DJ Deanne & The Indy Pride Festival

DJ Deanne has been an active member of the local electronic music scene for years, including a long-standing residency at Talbott Street for nearly eight years. With each passing of the Indy Pride Festival, Deanne finds herself increasingly involved in orchestration of the week’s festivities. Read on to learn about her responsibilities as a Tri-Chair of the event, as well as a peek into her personal DJ style and history.

MOJO:Last time we interviewed for ZapTownMag, Ascension was part of your list of residencies. Is that still the case? How’s it going?

DEANNE: Ascension is still going strong. I have enjoyed my Talbott Street residency for almost eight years now. The climate of clubs is changing and I certainly see fluctuations in attendance over the course of the year, but the numbers are still strong are I’m still doing my thing. I’m lucky to have a venue like Talbott to call home. My fans are loyal and trusting. It gives me a lot of freedom to take them someplace special.

MOJO: In an interview with Andrew Duncan on ZapTownMag, you mention feeling a deeper connection to the underground music that the local EDM fans crave than you do to the commercial, vocally-driven tracks that your guy audience tends to gravitate towards. As a gay woman, does that create internal creative conflicts? Is it hard to really let go and play what really moves you personally when you’re performing for a gay audience who likes something a little more mainstream?

DEANNE: I do still connect with a more underground sound and sometimes that does create creative conflicts. I’m not sure that is has anything to do with being a gay woman, though. I think any DJ finds themselves experiencing creative conflicts at times and it’s completely based on the audience. In the end, it’s the DJs job to get those people to dance, party, drink and have a good time. So, giving in a little to help the audience plug in is something that every DJ has to do. I try to do it in a way that makes them happy and falls in line with my style and the mood of the party. If, in there, I am able to give more of myself and expose them in such a way to new sounds or new ways of listening to what they like then I open the door for evolution of the listener. That’s kind of my philosophy no matter what the venue or who is in the audience.

MOJO: Almost a year after joining Give Me A Beat Productions, what doors have opened, connections have you made, or special events have you played? Has it helped you reach your goal of increasing your global audience?

DEANNE: To be honest, I have really still been concentrating on the home front, primarily. I have remained busy in the local scene and continually dabble in production. I became a Billboard Music Dance Chart Reporter last year and that has afforded me the benefit of a whole new world of contacts with record labels, promoters and artists. Outside of music, this year I am a Tri-Chair of the Circle City IN Pride Festival and this role is quite involved and demands a lot of my time. I expect to make some bold professional moves as the Pride season comes to a close later this month.

MOJO: You are very aware of your audience during a performance and strive to keep their energy levels high. In the moment, what kind of things do you notice happening on the dance floor and how do you react to those signals as you perform?

DEANNE: Thank you, I do concentrate a lot on that throughout a set. DJing is a thinking person’s craft as much as it is a technical and emotionally driven art, in my mind at least. I never plan a set, ever. So, I am always adjusting things and thinking about what’s the next perfect track to keep the party moving or take it to the next level.

I see people make their way to the dancefloor at first and try to decide whether to start moving or not, like they are asking themselves “should I start dancing now?”. I see people making moves on other people, a sexual energy bubbling up. Sometimes the reaction to unfamiliar tracks works against me and I see that. I see energetic eruptions occur, screams, hands in the air, crazy dancing. Whatever the case, I am constantly trying to read and reach out to every person in some way with something that will speak to them and inspire them to move and keep them going. It’s mentally and emotionally challenging for me, but when it works I can see that too and it’s a phenomenal feeling.

MOJO: What kind of a performance history do you have with the Indy Pride Festival?

DEANNE: I have played on the Pride Stage for the last few years. Last year we had a DJ showcase at the end and will have the same this year as well. The time slots are short, so I have to be prepared to make a big statement in a short period of time.

MOJO: What kind of a show are you planning for this year’s festival?

DEANNE: Musically, I am only a small part in this big day. As Tri-Chair, I have my work cut out for me to make sure that the entire week of events are successful and memorable. Pride Week is much more than the Festival and I am thankful for the opportunity to be one of the many people responsible for making it all happen for our Community. Having said that, I am going to, along with DJ Jared Curry, close out the Pride stage with happy, celebratory tracks. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate this year and we can send people home on a high note.

My schedule is full of events during this Pride season, especially. I have a Summer residency at Forty-Five Degrees again this year and I am looking forward to that. I am all over the place during Pride week, starting with a Pride Skate Party, my recurring spot on Radio Now the night before the Festival, my annual DJ & Eggs gig on the corner of Mass Ave and College to kick off the parade on Saturday morning with some banging beats in the street, a performance on the Pride Stage to close out the Festival, and, lastly, a spot with the INHouse DJs, Slater Hogan and several others during the Sunday Tea Dance at Metro. It’s a busy week to say the least!

MOJO: In addition to your performance at Pride, what other events/performances/happenings do you suggest checking out as part of the celebration?

DEANNE: We have a whole week of events to consider. On Monday, June 6 we have our first ever Pet Pride at a secured lot at 11th and Senate Ave at 6pm. There will be a pet fashion show, vendors, reps from the Humane Society and other pet rescue organizations. There is the most buzz about this event. It’s family friendly, welcoming to anyone who loves their pets (not just us gays) and going to be a great time. You can register your pet online at The Indy Pride Festival website.

I also suggest checking out GIRL Pride at Talbott Street on Thursday, June 9. There are three burlesque troops performing throughout the night and will be very sexy. Burlesque is all the rage and appeals to everyone that has a little bit of a voyeur in them.

Our Parade kicks off at Mass Ave and College at 10am on Saturday morning and is officially the largest parade in the city, even bigger than the 500 Parade. The floats are fun and crazy, like nothing you have ever seen. It’s great people watching for sure. I will be performing at that corner at Forty Five Degrees in the street to get the Parade started at 8am with DJ & Eggs.

The Festival, itself, is expected to draw almost 60,000 people this year. We have expanded the space and the sound of the Festival this year and we plan on having a major party. We have three headliners appealing to a wide variety of Festival goers. Locals know her and will enjoy Jennie DeVoe and her folk, rock, bluesy vibe. God-des and She, a hip-hop vocal duo of L Word fame, will also hold a headliner spot and will appeal to many, not just the ladies. Lastly, Kaci Battaglia will be our final headliner. You may know her from her radio hits “Crazy Possessive” and “Shots” with Ludacris. There are local bands, DJs, performers, dancers, and drag shows sprinkled in the line-up all day. There are hundreds of vendors, great food, two giant beverage tents, plenty of real estate to spread out and be comfortable and lots to look at.

MOJO: For IndyMojo’s straight audience who are considering attending the Pride Festival but who may have never been before, what pieces of advice can you give them to make their experience the most comfortable, fun, and memorable?

DEANNE: Be open minded. We are all gathered together for one reason, and that is to celebrate diversity, brotherhood and love.

If there are any specific questions about the events of the week or the Festival, please visit The Indy Pride Festival website.