Elin Ekdahl, better known as DJ Kiraz, first made her mark on the electronic music scene as a DJ in Japan where she's played some of Tokyo's biggest clubs and music events. Famous for making her fans want to dance, DJ Kiraz mixes a wide range of tracks including everything from soothingly hypnotic 120 to 130 bpm deep house tracks, to her fast paced hardstyle 140+ bpm tracks, and everything in between.
Over the last year the talented Swedish-born beauty has also been gaining attention in the U.S. playing on the same bill as many of the world's leading trance DJs like Simon Patterson, Sean Tyas, and Headhunterz.
To find out more about her music and how she got to where she is today, check out our interview below!
You can also check out some of DJ Kiraz's mixes, as well as her monthly podcast on her SoundCloud page: https://soundcloud.com/kiraz-1
PLM: Where were you born and what was it like growing up there?
DJ Kiraz: I was born and raised in a small town in Sweden called Lund. Although I had a great childhood I felt like there was so much more to see in the world, and I used to long for the day I turned 18 and could travel alone and live in different countries.
PLM: When did you discover your passion for music, and how has it affected your life?
DJ Kiraz: I have loved music for as long as I can remember. I was introduced to electronic music when I was about 13 or 14 years old, and that has been my favorite genre ever since.
PLM: When did you decide you wanted to become a DJ?
DJ Kiraz: I was 19 or 20 years old, living in Tokyo. I was going to all the big nightclubs every weekend to hear the music and to see all my favorite DJs. One of my favorite venues at the time was called Atom, and it was located in the heart of Shibuya in Tokyo. The bottom floor of the club used to feature a lot of psychedelic trance artists, so that was where I used to be. One night, a female DJ walked on to the stage there. I was so excited as it was the first female DJ I had seen there. However, her music selection was completely different from the club format and she seemed to have a guy helping her out in the DJ booth. That’s when I knew I wanted to prove that girls are equally capable of being great DJs. So I went back to Europe and started learning, and 2 years later, I was playing at the biggest clubs in Japan.
PLM: What is it that you love about working as a DJ?
DJ Kiraz: To be able to hear the music that I love booming through the speakers of a giant club and seeing the crowd go crazy is an amazing rush. I feed off of the crowd’s energy and they feed off of mine. It’s like this incredible connection is made between us.
PLM: What is the craziest thing that has happened to you while DJing?
DJ Kiraz: One time while I was DJing, the cameraman was taking a photo of me from right where the DJ equipment was and his camera accidentally pressed a button that made the music stop and the club arena got completely silent. That was a very odd and unfortunate accident.
PLM: How do you feel about other girl DJs?
DJ Kiraz: I love seeing other female DJs killing it on stage. I think we need to stick together and support each other more. The club scene can be a bit of a boys’ club and we need to show that we can and that we want to be a part of it too. I love working with male DJs and event organizers, but I wish there were more females there too.
PLM: What artists inspire you the most and why?
DJ Kiraz: The artists that inspire me most are the ones that have extraordinary talent, but still know how to keep it humble. Some of the people that have inspired me through the years are Aly & Fila and Bjorn Akesson. They are so incredibly talented, and they create the kind of music that I want to create. But at the same time, they are incredibly kind and down to earth.
PLM: How would you describe your genre of music?
DJ Kiraz: I play everything from deep house to hardstyle, and I love doing that. But trance is where my true passion lies. I enjoy playing uplifting, euphoric trance as well as psychedelic trance. It is definitely hard to pick one genre or sub genre that I like the most, but if I had to, trance would be it.
PLM: Why have you chosen trance as your main genre?
DJ Kiraz: There isn’t really a reason behind it besides the fact that I just love it. I’m not sure I can fully explain why. Trance makes me happy, it makes sad, it gives me goose bumps. It makes me feel something. I know that it is not what the mainstream crowd goes for right now. It’s not the “trend” at the moment. But I do believe that there is a huge following of loyal trance lovers out there that feel the same way about the music genre that I do. And I so enjoy playing my music for them and seeing that they love it as much as I do.
PLM: What is your favorite record or records of all time?
DJ Kiraz: There are so many to choose from, but “Airport” by Photographer, “The One” by Simon Patterson and “We Control the Sunlight” by Aly & Fila are some of my favorites.
PLM: Can you tell me about a few of the shows/events that you've DJd over the course of your career?
DJ Kiraz: One of the most memorable ones was the first time I got to play at the main stage of Ageha, which is the biggest nightclub in Japan. When I was offered the gig, I couldn’t believe that I would be playing at the exact stage that some of the biggest trance DJs in the world, like Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk and Above & Beyond, had played at before me. I think about 5,000 people can fit in that club, and the main stage holds about half of those people. It was nerve wracking but so much fun. The next year, I was offered a gig at one of the biggest festivals in Japan. It was a festival that I had attended several years in a row, in a huge concert hall called Makuhari Messe. It was truly a thrill to see my picture on the flyer next to some of the world’s biggest techno DJs Richie Hawtin, Loco Dice and Dubfire.
PLM: How long have you been playing in Japan, and how is it different playing for audiences in Japan compared to the U.S.?
DJ Kiraz: I have been playing in Japan on and off for 4 years. Before I moved to the U.S. I was told that it would be so different and that I would need to change my style of DJing. But honestly, if we are talking electronic music crowds, I don’t think that they are all that different. They all dance, they all rage and they all have a true passion for the music.
PLM: What has been your favorite event to DJ so far and why?
DJ Kiraz: There are so many to choose from, but I played two really fun events at Exchange LA in December of 2014. The first one was on December 12th, when I got to play alongside two of my favorite trance DJs, Simon Patterson and Sean Tyas. The second show was only 6 days later, when Headhunterz was the headlining DJ. At both these events, I got to play music genres that are perhaps not what you would usually hear at LA clubs, but that I truly love. And the crowd was going absolutely mad to the music. Those were two truly amazing events to play at.
PLM: Have you released any albums or mixtapes?
DJ Kiraz: I do a bi-monthly podcast on Soundcloud where I feature what I think is some of the best among the newly released electronic music tracks.
PLM: Has DJing led to you being featured in any print ads or campaigns?
DJ Kiraz: I was a part of Vogue Fashion’s Night Out in Tokyo both in 2011 and 2012. I was doing runway modeling for them in 2011 and I DJed in the Swarovski store in Omotesando in 2012. I also participated as a model and DJ in Runway For Japan after the earthquake in 2011.
PLM: Are you currently represented by a manager or agency, or have you been in the past?
DJ Kiraz: In Japan I was represented by an agency called Turned On. They are located in Tokyo, and they represented me in 2012. I am currently making arrangements to sign with a manager in the U.S. who has worked with some of the world’s biggest EDM artists.
PLM: What separates you from other DJs?
DJ Kiraz: My style of music is unique, especially for a female DJ. I have a lot of experience in the industry, and I have been able to closely observe the evolution of electronic music from three completely opposite sides of the world for the last decade.
PLM: What's next for you in terms of upcoming projects or events?
DJ Kiraz: I am starting to branch out outside of LA. I have been approached by venues and organizers about gigs in San Diego, Las Vegas and Washington DC, so I am hoping to tour the country more from now on.