Erica Elle is one of SA’s top DJ’s, who has become one of the most sought after performers in South Africa. Erica’s passion for music stems from her former career as a dance instructor and choreographer. The progression to a career in the music industry therefore came naturally to her. Erica started DJing in 2003 and has become known for being a very professional and versatile DJ. She is one of the few DJs who is involved in both the underground scene as well as the broader commercial market, thanks to her show on 5fm.
crossfadr: So how did it all begin?
Erica Elle: I had just come back from being in the UK for 2 and a half years and I received my tax return. It was more money than I had ever received in one go before so I decided to spoil myself. I had been toying with the idea of starting DJing as a hobby so I jumped at the chance of buying the equipment at this point. I got lessons from a couple of friends, started working at a record shop for one vinyl a day and I guess the rest they say, is history!
crossfadr: Where did the name come from?
Erica Elle: When I was a child and I was asked to write my initials and my surname on any documents, I would always write my name as Erica L (My surname is Laidley) as I thought my name was way more important than my surname. So when I began DJing I chose Erica Elle firstly because of that story and secondly because Elle in French means female, it worked 🙂
crossfadr: What gave you that initial push?
Erica Elle: I think the fact that I only viewed my DJing as a hobby at first really helped me progress because I was doing it purely because I loved it, I had no expectations about where I was going with it, I was just enjoying every step of the journey.
crossfadr: Where do you live?
Erica Elle: I live in Johannesburg, South Africa
crossfadr: Which other countries have you played?
Erica Elle: I have played in the UK, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
crossfadr: What’s the best venue/event you’ve ever played?
Erica Elle: One of the best events I have ever played at was a New Year’s Eve party in South Africa. The crowd was 12000 strong & doing the countdown was mind-blowing!!
crossfadr: What/where was the first venue/event you’ve ever played?
Erica Elle: The first event I ever played at was at a club called Sutra, I only owned about 10 vinyls at the time so they let me play for 30mins!
crossfadr: Which genres do you prefer playing and why?
Erica Elle: I play a variety of genres ranging fro Deep House to House, but I love playing Tech House and Techno, I just feel more ‘submersed’ in the music, they are genres that definitely resonate with my soul.
crossfadr: Out of all the tracks you have, which one ‘never fails?’
Erica Elle: Wow, tough question… I have an amazing bootleg of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good, that never fails!
crossfadr: What’s you favorite track of all time?
Erica Elle: I have many many favourite tracks but one that stands out has to be ‘Insomnia’ by Faithless
crossfadr: How big is your vinyl and/or mp3 collection?
Erica Elle: My vinyl collection prob about 500 strong, but my mp3 collection is ridiculous!! Thousands and thousands of mp3’s!
crossfadr: When you play, are you sets pre-planned or off-the-cuff?
Erica Elle: 90% of the time my sets are off-the-cuff… I have learnt that you should never expect a crowd to be going a certain way, it all depends on the way the night pans out.
crossfadr: Are you currently in the studio producing? If so, what are you working on?
Erica Elle: No I’m not at the moment, but I will be soon as I’ve got a new album coming out at the beginning of 2012 which I would like to produce a couple of tracks for.
crossfadr: When all the partying is over, how do you like to relax?
Erica Elle: I am a mommy to a gorgeous little boy so I spend most of my free-time with my family and friends, my me-time is spent doing Yoga, meditation, reading and anything that connect with my spirit.
crossfadr: So what’s your opinion of DJ scene at the moment?
Erica Elle: I am finding that the ‘art’ of the DJ is dying a little, there are way too many new kids on the block thinking that because they have a DJing program and sync their mixes, they are real DJs. There is way more to DJing, even after one has learnt to actually beatmix, there is knowledge and experience that needs to be earned. Before the warm-up set was reerved for really good DJs who know how to set the tone, too often I arrive at a gig to find the warm-up DJ banging it at 130bpm before 9pm!
crossfadr: What do you think about the digital DJ movement?
Erica Elle: I think it’s fantastic if a DJ is using a program to add interesting elements into their sets like loops, vocals, their own productions, mixing various channels etc. But press that sync button when you’re playing 2 tracks and you have lost me!
crossfadr: Funniest thing that ever happened at a gig?
Erica Elle: I was playing at a big event, my dance floor was about 3000 people strong. I was listening to a track on my headphones, dancing and loving my life, when I looked up to see that the entire dance floor had stopped and were looking at me. I didn’t realise the main sound had cut!! I could only laugh at myself!! 🙂
crossfadr: Name some other DJs you are feeling?
Erica Elle: Some South African DJs I am loving are Emma X (Techno), Byron Rex (Tech) and Kid Fonque (Downtempo, Latin, Dubstep)
crossfadr: What advice would you give to up and coming DJs?
Erica Elle: Enjoy every moment, appreciate every opportunity and always respect your fellow DJs because after all, it’s all about the music!
crossfadr: What do you think about fashion and DJing?
Erica Elle: I’m a qualified fashion designer so I’ve always thought it’s great that fashion and DJing work together, both are art-forms so it’s nice to see interesting collaborations!
crossfadr: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Erica Elle: On a beautiful farm with lots of animals, a yoga retreat and great big veggie garden!
crossfadr: What are you plans for life after DJing?
Erica Elle: I never make plans, I just go where my life takes me!
Equipment in your DJ/Production studio? 1 MacBook Pro, 1 MacBook, 1 Allen & Heath Xone:DX Controller, 2 Pioneer CDJs, 1 Technics SL1200 Turntable, 2 KRK Rokit 6’s, 1 Behrigner DJX700 Mixer