Your Weekend Playlist, Courtesy of Amrit
With experience in talent strategy, brand consulting and a degree in music under her belt, Amrit is a powerful force. Her lively DJ sets, warm, fun-loving personality and killer sense of style lead her to become a prominent part of New York City’s creative and nightlife scene. Applying her skills in various creative endeavors, and creating a platform for emerging talent, Amrit recently launched her mission-driven consultancy, One Stop Away, this year.
Milk spoke to Amrit about her connection to music, growing up in Australia, her most memorable pinch-me moments and upcoming projects in 2020. She also happened to curate this weekend’s playlist:
What was it like growing up in Australia? Did your upbringing influence your interest in music in any way?
I loved growing up in Australia, especially now that I live in New York. I think I took so many things for granted like being close to the beach and having really great weather. I definitely always felt isolated because I never felt represented. I think it’s really different now, but Australia was very homogeneous. Music was always something that connected me to something that was greater than where I was. When I discovered Lauryn Hill, that record just felt like I found this other ‘me a lifeline that I felt connected to. Even though we were influenced by American pop culture in Australia, I grew up with Australian TV shows like Neighbors and Home & Away where everyone was blonde hair and blue eyed surfer chicks.Music was the first art form that I connected with that made me feel represented and it was my lifeline out of Australia. This makes it sound like I didn’t love Australia, but I did.
How does one navigate becoming a DJ? What was your process like creating a name for yourself in the industry?
DJing was never really my intention, I just studied music. I had a really, really large music library because I studied jazz. I took film composing classes, theory, and arranged for big band classes so I had a really eclectic music library, I had so many resources, and I was trying to channel that into something. That’s sort of how I fell into DJing. It was never my agenda. And then you know, music is one of those art forms that transcends everything; cultural barriers, language barriers, so it allowed me to travel. I fell into it and really found my voice in it, and then I just continued doing it. I graduated with a music degree and I was like, “Okay, what am I going to do with this useless degree!”
You also worked at an agency, what advice do you have for balancing different careers/interests?
Yes they were traditionally working with talent in a celebrity sense so it was more in advertising and editorial. I kind of filled in the white space; collaboration, ambassador programs, special projects, non-traditional ways to collaborate with people that told meaningful stories. I think it’s all the same as to what I do now because when it comes down to it, I feel like I’m a connector at the core. Whether it’s doing radio, using my platform for emerging artists, connecting brands to the right people, or creating a soundscape for a fashion or art show, I’m inspired by connectivity. So, it really felt like the same thing. It felt just like the same job even though they were different jobs.
Tell me more about One Stop Away, your new creative agency. How did that come about?
One Stop Away, began so organically because the other co founder, Anaa Saber, and I talked about how brands approach you as a woman of color and you know you’re the one token person they had on their list to check a box. We talked about the state of culture and inclusivity, and how we’re always in progress. We’re always just one step away because it’s never enough. It grew from that. Then we took the projects that we were working on individually, and the relationships we had with brands, and combined it into something bigger. It encompasses the things that we feel strongly about. We launched in Turkey and we brought together a group of like-minded women who advocate for positive change in some way. We’re trying to show brands that you don’t need to work with influencers with 1M+ followers, you just need to work with people who have a voice because authentic storytelling will always trump any gimmick. We traveled sustainably with carbon off setting partners and there were no single use plastics on the trip. We also partnered with local NGOs because it’s important to us, in a time like this, to show places such as Turkey’s true colors. Turkey was the perfect place to launch because we still have a Muslim ban in this country, so why shouldn’t we? Why shouldn’t we share accurate representation of our people and where we come from? Neither of us are actually Turkish but we felt this sense of responsibility to do it in our way, and it was incredibly special. On the last day, we all cried because we were so filled with emotion from the experience.
How do you prepare for a show, do you have a pre-show routine? What beats and tones inspire you the most?
It usually starts with me throwing all my clothes onto the floor and panicking, that’s the first step. I always get asked, “do you make a playlist or do you put your set together as you go?” My approach is usually a response to my surroundings because every show is different. Although, usually I’m trying to find new music to play. That’s the one consistent thing. Everything else I’m typically open format. My approach to DJing is very house party-esque. It’s about dancing and having a good time. I want to hear a mix so I’ll play House, Hip hop, R&b, Afro-beats and throw in some old Rock and Roll. It’s about setting the mood.
Are there any events that you’ve played and will always remember? Any standout memories?
It’s less about events and more about the spaces because that’s when I have these, “Oh my god. I’m actually doing this!” moments. When I play at places like the MoMA, Berghain or at David Lynch’s club Silencio (in Paris), I get major imposter syndrome I’m like, “What am I doing here?” I think of the moment I went to the Guggenheim as a tourist and I took a cheesy photo and then fast-forward and I’m there playing the Dior gala! I’m from one of the smallest, most isolated cities in the world so to actually play in these spaces, creates these pinch me moments. This is good, I think it’s important not to be jaded.
What are your favorite spots to visit in NYC, what does a typical day off look like?
I love Tompkins Square Park. I live on the Lower East Side and I have a dog so I like to walk. I’m rarely back home so when I am I go into boring, grandma mode. I like the local markets by my place I just got a full cookware set from Equal Parts, so I’ve been really enjoying my kitchen. Coming back to New York for me is an opportunity to recharge so I usually lay low. I do get tricked into having a drink until 2am, that definitely happens to you, especially when you live in the Lower East Side. Everything is always right around the corner and that’s the beauty of living here.
What’s in store for you in 2020?
I have a big project coming out in February which I am dying to talk about but can’t just yet. Also, continuing to build out One Stop Away. We have some more trips coming up in early 2020 as well. My dad is from India, and Anaa’s family is from Pakistan so those two places are on the top of our lists.
MAKEUP ARTIST- Amrita Mehta
Special thanks to The Standard, High Line.
Stay tuned to Milk for more Weekend Playlists.