Jillian “Aquarius” Jones is featured in this edition of the DJ Spotlight! Jillian is a talented DJ and dancer from Toronto, but currently living in Ottawa. She is spreading the love of Kizomba across Canada as well as several online events that touch the world. She was nominated by DJ Amber “Afrodeshiak” Rose. Amber said, “Jillian is super talented and I believe she is the only black woman Kizomba DJ in Canada. She definitely deserves to be recognized!” Check out fun and interesting facts about Jillian including her recommendations for aspiring DJs and her experience participating in the Womens World DJs event!
When did you start DJing and what do you remember about your first professional job?
I started DJing in June 2016. Most DJs practice at home and then debut publicly. I played publicly straight out of the gate. The things that I remember about that first job were the funny exchanges I had with my friend leading up to the job. For example, when she asked if I ever thought of doing a guest set at one of her parties, I said “Nope.” Right away. She had to ask twice for me to realize she was serious. Even then, I was still trying to suss out what “this DJ stuff” entailed. I remember asking her: “Do I have to stand there the whole time?” LOL. I wasn’t about to give up too much dance time. Priorities. She was very gracious with me and let me reflect.
In the end, I decided to accept the challenge, precisely because it scared me…but look what happened when I stepped out of my comfort zone!
What’s been your favorite moment in your DJ career?
I love the phrase “once in a while, blow your own damn mind”. This whole journey blows my damn, mind!
Let me explain. I’m ambitious, a huge planner and a nerd. I am always working on a whole series of projects/plans at any given moment. I set long shot goals and achieve them. Rinse. Repeat. However, I didn’t see this coming. I wasn’t chasing this. This wasn’t on my to-do list. It’s just happened, and I am humbled and blessed by this incredibly organic process.
I feel like both a spectator and author on this journey, that’s how unscripted it feels. I am just as curious, as anyone else, to find out what happens next.
How do you balance the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the expectations, desires and feedback of the dancers?
There’s undoubtedly a lot of chatter, figuratively and literally – what the promoter wants, what the dancers are telling you on the floor, what you feel like playing, what people will think if you go one direction versus another. Much like with meditation, it’s a work in progress to quiet the mind, to tune out the chatter and get back to basics, which is fundamentally your personal relationship to the music, your head space when you play, the openness of your heart. In short, I’m very conscious of all the external variables, and can get distracted by them because I can overthink things, but I’m also mindful that what you focus on expands. If you focus on the thing or things that aren’t in your best interest, it gives them too much power. Luckily though, once you start playing, you’re enamored with the music; it forces you out of your head and into the present moment and that’s where the crowd needs you to be.
What recommendations would you have for those who want to try and DJ?
Get ready to “WERK”. People don’t see the behind-the-scenes of this job. They have no idea how many hours you put in to make it appear effortless, to dig for unique music, to keep your files organized, to cue point, to promote yourself, to organize parties, to play other people’s parties etc. This is a demanding side hustle, but I love a challenge that is constantly asking me to pivot, change and grow.
Does being a dancer help with your approach to DJ’ing at events/socials?
In my view, being a dancer definitely makes you a better DJ, but in ways that move beyond the obvious. For example, being a dancer in the scene first allowed me to meet lots of people and make connections across cities, so when I forayed into music, I had already established lots of relationships in a way that facilitates my transition naturally. You have a lot of people you can tap into for their perspective and thoughts based on their experience of their scenes and all of that is great intel when preparing for an event/social.
The first “Women World DJ’s” event was held May 28-30, 2020. You had the opportunity to participate. Please tell us about that event and why it was important.
Being invited to participate in this event was nothing short of amazing. I mean I have largely played with only guys about 95% of the time, so the answer to an invitation to play on a woman only platform was an automatic “Hell Yes!”. The first event featured 27 female DJs from all over the world and it was as much of a treat to play, as it was to cheer the other ladies on. It was like discovering the family I didn’t know I had, but desperately needed.
When you consider that men make up approximately 93% of the entire DJ scene, if you’re a female DJ, you’re already fighting an uphill battle just to be noticed (Source: Digital DJ Tips 2021 Census). Yet, if we can take that 6 or 7% that are female DJs and showcase them in a unique way that people aren’t familiar with, you amplify their collective presence and you increase their exposure exponentially. I think that’s what Rossana did in bringing us together.
Also, I must say, that not just any woman could have pulled this off. Rossana Fox was warm, welcoming and professional and I love working with people who have their sh*t together. She is an experienced Kizomba DJ and a strategic thinker who knew how to add a woman’s touch to a FB live event that would make it stand apart from all the others. Every potential issue or concern brought to her attention was met with consistent, positive messaging: “Don’t worry. Don’t Panic. We got this. Let’s Go!”
It’s a platform that will always get a ‘Hell Yes’ from me. Representation matters.
What are your current favorite songs to dance to? Top two or three…
Tough question for any music lover! I have no genre allegiances, but I definitely got the following tracks on repeat right now:
Where can dancers find your mixes?
You can find my work on Facebook, SoundCloud and IG.
Favourite FB Live: https://www.facebook.com/102728161455889/videos/607409323243172