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Life and Work with Gabrielle Lopez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabrielle Lopez.

Gabrielle, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I began my DJing journey in 2015. Music has been the strongest influence over my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had a creative spirit and enjoyed exploring various art mediums – but music has been my primary outlet for healing and comfort. I’ve always believed that music has the power to free people. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and was raised by my mom and my aunt. My aunt worked at the record label So So Def for most of my childhood, so I was exposed to a lot of different music and elements of the industry at an early age. My dad was also a DJ for a majority of his life and he was my first introduction into DJing. The first person I ever saw DJ was my dad. We’ve never really had a great relationship and his absence throughout most of my life has always been the biggest challenge for me to deal with. Around 2015, I started going to therapy to begin working through these feelings which ironically, is also the same year I first touched a turntable. Looking back at the timing and synchronicity of everything, I realize I’ve been learning to turn my biggest wound into my greatest superpower.

I moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California and started going out a lot to different shows and parties. I would always find myself stopping in the middle of all the fun and just being fixated on the DJ. Two of my friends were in a DJ trio and spinning a lot of parties at my school at the time, so I would attend a lot of their gigs. I later asked if they would be open to teaching me. I learned for about a year and a half because I really wanted to make sure I was soaking up as much knowledge as I possibly could about the art of DJing. It was very important for me to learn as much information as I possibly could about the craft because of the foundation that was set in my childhood. I took my first paid gig in late 2016 and it’s only been up from there.

Has it been a smooth road?
Pursuing your purpose is not for the weak of heart. It takes an unbelievable amount of work ethic, faith, dedication, sacrifice, and perseverance to really succeed in any creative industry. I think everything I’ve been through in my life has made me resilient, but most of my greatest challenges have been a result of what I wasn’t acknowledging internally. A lot of artists, including myself, can be really self-critical. We live in a time where we are constantly flooded with curated images of “perfection” and “instant success.” When I first started out it was a huge struggle for me to stay positive and believe in my talent. I realized early on that I had to fully step into a space of love and acceptance for myself and the unique individual that I am. There’s no one like you and there’s so much power in that. As an artist, you have to be willing to constantly put yourself out there and take risks. You have to truly believe that you are worthy and capable of greatness. It takes constant reflection, courage, and inner strength but it’s always worth it once you start finally witnessing your harvest.

Another struggle for me was trying to balance multiple creative projects at once. In 2016, I started a brand called Modern Day Hippie. Although I had some really cool success with it, it had to take a backseat when my DJing career really picked up. I’m slowly picking up the pieces to relaunch, but I really had to reach a place where I was focused on the power of mastery. For me, I realized I could be mediocre doing a bunch of things at once or I could lock in, focus, and get great at one skill. Then, move on to the next skill. It’s really easy to burn out or get overwhelmed when there are so many things we want to do. But you have to take it one day, one project, one moment at a time. There’s so much beauty in the creative process and figuring out what works best for you.

The best advice I can give to any woman starting out is to know your worth and get a mentor as quickly as possible. Being in a male-dominated industry can break your confidence if you are too afraid to speak up and assert yourself. As a woman, knowing your worth and being unapologetic about it is what will get you far in life. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really great mentors that truly support me and want to see me succeed. But there will always be people who will try to criticize you or devalue your accomplishments just because you are a woman. Focus on your craft and learn everything you can about DJing. When you are doing the work you need to do, you will be able to reach a zone where the goal becomes greater than any obstacle in your way. Everything else will just become noise. I feel like this mentality has made me unstoppable so far.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of. What sets you apart from others?
I am an open format DJ that spins on turntables, controllers, and CDJs. I specialize in Hip Hop, RnB, and Soul, but I also play a range of different music including Funk and House. When I perform, I always try to play all genres of music and not limit myself. I really push myself to find different remixes and mashups to incorporate into my sets. I love sharing music with other people to help them discover different songs they probably didn’t know about before. I also love channeling whatever experience or feelings I’m going through into my live and recorded mixes. To me, DJing is the equivalent to being a shaman or a healer. Music is one of my biggest passions and it’s my mission is to share this love with the world.

I started my DJ residency, Crush On You Party (@crushonyouparty), in 2017. It is a throwback hip hop/r&b party that happens every 2nd and 4th Thursday at A Simple Bar. I wanted to create a safe space for people to come dance and be free while listening to my favorite era of music. I didn’t know the first thing about throwing an event when I started so a lot of what I have learned has been trial and error. I’ve learned so much and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences to watch it grow organically and hear people rave about how much fun they have when they come to the party.

I am really looking forward to sharing more of my story and lessons I’ve learned with the relaunch of my Modern Day Hippie brand at the end of this year. It’s always been an extended representation of who I am and what I believe in – freedom, love, and individuality. I believe my greatest purpose in life is to inspire as many people as I possibly can to follow their dreams.

Who have you been inspired by?
First and foremost, my mother. She is the most important person in my life. I give all credit to my curiosity and creative spirit to her. Growing up, I never heard the word “can’t” come out of her mouth. She always encouraged me and supported me in every passion that I’ve ever had. In addition to being a kick-ass single mom, I’ve watched her tackle great obstacles with so much grace and strength. She’s shown me that with hard work, determination, resilience, and grace, anything is possible. She has made SO many sacrifices in order for me to be where I am today and I can never thank her enough.

After my mother, I’m inspired by any woman who has defied the odds and lived courageously in her purpose, especially as a woman of color. As far as prominent female leaders, I am particularly influenced by women like Assata Shakur, Rihanna, Kelis, Nina Simone, and Serena Williams, just to name a few.

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Image Credit:
Felisha Carrasco

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