Having played opening sets for the likes of Tokimonsta, Desiigner, Rae Sremmurd and Lilttle Simz, Amber Akilla is a diverse DJ, artist and photographer exuding so much style and sass that you can't even begin to mess with.
Currently residing in Shanghai, we're going international baby as Amber Akilla puts together a mix for us featuring some of the latest dance floor heaters infused with Hip Hop, Grime and a little bit of Future Bass making us feel them foreign feels.
Listen to For The Honeys Volume 8 now and check out our Q&A with Amber Akilla below!
What was your track list inspiration for FTH Vol.8?
Powerful womxn, good music and dance floor heaters.
Growing up, what music were you into, like who were you idolising back then?
I still remember seeing Michael Jackson’s Thriller video on TV for the first time, as cliche as that sounds. When I was in high school I used to sing for a lot of jazz groups, so before I got into dance music and hip hop I was obsessed with Amy Winehouse, Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald. Then came the Myspace music era and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, M.I.A and Lily Allen were the coolest women ever. I mean obviously Rihanna and Beyonce, gotta pay respect to the Queens.
Do you think that being in Shanghai has affected the style of your sound and what you listen to now?
I’ve always just believed good music shouldn’t be bound by genre or style, if I like a track, I like it whether it's a top 40 pop track or from the depths of Soundcloud. Being in Asia has allowed me to meet and discover a lot of music in the region which has been really exciting! As a DJ though, I think being in Shanghai has allowed me to give myself permission to build sets around what I want to play. I don’t play gigs where promoters have said I have to ‘play music people know’. There’s obvious tracks that get people excited, but it's cool that crowds are excited to hear something new.
So what’s high on your rotation at the moment?
I’m obsessed with IAMDDB, I’m scouring the internet for remixes of her tracks so they can be played at peak dance floor times. I love playing LSDXOXO and Kingdom as well. Listening wise, Kali Uchis’ new album is soo good I put two of her new songs in my FTH mix.
Have you found the music scene there to be accepting of females doing their thing?
Definitely. I don’t feel like I’ve had much trouble at all being a woman in the music scene here. I’m very grateful for that.
Does that differ much from Melbourne or even Perth where you’ve resided previously?
Yesssss. I don’t know if it's because I’ve gotten better at handling it or that it's just two completely different attitudes. The way dudes question you, interrogate you and give you unsolicited and unhelpful ‘advice’ in Australia is so exhausting… if I had a dollar for every time a guy told me to smile while I was DJing in Australia… or that women are only getting booked because feminism is trending... it's r.u.d.e.
Any artists on the come up that we should know about?
Lyzza, Subez Yeti, Englesia, Yaeji, the Shade Seoul crew and the Genome 6.66Mbp collective.
What do you miss the most about Melbourne?
My friends, Bonsoy soy milk and affordable hippie food.
What do you love most about Shanghai?
My friends, food, being in closer proximity with the rest of Asia, being able to fill the void that has been my ongoing identity crsis and Taobao.
Favourite spot to...
Eat: HTO on Shanxi South Road, Yang's Dumplings because I'm basic, also it's so easy to order food to any location in China so wherever I am, the food can come to me, it's a slippery slope.
Shop: Taobao!!!! It seems rude to compare it to Amazon because it's so much better, but Taobao is a magical app. The Shanghai fabric market, the vintage market in Seoul and Tokyo in general.
Chill: Mokkos Bar, Senator’s Saloon, my bed.
Party: Arkham, All and Dada are my favourite spots in Shanghai.