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Interview with Dance DJ and Producer ESSEL

With ESSEL’s new single Straight Up with HVRR feat. Shayan, being BBC Radio 1’s tune of the week, and her last screamer on Toolroom alongside Alex Mills – Rave Is The Weapon, we decided to catch up with ESSEL on how she became the successful DJ she is today and what it is like in the music industry when you identify as gay.

dj essel

How did you get into DJing, and when was your big break?

This is a funny story. I sent a mix I made on my controller to Egg London for a competition to win a set there. I won! The only problem was, they had CDJs, which I hadn’t used before. So, in five days, I spent 85 hours practising the art of beatmatching to avoid using the sync button because I wanted to be a real DJ. I got there and did my set, and Kokiri was the headliner. His laptop broke, which meant he couldn’t go on, so I entered the main room and had to save the day. My first track was “Love Parade,” and someone threw 20 quid at me and told me to fuck off. That’s when I knew this was meant to be.

For any of our readers who would like to get into a career in music specifically DJing, what advice would you give to them?

Networking is important, and getting to know the right people is crucial. But most of all, passion is what gets you far. Or, on the other hand, you could sleep with a promoter. (Just kidding… or am I?)

What’s the best part of working as a DJ and producer?

Getting to pick my own music and seeing the crowd resonate with what I play. Vibe is everything.

How do you prepare for your gigs?

I like to prepare, but I never do, so I usually panic last minute and do it on the way to the gig.

Who are the up-and-coming artists you have your eye on?

There are a couple of vocalists catching my attention right now, Frida Harnesk being one. Producer-wise, DaniCW and Lewis John are definitely ones to watch in 2025.

What’s your favourite venue you’ve played in and why?

Sankeys in Ibiza. My track “Sweat” is based around this venue: “low ceilings, black walls, strobe lights” – an absolute belter of a venue.

What’s your experience as a queer person in the music industry?

I feel like I’ve been accepted as much as anyone else. People are looking at me for my music, not my sexuality.

What is your coming-out story? Sorry, but everyone loves a coming-out story…

I actually came out at 16 because I thought I was in love with a mate of mine in college. Then I got scared and went back in the closet until I was 23. It was quite difficult for me to come out fully because I was a dancer, and people made comments that they wouldn’t change in the dressing rooms if they knew I was gay. So, when I left dancing, I decided that very day to be who I truly was, and I’ve never looked back. I started by telling a random bus driver on the way home, “I’m gay – thanks for the lift.”

If you could use a magic telephone to call yourself at 15 years old, what would you say?

I’d call myself up and tell myself what the winning lottery numbers would be for specific days.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My mum said to me at a really difficult time in my life, “Is this day one, or will it always be one day?” That hit so hard.

What do you think of the queer scene in the UK? Where do you go out?

I think it’s a really loving and accepting place where no one is judged, and it’s just good vibes all around.

Who’s your celebrity crush and why?

Mila Kunis. Wait, no, actually, it’s me.

When can people see your next live set?

Radio 1 Big Weekend!

What’s in store for 2024 for DJ ESSEL?

Lose some more weight, get a really fit girlfriend, and make banging music.

Keep up to date with their latest and follow them on Instagram @esseluk or listen to her bangers on Spotify.

Thanks for chatting to us.

Love Team Nonchalant x

Nonchalant Magazine
Nonchalant Magazine

This article was written by one of our creative team writers here at Nonchalant Magazine.

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