Interview: Lady Dee

Dijana Kneževič aka Lady Dee is a female DJ who successfully confronts and destroys all the stereotypes that pertain to female DJ-ing and successfully paves her way to becoming one of the best performers in the region. Her humble beginnings started six years ago in her native Belgrade, which she absolutely adores. Through all these years she has become a household name in clubs and festivals in Serbia, as well as the rest of the region. She regularly performs and spins in clubs like The Tube, Mladost, Lasta. She’s already performed at much-acclaimed festivals, including Enter Festival in Croatia, Love Fest in Vrnjacka Banja and Exit, both in Serbia.

We had the opportunity to chat with her exclusively after her recent appearance in Ljubljana, more precisely in the club ZOO. She impressed the crowd with an extremely powerful set, great energy and technical perfection. Our critical ear was extremely pleased with her successful sailing between the depths of dark rhythmic techno, which is almost perfectly intertwined with elements of house music. She definitely proved that she surpasses many of her male colleagues, not that we’re making a tournament of it.

The evening, which very soon turned into morning, was closed in style with an equally excellent performance at the after-party. The next day we spent relaxing in the old part of the town and learned many interesting things about Dijana’s origins, as well as her plans for the future.

Hey, Dijana, how are you doing? First off, we want to congratulate you for last night, that was intense! You definitely took us by surprise, both sets were so well put together. How did you feel playing for our crowd yesterday? 

Okay, first off I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to all the guys of the Spectrum crew, who are very good hosts. I have to mention my very good friend Alex Ranerro, who is the one most responsible for me coming to Ljubljana. Also, one really massive and big thank you to the crowd who came to rave, it was overwhelming, I’m still so excited when I think about it!!! I have to admit I was actually really tired before coming to Slovenia, as I was playing the night before, but I gave it my all and it was so worth it. You guys really know how to party. One love for Y'all.

We’re glad you had a great time. But let’s take it back for a bit, to where it all started for you. So, you’ve been playing for some time now. Could you describe what it was that pulled you in, how it all began and when were you sure you wanted to do this? 

It was all about going clubbing with my friends, visiting many different clubs, parties and events, it was all very casual. The first party I played was on NYE in Belgrade. At the time, I didn’t realize that that was my first actual gig, it then hit me about two weeks after, haha! Actually, it all started way before that, as my dad used to be a DJ, for a short period of time, but still ... Also, my grandfather used to collect vinyl, which he then handed down to me. And still, after all this time I still keep all of his collection; I like to call them my babies, haha. I’d like to use this interview as an opportunity to really thank my grandfather publicly, for every record he’s left me.  

Being a female artist, do you ever think there was a point in your career where it was easier or harder for you to make it in this industry because of that ... Or is that something you’ve never paid too much attention to? 

I always like to point out that sexes don’t mean a thing. If you love what you do, are honest about your trade and extremely driven and passionate, there will always be a spot for you, no matter what your calling may be. It’s the same with music. There’s a place reserved for each and every one of us. I think anything is possible, if you put in the work if you work hard – on yourself as well. There’s no such thing as overnight successes, it takes years to build all of that!

We definitely agree on that one! You’ve somehow managed to bring your career to another level, your latest mix for Dancetrippin also proves that. How did that collaboration happen? 

Haha, that’s another great story ... Given that I have personal and business ties with Amsterdam, I used to live there for a whole year and I love going back as much as I can. That’s why I went there on a short visit in December. One night I met this girl in a club called Studio 80. She’s Croatian and she studies and lives in Amsterdam. You guessed it, she works for Dancetrippin. So we talked about all sorts of things and got to a point where she asked me to record a mix for them. Great story to tell and I made a new friend, which was great.

At the moment you play as a resident in Belgrade clubs The Tube and Disco Bar Mladost. What’s it like to play there and how did you secure your spot there? 

Considering the fact I came from the new wave of DJs in Belgrade, I have to admit I am extremely glad Belgrade has a club like The Tube. It’s one of the spots I’ve always felt at home, even before I started playing myself. I literally spent every weekend there, came in first and left last, haha. Talking about it now, it feels like it all happened yesterday. I remember all of it, all the great memories and all the great DJs who’ve played. In my opinion The Tube is the best club in Serbia. I need to give credit to the team as they’re working hard and thanks to them, we were able to see all the great names. So, playing there was a dream come true. Club Mladost is a younger club but has already got an incredible vibe going on and I believe is to have a great future.

Given that you just recently played in Slovenia, could you compare the scene here with the scene in Serbia? 

When I finished my set this morning at the afterparty, I said to myself: ‘God, these Slovenians are mental!!!’ Haha, you guys really know how to party. The crowd responded really well, the vibe was surreal. For me it’s vital to feel a connection with the crowd and when I feel it, it makes me smile. And I felt the same here as when I play in Belgrade, so it’s hard to say there’s a big difference. Thanks to some people, our scene in Serbia is thriving and growing, constantly evolving. There’s something going on all the time, plenty of things for every taste. Belgrade never sleeps!

We’ve heard you’re working hard in the studio. When can we expect to hear your first releases? 

That’s true, my first EP will be done really soon. I really want to finish it first and when I’m completely confident with the sound, I’ll start thinking of labels. I believe every artist struggles with searching for their distinctive sound and that’s one of the main reasons why it took me so long to produce my first tracks. I love music and was never genre-bound as I believe limitations exist only in our minds. After all these years I can confidently say I’m musically mature and know exactly what I want my music to sound like. It’s a mixture of dubby tech house with a mixture of house. Can’t say anything more until it’s done. But I promise you will hear it first, exclusively. 

Not too long ago you launched a new brand called “neču kuči” (Not Going Home). Could you tell us a bit more about that? 

Haha. It was actually a joke at the beginning and it then spread to a whole series of events. At first, we organised after parties, but due to a great response, we’ve decided to organise the main event at The Tube. So not too long ago we hosted two amazing artists, Detlef and German Brigante. Both nights were a great success, lasting throughout the whole night and way into late morning, haha. We just recently took our ‘project’ to Bosnia, where we were guests at one of their festivals and it was amazing! I see great potential for our project and the whole team is already working hard on delivering many great events in the coming season. 

That’s great to hear! What’s coming in the summer, where are you playing ... Anything exciting around the corner? 

I have to be honest, I’ve had plenty of offers from abroad, but decided to stay in my lovely Belgrade. I’m playing as a resident at three parties/clubs, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll play other clubs and festivals as well. But can’t say much at the moment until it’s all confirmed. 

By Andrej, edited on 15 June 2018