Fact of Life #168: Any truly legendary party ends with a visit from the cops.
So it went for Dani Deahl’s old-school-style Chicago warehouse rave. At the time, she was celebrating her 18th birthday, and her parents helped fund the whole thing as a gift. They had every right to be pissed, but they never were. In fact, they led the charge against the city in court — and they won.
“My parents set me up to take calculated risk in my life, which is a really important quality to have,” Deahl says. “I’d rather take those calculated risks — succeed most of the time and fail part of the time — than never take those risks at all.”
It’s that unshakable fearlessness and familial support that’s driven Deahl to pursue her every desire. If she wants to take a trip across the globe, she takes it. If she’s invited to speak about sexual inequality on a TEDx stage in 48 hours, she chugs a Red Bull and gets things poppin’. Her childhood home is lined with photos of a smiling 5-year-old girl climbing 50-foot trees. Big challenges aren’t just something she handles; she seeks them out.
“There are certain things that you are innately drawn to, and for whatever reason, I just immediately fell in love with dance music,” she says. “It was something that I naturally wanted to invest more of my self and my time into. When I was starting out, trying to get gigs and sending off demos, all of the work that was involved didn’t deter me just because I was so fascinated with the music and wanted to be a part of it so badly.”
Her take-charge spirit earned Deahl the respect of her city and contemporaries. She’s beloved by bass junkies for high-energy sets that whip elements of dance, hip-hop and juke into a forcefully fun style no one can help but bounce to. As a performer, she subscribes to the idea that DJs should break new records instead of relying on old favorites. It’s a taste-making philosophy she carried over to her blog, which foregoes lucrative advertising dollars in lieu of sharing great music less-often heard.
Music journalist is another of her many hats, but one she claims she “just fell into.” When a side passion for writing turned into an editorial position at a music magazine a few years ago, she stepped to the plate. She currently stretches her interview skills with fellow DJs as part of a monthly podcast series and often appears as a guest blogger around the web for op-ed pieces, one of her favorite subjects being the somewhat marginalized female perspective.
“I feel like if I have a platform and a voice and somebody asks me for an opinion, then I have not only the right but the responsibility to spread awareness,” she says.
Her very being could be construed as activism. A woman with her hands in so many pies is proof enough of what ladies can do in the electronic arts, but just as much as feminism is a serious issue, Deahl sees it as a chance to have fun. That’s why she titled her upcoming nationwide tour Show Me Your Kitties. With 30 stops from L.A. to Cincinnati, she’ll be taking names and dropping memes in support of her latest original track “SMYK.”
“I think it’s funny to take those sexual innuendos and turn them on their head,” she says. “Thankfully, every time we’ve posted about Show Me Your Kitties or ‘SMYK,’ everybody is just showing me pics of their cats, which is exactly what we wanted. People are going with it, and not one person has taken it into a weird territory, and I f—ing love it. We want it to be fun. I don’t want it to be this super serious tour. It’s about having fun and just having small intimate parties with the fans everywhere we go.”
It should come as no surprise that when it came to brass tacks and booking, Deahl got her hands dirty.
“I give booking agents all the props in the world because I hate doing it,” she laughs. “I just got tired of waiting for other people to take control of my career for me. I think a lot of people think that you need to have an agent or a manager in order to get somewhere. They forget about all of the thousands of DIY artists that paved the way.”