Originally from Ukraine, DJ and Producer Katy Rise has quickly become a mainstay on Turkey’s electronic dance music scene. Her career kicked off in 2016 and before long she was opening and closing for various famous artists. She then became the resident DJ at some of Turkey’s top luxury hotels and clubs.
Things have changed since the pandemic, with live music, tourism, and venues being largely put on hold, but this hasn’t stopped Katy Rise. From the very onset of the lockdown, she co-founded Nature Beat, a coalition of professionals from the live entertainment industry who are particularly affected by lockdown.
As part of Nature Beat, she has live-streamed sets from some of Turkey’s most breathtaking natural landscapes. This has only fueled her fame as she landed press in TV, radio, and news media.
We spoke to Katy about her journey into music and how an independent artist like her carved her own way to stardom.
What made you want to be a DJ?
I think to an extent I’ve always wanted to make music, I used to play the piano as a child. It was actually my husband who taught me how to DJ. He showed me how to make and mix music on a Pioneer CDJ 2000. It’s a complex-looking machine, but right from my first go at it, I was obsessed.
When I first started to DJ, it was only for myself. I have to thank my friends in the industry and my husband (who is himself a professional DJ and producer) for encouraging me to get out there. The first few clubs I played at, as a beginner, I did them for free.
How long did it take you to get to professional levels of skill?
I think it took me around a month to pick up all the essential techniques. Soon after that, I scored a regular gig at a very famous hotel in Turkey. It was an amazing experience. I played Deep House and Chill music for the most part but eventually branched out into other genres.
Is that when you felt you could do this as a career?
Yes! In 2018 I started producing and DJing full-time. It took me a while to get to that place because I didn’t want to put music and content out there until I was 100% sure of what I was doing (cause everything needs time).
How has the pandemic changed this?
The pandemic has been tough, as I’m sure it is for everyone. I did a couple of big projects in 2020, but have used the time to focus on making more of what I love – music that is melodic, progressive, and techno. Mostly, I’ve been gearing up for when things go back to normal and we can have events again.
There was one lifeline for artists in 2020 that I thoroughly got on board with though – live streams. I saw so many artists I love live-streaming their gigs on the internet. I happen to live in one of the most beautiful places imaginable, Antalya in Turkey. It became my inspiration for doing my live streams in collaboration with other artists and more importantly, with nature by using Turkey’s amazing landscapes as backdrops.
We started in the Taze Canyon, which proved to be a challenge but we got some insane news coverage and exposure out of it. We also filmed in the famous lavender fields of Kuyucak Village, which was stunning.
The last one we filmed was in the Antalya mountains (Saklikent mountains) and it was absolutely incredible. We managed to have people attend safely and you could tell how happy they were to be at a live event and in such a setting.
Currently, I’m a resident DJ for TV sessions and find that it’s a great way for people to get to know me. I truly believe I’m doing some of my best work at the moment. I worked hard at getting my home studio set up and now that it’s ready, I feel completely self-sufficient in being able to stream whenever I want to.
What are your long-term goals?
I obviously want to return to DJing live sets at some point soon, but if the pandemic persists, I’ll be doing more as a producer. In all honesty, I love a crowd. I like to have people responding to my music and the energy that brings to me – it’s the greatest part about being a DJ.
What do you love most about making music?
That it evokes the most intense feelings. It’s so freeing, for me as a music-lover and as an artist. The genre of music really doesn’t matter as long as it brings you emotions, memories, and a release. It makes me feel free.
What are your fans like?
I spend a lot of time connecting with my fans, especially on Instagram. My Instagram is a mix of my work and my personal life so my fans know who I am, where I come from, and what I stand for.
Most of my fans are from Turkey and have been following my work on the TV sessions I’ve been doing. They’re incredible because they manage to still radiate virtually, all the positive energy you’d get from a crowd at a live gig.
Do you feel torn between time spent creating and time spent connecting with your fan base?
My husband is also my manager, and he’s instrumental in helping me prioritize. He not only motivates me but also encourages me to connect with my fans when I’m feeling good. He’s a big believer in including fans into your success – never forgetting they’re the reason you are where you are.
It’s very important to have a person near you who cares and gives you support when you need it.
How do you plan or write your tracks?
I generally use FL Studio. Mostly though, if you’re a DJ who has already figured out their sweet spot in terms of the type of music you love, then you already know what you’re going to produce. For me, it has always been about a feeling.
What advice would you give someone who is just getting started?
Based on things I’m learning right now as I grow as an artist, you need to think about how you want to present yourself, your music, and present your brand to the world. Pick something authentic to you and stick with it, because you need to be consistent if you’re going to be memorable.
“Life is like a dance floor. No matter how the music is changing, you just need to keep dancing.” – I found it as my life inspiration.
You need to dig deep and decide if music, or making music is your true passion because making it in music is hard. You need to make sure you’re getting into it for the right reasons, and not because you think it’s a glamorous lifestyle or profession. It takes a lot of dedication and true grit because once you’re in, you should never give up on your dream.Katy Rise, DJ and Producer