She’s brought Chicago House to the dance floors across the world for the last decade, whether it was while on tour or via her record label. We caught up with the delectable Lady D before she conquered the largest dance stage ever assembled for Lollapalooza in Grant Park.
Gozamos: This year you’re one of Lollapalooza’s homegrown acts. Tell me a little bit about where you’re from and how you got started.
Lady D: Well it was really kind of serendipity. I was playing at a shoe store. They used to have open turntables on Saturdays. A friend of mine was like, you should come down and play some records, and I did. The biggest party promoter at the time happened to be there and just kind of approached me and said, you know, you’re good, I’m going to book you, here’s my card, call me or whatever. And within like a month, he was putting me on shows and booking me at clubs. It just sort of snowballed from there.
Do you think concerts like Lollapalooza and Pitchfork, these big 3 day festivals that are in town now, do you think they’re good for Chicago’s music scene, or do you think they kind of compete against the club scene here?
Well I definitely think they’re good. I think in the summer, Chicago lends itself to that sort of thing really well. And I think we should take full advantage of all of the lovely outdoor spaces the city has. And you know, outdoor festivals usually only go until 10 at night or something like that, so I don’t think it hurts the clubs at all because once people are in party mode, they generally like to keep going. So they’ll probably take the party to the next phase, which is usually the clubs. So I think they’re good for clubs, especially with the influx of tourism that surrounds festivals like that. I think it’s a win-win. I don’t think it hinders or is bad for it at all.
You’ve got your own record label, D’lectable, too. What made you decide to start your own label?
Basically, I felt like it’s really hard for people to break into the industry, without really schmoozing and kissing a lot of butt. So I wanted to save a place for new talent to benefit from more established talent. Using my connections with people, the idea was to get material from my great, great, wonderful producer friends and to showcase that along with really interesting and newer, and you know, more unique projects from up and coming people or lesser knowns or unknowns. Initially I would always do basically do these various artist releases where it would be a couple of new people, a couple of old people. The idea was really to bring in new people into the house music community, into the dance community in general.
In addition to your record label, you do the dj thing, you’re also a mom – you’re like rennaisance woman. Do you think that women are held to a higher standard, that they’re more expected to be able to balance it all?
Let’s see, yes! (laughs) I think there’s definitely a lot of recognition that comes my way having a kid and actually being sort of recognized as a good mom, so I think it helps me in that sense. Maybe if I were a bad mom, I wouldn’t get as much… I just wouldn’t be as appreciated, you know? It helps me in that sense, that I have to be able to balance it all. I don’t know… It’s difficult at times, but the rewards are amazing. I don’t know if it’s an expectation. I think it’s a personal expectation. I don’t know if the world expects it, I think they almost expect you not to be able to. I think you get doubly rewarded if you can.
Ok, so not to be too cliche, but how do you balance it? How do you stay being a good mom and continue working full time in music?
There’s sacrifice. And setting priorities. My kid always comes first. In many respects, my music has taken a backseat to that. But you know, putting your kid first, and making sacrifices doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself. I think you have to have a strong sense of identity and purpose if you’re going to inspire a child. So that’s definitely still important. I have to say I’ve had a strong support system too. My family has always been there for me.
That’s great. It’s really awesome you have folks you can count on. Ok, so onto my last question. It kinda feels like this year there’s a big dance influence at the Lollapalooza festival. Perry’s Stage, where the djs usually play, is about the size of a football field this, so it’s a lot bigger than it has been in the past. And then you’ve got djs like DeadMau5, he’s headlining on one of the main stages this year. Do you feel like the rest of the world is starting to catch on to what Chicago’s kind of been into for awhile, or do you think they’ve known about it all along and it’s just starting to become a little more mainstream?
I think that in general, America is fascinated with dance music again. It usually goes in cycles. It’s our time, I would say. It’s like, music has trends. At one point, it’s very R&B, and then at another point it’s all about hip-hop. Right now, it’s all about dance. America is kind of catching on to what Chicago started, but it’s been a global commodity for awhile. Maybe America is kind of catching on to what Europe has already demonstrated. That there’s lots of money to be made in dance music (laughs) and since it hasn’t been out for awhile, kids come up and they’re very happy to be clubbing and dancing. I think record labels follow trends, I don’t think they set them. In the underground, we’ve been dancing all along, so yeah, I think they’re finally catching on.