The world of bar and club DJs can be something of a boys club, but this gal has given us life from the booth for a dozen years now. Pre-quarantine she rocked a residency at one of gay NYC’s hottest dance venues, and now twice weekly DJ K Styles teaches us how to dance our socially distant asses off. [Cover photo: Toni-Ann Langella]
Thotyssey: Hey K! How are you?
K Styles: Hey hey! I’m very… distanced, lol.
I hear that! So, has any good come from your isolation thus far?
Well, one silver lining is that I actually get to hear my DJ friends DJ! Usually we all work on the same nights, so the chances to hear and support each other are rare. But now with people live-streaming on IG, I actually get to hear them. It’s kind of awesome. I forgot how good they are!
Is there anyone that you are particularly living for?
I meannnnnn, I’m ONLY friends w amazing DJs, sooooo that’s a long list. But, a couple that have recently stood out for me are DJ Louie XIV, DJ Scarlett88 and That’s So Raben. I’ve always loved their styles, and they’re super talented. Louie has started a Friday night House Party live on IG, and was one of the first DJs playing sets live from home. When I’m done with my set on Fridays I head over to his live stream, and it’s so much fun!
I read your quote in a Vanity Fair article that Louie wrote recently regarding the strangeness but also the freedom a DJ finds in these home sets.
Oh, nice! Yeah, he brought up some great points.
You’ve been home-DJ’ing yourself now for a few weeks. How are you liking it?
Honestly, at first I wasn’t sure it was going to be fun at all. I’m alone, in my bedroom, DJing for my cat. And yes, I do realize how sad / awesome that sounds. But it was totally different once I started. People started tuning in, and the chat was live. So I’m still playing to a room, just in a very different form. I actually have been having so much fun! Reading the chat while DJing keeps me connected to people. Sometimes I even respond to comments and give shout outs. It feels like a way more intimate, but shared, party experience. It’s so laid back, and aside from the Instagram copyright police, I can do whatever I want!
Where are you from, and what was the first music you were really into?
*Stands up in front of the class* Hi. I’m Kate. And I’m a DJ. LOL! I grew up in upstate NY, a place called Cortland. Very country. Very boring. I left as soon as I could, and came to NYC… and never left! I’ve been here about 109 years (in nightlife years).
Growing up, I remember my mom listened to a lot of Motown. And Joni Mitchell. She loooves Joni Mitchell. She has great taste. But I found my own path… I got into punk rock and then later, hip hop too. I was a badass little skateboard kid.
So all that evolved into a love of all music. A little rock n’ roll, a little hip hop, some pop, sprinkles of just about everything else… and Britney. Lots of Britney.
How did you become a DJ?
I was born this way.
Okay fine. I wasn’t. But I always loved music. So one year for my birthday, my mom wanted to get me a cooking class. And I was like, “but… takeout.” So I would up finding a DJ class at Scratch Academy (yes, it’s a DJ school). I took a class. Then I took another class. Eventually I bought some turntables… and what started as a really fun hobby turned into a really fun career!
Nightlife DJing is still largely a male dominated industry, especially in the gay bars.
That is so true.
Have you noticed any progress towards that end over the years?
I think venues have become more open. But I think as females, we also have to work a little harder to prove ourselves–that we’re more than just a pretty face (💁🏼♀️). It’s always been a boyz club, though. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Fight the good fight! These days, most of us homos know you from your residency at The Ritz in Hell’s Kitchen.
Ugh, I miss The Ritz so much right now. I’ve been there, I think, almost two years (yay). But I’ve been DJing about 12 years now. I’ve been playing all over NYC!
Not just in the gay bars.
I go wherever the music and the money take me!
“Do The Right Thing” was / is the name of your weekly Thursday night party at the Ritz. Originally a hip hop party with Peppermint and Cazwell, it’s now a 90’s bop starring yourself and queen Morgan Royel.
Omg yaaaasssssss. Back in the olden days, when I was a DJ, haha! For real though, it’s my fave night of the week. Morgan is ah-mazing all the time. We have the best regulars, the best crowd, her shows are always fierce, and we bring the party. We also have Nick Gaga and Kamilla Kockman on shots. I love those girls. We have the best time. It’s always lit.
Do you have an all-time favorite gig, or moment, from your DJ career?
There are so many! The Ritz parties are some of my faves of all time. It’s always so much fun, and nothing but good vibes. Earlier this year, I got asked to DJ a NY Knicks game at The Garden. So that was super cool.
Are you ever annoyed with venues maybe directing you in what music you should be playing?
I’m super lucky right now; I’m able to pick where I work. So my schedule is pretty diverse as far as venues and styles. I love playing what I play at each place.
How about with patrons constantly requesting the same songs?
Requesting, ugh. That’s either hit or miss. For the most part, it’s just part of the gig. And I don’t usually mind–I’ll at least listen to what it is. Doesn’t mean I’ll play it, though. Bottom line: if you’re polite, I won’t hate you for making a request!
As far as your quarantine Instagram DJing goes, we can stream you twice a week! First on Thursdays with “Throwback House Party” (9pm). What are your favorite throwbacks to spin?
Pffft Easy. Remember all those late 90s / early 2000s girl groups? Those. Like 702, Destiny’s Child, En Vogue, SWV. Oh, and Megan Thee Stallion. We all need to twerk it out sometimes. And I’m such a fan girl.
And on Friday nights, it’s “I Love Rock & Roll” (also 9pm)! Lots of the gaybies are hesitant to explore rock music these days, but everyone likes it when they hear it!
Aww the gaybies! It’s true. I started doing it as a 90s night, and it kinda went rock. I think I’m actually gonna go back to 90s.
What are your rock favs, though?
Always dancy stuff, like Jet or Blink-182 or Avril Lavigne. But I love playing older stuff too, like Joan Jett and Blondie.
Are you a mix maker / remixer at all?
I mad a couple of remixes a long time ago, but I’m actually getting back into it now! But I do make a lot of mixtapes.
Okay, is there anything else coming up the kids should be on the lookout for from you?
Thanks! Well, assuming I keep my sanity, I’m gonna keep doing live sets on IG: the regular Thursdays and Fridays, and then some random pop up sets. I haven’t played nearly enough Britney lately. So follow me on IG for all the fun!
Which brings me to the last question: what are you currently binge watching?
Oooh, great question! Ran through Tiger King and Love is Blind a couple weeks ago. Now Schitt’s Creek, Ozark and some murder shows. Oh I might re-watch Star, too.
Whatever works! Thanks, K!