Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
Howdy! My name is DJ MADDØG aka Madison True. I’m a female DJ, Turntablist, Music Producer, and Party Facilitator! Although based out of the US, I’m currently here in London studying Sound Engineering and Music Production at Point Blank Music School.
I’ve had the pleasure of playing across the US and sharing lineups with such artists as Kesha, Big Freedia, Betty Who, Girl Talk, and Matt & Kim to name a few. I also regularly run sound or lots of performers on the international drag and burlesque circuit including the Ru Paul girls when they come through my region.
What does your creative career involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?
Being a DJ means that you play a lot of roles. You’re a performer, manager, accountant, promoter, graphic designer, videographer, social media coordinator, event coordinator, and now streamer. So every day is different depending on the season and what upcoming projects there are. Every day involves a combination of administrative work like emails, scheduling, and social media. That’s typically how my day starts. Then once that’s finished I begin with the creative, like working up a flyer, digging for new music, or practicing for a set and filing records that I may have gotten that week.
Covid-19 has thrown all of this for a loop, of course.
What does being a dj/producer mean to you?
Being a DJ to me is a very important role. The dance floor to a lot of folks especially in the queer community is like church – it’s a way to escape the ongoing things happening in our world right now. It’s a place where you can be with your chosen family, a place where you can feel like you belong, and where you can freely and openly express yourself. Being able to help create an environment where someone can truly be themselves and feel safe is such an honor. So if I can help facilitate an atmosphere for doing that then I did my job.
It’s my duty to help others have a good time. Especially in this current political climate. Making people dance makes the world a better place!
What’s great about your job?
Getting to meet (and collaborate with) amazingly beautiful and talented people from all walks of life. We’re all social creatures and I’m really lucky to have a job that puts me in these high-energy social situations.
One of the best things ever is when I hear folks say things like “that party you DJ’d was one of the best nights of my life!” or “I met my girlfriend at your party!” The fact that my silly dance party can impact someone’s life on that level is amazing.
What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?
It shouldn’t be surprising that being a woman in a male-centric industry is challenging. You have to go the extra mile just to get noticed. Then when you do there’s a lot of micro-misogyny you have to deal with on a daily basis. A lot of the time it just goes unnoticed because it's never checked. Other times it's just straight-up misogyny. It definitely gets frustrating but it makes me a stronger person and a better entertainer.
Do you think there’s any misconceptions with your job?
In the world of digital the learning curve for “DJing” can be fairly simple compared to 20-30 years ago. So when I’m spinning records or playing on my turntables I don’t think the crowd and newer DJ’s understand everything that is being juggled in that moment for the mix to happen smoothly. Or the preparation and practice that goes into learning those skills.
So I think there is this misconception that anyone can DJ and what I’m doing on turntables is the same as using a pair of CDJs. If I had a nickel for everytime the CDJ-using DJ playing after my vinyl set asked me what my exact outgoing BPM was I would have a few dollars! (Not sure if that makes sense). Analog beatmatching by ear is a trained skill.
What are the highlights of your career to date?
Definitely performing with Kesha on a cruise to the Bahamas! Hands down! Also, running sound for performers like Courtney Act, Sasha Velour, and Alaska Thunderfuck is always a highlight as well.
Lastly, my current opportunity here in London studying at Point Blank has been a wonderful experience so far. Hoping post-Covid I will be able to add more highlights to this list!
What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?
I was that friend always finding new and underground music and burning mix CDs. So at an early age you could say I was already curating playlists and DJing in a way. I always have gravitated towards dance music – some of the first albums I ever purchased were C+C Music Factory, Real McCoy and Ace of Base. So I guess my path began there.
A lot of my friends were DJs in college so I would always be right there next to them at the dance parties watching in awe. I knew DJing was something I wanted to do but I never saw any women doing it out in the wild. The possibility of being a professional DJ never really occurred to me! Finally I purchased a small Numark digital controller for my birthday one year just as a hobby, not really thinking anything of it other than a way to express myself creatively. Then from there I would play on my porch for friends and then I played a couple fundraisers. I was then asked to open for some buddies at a venue then the venue eventually asked if I wanted my own night. The ball has been rolling ever since!
Prior to DJing I worked in music merchandise and product development. I did my college internship at Sony in New York City then worked for a production company in Nashville for a little bit. So I always knew I wanted to be involved in music in some way. Now I make my own merchandise!
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
I would say the current Covid situation has been the biggest challenge so far. I went from full-time DJ to unemployed literally overnight. One week I’m playing in Brooklyn and the next week all my bookings for the foreseeable future are completely wiped out. Luckily I was able to pivot and adapt quickly to streaming as I already owned all the equipment needed to do so. This helped generate some income. Now I’m here in London studying so I can add additional skills to my arsenal.
As we’ve all learned, the future can be extremely unpredictable. I’m hoping because of the steps and risks I’ve taken during this time I will be able to quickly pick up where I left off and then some.
Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?
The industry is constantly changing and I think this past year has exacerbated a lot of those changes. I think clubbing as we know it is going to change. How? I’m not exactly sure. I do think streaming may be here to stay as another way to reach people as far as DJing and live performance.
Prior to Covid-19 I noticed a lot more young people were making the decision to stay home and party with core groups of friends rather than make the trip to the club. This could have been a financial decision on their part but I also think apps like Tinder and Uber Eats have changed the nightlife landscape in a way. Why leave home when everything you want can come to you?
I’m not sure if this shift will continue once restrictions are lifted or if it will be a sort of club renaissance era. Only time will tell!
You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
Do not dim your light for anyone!
Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?
I’d say to all the little girls and young people who don’t look or act like the Diplo’s or Martin Garrix’s of the DJ world that you do have a place in electronic music! There is room for everyone!
And finally, where can people find out more about you and your work?