I sat down with musician Jackie Hollander to discuss what she does, how she started out, and how she has made her mark on the USC community and beyond. Regardless of whether or not you plan on pursuing a career in music, I implore you to take Jackie’s words as motivation to pursue whatever it is that inspires you. Now, let's get into it.

Leyla Winston: For our readers who know nothing about you, how would you best describe what you do?

Jackie Hollander:Hi! My name is Jackie Hollander. I’m from the Bay Area and I currently live in LA. I am a self-taught DJ and producer. Over the past few months, I’ve had two releases on Justin Jay’s label Fantastic Voyage and have played many incredible venues all over California and in Las Vegas. I have opened for DJ Snake, SNBRN, Justin Jay, Kaysin, Justin Martin, DJ Susan, and Cut Snake to name a few. I want to break genre and gender boundaries and create interesting house music that makes people happy. I love to mix multiple songs during my sets and always bring something new, fresh, and exciting when I perform. I have such a genuine love for performing and for house music that drives me to work hard everyday! It’s hardly work when you love what you do….

LW: When did you decide that getting into music was something you wanted to do and what prompted your interest?

JH:Ever since attending a summer camp in elementary school I knew I wanted to be a DJ. I learned how to DJ at that camp and since then it has been a passion I keep going back to. Over the past year, I’ve really realized that this can be a career and that drives me to work at it everyday. I’m so grateful for where I am today and am very excited to learn more and improve my art.

LW: When you first started, what were your goals?

JH:I wanted to make my DJ sets fun and creative. I feel like all house music sounds so similar and people play DJ sets just to please the crowd. I have always put so much time into finding music that actually makes me happy. The best part of performing is mixing and blending it all together to make a musical experience unlike anything you’ve heard before. That was my original goal and that is still a goal for me every time I perform. Another huge goal has been to break into this male-dominated industry and prove that I’m just as worthy and deserving as male artists. Women (especially DJs) are so sexualized and are not taken seriously. I feel like their music always comes second to that of guys and this needs to change. I want to make my performances and my music as good as the top artists in this space and prove that women can do this shit.

LW: What are some of the biggest obstacles you've faced in this space?

JH:I was literally the only girl at the University of Southern California (USC) to become a DJ. My career started at USC and since then my world has expanded and I am surrounded by more female artists. But at USC, I had to prove to everyone I could do what the boys were doing. It was so scary but I was so passionate and knew this was what I wanted to do long-term, so I’ve never given up. So many people laughed at me or told me I couldn’t become a DJ– but I never listened. I just believed in myself and kept going. It feels so good to be playing big shows now and be getting great set times. Hell yeah, I proved myself within my community! Now all I have to do is continue and hopefully prove myself to the world and inspire other females to do whatever they want to do.

LW: What's the biggest full-circle moment you've experienced in all of this?

JH:I saw Justin Jay perform at Snow Globe when I was in high school. He was barely a known artist back then. I absolutely loved his music and have been a huge fan of his ever since. When he asked to sign my first single and the first song I’ve ever made, I literally felt like I was in a dream. It was the biggest full-circle moment I have ever experienced. One of my idols believed in me and my music and it gave me such a huge burst of confidence and reinforced that this is what I should be doing with my life.

LW: What advice would you give to anyone who is excited by the idea of DJ-ing but not sure where to begin?

JH:Two things: it takes time and hard work. If anyone could be a DJ they would! Performing is so fun, but it takes a ton of work. Producing is incredible when you finish a song, but again it takes a ton of work. Do not let this discourage you—if you put the time in, it will happen for you! The second piece of advice is to network and to not be afraid to ask for what you want. I went up to Justin Martin at Spin when I performed there and asked him if I could have his number so we could set up a Zoom call. He gave it to me, but when I texted him he never responded. So I texted again and he responded by apologizing, saying he had been so busy touring. Since then, he has given me advice on all my music and has been such an incredible mentor. People want to help each other. All you have to do is ask, be humble, and be ready to learn!

LW: Who do you look up to in this space?

JH:LP Giobbi for being an absolute baddie, piano queen, and a huge advocate for women in house music. John Summit for not taking himself too seriously and bringing a new youthfulness to house music. Cassian for creating such beautiful and unique sounds that no one else is leveling up to. Piero Pirupa because he keeps creating such dynamic and fresh music that I feel is always ahead of its time. Lastly, James Hype... people have called me him at times to insult me? But I think it is the best compliment because he is my IDOL. I wish my sets could be as creative and fun as his one day. I truly believe he is a walking legend. He is such a talented DJ—it's insane.

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