Miami Beach, Fla. – As always, this year’s Miami Music Week offers a star-studded lineup of DJ/producers headlining a variety of much-hyped club, hotel, and festival events. But it’s also an opportunity for up-and-coming jocks to take their place in the spotlight.
One of these rising talents is DJ HoneyLuv, a house spinner/producer who’ll be supporting top jocks like MK (at The National Hotel March 25) and Chris Lake (at Space Park Miami March 27) this week. The former U.S. Navy aviation mechanic and college-basketball player (at the University of La Verne) has recently released “Your Tongue,” a tasty banger that should turn some heads on South Beach.
We recently caught up with the Los Angeles-based DJ HoneyLuv (aka Taylor Character) to discuss her journey – musical and otherwise.
Creatively, how did you approach “Your Tongue”? It’s got a little old-school “Bust a Move” vibe, but it’s really a tech-house track.
HoneyLuv: I always go into projects with an open mind and no expectations of creating anything specific; however, I knew from the jump I wanted “Your Tongue” to be groovy. I then experienced that very specific burst of inspiration that’s essential to any creative process. I’m ecstatic that all the creative pieces of the track’s puzzle came together the way that they did.
Musically, what were your first influences? What made you want to pursue music?
HoneyLuv: Growing up, my parents played nothing but ’80s and ’90s R&B and hip hop. So, from an early age, I was a huge fan of The Gap Band, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Tupac, etc. Tupac and Aaliyah really were the main influences for me. Those two, along with Missy [Elliott], made me want to pursue music because I saw a piece of myself in each of them. Between the right-at-home lyrics Tupac was spitting in his raps and the groovy sexy vibe of Aaliyah and Missy’s songs, I just knew I wanted to do the same.
Right, but you’re more in a house and techno lane now – how’d that happen?
HoneyLuv: When I first started DJing, I went in with the intention of doing house music. My mother introduced it to me, and I saw how the culture was so impactful and how the music made everyone in the room move. That’s what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to get seen in that space because none of my friends at the time were into that thing. In the meantime, it was easy for me to start DJing R&B and hip-hop parties because it was a more familiar scene. That experience truly helped sharpen my skills as a house DJ because DJing R&B and hip hop is not easy. So, in my opinion, if you can spin that, you can spin anything. I eventually found myself in the house scene via Twitch, which a lot of fellow music creators in L.A. started using to showcase their talents when the pandemic hit. That’s what really sparked this whole journey for me.
You were a collegiate athlete and you served in the U.S. Navy – how do those experiences inform what you do now, musically?
HoneyLuv: Those experiences created an unparalleled level of discipline in me. In basketball, you really have to be obsessed with practicing and wanting to get better because, if you don’t, come game day, you better hold up your end or people are going to notice. So, the fact that I dedicated myself to progressing every game, that developed a strong worth ethic in me. And trust me, my work ethic is nothing to play with. As for the Navy, it’s about how you carry yourself; you have to be prompt and prepare yourself to get the job done. Dedication, discipline, practice, preparation, and confidence are my keys to success, no matter what I’m pursuing.
How did you survive the lockdown? Did you do it creatively or was it difficult to find your muse?
HoneyLuv: I actually loved the lockdown because it forced me to find myself creatively. It forced me to pause, look inwardly and really prepare myself for what I wanted to do with DJing when it was all over. I was able to use platforms that I otherwise wouldn’t have used to get my name out there as a house DJ. I used the time to work on getting the back end of things done, like building a website, creating a press kit, learning how to produce, and sending out emails to introduce myself to promoters. I wanted to make sure that when the quarantine was lifted, they knew who I was. So having all that downtime definitely gave me endless options to come out of this thing on top and better than ever.
Were you streaming during lockdown? How has it been like returning to the clubs and other events?
HoneyLuv: I was reluctant to stream during lockdown, but I eventually gave in and am so glad I did. Returning to live events was such a beautiful experience for me because I had never played house music at a club before. So, to finally have that experience and see everyone dancing in real-time to the music I was spinning really touched me in unspeakable ways. I’ve been addicted ever since.
What’s your main studio gear?
HoneyLuv: I work in Ableton Live because it’s easy and straightforward. I use my JBL Professional monitors, and my little baby, the [Novation] Launchkey 25. My favorite plug-in right now is [LennarDigital] Sylenth – shout out to Roland Clark for putting me onto that!
Which producer/remixers do you most admire and why?
HoneyLuv: I would have to say MK. I used to listen to his older stuff when I was little, and I loved the deep Detroit tech groovy vibes he brought to life. I also love his new stuff and the versatility that he has shown throughout his career. I can only hope to do the same. And honestly, I feel like a lot of his older sounds have subconsciously influenced the songs I make today.
In the DJ booth, what gear do you use and why? How would you describe your style of DJing?
HoneyLuv: I use the Sennheiser HD headphones because they are literally the best. For my USB, I use the SanDisk Ultra because it has yet to fail me. As for my CDJs and mixers, I use the [Pioneer DJ] CDJ-3000s and the DJM-V10. I prefer these because I love the mix screens on the CDJs, and the V10 just has so many features for me to play with. My style of DJing is very vibey, groovy, soulful, deep and jacking. So, if anything in-house falls into that realm, I’m playing it.
Which DJs do you admire and why?
HoneyLuv: Honey Dijon and Green Velvet. I’ve seen both live and, man, when a DJ gives me chills, I know they are great at what they do. It’s very rare that I find myself feeling that way, by the way. But those two DJs, along with a few others, are everything I aspire to be. They are the greatest in my book.
What are three tracks that are always in your “DJ box” and why?
HoneyLuv: My latest song, “Your Tongue,” because it always gets the crowd going and is one of my favorite tracks right now. Another one is “Move Out of My Way” by Shermanology because it’s bouncy, groovy and a wonderful take on modern old-school house. My last track is “Deep Down” by Harry Romero. That tune is so-o-o vibey and definitely one to give you chills.
What’s next for you?
HoneyLuv: Only God knows that answer. But in my heart, it’s bringing my love of music to international stages.
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