How to be a DJ
Lissa Monet on the highs and lows of her spinning career by Julia Mastroianni
Lissa Monet, who has DJed for the Toronto Raptors, WE Day and Pride Toronto events just in the last three months, owes her career, in part, to her mom.
“I wanted to be a hairdresser, and my mom didn’t want me to go to beauty school, so to appease her I went to college and took marketing,” Monet says. “Not wanting me to go to beauty school is probably the best thing she’s ever done because had I not gone to school for marketing I wouldn’t have known how to market myself as a DJ.”
Monet began developing friendships with DJs while going to clubs at a young age.
“DJs are essentially nerds, so all we do is talk about music and producers and who co-wrote what and stuff like that,” she says.
It was during that time that she met Kapn Kirk, now the official DJ of the Toronto Raptors, who Monet says told her, “You know too much about music, and I’m going to teach you how to DJ.”
She started DJing while also working part-time and going to school, but Monet says eventually the creative side of her won out over the business side.
“Going to a high school for the arts also kind of solidified my love for music,” Monet says of her time at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts.
“DJs are essentially nerds, so all we do is talk about music.”
As a DJ, Monet started to get her name out through social media — Myspace and Facebook at the time — making mix tapes to send out to promoters and posting them online for people to listen to. She’s moved with the times, shifting most of her promotional material to Instagram now. Her marketing has paid off, earning her gigs such as the VIP party for the Beyoncé Formation world tour.
Changes over the years have also impacted the way Monet mixes music at events.
“Back in the day, it was really easy to read a crowd. But now it’s a little bit harder because you’ve got access to millions of songs at any given time,” Monet says.
Her passion for music is what has kept her motivated.
“If you want to be a DJ, don’t do it because you think it’s the popular thing to do, do it because you genuinely love music. There’s a lot of things that come with it, and if you can still get up the next day and still want to do it despite going through a lot of challenges, then, you know, the perks will come,” Monet says.
There are challenges — although, she says she tries her best not to focus on them — that often have to do with being a woman in a male-dominated industry.
Monet has put in her own work to ensure female DJs will have a better experience in the industry than she did. She co-founded Luxe Life Sound, an all-women DJ agency that places female DJs at events across the country.
“I just wanted to provide these women with the support that I wish I had when I first started,” she says.
Monet co-founded an all-women DJ agency called Luxe Life Sound