Photos above: “I love to play and mix it all.” – Donna Leake
RM: How did you develop your musical aesthetic?
DL: “Listening my way along, using the sound as a compass and keeping my ears and mind open for constant and ongoing development and movement. I’m always listening to what I feel, and being as honest and authentic as I possibly can in any particular moment when in a position of expressing myself through music. Not caring what people will think or worrying about what may be expected from a selection or set, but at the same time trying to respect the who, when, where, how and why in every situation. Making sure I can get lost in the songs first and foremost, and then figuring out how I might share this while having fun with it.”
RM: Favourite genres to play? Favourite genres to mix? Do they differ?
DL: “I love to play and mix it all.”
RM: Is every set you spin about establishing a connection with the audience, yourself, and in time and space? Would you choose the same music for a local gig compared to France or Japan?
DL: “It started as only sharing what made me move, physically and mentally/emotionally. It could be the weather in that moment, the feeling of the crowd, a personal experience I am going through or one we all share on a global level. This may not be obvious or even noticed to most, but it certainly plays a part in how I express my musical vocabulary. This is also the same for how I play at home. Sets at home and away can be the same, but again it will be dependant on these same things.”
RM: Would you say that listening to your sets is a way of decoding what’s going on with you that day?
DL: “It could definitely be that yes, not necessarily every single set though – I learnt this over time. At the start of DJing I just literally played what and how I felt, but as I began to do this more and more I realised it’s much better to consider how everyone else might be feeling first and try to meet in the middle. The idea being, hopefully, we can get to a point where I can be totally free. It doesn’t always work out though and I have cleared many dance floors form reading things wrong.”