Risik, what is your role in the music industry?
I’m a DJ, graphic designer, and producer. I also run a platform called airplane mode, where I showcase playlists created by artists with the intent to help cope with anxiety/depression/stress. I’m also a resident DJ for My Best Friend’s Party in Columbus.
Give us a run down, a summary if you will, of how you achieved the position you have now.
I sat down and thought about what was important to me as an artist and what my goals were. People say all the time, “I want to be a producer, or I want to be a DJ,” and they’ll practice once a month, or wait for inspiration to strike and not open their DAW for weeks at a time. That’s not how it works. I had to establish routines and do this everyday. I had to recognize what the steps were, fail repeatedly, and keep pushing myself to progress. If you can’t do that, chances are there’s something else you would rather be doing than music.
where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Making music, full time. I want to travel the world, meeting new people, sharing and making music/art with them. I never want to stop creating, growing, and learning new things. I think in 5 years if I’ve done that then I’ll be where I want to be.
I think we often offer something more honest to music, something that’s more real, we channel our emotion and offer something without all the bravado.
What did you want to be when you were younger and what was it like growing up in your family?
I’ve always had a passion for art and I was pretty good at spending a lot of time on the computer, so I focused my studies on graphic design. My mom and I are super close and has always been supportive of everything that I do – I wouldn’t be anywhere without her.
Tell us why music, as a whole, is so important to you.
I’m a very emotional person and sometimes my emotions are so intense that I can’t quite put them to words, which makes it hard to resolve conflict in my life. Music has always been the thing that I can turn to in order to express the emotions I’m incapable of vocalizing. Whether it be sharing a few lyrics or playing a song for someone, or even just sitting in my room alone figuring shit out… it’s sort of like my emotional translator when it’s too intense to explain in words.
why do you feel the female perspective is so important in the music industry, what do we bring to the table that’s different?
One of the things that makes music so amazing is that it exists in all cultures, it appeals to all races, religions, genders, it’s just this really human thing. So when the industry is dominated by a single demographic out of a world full of different people, each offering so many perspectives, we end up with this stagnant, homogenized music. So we need to get in there and stir shit up. I think we often offer something more honest to music, something that’s more real, we channel our emotion and offer something without all the bravado.
Tell us about some women in the industry that have inspired you?
Mija was the first woman I saw on stage that I could relate to and is one of my favorite DJs. Her ability to navigate a broad genre selection while remaining cohesive in the story she’s trying to tell is inspiring. WHIPPED CREAM and REZZ both have some of the most powerful and beautiful productions I have ever heard and they’re two of my biggest inspirations when I’m writing music. Moodi, ABUR, Aurakull, QRTR, Dani Deahl, J.Phlip, Ducky, Anna Lunoe, Nina Las Vegas, Uniiqu3, Pyper, Mark Johns, Chippy Nonstop, Callie Reiff, Moistbreezy, Ana Sia, Zora Jones, Madam X, Iris, Cray, Alison Wonderland, Nicole Moudaber, Bianca Oblivion, Silva, Jeanie… so many crazy talented musicians that I look up to.
What struggles have you had to face trying to make it in the music industry either in general or directly relating to you as a woman?
I’m constantly under a microscope. Is she really DJing? Is this a prerecorded set? Who is ghost producing? I have to be critical of every move I make, and practice my ass off to make sure I don’t make any obvious mistakes. Somebody is always going to be watching, waiting for me to fail, wanting me to cheat in some way. All while I watch plenty of EDM bros get away with ghostwriters, lazy pre-mixed transition tracks, and complete lack of creativity. It’s frustrating to constantly witness some of the most exceptional women overlooked in favor of some of the most mediocre men. But I’ve learned to tap into that frustration and let it fuel me.
What can we do as women to help improve our own image in the industry?
Just be honest. If you want to wear a skirt and pasties and DJ on stage then you should be able to as long as it’s coming from an honest place, and people should take you just as seriously as the tom boy chick wearing jeans and a long tee. Just keep doing what you want to do, making honest art, working at it everyday, and standing the fuck up when someone tries outcasting women further. We have to work with men who are our allies and we need to help other women progress.
What words can you give to inspire other women wanting to make it in this crazy industry?
Have no expectations. Hold people accountable but don’t depend on them. Be ready to react by preparing for the worst, but don’t dwell in it. Never doubt your abilities without trying and giving it your all. Be honest with yourself, your peers, your friends, and your art. Work at it every fucking day and do not stop. DO NOT GIVE UP. You are more than capable, you just need to keep going.
What’s up next for you Risik?
I’m support for Bleep Bloop’s fifth pupil tour stop with Sayer and Sumthin Sumthin on November 18th in Columbus. I’m super excited for the opportunity to play some obscure and emotional music that I’ve been digging lately. I’ve also got my first song coming out before the end of the year, which I’ve poured my absolute heart and soul into. I can’t wait to share it with everyone, hopefully at the Bleep Bloop show if it feels right. I’m going to keep working on airplane mode (iamrisik.com/airplane-mode) releasing biweekly playlists featuring new artists, and I’m going to spend most of the upcoming months making music and DJing around town.