How do you feel about coming back to Doha?
I am really excited about returning to Doha since the last party at Rocca was really good fun and an uplifting experience to DJ at. I loved playing to such an appreciative crowd and I felt that Doha's party people received my set very well. It will also be a treat to get some sun and explore a little more of Doha.
What was your experience like when you first came here in November?
The level of hospitality I received from everyone was second to none. And Coco Latté's Relight My Fire party was rocking... it was such a positive, friendly crowd and I received a lot of good vibes. To play to such a nice bunch of people who go out to connect, have fun, dance and enjoy the music is a DJ's dream.
How is your set going to be different this time around?
My last set was more disco oriented, in keeping with the theme of that night. This time you will hear a classic Katie Smiles set – lots of uplifting, vocal house music mixed with dance floor classics which everyone will recognise and enjoy. Basically, expect another rocking dance floor!
What is a regular day like for you? Take us through one…
One thing I love about my career is that no two days are the same – every day brings its own joy, challenges and surprises! In addition to being a DJ, I also run a health and wellness business, my days involves a combination of these. A typical day includes a quick workout in the morning to energise me, then a few business calls or meetings, followed by as many hours of mixing as my day allows. Squeezed into that I love seeking out new and fantastic music to add to my ever-increasing house music collection, networking and on a weekend I would normally finish the day off in a club, either to spin or to be inspired by great music.
How did you get into DJ’ing?
I was a young starter in the scene... I grew up in North London and caught the music bug while clubbing from a young age. I developed a relentless passion for the music (a mix of house and UK garage at the time) that it was a natural progression for me to start buying vinyl and learning to mix. My brother and best mate Liam was a huge influence on me and we used to head to our local record store and spend all of our money on records and a lot of time in the London club-scene enjoying the music. Back then it was just a hobby for us, I didn’t really learn the tricks of the trade properly until the early 2000s, when Liam and I enrolled on a DJ course in London, and I started playing out in bars and clubs after this.
How would you describe your style?
I am a house music DJ, and play it in all its forms. I think it is important for each artist to develop their own unique style, so while I try to avoid being stereotyped into a specific genre of house, if I had to identify my style, I would call it 'Pure House'.
Who’s your role model in life and in the industry?
In life, I would have to say my brother Liam, as he inspires me the most. In the music industry, I have many positive role models, but my biggest would have to be Frankie Knuckles. His influence and integrity within the house music industry, in my opinion, is second to none.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you while you’ve been spinning?
There are always a lot of laughs when you are the other side of the decks! A recent funny experience was when I was DJ'ing on a boat party in Ibiza, and the sea was so rough the boat was rocking quite badly... I could barely stand up and was close to being sick, but the show must go on so I had to deal with it and was holding on to the decks and the Captain's bridge for dear life. Luckily I was able to see the funny side when I was back on dry land!
Quick – what first comes to mind when we ask what your favourite tune is?
Such a tough question... I have so many favourites! One of my most influential tracks is Derrick May's 'Strings of Life' a masterpiece which defeats time, genres and is like paradise for the ears, every single time I hear it.
What top three tips would you give a budding DJ that you wish someone gave you when you started out?
Believe in yourself. Know your music and spend time learning the technical skills and knowledge about the industry. Develop your own style and stay true to yourself and your passion.
DJ Katie Smiles performs at The Red Ball Valentine’s Day party at Rocca on February 14. It’s QR100 entrance including two free drinks vouchers. Grand Hyatt Doha, West Bay Lagoon (7021 8096).