The Miami DJ scene is infamous for acts that just seem to put the spice to beats like Caligula and legends Murk but the female DJ scene is brimming with loads of talent like our featured Tomboy Musician this time around – Bonnie Beats.
We first discovered Bonnie Beats when we stumbled on her impeccable style on Instagram and selected her as a fashion inspiration for edition #2 of our weekly Inspiring Tomboy Style Look of the Week series.
Named one of Miami’s Top 10 Female DJs, Bonnie Beats is a modern day renaissance woman. The tech nerd turned – tastemaker – turned – super talent, is one of Miami’s up-and-coming artists.
Bonnie and her young fedora hat was raised on the sounds of Caribbean soul, Latin Jazz, and Motown. When you listen to Bonnie’s mixes, one thing stands out – this young and ambitious DJ/Producer is all about taking you to that “feel good place.” Her tasty beats mixed to the latest pop or indie hits induces a wave of pleasure that stays with you long after you’ve clicked stop on any of her tracks and you don’t have to be in any bedroom for that, tomboys.
A craftsman whose ambivalent to the term “commercial,” she draws her inspiration from 70 and 80’s funk and disco sounds to 80’s electroclash and synth pop. Take that lethal combo and tie that into a night of catchy basslines, bounce and house beats reminiscent to the vibes of New York ’s early warehouse clubs and that’s Bonnie’s musical train ride.
Tagged by Nylon Magazine as a local DJ queen, she’s shared the stage with notable artists of all genres such as Talib Kweli, Jacques Renault, Neon Indian, Icona Pop, Thievery Corporation, Fred Falke and many more. Her impeccable sense of style only adds to her audacious flare which is why top brands such Miami’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, MTV Networks as well as Redbull, all hail her as their “go to“ DJ for private Miami events.
In 2010 Bonnie began her music and fashion blog Behind Color Bars recognized by Vice Magazine, with support from Converse Shoes and Kid Robot, to educate her local community and abroad about all things cutting edge. It was this consistent message that gained Bonnie the street cred reserved for only those who create movements. Recognition of her unique style got her an invitation to hit the airwaves of Virgin Mobile Radio, and MTV’s award-winning WVUM 90.5.
Fast forward to 2014, Bonnie has teamed up with Loveless label boss, Gooddroid to put on a party that won Miami’s Best Monthly Party of 2014, Catwalk: A Night of Vogue. A jackin’ party that revolves around fashion and Miami’s most eccentric characters. Bonnie Beats has performed and held residencies at renowned venues including The W Hotels, The Florida Room, Soho Beach House, Rec Room among others, is currently an active member of the music academy, and can be found throughout Miami’s Art District drawing up inspiration for her next project.
We got Bonnie into our hot seat to interrogate…no wait, to ask her a few questions about what drives her mixes and music.
Tomboy Tarts: Bonnie, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. We wanted to start off by saying these are amazing mixes! How did growing up in New York influence your musical influences growing up?
Bonnie Beats: Oh my God, definitely! I always ran around with the neighbourhood boys catching bugs, sporting dirty knees,and getting caught wearing dad’s shoes and ties, haha.
TT: When did music become so big in your life?
BB: Music has had a unique place in my life for as long as I can remember. I’d collect CDs just to read the production notes at the end, and call studios asking them how much it would be to record a demo. It’s pretty hilarious now that I think about it. Rigging sound systems at the age of 12 or 13 was my forté so that I can use a mic and sing the songs I’ve written that week. I still have piles of sketchbooks with just lyrics I used to write a little over a decade ago. Wow, I just said “decade” I officially feel old!
TT: Which musicians/DJs have influenced your style?
BB: Wow, there’s so many who have influenced my taste. Definitely Motown artists and varying vocalists and bands, for sure. As a kid I would proudly listen to the likes of the The Temptations, Gladys Knight & The Pips and even The Doors while most were stuck on Jay-Z’s “Blueprint” album.
TT: What are the challenges facing women who want to take their DJing skills from the bedroom to the clubs and eventually to a recording deal?
BB: In my opinion, with gender neutrality becoming more accepted culturally, there is still a ubiquitous sense of gender inequality. This is a topic I could go on forever about but it’s all about women putting themselves in the forefront of an industry that’s typically dominated by males. Anna Lunoe became the first female to DJ a solo set at EDC Vegas last month. First female, mind you and we’re in what – 2016 now?! The more we see that the less I’d like to believe we’ll see half-naked chicks on EDM flyers and the less stupid questions we’ll receive from sound guys asking questions like “You know how to mix right?” “No sh- buddy.” [Insert hard eye roll here.]
