We chat to Captial breakfast babe, Charlie Powell. Hear all about how she got her big break in DJing, her coming out story, and what she has in store for 2024.
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How did you get into DJing and when was your big break?
Hi guys! Thank you so much for having me!
I got into DJing because my passion has always been music, sharing it with others, and making people feel something by playing it. I had been doing it via radio for years, behind the scenes as a producer, and then in front of the mic. I wanted to go even further with it. I’m also a complete extrovert and absolutely love club culture. So it all just made sense.
I’ve been DJing low-key since the age of about 17, mainly at student nights during university and in my bedroom! I did some live streams during covid too. I grew up playing the drums so I had rhythm already. I never really thought it was an option for me to be able to do something like that professionally though. It was a very male-dominated industry, it just didn’t seem to really happen for many women when I was growing up. I just did it at the start as a hobby.
My BIG break in the clubs was pretty cool though. My good friend Majestic gave me a shot at Sundown festival. Full tent, straight in at the deep end, I was super nervous but work really well under pressure so managed to smash it! Things have just been growing since then and I feel so unbelievably lucky to call it my job!
My old boss at KISS FM gave me my big break in radio. I did demo after demo after demo and the answer was always ‘no charlie you aren’t ready yet’, or ‘Producers don’t present shows’. I then put a demo on a USB stick and put it in a box of celebrations and gave it to him for Christmas. He finally gave me 1 chance and thankfully I didn’t mess it up! I owe the start of my professional presenting career to him.
For any of our readers who would like to get into a career in music and specifically DJing, what advice would you give to them?
- Always follow the genre and route you feel truly passionate about. Authenticity shines so bright!
- Don’t give up if you have an average set. Learn from it. You’ll have setbacks, you’ll get constructive criticism along the way, take it all in and be open to learning.
- Learn how to mix without sync before/if you start using it to free you up to perform other actions.
- If you’ve got a controller at home, great! But I’d also make sure you familiarise yourself with club setups too. It will make a huge difference when you get your first professional gig. Pirate studios are amazing and cheap to hire.
- Head to YouTube for tutorials! I taught myself Ableton and how to DJ via YouTube. A great guy to watch for beginner DJ tips is Phil Harris.
- Make mixes, upload them to SoundCloud and shout about everything you do on social media.
- Find the promoters of the nights you want to play at (you can usually find them via Linked In) and send them a mix, they could dig it and give you a shot!
What’s the best part of working on the radio?
For me it’s getting the opportunity to brighten people’s day with dance music. And also perhaps introduce them to some stuff that they haven’t heard before. When I was young, I went through some very hard times, and I’d always turn to the radio for some company, some upliftment and to lose myself in some great music. It was my only distraction at times. And the fact I get to do that for others is just wild for me. I still walk into the Capital Studios most days and think, I can’t believe this is my job! Another amazing part is having the opportunity to help artists grow, as well. It is an amazing feeling when you can help someone get their music heard.
How do you prepare for a show?
My show tends to be a mixture of music passion and sense of day. So I make sure I’m completely up to date with all things across the dance music scene and general entertainment news too. My phone notes are filled with random things I can talk about. I’m always prepping. I’ve learned to think ‘Oh this would be good to talk about tomorrow!’ So I write it down. But my general routine is, prepare the night before, head in before the show at 6am and see if there’s anything that comes through overnight that I need to cover. Most importantly, making sure I’m in a really positive headspace before the show. With me, whatever is happening outside the studio stays there until after the show.
Who are up-and-coming artists you have your eye on?
So many! I’m gonna pick 3 so we aren’t here all day!
LLeo. (lleosworld) I think they’re super talented. No bullshit, honest conversations about mental heath via their music and are gaining a lot of traction very quickly. a future LGBTQ+ superstar for sure.
Meg Ward (meggyward) – her sets are really special, filled with energy, and she draws for some proper belters as well. Her energy is infectious on and off the decks and I rate that a lot.
