Mia Carucci on DJing, her Crossover Career, and the best LA Parties
"When you’re brought outside your body by something you’ve never heard before, that creates an emotional spark. And I love creating that moment for people through the music that has done the same for me."
Los Angeles-based DJ Mia Carucci spent her childhood mesmerized by Miami DJ culture. Never one to remain on the sidelines, Mia decided to pursue her own craft and has enjoyed a career as a seasoned DJ — and will soon be embarking on an exciting crossover career as a recording artist.
Mia’s mixtape “She’s Emotional” pays passionate homage to Latina inspirations with hypnotic beats, smooth tracks, and a deep emotional dive — one listen suggests she won’t have any trouble tackling whatever she puts her mind to. Plus, she has the coolest eyebrows we’ve ever seen.
We talked with Mia about her musical journey, background as a club kid, and the creative process behind her upcoming EP.
PERFECT NUMBER: Coming from a musical family with diverse experiences, how did you end up becoming a DJ?
MIA CARUCCI: I listened to a lot of radio growing up. In Miami, radio and DJ culture was always big. You always knew radio station DJs because they had big personalities, even though you didn’t know what they looked like. As a kid, one of my favorite games was listening to the radio and guessing what song was being mixed in. No one played with me because no one gave a shit, but I’d always guess what song was going to come next. I’ve been lowkey mixing and transitioning songs in my head since I was young.
PN: How did growing up knowing DJs just through their sound on the radio affect how you think about appearance as a DJ yourself? Do you think DJs should be concerned with their look, and should that look be part of the performance?
MC: I think you can do whatever you want. There’s something really beautiful about someone who treats the DJ experience as performance art, either with your appearance or the lights or a crew of dancers. But I also believe if you have a certain sound and an energy that matches that sound, it doesn’t matter what you wear or look like. I don’t think you have to dress to the sound.
PN: When was the first time you remember going to a club?
MC: When I was 13, I went to my first club for a rave. I was introduced to a few different scenes all at the same time: techno and house at the raves, reggaeton and bachata at all-age salsa parties, and hip-hop and bass at house parties. I was able to see different worlds through the stark differences in the sound.
PN: How did you think that affected your taste in music right now?
MC: It’s had a big impact on how I create my own sound because it’s made it difficult; I love so many genres and I want to incorporate them in a way that’s seamless and makes sense. But I think the reason I’ve been able to do well as a DJ is that my love of music is broad.
PN: Living and working in LA, have you noticed a transition or transformation of the music community here?
MC: LA has always had a strong underlying pulse of diverse parties (techno, hardcore, etc), but it’s become more mainstream recently. It’s exciting because there are a lot of people from the underground scene who are being recognized. Yet, at the same time, it also means it’s being infiltrated by the masses. It’s bizarre to me to hear watered down, mainstream Latin music and it scares me a bit. But, it’s a push to find other sounds. That’s growth.
PN: Who are three of your favorite DJs right now?
MC: Hmm, Nina Kraviz, Total Freedom, and Asmara.
PN: Do you have any parties that you currently like in LA?
MC: I love any party that Pacoima Techno throws, Unlock the House thrown by Brian Vidal and Holodec, and YOU thrown by Sebastian Hernandez. I haven’t been going to as many parties recently because I’ve been hibernating to focus on my work.
PN: So, you’re spending more time creating something original than performing right now. What are you working on?
MC: I finally decided to move into performance art, singing, and producing my own music. I’ve always been really shy about singing, so DJing was a way for me to become more comfortable with performing. First I started by producing edits and remixes of other artists music until I felt confident enough to build original songs from scratch. It’s a lot of trial and error.
PN: Have you let others join your creative process, or are you mostly working on your own?
MC: I have a friend, Mark Nieto who helps me because I don’t have a studio. I would make all my beats on my laptop and then go to the studio at his house to play things back and record vocals. He also added synth chords to my first single, Chimera. And I’ve had other friends help by letting me use the speakers in their cars. Up until recently, I didn’t have speakers in my house, so I’d ask them if I could play what I’d been working on in their car and then take notes.
PN: So you’ve been working on sets and mixes without speakers?
MC: Yeah, I currently don’t have any equipment of my own so I don’t get to practice. Fortunately, I visualize sounds very intensely, so I’ll hear a song and think, “Fuck. This song would sound really great with this other song.” And then I count in my head where it would be brought in. So every time I DJ, I’m literally experimenting in real-time.
PN: That’s impressive!
MC: Thank you. Eventually, though, I’d like to have a studio at my home because I have lots of ideas at random hours. It’d be nice to have a space to hear what I’m working on, but in the meantime, it’s just in my brain, my notebook, and my laptop.
PN: Are you releasing any of this new music soon?
MC: I’m releasing a single, which is stressful because people always want to know when the next one is coming out once you release a single. But I’m excited.
PN: You’ve mentioned the importance of being a completely independent artist, and you’re currently managing yourself, right? Why did you choose to do all this yourself?
MC: Well, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t be doing it all myself because I really hate talking to people if I don’t have to. But, I think it’s important to manage yourself because no one knows what you want as much as you do. No one can push for your budget the way you can because no one has been to every gig except for you. No one has seen the work you’ve put in except for you. Until you find someone in your life who sees all that, I think you should be your own champion. But when you come across someone who really believes in you in a way that sometimes you don’t, or sees a future for you that is beyond your perspective, that’s the time to allow that person into your intimate business.
PN: What does success look like to you?
MC: Honestly, just being able to pay your bills and live a meaningful life off the art you make. Whenever I think of success, I think of being able to take care of my family and myself and sustain a life where I’m not losing sleep over money. That’s the basis of success for me because everything that comes after is additional. It’s a blessing to have the means to live off your art, and not have to split your brain between a nine to five and your creative endeavors.
PN: Can you tell me a little bit about your future plans? Are you going to work on releasing more singles or an EP or something else?
MC: I hope to drop an EP by February 2020, and it honestly rides on my willingness to make it happen. Sometimes, I can’t trust myself. But I’ve given myself a date, so that adds a bit of pressure because it’s concrete. That helps.
PN: Do you think this EP will be 100% created, produced and recorded by you?
MC: I don’t know. It would be great to work with other artists, even though it can be uncomfortable for me. I’ve noticed, though, with every song I create, I feel like I’m more open to allowing people into my workspace. I think the EP will be fully produced by me, but I’m open to people adding their work or their voices and sounds to this project if it happens organically.
PN: Do you have a concept in mind for this album?
MC: I go back and forth with what I want the concept of the album to be. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself in that respect because everything I do always ends up tying together, even when I don’t try. I often sense things, but won’t realize it until I go back and listen to what I created, and then I’ll see, “I’m talking about being animalistic” or “I’m talking about religion.” Overall, all I really know is that it’s going to be a little darker than what people might sonically expect from me, or what people are used to in popular music.
PN: It’s really exciting to be working on something that’s so much a part of you. What are your motivations for being a DJ? Is it for yourself? Or others as well?
MC: I definitely want to share all of the music I grew up with, and what music is speaking to me at the moment. I know each crowd or party is different, so I have to play what I love. One of my favorite compliments I get when DJing is, “You put me on to so many songs I’d never heard of.”
Going out to a club or party is a great way to get out of your mind and into your body, but it can also be educational or mind-altering. When you’re brought outside your body by something you’ve never heard before, that creates an emotional spark. And I love creating that moment for people through the music that has done the same for me.
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