DJ ZEEMUFFIN

DJ ZEEMUFFIN

name: zainab hasnain aka zeemuffin

age you feel: 21

occupation: DJ / freelance hustler

CAREER

TGM: tell us about being a DJ and how you got into that

Z: i was always into music as a kid, i was classically trained in viola from like 4th grade through college... i stopped practicing but it's always something i've been inclined to do. my little brother, who's four years younger than i, he plays drums. so he started to play drums in the house and i began to pick that up, he had all these instruments so i'd mess around with them. i was always into all types of music, i've never been a one genre type of person. i'd listen to indie rock then hip hop. since we're immigrants, my sister and i weren't really allowed to go to parties or hang with boys, so we would go to concerts a lot. when i went to college i decided i wanted to do something that would let me express my love for all this music, so i felt being a DJ was the right lane to do that. 

TGM: so you started in college

Z: well, while i was in college i didn't do anything with it, but after i graduated i went to dubspot - which is a good DJ school. they provided me with a foundation, but the real learning came after, when i bought my own turn tables. i went out to shows to see how other DJs were doing it, used google and youtube for research... and that's how it all started. it was like 2011 when i started learning and i didn't go at it full time until 2013.

TGM: what school did you go to and what did you study

Z: i went to NYU and i studied politics, economics and business studies. completely different! actually, when i graduated i was doing investment banking. i'd be banking during the week and taking my DJ classes on weekends. i had a mentor at the DJ academy named JP Solis that would tell me you can do this for real for real... he gave me my first gig, he'd let me open for him once a month. he was very encouraging.

TGM: and so you finally took the plunge

Z: well, i waited a year and then i quit investment banking. i did jobs at startups, then i worked at a digital media agency, and that was in 2013. now it's 2016 and i'm like oh-shit! i've been freelancing and just doing my DJ'ing. my last job i was doing social media consulting at that agency, but my DJ'ing was getting in the way because i'd get in and be super tired in the morning. so my boss was like 'it's clear you have other interests than what you're doing here, so maybe it's best that you pursue that full time'... thankfully she set me up with a freelance job. she was really supportive!

TGM: that's amazing! you touched a bit on this already, when did you know that this was for you

Z: ummm well like i said i always loved music, but i remember i really loved performing and i wanted to be in front of big crowds as a kid. i started to go see DJ shows when i was in college and i remember thinking, 'i can do this, and i can do it better!' (laughs)... 

TGM: what did your parents think of pursuing this career path? 

Z: here's the catch22, my parents don't know i do this full time so they still think i work at an agency... that's the biggest lie of my life, but i plan on telling them this year because now it's become more serious. i signed with a booking agency to get more gigs, so now i feel i can go back to my parents and tell them this is what i've been doing and i'm able to pay my rent and sustain myself ... for them they are really traditional. i wasn't born here, i was born in Pakistan, i grew up there until i was five. my parents live here now, but we are really connected to our country and go back a lot. so they know that i DJ, my dad especially will ask about it because he's an entrepreneur, but they think it's done outside of my day-job. and i get it! they don't want me to struggle and not be able to take care of myself. they wanted us to be doctors or lawyers but none of my siblings did those things... we're not totally off the rails though! (laughs) we just wanted different things for ourselves.

TGM: where would you like to take this in the next few years

Z: i'd love to learn how to produce music so that i'm not just a DJ, in this day and age and especially as a woman, it's already hard to separate yourself in this male dominated industry. so learning to produce my own music that can then be used by other DJs is ideal. to me that's what's gonna get me a bigger look. i'd love to be touring and playing at major festivals. outside of that, i'd love to take what i've learned and teach other girls who aren't supported in this field to gain the skills to pursue this. i want to be a creative power house. i write, i take photos, i draw, i DJ... 

TGM: do you have anyone who inspires or inspired you

Z: i'd say JP at the start, i have other mentors now, but he was one of the first to motivate me. there's also DJ Rekha, she's an OG, i connected with her through an old friend of mine and she's awesome! she gave me great honest advice... she sees my potential and i really appreciate that about her. having someone like her in my corner is inspiring... and when someone comes up to me after a party or show and tells me they loved my set and where can they see me again- that really inspires me. it's so easy to get down on yourself and question everything you're doing.

STYLE

TGM: what's your favorite item in your closet and where did you get it

Z: it's a vintage blazer, i found it at a thrift store at the east village... it's super jiggy, i can wear it in the summer winter... whenever (*pictured above)

TGM: there's a fire and you can only save three items in your closet, what are they

Z: including shoes and scarfs!? this is so hard... i would 100% save my letterman jacket, it's the warmest thing i own... my air maxes since they have my two cities engraved on the back - NYC and Lahore because that's where i was born... and my bape sweats my boyfriend got me.

TGM: describe your style in one word

Z: versatile

TGM: if you could raid anyones closet whose would it be

Z: M.I.A.