Kimmii. (kimiisworld) They’re pretty established now but Kimii! Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, DJ, you name it kimii can do it. They also head up a great collective called Hunni Sound. A network for women, non-binary and trans creatives to share resources, support each other, and give each other opportunities in what is still a very male-dominated scene! 2023 was monumental for Kimii and I’m sure 2024 is gonna be even bigger.
What’s your favourite venue you’ve played in and why?
I was recently lucky enough to be invited out to Rise Festival in the Alps. I was warming up for Hannah Laing and the Reboot gang in the Arena tent. It was massive, the biggest show I’ve done so far. It was packed, and the crowd were amazing, so receptive to everything I was playing and were really open to hearing new things. I really felt I could sonically be Charlie Powell there. Because sometimes during warm-up sets you’re drawing for some more commercial stuff to draw the crowd in and build the room up. It was an amazing festival in general too – if you like skiing and raving definitely check it out!
Pride in London sets are always amazing too. I’ve done a fair few in the parade on the buses. Best crowds ever and so much fun!
What is your coming-out story? Sorry, but everyone loves a coming-out story..
Well, I’ve never really been attracted to men, always been attracted to women, and never really understood why I wasn’t infatuated by the male teachers like my pals were at school. But I’m from a tiiiiny town in Cornwall, and we weren’t exposed or educated about gender or sexuality at all, I didn’t even know it really existed so I spent a lot of time at school feeling really confused and isolated. There wasn’t really anyone else like me at school. I was just this little queer kid that didn’t quite fit in.
Then I watched BBC 3’s Lip Service. I was like OH! That’s me and it all makes sense! 2 years of working it out and dating women in secret, I told my parents and they were great. Very lucky to have had such a positive reaction from my family as I am very aware some people don’t have that. Having said that, I did have a difficult time in school with it before I came out though (it was pretty obvious that I was at the time). Girls not wanting to get changed in the same changing room as me, being laughed at, left out, etc. The standard procedures I think queer kids had at that time and I’m sure still experience.
That’s why I believe LGBTQ+inclusive education in schools is so so important, if children understood it, then experiences wouldn’t be so bad for queer kids.
If you could use a magic telephone to call yourself at 15 years old what would you say?
I grew up thinking something must be inherently wrong with me, when actually I was just as worthy as everyone else. So, it would probably be as simple as to be kinder to myself, and be kind to others. There is real power in that.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Once you can master that, there is no limit in what you can achieve.
What do you think of the queer scene in London, where do you go out?
I feel like there are limited spaces for queer women! Mighty Hoopla is amazing each summer. Body Movements festival is amazing. I LOVE Jodie Harsh’s night at Omera called Feel it, but that’s often more for guys. G.IRL is brilliant for a younger crowd. But for queer women 28+, where is everyone hanging?! We need more!
Who’s your celebrity crush and why?
Kelly Osbourne. Always has been. I think she’s a badass and she’s cool as f**k. And I rate how honest and open she is. I’ve learned a lot from her over the years, mainly that it’s ok to be unapologetically yourself and it’s ok to share that with the world!
When can people see your next live set?
The next show is in Nottingham on 8th of Feb at a house night called Paraiso. Then March 30th I’ll be at Studio 338 with LoveJuice. We’ve got a lot coming this year, I can’t announce it yet but a few shows out in Ibiza may well be on the cards too 😉 I’m really looking forward to getting back in the clubs, January is always pretty quiet but I’m enjoying some time to reset before the madness kicks in!
What’s in store for 2024 for you?
More shows, more radio, and my first record releases! I’m working on an artist project at the moment. I used to play around at home on a DAW called Fruity Loops, and grew up playing the drums too. I was very immersed in music growing up because my Dad is a musician. But again, up until fairly recently I never thought it was an option for me to release music myself. I’ve got an engineer and we’re working hard on some great house tracks. I’m so excited to share them because I’ve been coming up with ideas for years with no outlet. It’s gonna be a big one!
Thanks so much for chatting to us Charlie.
If you loved this interview with Charlie Powell, be sure to keep up to date with what she’s up to next: TikTok & Insta: @Charliepowelldj
Team Nonchalant x
Last Updated on 7th February 2024 by Nonchalant Magazine