DJ and radio presenter, Emerald, gives an insight into how she maintains a healthy work/life balance, shares some of her career highs and lows, and tries out Pioneer DJ's new kit.
Playing weekly on Saturday nights from 9 – 10 pm on Rinse FM, Emerald is the DJ and radio presenter introducing us to a sound led by UK bass-driven club music and more. As one of Rinse FM’s most celebrated presenters, Emerald has hosted both the breakfast and drivetime shows over the years, as well as her aforementioned personal slot. But that’s not all she’s been up to.
Whilst her intimate, secret location ‘Afters with Emerald’ parties have been put on hold due to the pandemic, the musical maverick still found a way to fill the sesh-sized hole in our hearts by livestreaming her sets instead, aptly renaming it ‘Afters at Emerald’s’. Until we can dance to our heart’s content, sweaty and euphoric amongst rooms full of pulsating basslines and dancing heads, Emerald has been providing everything from house, electro, bass, breaks, garage, techno, and jungle in her addictive sets.
Streamed from her living room, Emerald even invited guests on screen – such as Barely Legal and Hutch – when regulations allowed. “We improvised and adapted during lockdown”, Emerald explains. In fact, the livestreamed version was such a success that it was nominated for ‘Best Solo Stream Series’ at the DJ Mag awards.
In partnership with Pioneer DJ, Notion and Emerald took over independent London venue OMEARA to test out some of Pioneer DJ’s latest, must-have kit. The stunning yet empty venue, normally filled to the rafters with music lovers, presented a harrowing picture of the past few months without live shows. Emerald herself was slated to play a show there this spring. Hopefully, it won’t be long until we return to the dancefloor, and what a riotous occasion it will be.
We caught up with Emerald to chat about the highs and lows of life as a DJ, get some insight into how she builds her mixes, and hear some cracking advice. Dive in!
Working as both an in-demand DJ and radio presenter, were there times when you struggled spinning both plates? Have you found a balance now?
There have most definitely been times when having my fingers in lots of pies has been stressful. It’s hard to compartmentalise having lots of different focuses like writing interviews, prepping radio shows, prepping live shows, running a party, writing podcasts etc. all at the same time. I’ve been advised to just focus on one thing in the past but instinct always told me to stick to my guns. I’m glad I have, especially considering how valuable it’s been to have a few strings to my bow during the pandemic.
What would be your advice for other multi-hyphenates in a similar position?
Keep your mental health in check. Get organised. Write everything down.
What do you love most about DJing?
Number one has to be travelling because travelling is the best thing in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some amazing places over the past few years. Number two – music! That probably should have been number one. This is in no particular order [laughs]. That’s the reason why anyone wants to DJ. Number three is probably everything that goes with DJing. I love radio, and I love interacting with other people who work in music.
With such an illustrious career, you must have loads of great stories. What have been some of your career highlights so far?
The best memories I have are probably from touring. I love travelling, flying, exploring new countries. I feel blessed to have travelled so much over the last few years. I also love radio interviews. You learn a lot from writing interviews, researching another artist’s career, talking to them about their personal experiences, and radio is my absolute favourite.
Is there anything still on your bucket list?
Yeah so much! But they are mostly things like a hot air balloon ride and Disneyland. Although there were a lot of great gigs that got cancelled last year, I was lined up to play some amazing clubs like Amnesia and Printworks and I had big plans for my party, so I’m adding all that to the list.
As well as amazing memories, there must have been times when things didn’t go to plan. Do you have any stand-out memories of embarrassing moments?
Yep! I’ve lost all my USBs between two sets at a festival before. I’ve also accidentally paused the track with my elbow on two different occasions mid-song when tour DJing for two different artists. It’s the most terrifying feeling in the world. But I managed to save it both times. I blame it on being too lanky.
You’ve been a presenter on Rinse FM for – how long now? What do you love most about this role? Do you see yourself riding the airwaves for many years or come?
I actually lose track! I think it’s just over 6 years! I honestly love it so much. I love the feeling of sitting in the chair, driving the desk, talking to the listener. I love having guests in the studio with me, I love that I’ve been able to do different shows and different roles. The Breakfast Show, The Drive Show, my specialist show. I love Rinse FM as a community and a family of people. I’ve learned and developed so much since being there. I get that happy place kind of feeling in a radio studio. Radio is my favourite part of the job and I hope to be doing it far into the future!
When creating your mixes, how do you decide which songs to include?
It mostly depends on what sound and energy I want the mix to be as a whole. Also on what I’ve been collecting most recently and what I’ve been listening to lately.
When you’re not working, what music do you like to listen to?
R&B mostly. But it varies soooooo much.
With everyone working from home, work-life boundaries have become blurred. Are you good at maintaining a balance?
I think the key is self-discipline, which is easier said than done. But for me it can be as simple as when I’m working, I’m sitting at the desk in my living room, when I’m not there, I’m not working. It could be putting my phone on airplane mode after a certain time of evening, or logging out of Instagram once I’ve posted about my radio show. The hardest one for me is getting out of bed early; I am absolutely not a morning person.
Who are some great up-and-coming DJs we should be aware of?
There are so many, I could give you a list as long as my arm, so I’ll just name three. Not necessarily brand new but Heléna Starr, Syreeta and Tailor Jae.
Lastly, when we can all party together again, which song will you be playing first at the IRL afters?
That is an impossible question to answer! You’ll have to come and find out x