TGM: you get lifetime access to a brand, which one is it

Z: i love basics, it'd be acme or reformation... probably reformation

TGM: if you could collaborate with any brand which one would it be

Z: omg... dream brand is nike. i love everything they stand for. they're innovative and always pushing the envelope.

TGM: what's an item you'd pass down to your child

Z: the necklace that my mom gave me, it's a pearl necklace from tiffany's that she gave to me for my 21st birthday and i hope to give it to my future daughter on her 21st birthday.

TGM: name three beauty products you can't live without

Z: argan oil, sunscreen and lip balm

TGM: which makeup brand would you be a spokesperson for

Z: anastasia beverly hills - all their makeup is on point 

JUST FOR FUN

TGM: name the top four apps on your phone

Z: instagram, twitter, spotify and whatsapp to stay in touch with my family

TGM: you're getting an award, what theme song do you choose to walk to the podium

Z: razorlight - golden touch  

TGM: your fav cartoon cereal combo on a weekend morning

Z: spongebob squarepants and cinnamon toast crunch

TGM: you win a trip around the world, who do you take and what's the first stop

Z: i'd take my sister, my three closest cousins, my best friends and my boyfriend! (laughs) he's hung with us all so he can handle it... and our first stop is tokyo

TGM: who would you cast to play you in a film and what's the genre

Z: hmmm she needs to be a woman of color, sexy but not corny... i'd say penelope cruz! and it would be an oscar worthy drama

TGM: you get to have dinner with four people, who do you choose (dead or alive)

Z: amy winehouse, leonardo dicaprio, M.I.A. and hmmm there's so many people that left us too soon, so i'll go with jimmy hendrix

TGM: you found a time travel machine, where do you go

Z: definitely the 70s because i want to witness that music revolution and see how the youth changed things, including all the civil rights stuff... i love that era because of disco too, with their choreographed dances and shit, it was so cool!

TGM: what's your favorite smell

Z: i really love how my boyfriend smells, i obsessively smell his neck, it makes me happy! (laughs)

TGM: top four albums for you so far

Z: frank- amy winehouse, the strokes- is this it, artic monkeys- whatever people say i am, that's what i'm not, and voodoo d'angelo

LETS GET PERSONAL

TGM: what's a random fact about you

Z: i'm a really good fencer, i used to fence for like eight years.

TGM: what's your favorite song to be seduced to

Z: that's hard! you feel sexy in different ways and on different days... but i'll say tame impala, new person, same old mistakes.

TGM: the last time you cried what was it about

Z: it was about freaking out over my career and life, which is so typical for me (laughs), but my boyfriend was there and he was so sweet.

TGM: tell us about a female that has taught you something and what was it

Z: there's this girl yelda, she's taught me that literally anything is possible... you can't take no for an answer, there's always a way to do something... you can deliver on anything you want - i've seen her do it, it's very inspiring for me.

TGM: what makes you feel vulnerable

Z: i think putting my work out there... the first time i put a mix out i felt super vulnerable, i go back and listen and i'm so critical of it... but it's hard to share your art. 

TGM: what do you want your life legacy to be

Z: i want it that when i die those closest to me, and even those who aren't close to me, for them to remember me as a kind person that uplifted them and motivated them, that made them feel positive ... i don't really care about the work legacy, that isn't as important to me as who you are as a person. you can be the biggest DJ in the world but if you don't treat people with love and respect then what's the point.

TGM: name something about yourself that you're working on

Z: i'm working on not blaming the world and other people for my problems... i had to step back and really think about it... at the root of everyones problems are excuses, and most of those excuses come from you. i'm holding myself accountable.

TGM: name something about yourself that you've made peace with

Z: i'm super neurotic (laughs) - i'm so detailed and need to plan like 10 days in advance, my boyfriend is the total opposite! he's like go with the flow.

TGM: name something about yourself that you love

Z: my energy, i have good energy

TGM: what's a misconception you feel people have of you?

Z: that i'm a bitch and intimidating, but the minute you come up to me i'm super approachable! 

TGM: write your 15 year old self a note

Z: don't be so hard on yourself, you're beautiful and amazing and capable of anything. don't stress, it only gets easier!

TGM: what scares the shit out of you

Z: i don't like anything to do with ghosts, spirits, and shit like that! no movies nothing like that

TGM: finish these sentences, i should have_____

Z: been honest from the jump with my parents

TGM: when i'm 82, i hope that i _____

Z: have tons of kids, grandkids, and people around me that i love

TGM: i miss _____

Z: my country

TGM: my family is _____

Z: a reflection of me

TGM: my girlfriends are_____

Z: my everything

 


*note from editor: this interview took place in 2016*

loved ZEEMUFFIN? follow her on:

twitter: @zeemuffin

ig: @zeemuffin

website: zeemuffin.com

Malyia McNaughton

Malyia McNaughton

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