TT: Gah! Tell us about it. It’s still the Dark Ages in the EDM music scene for female DJs. On the flip side, MTV Networks, Bacardi USA, Redbull Soundstage, and Ocean Drive Magazine, to name a few, all hail you as their “go to“ DJ for private Miami events. On the decks, when you’re spinning or mixing, what’s flowing through your mind and body?
BB: At that moment I’d remind myself, “Just have fun with it!” I used to be a nervous wreck. I still am somewhat to this day for most sets. Which is why I do a quick one-minute meditation to “center myself,” which include thoughts of gratitude. Like, “Am I really getting paid to do this?” I used to DJ out of my parents garage every Sunday to my imaginary block party, haha! So to be able to do this for a living – all I can say is, “This is amazing!”
TT: For sure and congratulations! Now, what are your daily inspirations that go into your mixes?
BB: Let me see if I can get this question right. My daily inspiration? The crowd, the listeners, the friends who come by for a good time. They inspire me. Many DJs nowadays are fixated on themselves that they don’t even look at the dance floor. Who do they think they’re playing for! I constantly remind myself that I’m playing and creating music for others to vibe to, and during live sets, I try to interact with the crowd as much as I can. Hell, the entire comped bottle of vodka is not going to drink itself. Here’s a shot on the house, thanks for dancing!
TT: Cheers to that Bonnie! So how long does it take for you to put a 40 minute mix tape together?
BB: Well the actual mixing itself is easy, it’s the picking of the songs that’s rough. For a podcast, almost anything goes. So I play what I’m vibing to, but for a gig? A few hours. I make sure to visit the venue before hand and scope the area out too. See who’s played there before. Who am I opening or closing for and what sound management expects of me are also important factors. I always bring new sounds but other crates too for when the mood changes on the dance floor.
TT: What have you learnt at every place you’ve taken residency at from The Vagabond, Purdy Lounge, to W Hotels?
BB: I’ve learnt that every venue has its own energy with different sounds that cater to that energy. Not only that but Miami is very diverse. I can play at one club to a bunch of house heads and later, play two blocks down to a crowd requesting Drake and Future. It’s that varied.
TT: Are there clients who go with your flow of mixes or does everyone ask for something different?
BB: In Miami, most clients have vibes they’re going for or trying to recreate, so I try to accommodate those. I have varying tastes in music so I can play all sorts of tracks which is helpful. One thing I make sure of, no matter what genre I’m playing, that all tracks are fun and feel good, and when possible, will make you turn your head to the speaker, smile, and say “What the fuck did I just hear, this is great!” That’s the vibe I normally go for.
TT: Give us a peek into a normal ‘Bonnie Beats’ day.
BB: How your day is, is all about the morning routine. People forget that your morning sets the tone and sets you up for success. Believe me when I say I start most mornings with a 10-minute meditation along with a 15-minute yoga session to get the blood flowing. I then read and write for the next 20 minutes or so while I eat breakfast and conquer the day. The one thing I tell myself everyday is “If there’s anything you do at all is to do one bold move towards your goal everyday.”
TT: That’s awesome! We dig the meditation bit in the morning as well. Now, describe your tomboy style and how you came up with your look. Do you have any styling tips for those tomboys who may want to know how to come up with their own style?
BB: I came up with my style by not giving a fuck, to be honest – and having fun with my wardrobe, of course. I also admire those who dress well. I also get inspiration from male fashion bloggers and photographers such as Denny Balmaceda, Mikey Estrada, popular brands and artists.
TT: What are your favourite tomboy labels?
BB: I do have to take this opportunity to recognize some brands that really are trying to change the game, one being Bindle & Keep. There’s an awesome HBO documentary behind the Brooklyn based custom suiting company that serves gender non-conforming clients. You guys have to check it out. There are also up and coming labels such as Boi Society (look up their article “League of Extravagant Grannies” it’s brilliant) and my girl Ari Fitz’s Tomboyish. All these cats are trying to bend the rules and bring something unique to the table in terms of “queer brands” and are definitely worth a minute to scope out.
TT: What’s your favourite tomboy clothing item right now? Something you can’t do without.
BB: I’ve been sporting a dope Route 66 polo cap that my parents brought back as a souvenir from Vegas. I don’t know what it is but it hides the ‘locks perfect for lazy days, and it fits so well!
TT: Thanks Bonnie for taking the time to sit in our hot seat here on Tomboy Musicians Series. What’s next for you?
BB: As for what’s next for me? More fashion and music. Keep touch with me through the socials. Thank you guys for having me, I appreciate what you do. Much love.
TT: Much love back to you too Bonnie! Thanks for that sweet Tomboy Tarts mix too. We absolutely LOVE it! 🙂