had friends in California, but it wasn’t my Chicago people. I started focusing on mixing and I created a mix of all women artists and loved it. I kept thinking more into it and eventually turned it into an event. Another friend of mine in LA, DJ Huneycut, had the same idea about an all women DJ event. I found a venue that was down for the cause, and we did a few of them out there. I ended up moving back to Chicago and continued doing it here. I met different people and connected with a lot of women through social media, which led me to learn a whole bunch of new information.
You’ve held a series of events that are not only beneficial to women in general, but also entire communities. What kind of reaction has stemmed from the events that you curate?
I always get good reactions. It makes me happy when I meet women that are inspired by the events because that’s really one of the things that we try to do. We want to empower and inspire. Me being inspired has taken me far. Even though Babes Only is my thing and I put a majority of the things together, it’s never just me doing it. For events, somebody’s helping me. Maybe there are women out there who don’t have that experience yet of being inspired to follow their calling, but inspiration is magical and powerful and can go a long way. I did my first event with young girls called Beauty Brunch and that event meant a lot to me because these girls were young. We had nail artists, hair stylists, waxers, makeup artists and a photographer who all donated their time to glam up these girls and get them ready for school. It was cute! The first girl thanked us for making her feel confident and it was literally all I ever wanted. When I get good feedback it’s meaningful because it proves that I’m accomplishing what I set out to do.
As the founder of such a strong organization, is there ever a burden of having to be the pillar of strength for other women?
No, because women have helped me tremendously. It’s not that I owe them, but there’s a silent code amongst women where we should always try to have each other’s backs and help each other. We’re emotional and there are women who may not have a boyfriend or a best friend they can talk to or parents who are supportive of them. It’s a womanly duty to check up on others and make sure they’re good.
One of your goals for 2018 was to become the top female DJ in the country. What have you accomplished so far & what can we expect from you in 2019?
I’ve actually been set back with DJing because I’m putting a ton of effort into Babes Only. I can’t complain because it’s what I want to do and I love it, but it’s taken a lot from me as a DJ. I haven’t been able to focus on learning production and give it my all because of my events. This year I did have a goal of getting more corporate gigs because they open the door, not only for more money but for different connections. For example, I DJed for Lululemon, and they now donate to Babes Only raffles when they can. That’s a billion dollar company and I have this connection with them. I did great and prospered on that part as a DJ, but musically, I feel like I haven’t done much growing. I’m going to London in December to DJ, so I’ll redeem myself a little. One thing I’m excited about for next year is the Babes Only Chicago Votes concert. It’s going to be a concert with all women artists. It’ll focus on voting and its importance since it’ll be six days away from the mayoral election. It’ll be an amazing experience combining music and politics and getting candidates there to speak to the crowd. This year has been very busy but next year I’m hoping to be more organized and set more goals.
Written by: Andrea Carrillo
Header photo by: Griz Preciado
Makeup by: Gotothemo