Stetra is leaving her mark on Dallas dance floors.EXPAND
Stetra is leaving her mark on Dallas dance floors.
Christine McDaniel

Dallas Observer Mixtape with Stetra of LOLO

Stetra has been in the DJ game for just under a decade, but in the last year, she has left her footprint all over Dallas nightlife, helping to move dance floors from The Statler to Beauty Bar to The Nines. As a member of the LOLO crew, she has become a key component to the growing influence of the dance music culture in Dallas. This spring, she became one of the regular DJs at the downtown hotspot The Statler.

As one would expect from any versed DJ, she has explored a wide array of genres in her musical upbringing, and that has fed her passionate love for music of all stripes. But for her mixtape this week, she leans heavily on the house side of the fence. In the mix, Stetra covers all flavors of the four on the floor, from the disco to the techy and all shades of jack in between — a perfect mix for the late-night summer vibe.

How long have you been in the DJ game, and what drew you in? Where did you get started?
It's been eight years now. Growing up, and to this day, my family's always been very music-centered. I can attribute my eclectic taste in music to my family, really. I grew up listening to disco, house and new wave from my parents, and then I would just listen to whatever my big sister would be jamming, which at the time was R&B, disco and hip-hop. I have a background in classical piano, but unfortunately I quit after five years. I've been trying to teach myself again, so that's been a little side project of mine as of late.

I never seriously entertained the music side of things until I was in college. I had played golf competitively throughout my underclassmen and was able to obtain a D1 golf scholarship to University of Arkansas Little Rock.

I lived in Little Rock for four years, and that's really where I got my start in DJing and in the music industry scene. Slowly I went from playing house after-parties to patios and eventually became part of the collective Nocturnal, and we would throw our weekly parties.

You can imagine my parents weren't too thrilled with me wanting to pursue music over golf, but it got to a point where I did get burnt out on the sport that I thought was my passion, and in turn, I discovered a new one. I will say I definitely don't miss those 6 a.m. workouts after getting home late from a gig.

Although during my time in Little Rock, I was lucky enough to have been able to learn from a group of talented DJs, producers and promoters I still consider family. Cybertribe and Nocturnal were two collectives I still hold dear, and without them, I wouldn't have been exposed to some of the music that's been influential to me, as well as the individuals that were very much mentors to me.

What was the theme of the mix?
I wanted to create a mix that would really capture what I would be playing if I were out and about. Because I like so many different genres, it's fun and challenging for me to try and tread the lines that separate each genre and blend them in a way that creates an ebb-and-flow-like vibe. For this one, I wanted to start out a bit on the groovier side; then as the mix progresses, you can hear the tone get darker and more hypnotic.

From the gigs I've done, I'm used to playing longer sets (four to six hours), so I had to learn the formalities of opening up the dance floor and maintaining it throughout the night. So whenever I do shorter sets, I still try to emulate this.

How did you hook up with LOLO, and what other residencies do you hold down?
My friend Lacey [Winters] had an opening slot for the Eli and Fur show back in April 2017 and asked me to come join her and tag. After introductions and seeing the energy that they were trying to curate, I really wanted to support the collective however I could.

Not long after that, that's when one of the founding partners, Shree, had reached out to me seeing if I'd want to join LOLO. It was an easy decision for me, and it's been sort of a domino effect since then. The collective has grown so much in the two years it's been here, and it's exciting being able to have an influence on the scene and provide memorable experiences. All of the support from the community has been something, and it's been very much a collaborative effort.

When I had joined, I was working as an account manager at a digital marketing agency, so for about a year I was juggling the 9-to-5 grind, plus LOLO. After being laid off back in January, I've been able to just put 100 percent of my focus in music, and it's been nerve-wracking but most rewarding. We've just gone public as a record label as well, so we're all busy working behind the scenes on that front.

If I'm not at the Nines for LOLO events, I also spin at Lounge 31 in Highland Park Village every Thursday night. That's actually been one of my longest residencies (three years). I also joined the Statler team this past spring and spin occasionally at Waterproof, but usually you can find me downstairs at Bourbon & Banter on Friday nights.

How often are you traveling for gigs nowadays, and where are you playing outside of Dallas?
I'm traveling about every couple months now. These last couple of years, I've been able to travel and perform in Arkansas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Vegas and Belize.

What was your most memorable musical experience of the past year?
Most memorable would definitely have to be when I was able to spin out in Phoenix to open for Peggy Gou.

The DVINA group out there had brought us out to play, and the venue was one of my favorite places to play. I'm a sucker for a good rooftop, and that's something that they had. It was a perfect vibe the entire night, and getting the privilege to open for one of my favorite artists was really such a cool experience and also a humbling one, too.

I remember practicing golf back in high school and almost being just as excited to play as I was to jam out to the new playlists I had made on my iPod. Fast forward a decade, and I'm able to do what I love, experience all these new places and have others jam out with me as well — that's my hope, anyway. Life's too heavy sometimes, so if I'm able to provide that little bit of escape/boost for someone, then mission accomplished.

You have a background of diverse musical interests. Are there any genres that you wish you
could play more often?

Yes, actually. I actually have a mix series called ENMOTION, and it's split into two sub-series (daybreak and nocturnal). Daybreak is more of my downtempo style, which incorporates a lot of R&B soul, lo-fi hip-hop, disco and just nontypical four on the floor beats. Nocturnal is geared toward my moodier side, which ranges from deep tech, Afro house, tribal tech and techno.

I don't get to play a daybreak-type set often outside of my mixes, so I'm wanting to incorporate more daybreak sets coming up in the near future.

What is going on with you production-wise?
I'm actually working on a few tracks currently. It's ever evolving, but hoping to release content out this fall. It's exciting, challenging, and I'm sure you know frustrating as hell, but I love it.

I've only been producing for the past year and half, so I'm still learning all I can. I am excited to finally be working on something of my own and looking forward to sharing later this year.

Who are some of the DJs or producers that inspire you?
I'd have to say LOCO DICE (especially with his new album release, Love Letters), Hot Since 82, Peggy Gou, Black Madonna, BLOND:ISH, Maya Jane Coles, Kaytranada, Tokimonsta and esta, to name some.

My music preferences are all over the place, but that list is a pretty good rundown of my styles of mixing.

Is there any new music or new discoveries catching your ear as of late?
I wouldn't say new discoveries but more of just trying to incorporate different styles in my sets and keeping them fluid. Lately, I've been really trying to have that underlying disco vibe but with darker tones and hints of acid and tribal notes.

As far as new music, I've been jamming LOCO DICE's new album, Love Letters, recently.

"There Came [Superlounge Remix]" — Giddyhead
"Higher [Matthieu Faubourg Remix]" — Black Loops
"Strings That Never Win" — Jad & The
"Factory Settings [Original Mix]" — Catz 'n Dogz | Joseph Ashworth
"Struggle [Franky Rizardo Acid Mix]" — Tinush
"Time [Original Mix]" — Wolf Story
"Mad Luv" — LOCO DICE
fran&co and Sasch BBC — "Bittersweet [Gunman Remix]" — Mad Hatter
"Say What You Wanna Say" — Freddy Be & Savi Leon featuring Datar
"E Samba 2018 [Original Mix]"
"Feelings" — NiCe7 & Dirty Channels
"White Groove [Archie Hamilton Remix]" - Serge Devant
"Summer Vibes [featuring Dr. Swingluv] [Kyle Kinch Remix]" — Doctor Boom | Dr. Swingluv
"Ravage [Original Mix]" — Habischman
"Our Broken Mind Embassy [Boris Brejcha Remix]" — Jan Blomqvist

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