DJ Avi Sic is a Chicago-based DJ and producer that performs over 300 shows a year at a variety of venues, emerging as a top open format DJ in Chicago and beyond. She was the first female DJ in Chicago to hold down a mix show residency for iHeartRadio and KISSFM. Avi has been the official concourse DJ for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls going on 6 years. She has also worked with other big name clients like Red Bull, Google and Nike.
She has launched a new weekly radio mixshow, Late Checkout that features the best in electronic music, experimental, and everything in between in an open format style. She also puts out her own music as well.
We chatted with Avi Sic about her career, life at Chicago Bulls games, her approach to gigs and more.
How did you get your start in music?
I grew up playing instruments, mainly guitar and piano. I got a set of turntables in high school and I was hooked. Since I was a kid I’ve never wanted to do anything besides make music.
What drew you to Chicago from the East Coast?
I actually took a detour in between those to the South for college and pursued all kinds of arts. After graduating, I knew I wanted to end up in a big city but LA seemed far away and I had already experienced the big cities on the East Coast (NYC, Boston, etc) so Chicago was big on my radar. It was somewhere I’ve never been with a cool music and arts scene… It made sense.
How has the mood been at Bulls games with them winning?
It’s been awesome. High energy, lot’s of fun. Everyone likes a winner.
You do quite a variety of gigs from nightclubs, to hotels, fashion shows and more. How do you distinguish between the music you will play at each?
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Yeah, I mean it’s definitely different vibes depending on the gig. I’ve always been good at reading my crowds and changing things up fast if something isn’t working. I have a big music library and a solid understanding of all genres of music. I’m decently organized with my music folders too, so that always helps. I started out as an open format DJ which means I play all styles and mash them up together, I like to keep my sets very interesting and engaging.
What is your approach to working with large, global companies like Bud Light, Nike or Microsoft?
Client focused and corporate work are in their own lane. If a corporate gig wants you to be their DJ or curator – there is a reason for that so it’s easy to stay true to your style and get creative. The main thing is having the ability to take what the client wants to accomplish and making that a reality.
As an open format DJ, how many songs do you have available to play for any gig?
Oh boy. I have a massive library – like a TB plus. I switch between Serato and using sticks depending on the gig. On my sticks I usually have up to 250 gigs of music on hand. I rarely delete songs because you never know when that track might come in handy. It’s also fun to dig in your crates during a set. I love surprising myself with the stuff I end up playing. If I’m surprised, the crowd is even more surprised and that’s how I keep things fun.
How do you choose songs for your set, and how much time do you spend each week digging for music?
I don’t really prepare what I’m going to play or choose songs for a set, it happens organically in the moment. That’s just how I DJ. I definitely drop things in my crates that fit certain genres and moods so I have them on hand to sift through. But digging, yes, I spend a lot of time looking for cool music. Probably an average of 5 hours a week between looking for stuff and keeping my Serato and Rekordbox organized. It keeps the live sets smooth if you do the work on the backend.
What is the concept and idea behind the Late Checkout radio show?
I’ve always wanted to have my own radio mix show where I can showcase my style and the music that I like without boundaries or being locked into anything genre-wise. It’s definitely electronic music focused (house, tech house, bass house, EDM, G-house, hip hop remixes, etc) since that’s what I enjoy playing, but I definitely play a mix of everything. It’s super hype and high energy, which is perfect for a night out. You will definitely want a late checkout after listening to it. Think of a club or festival set but you don’t have to go to these places to listen to it – it’s “room service only.”
Several of your recent tracks have been collaborations. How do you approach collaborating with other singers / artists?
I love collabs. You can get so much more creative when you have someone else to bounce ideas around with. A lot of times, I’ll reach out to talent that I like and just start a conversation.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
I have a single dropping April 1st called ‘Best Of Me’. It showcases my love for commercial dance music and fuses retro elements with catchy vocals and driving basslines. It’s a very feel-good tune. I have more collabs in the works, remixes, and lots of upcoming shows in Chicago, NYC, Vegas, California, Denver and more.
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