Californian DJ Lady Kate is a DJ, turntablist and producer who has spent many years honing her craft and paying her dues as a club and radio DJ. Now enjoying success producing electronic dance music that sits towards the heavier side of the genre, she regularly plays headlining sets at clubs and festivals across the USA and around the world, as well as holding the position of the official DJ of the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball team.
Growing up in the Inland Empire countryside of Apple Valley, CA Kate has always had a love for music which she shares with the rest of her family. Throughout school she was part of the band, learning to play violin, piano and clarinet. It was also at very young age, just 11, when Kate first started to learn to mix with vinyl and it didn’t take long for her to secure her first residency. “I used to speed skate,” Kate tells us, “and my practices were held weekly at the local rink. I ended up applying for the DJ position and was hired as the resident DJ for Friday and Saturday skate nights. When I turned 13 I started to rent out the skating rink to throw my own all age raves and hip hop shows!”
This early success set Kate on a path that she continues to follow today. After graduating from Granite Hills High School, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in communications. In 2006 she secured a radio show at a Station in Southern California and then moved to Sacramento when her FM show was syndicated in Northern California.
“Pay your dues and you’ll get paid. It may take longer doing things the right way, but once you get there, your experience and street smarts will help you grow, and save you from making the wrong decisions or deals." - Lady Kate
While continuing to DJ regularly, more recently production has also become a big part of Lady Kate’s musical path. “I'm a basshead/bassmaker,” she tells us while laughing. “It's taken a while to learn, find my sound, and find myself as an artist. I came up carrying vinyl as an open format DJ blending hip hop, reggae, and house. After paying my dues as a club/radio DJ, I started to produce in 2010. Having experience as a live DJ and working in radio helped me understand the backend/business side of records, their politics, how they're worked, and what it takes to break a record.”
In addition to DJing in clubs and on the radio, Lady Kate is also the official DJ of the Sacramento Kings, playing music in the arena to warm up the crowd before the game and to help keep the energy levels high right up to the final whistle. We were interested to hear about how she picked up this gig and Kate was happy to fill us in. “The Sacramento Kings ran an online competition, asking local DJs to submit three minute videos of them mixing for a chance to become their official DJ. I recorded a video of myself scratching/mixing and entered the contest. I ended up qualifying for the live auditions held at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. I was the first audition at 10am, competed against six other DJs. I received an email one week later saying that I'd been chosen!”
We were also interested to know what it’s like DJing at a basketball game, as it must be very different to playing in a club or at a party. “I love DJing for the Sacramento Kings, Lady Kate tells us. “They’re an awesome franchise to be a part of, we’re all one big family. The games are very fast paced and everyone involved in production communicates through IFB ear monitors allowing us to take our cues from our In-Game Director. We’re always one or two steps ahead of what fans are watching on the Jumbotron. There’s never a dull moment at the King’s games, we’re the loudest fans in the NBA [laughs] I think we’re the only team that plays Bassnectar and Excision during our games! We keep the stadium energy level fun, new, and inspiring.”
Kate has played at hundreds of events and at clubs and festivals all over the world, but when we pressed her to choose one stand out party she didn’t have to think for long. “My most memorable time DJing is when I was hired to DJ the Playboy Mansion for NBA All Star Weekend. Let’s just say it was the craziest party I’ve ever been to!”
Having caught the attention of the Sacramento Kings and countless club promoters as well as building up a loyal fan base, we were interested to know what Lady Kate thinks sets her apart. “My performance, as well as my ability to connect, read, and interact with my crowd. I’m a strong performer, I may be small but I sound very strong on the mic [laughs]. I’m an ‘old school vinyl’ DJ so I feel very comfortable on the decks and my sets are always organic, different and real. You’ll never see me hit the sync button or play outside of vinyl mode on CDJs. I'll always keep the human element of live mixing/turntablism during my sets. Every performance is freestyled and based on the crowd in front of me, I never play the same set twice.”
With a career as illustrious as this, we can see how Lady Kate deserves a royal status. However, we're still curious how she coined her DJ name. “I didn't have a name when I first became a DJ [laughs]; I just loved to DJ. I was just a kid when I began so I genuinely started because I loved everything about it, not because I wanted to make it big,” confesses Kate. “I had no clue how to market myself, the importance of a name/brand, or how the business side of the industry even worked. During one of my sets, a friend of mine who was hosting on the mic started calling me "Lady Kate," it stuck, and here we are today [laughs]. Now that I'm looking back, it's mind boggling to think how much I've learned. This industry is one of the only industry's that can't be taught, it can only be learned through experience and paying dues. The best way I can explain it is...imagine walking through a dark tunnel (not in a negative way) with a flashlight, and only being able to see 100 feet in front of you, not knowing what's coming next or what direction to go. That's how my journey in this industry has felt, finding my way as I go. I can honestly say I'm still in that dark tunnel with so much more to learn, only now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I know exactly what direction I'm going and how I'm gonna get there.”
It’s clear that Lady Kate is passionate about music as well as the art of DJing, having dedicated most of her life to perfecting her skills and following her musical calling. This was reflected in her answer when we asked her for a few words of advice for up-and-coming DJs. “Pay your dues and you’ll get paid,” Kate told us. “It may take longer doing things the right way, but once you get there, your experience and street smarts will help you grow, and save you from making the wrong decisions or deals. There's ‘the music’, ‘the music business’, and ‘the music industry’. Love the 1st, learn the 2nd, outsmart the 3rd.” Sound advice from someone who clearly knows what she’s talking about.
"This industry is one of the only industry's that can't be taught, it can only be learned through experience and paying dues." - Lady Kate
A self-professed workaholic, Kate spends most of her time making or mixing music. However, when she does make time to get away, she tells us “I love to hit the beach or river. I love summer and everything about it!”
Lady Kate counts many fellow DJs as friends, however she jokes that “most of them won’t claim me, as I’m the crazy one! However, on a more serious note, she tells us “I’ve grown up with a few well known DJs. It’s amazing to see their journey and watch them accomplish their dreams.”
Kate’s own journey is pretty impressive and is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. As well as playing at the Sacramento Kings home games, you can catch Lady Kate DJing at BassFace in Dallas, TX on August 20th at the Air Hogs Stadium and Sounds of Summer in Stockton, CA on October 1st. Make sure to visit djladykate.com for the full schedule.
For more information on DJ Lady Kate or to connect with her on social media, follow the links below.