DJ Lindsay Luv
8 MIN READ
DJ to the stars, Lindsay Luv, has devoted her career to connecting people through music. The L.A.-based DJ of choice for Victoria’s Secret, The Emmys and Chanel shares career highs, craft secrets, and her take on why Lady Gaga is one of the greatest convivialists she’s met.
Lindsay, you’ve DJ-ed all over the world from New York and Hollywood to India and Dubai. What are your career highlights so far?
The Victoria’s Secret show in Paris a couple of years back was really special. One moment you’re on a plane with 60 of the top models in the world, then the next you’re playing in the Grand Palais and sharing a greenroom backstage with Lady Gaga, The Weeknd and Bruno Mars. That entire experience was a once in a lifetime moment. And I think everyone who was there knew it! Most of the time, you spend a lot of time pitching yourself for these gigs, but you don’t actually spend a lot of time soaking it all up when you get them. I really soaked up every last minute of this one.
As well as one-off gigs, you’ve held a few residencies. Do you like building your audience over time?
Yes, you get to know the place and the people. I’ve had a long-term residency at the Mondrian Skybar on the Sunset Strip. Motley Crue and Nikki Sixx used to come there, and Sug Knight and even Mel B – who became a good friend of mine.
Have any of your residencies been particularly important to you?
A great residency, when I was back on the East Coast, was at a club called Cain. It was just an amazing hodgepodge of every type of person you could imagine in New York. You know, New York is an expensive city; everyone’s grinding, trying to get by. But rich/poor, gay/straight, wild clothes or conservative ones, there was a place for everyone. It wasn’t about everyone being similar, it didn’t matter who you were: it really was just about everyone having fun and taking the load off. I loved creating the soundtrack to that – it was a blip in time at a very special place.
What is DJ-ing about for you? And what’s your philosophy?
I approach every gig, big or small, like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment. I call it ‘live sound-tracking’. I show up and feel out the venue, feel out the purpose of the event, feel out the crowd, the time of day, the lighting… I kind of just feel the pulse of everything as I go, and I set my music to that. I don’t show up with a pre-made set list and make everybody set themselves to my music.
Some events are about getting people out on the dancefloor. The goal of the after party for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show was definitely about bringing people together to let loose and party.
But for other brand events that are a little more high brow – like a Chanel beauty event that’s well heeled, more up-scale and low key – the music’s a little less abrasive, more fashion-indy type tunes. My goal is to create an ambiance that compliments the brand. For instance, for Chanel, maybe I’ll do a Karl Lagerfeld type re-mix and create a moment for everyone with that.
Do you actively try to create moments in a night?
Yes – say at The Mondrian, there are times I’d DJ pool parties for them. I’d play an ACDC song and there’s this “drop” – this big moment in the song – where everyone goes “waaah!” Those moments in songs really do create big moments physically too. People will cannon ball in the pool! I think music really drives that kind of moment. There are drops in songs that get everyone really amped up in the sense of how they connect with each other. And when you do have a song where everyone looks to each other and chimes in to sing the chorus – like say with Sweet Home Alabama – you can reach all these different people at once. People just connect. And for me that’s kind of what life is about; people just connecting and having a drink and meeting new people.
Is there a flow to a Lindsay Luv night?
Yes there is. I would say I’m a builder. I never really go straight into the heaviest level. DJ-ing is like exercising; you have to warm up – and at some point you have to cool down.
You have to lead people into the vibe. Get them worked up a bit, get them to that pivotal moment where you know you’re catching everyone. And then when people start dropping out or drifting off or getting tired or whatever, my job as a DJ is also to help them leave at the very end. You don’t just cut it in the middle of some crazy song, you help to fade it out. I would say there’s an ebb and flow to an evening as well.
What have you seen about the way people connect through music?
Connection is so random, you know! I think with nightlife you have a bigger chance of connecting with strangers than you do probably anywhere else, right? People are a little more loose; they’re more open to meeting people and just enjoying themselves and being relaxed than maybe they are at work or when they’re out with a purpose – like shopping.
I mean, the entire point of nightlife is essentially to let go and enjoy the company of one another – maybe of a person you came with, maybe with new people, maybe it’s seeing if there’s someone to date, or being with your partner. And people come and connect with me too.
Who are the greatest convivialists you’ve met?
Lady Gaga! A lot of people like that stick to themselves and stay in their greenroom, but she was chit-chatting with everyone. She was engaging with the people and the world around her in a way that was natural and unforced. And I believe she bought the whole staff red roses after the show.
My parents are also very convivial. My husband and I have just had a daughter, so they now have a grand-daughter and recently moved over here after 30 years of living on the East Coast to be closer to us all. They immediately started making friends and joining all kinds of activities; they never really looked back. How many people could do that? Especially at a certain age. They have a new zest for life, and I find it extremely inspiring to watch.
Are you perhaps such a convivial person yourself because you have outgoing parents? Were you raised to be convivial?
Yes! I am an only child. I don’t know if that plays a part. When I was growing up, we would go on vacation and I would always be in the pool trying to make friends with strangers. There’s an element of that to being an only child: going out and making friends – pushing yourself to meet people wherever you go.
What do the holidays look like for you this year – the first Christmas since you had your daughter?
A lot of brands and clients have capped their marketing budgets for the year. They’re finishing up with the holiday parties. People are travelling home to their families, they’re winding down. So it’s really my time to wind down. I’m going to spend the time with my family and really soak that up because I know going into the new year it will get busy again.
Is family time over the holidays about going out together or cozy-ing up at home?
We’ll be going out a lot to parties, festivals; and for Christmas my parents will be coming to our place. I think there’s a lot of conviviality that happens in L.A. because the weather is so conducive to you being out of your house. Then when it rains, that’s when you feel “let’s put our fireplace on and really get into the coziness of eating soup, drinking wine, hanging out and being at home with the baby”. Right now, we have the tree up. I’m cooking more often because it’s finally chilly here. I love cooking for the holidays.
What Christmas songs will you all be listening to?
I used to work on the management team for The Raveonettes. They’re a Danish band and they’re amazing! They have one of the best Christmas songs – it’s called The Christmas Song and we play that every year.
Why does conviviality – or socializing – really matter?
I have been thinking about if, God forbid one of those California wildfires had hit my house, what would I have taken first? I realized the only thing that matters is my family. When you look at that very simple truth, it makes everything else seem trivial. Really, human connection – the connection you have to the people that matter in your life, or to new people you meet – that’s what brings you true joy. It’s not material things. It’s not your iPhone or an app. There’s that feeling you get when you’re with somebody in person and when you’re talking to them that really brings out the true range of your emotions. And nothing else can really do that.