Xenia Ghali Interview: The NY-based DJ/producer talks about her musical background, new single "Lay In Your Arms", first big show, guilty pleasure, and more.


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Have you always wanted to be a producer/DJ? What age did you decide to get into the music business? Was there someone who influenced you?

I have been involved with music since a very young age. I started playing the classical piano and flute at the age of 5 and later, when I was 15 I picked up the guitar and the drums. I formed an alternative rock band and began songwriting for the first time. That was when I realised that creating music was my true passion. When I graduated from high school I went to the UK to study Music Composition, Film Scoring and Production. Initially I was going to follow a career as a music composer and film scorer, however while studying in the UK I got completely infatuated by DJs who were performing with vinyl records and turntables. I invested to buy a couple of second hand Technics 1210s and 5 House vinyl records and started teaching myself how to mix. One thing led to another and I began playing small shows near my University. During one of these shows, a promoter approached me and told me that he organised parties at the Ministry of Sound in London and that he wanted me to play at one of them. As such, I had the incredible opportunity of playing at one of the most legendary clubs in the world, and consequently my career as a music producer and a DJ began from that point onward.

How would you describe your own sound in just a few words, and what is distinct about it?

I guess my sound is generally described as melodic, non-linear (I like to 'move around' musically and energetically speaking) and each song has it’s own vibe. All my records also have a main hook.

What were some of your main inspirations when creating "Lay In Your Arms”?

I built the entire track on the piano part which you actually hear throughout the entire record. I sat on the piano and wrote the part which you can hear in the pre-chorus right before the drop and then I slowly built everything around it. To me this song is everything that you should feel when you feel love and really that’s what drove me when I was creating it. 

You’re a producer and a DJ, where do you feel most comfortable? In the studio or on stage?

I feel myself both in the studio and on stage. The difference is that different sides of myself truly come out in each situation. In the studio I can express and communicate things that are inside me, emotions or words that I may not be able to say as easily when I’m speaking. On stage I feel freer than ever.

If you could choose one DJ, producer or an artist you'd like to collaborate with, who would it be and why?

Calvin Harris has always been a musician and producer who I’ve really admired and looked up to. It would be an incredible experience to work with him.

How do you feel being a woman in a man’s world? How do you think female DJ’s nowadays are portrayed in the music industry? Do you believe they are respected and have the same opportunities as male DJ’s?

I don’t think that it’s a man’s world anymore. A lot has changed in the past few years, and of course there are more men than women in a lot of fields and industries, such as the music industry and specifically the DJ scene, however more and more women are showing their capabilities, skills and talents and fighting for equality. To be honest, it’s not just women, there is a general realization that gender shouldn’t be and isn’t a factor determining how capable a person is. I am personally very happy to see this gradual but widely supported change. 

What has been the toughest setback in your DJing career and how did you overcome it?

I have to say that my toughest setback in my DJing career is the lack of time spent with my family and my friends. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been something that I have overcome, and it still can get me down a lot. Hopefully in the near future I can balanced things out a little more! 

How important do you think it is for DJs to also be producers?

Some of the best DJs in the world aren’t producers. They are two completely different things to each other. In today’s Dance industry, the combination of the two is what we see more often.

What styles are most prevalent in your mixes?

House, Funky House, Dance, Tech House and Deep House.

What’s your most treasured tool in the studio and what’s so good about it?

Tough question! I would have to say my Minimoog Voyager! Everything is good about it.. Haha! 

What’s your DAW of choice?

Ableton and Logic Pro.

Who is your favourite producer at the moment?

Another tough question! There are a lot of producers I admire. I love Galimatias’ work. 

Who would you like to remix your music?

I think a remix from Purple Disco Machine would be amazing! 

Which DJ would you like to swap places with for one day if you could?

Calvin Harris!

What differences do you notice when it comes to nightlife in the US compared to Europe?

It really depends on the city and the venue to be honest! I haven’t seen too many differences at the venues I have played at, in both the US and Europe. One major difference is that there are surely more venues that cater to House music in Europe than there are in the US.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?

The 90s! I still jam to the Spice Girls.

What is your favorite/most memorable moment of your career thus far?

The first big show I ever had. It was at the Ministry of Sound in London. To date, it was the best set I ever played.

What tips would you give to female artists starting out?

Never take 'no' for an answer, the route to success is learning from failures and you’re just as good, if not better, than anyone else!

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us!  A message for all the people out there who love electronic music.

Thank you guys so much for chatting with me! Keep supporting and loving electronic music and I hope to see you at one of my shows sometime!                     



Interview made by Adriana-Laura L., DJs Arena 2018.