Meet DJ GabSoul, changing moods and vibrations one tune at a time.
TGM: When did you start DJing?
G: I started DJing in 2015. My dad’s a DJ and for whatever reason he didn’t want to teach me when I was young. He just kept putting it off. In his time, he was really good. This was the 70s & 80s. It was a different time so he quickly felt like he needed to get a job, start a family and get money to support them so he got a “real job”. I guess my mom finally convinced him because one day after a family trip in 2015 he just started showing me how everything worked. At the time I had just graduated college and was doing music PR at a startup. I was super excited because I’d always wanted to help push good artists but the PR job soon felt like it was coming to it’s close. My spirit just wasn’t in it. I had dabbled with the idea of DJing so the week I was going to quit my job, a friend was throwing an event and I agreed to DJ. I didn’t event have a DJ name so he put my Instagram, which is @gabsoul, on the flyer. Before I could even process what had happened there was a flyer in my inbox for the event with DJ Gabsoul on it. Ever since that gig I’ve just been going and figuring it out. It’s never just been about DJing, it’s about following my passion. DJing is a platform to follow my passion and make an impact.
TGM: What is the impact you hope to make with this platform?
G: It took a lot of steps for me to grow the confidence to step into the role of a DJ and be proud of the work I put into my craft. My ultimate goal is to reach my highest potential. It takes confidence to get on the mic & talk, to be you, to express yourself. It’s so important to be your authentic self because it’s too easy to get boxed into something by other people. Identity is important.
There’s also a mindfulness I am aware of as a DJ. It’s not just about knowing all the hot songs. I have a deep connection to music. I feel everything in a song and express myself through songs. Through my expression I want to show people that if I can do it, they can too. I want to inspire people do this work and do it authentically, not just for looks. I want people to follow their passions. My overall purpose in life is not to be a DJ, it’s to spread love, light, awareness and authentic vibes. DJing right now is just the platform for me to do that. I love making people feel good. My dad taught me to keep the people dancing. I want to keep people engaged in the music, I want them to feel the songs and have a moment of release. There’s an art to building a vibe through music.
TGM: Do you aim to build the same vibe at every space you DJ because it’s authentic to who you are? Or do you cater to each party and audience?
G: I call myself the eclectic selector. I have eclectic cuts and because of that, I can adapt my personal sound to different environments. I’m Caribbean and very proud of my culture, so I can play all the socca and dancehall. I know the art to that kind of party but that isn’t my style. I love to introduce the music of my culture to people. I know how to mix in a house music track with a socca set to get people into it. I watch people and I watch what triggers people into dancing. I’ve learned how to adapt. It also depends on my spot on the line up. If I’m opening, there’s a specific vibe and I’m not gona play all the hot songs. I’m gona play songs people know to warm them up for the next DJ to drop all the hot songs. Or if I’m going on after the DJ that just played all the hot songs, that gives me a lot more room to be creative. If I have the headline spot, I’ll play all the hot songs, but play and mix them in my own way.
TGM: Why is it important for you to incorporate Caribbean music into your sets?
G: I’m not who I am without my culture. My culture is very near and dear to me. It explains a lot of who I am, not just musically but spiritually as well. When Drake was coming out with “One Dance” and all that, it made me happy but also triggered me because it was an example of how shit can go when people aren’t informed. Caribbean culture is so much more than marina tank tops and fishnets. The reason I love socca is the way it makes people feel so it has to be played in a certain way. In New York there are a lot of transplants. There’s nothing wrong with that but they don’t know the real culture of New York. Playing Caribbean music is my way of teaching people about the culture in a way that isn’t overwhelming.
TGM: What’s your favorite thing about DJing?
G: It’s the most tangible things that makes me feel in touch with my higher self. I noticed it my first summer DJing. I didn’t feel nervous, I felt good! I was just in the zone and present. What made me realize that I’m good at what I do is when after a set, I’d get a round of applause. I’m so glad when I can make people feel good. That’s always the goal. When I’m in the zone I feel so good and I want to share that. I want people to feel comfortable in their own skin, not worrying about looking silly. All that matters if that they feel good.
TGM: Are there any ideal places you’d love to DJ?
G: One of them would definitely be Essence Fest just because I love my black women. I know how to make them dance and feel good with lyrics that’ll make them feel good too. I really want to DJ overseas. I’d love to play somewhere in the UK that’s really eclectic musically. I’d love to do a Boiler Room set, you know, be a real artist with it. I have some ideas that I want to execute and that would be the place to do them. I’d also love to play with some live musicians and create a vibe that way.
TGM: How does being a woman of color influence you as a DJ?
G: In general I feel that women of color are underrepresented in DJing but you go to a party to see the women dance. Black women in general can get busy to anything and I love that. To be able to evoke that feeling out of women is amazing. The mannerisms and energy of black women is a sight to see and blessing to this world. I love to get that out of people. I love the sing along and snaps. We really feel that. As a black woman I know the songs that we wanna hear but may not hear often. Even things like playing SZA at a party that women want to sing to. Also, I’m not gona play things like Tekashi 69 at a party. He makes cool music but I’m not going to use my platform to play people that don’t respect black women. I’m not gona play R. Kelly at a party and it’s just out of respect.
TGM: What advice would you give to yourself when you first started DJing in 2015 if you could go back?
G: Don’t pay attention to what anyone else is doing. Worry about yourself and your purpose. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Don’t seek validation. Keep your eyes on your own path. Don’t get discouraged. Everything you’re going through is going to make you stronger. Let yourself be passionate.