Life of a DJ.
This week, Style Cartel were lucky enough to catch up with the amazing DJ Nikki Beatnik and talk about fashion, life as we know it at the moment, and of course, her extensive sneaker collection. Nikki has a unique, bright & colourful style, and loves to express herself through fashion and footwear. Here's the scoop from DJ Nikki herself...
Tell us a little about your background & how you became a DJ...
I am originally Scottish and grew up in the Highlands with only 6 kids in my whole school. I got a scholarship to music school on the weekend when I was 7 years old and started learning cello, piano, and singing in choir, which took me all through school until I got to Grade 8. I started getting into DJing when I was around 15/16, I was going out to parties and clubs, and became influenced by club culture and raves. I saw many DJ's spinning when I was way too young to be clubbing and then it struck me... There were no women. This was around 89/90'. Shortly after, I saved up for my first set of belt drive Technics decks and started collecting records seriously and teaching myself to DJ. I first played a club when I was 17 and it was pretty terrifying! Since then I have been to over 60 countries spinning, run clubs, built brands, Music & creative directed for many projects across music, fashion, and art, and written and produced records. I also run a YouTube channel for DJ's with my brother Statis, the other half of our production arm Beatnik, to help younger up and coming DJ's understand things that we had to learn along the way.
What is it that first sparked your love for sneakers?
I don't remember exactly the time, but I have always been shoe obsessed since I was 4 years old and wanted some red patent shoes. I remember clubbing and raving wearing cycling shorts and satin parkas as a teenager (very Rifat Ozbec) with trainers and lusting after 5411's (Reebok freestyle) and Travel Fox. Since then I have collected shoes and sneakers, but when I had my son I gave away around 100 pairs of trainers, as I turned my spare room where I kept all my clothes and shoes into a nursery. Most were new or boxed and I just gave them all away....
"I have always been shoe obsessed since I was 4 years old"
Where do you get your style inspiration from?
I get inspiration from everywhere. Travelling, street style, fashion history, iconic people in music like Grace, Iggy, Keith Richards, Slick Rick. I would say mainly music and club culture has shaped my style the most. Hip Hop music, Rave culture, Rock n roll. I am a collector, definitely not a minimalist, and I like my style to echo throughout my life from twinning with my kid, to my house interior, to writing songs, styling shoots and videos, artwork for records we release, and my interiors company Hip Hop Homes London. I feel like getting dressed every day is a chance to express yourself and I really enjoy clothes and style, and I have fun with it.
You must be a super busy lady in demand, what does a typical week look like for you?
Right now with COVID, the whole year of touring has been cancelled, so many shows and gigs between March and Sept, all the festivals & all the clubs I usually play or throw parties at are closed, and we were pulled off the Kelis Tour half way through in March. DJ's have never been faced with this type of dire situation before where the whole of nightlife, festivals, events, weddings, private parties and tours are all cancelled. I'm using my time writing songs and making new tracks with my bro for Beatnik. I'm doing lots of DJ LIVE's on IG, Facebook and Mixcloud, DJing mixes for Radio, and working on Hip Hop Homes new cushions and home-wares, as well as keeping all the social media popping for Beatnik, Mums That Rave, Hip Hop Homes & DJ videos for our YouTube channel.
Talk to me about which pairs of sneakers are in your current rotation...
I have two pairs of these chunky Diadora trainers called the "Rave" funnily enough, which are soooo frikkin comfy, I have never experienced this comfort level before in a shoe, so they have been my go to in lock down. They also look amazing with a double lace and bright colours. I have also been wearing my Fila trainer sandals all Summer, they are just the best and total man repellers, which I love!
If you had to pick a sneaker silhouette that best resembles you, which would it be and why?
I forever love an Air Jordan, but it's too hard to decide on 1 sneaker!!! The closest to my character is probably the Gucci Flashtrek Crystal sneakers, as they are colourful and a lil too much, and have jewels. I love jewels.
Being a successful DJ, how do you find the time to get hold of new pairs & add to your collection?
I really don't try too hard now. I have a husband, kids and a dog, and am running out of closet space. But I am a whizz on shopping apps, so I know what's where in terms of online shopping, and I am fast. If I want something specific - I will track it down usually in no time. There is almost too much choice right now though, with too many sneakers. I remember years back Grazia had a front page saying "the return of the sneaker" and I laughed my head off. Especially if you love hip hop and black music culture - trainers never went anywhere. It was so funny to me that all of a sudden they thought they were "cool" again. Every high street shop to designer has a sneaker range now, people wear sneakers to the office and meetings, even their weddings. Sneaker culture has well and truly permeated mainstream culture.
Picture this.. You’re about to travel somewhere amazing for a set. You’ve got a long flight, lots going on, crazy busy schedule... What’s your go-to sneaker for the journey, and why?
Something with velcro, easy to take on and off, and if your feet swell up during a long haul flight, you don't have to faff with laces. I once went to Australia for a party for 18 hours, I was in the air for longer than I was on the ground, so comfort is everything.
Best words of wisdom you’ve been given throughout your career?
None really. I give myself advice. I always say the things you say 'No' to, as a woman, shape your career more than the things you say yes to. Women have to feel comfortable speaking up, knowing what they want how to say No at work, and most importantly get good at negotiating and doing deals for money, especially if you work for yourself. Oh and my Nana used to say "Never Get Married" she was a legend.
So that's this week's Sneaker Scoop. It was an absolute pleasure to speak with Nikki and hear her story. A talented woman who's travelled the world doing what she loves and is passionate about. If you want to know more and continue to follow the journey, DJ Nikki's Instagram is @djnikkibeatnik @hiphophomeslondon