DJing The Maldives, Planning The Perfect Party and Living A Balanced Life With Sydney's Michelle Owen and Kali

Dance music, culture, friendship and the good life with Michelle Owens and Kali.

Oct 7 2014, 9:26am

Michelle Owen and Kali are friends, DJs, and cultural agents. Everywhere they go, they're always spreading good music and good ideas. THUMP's next Sydney party is a rare chance to see them both on the same bill. Radio shows, tours, DJ residencies in the Maldives, and generally living life to the fullest across a range of arenas mean it's hard to keep track. They caught up with each other ahead of the shows, and let us know what's been happening.

Kali: How was your work holiday to the Maldives?
Michelle: It was life changing. I spent two and a half months as resident DJ for W Retreat Maldives. Spending time with nature every day was exactly what my heart needed. Check out my Instagram for all the pictures.

K: How did that all come about?
M: My fabulous friend Scarlett Etienne recommended me. She is the resident DJ there now. We both agree that the universe was giving us a chance for new memories to replace old, shitty memories - it worked!

K: Hard to imagine you could top that, but is there an even dreamier location you imagine DJing in?
M:I would love to keep playing in these dreamy, island locations eg. Cloud 9 - a floating bar in Fiji. I love playing in the snow too. Snowbombing in Austria was an amazing experience.

K: Did you learn to deep sea dive there in the Maldives? How was that?!
M: I did actually. I always thought I would freak out but it's like a meditation under there. I love to travel all over the world but under the sea is another world entirely. Swimming with sharks for the first time was an adrenaline rush. I just kept telling myself "they are just big fish".

K: Do you find inspiration for your musical life in nature?
M: Yes very much. Nature is so personal and humbling. Living in the sun and sea brought my creative path back. One afternoon I was snorkelling and I saw a fin swimming directly for me, at first I thought it was a shark but it was a mumma and baby dolphin. They swam right up to me. It was so beautiful, then two eagle rays swam past. It was fucking amazing! I felt so blessed to experience this in the wild. Not only did it help my music but my other creative passions in photography and videography - the GoPro took a beating!

K: What's on the horizon with your releases?
M: I produced alot in the Maldives. Sketching ideas and finished new releases for Flashmob Records and Moodmusic Records. Recently, H.O.S.H. did an amazing remix for the collaboration I did with Kruse & Nuremberg 'WE FIND DEEP' Feat. Isis Salam released on Rejected out October 6th.

K: Have we got you in Sydney for a little while longer now?
M: I'm going to give Sydney a good go. It's bloody expensive but the summers are magic. We really are very lucky to have such beautiful beaches so close the the city and amazing places like Byron Bay and the Great Barrier Reef close by. I'd love to visit all the islands countries near Oz like Tonga, Fiji (again) and Bali.

K: What's in store for Almost Real?
M: I have so many plans for AR. Since launching in Australia in May it's been received so well. When you do something with passion it feels effortless. Creative, passionate people bring me so much joy. I love talking to them, finding out who they are and telling their story. There are some collaborations in the pipeline which will be showcased over the summer and new year.

K: Tell me a few sentences about your observations on the growth of females in the industry? I hate dwelling on this shit but you're a thoughtful woman and we've known each other since the early 2000s as one of few DJs in Sydney so I'm keen to know! Do you still find it hard at all?
M: To be honest, I don't really have much to say about it anymore. If anyone wants something in life, fight for it, work hard for it, love what you are doing and you will get pizza just arrived...

Of course Michelle had some questions for Kali too.
M: How long have you been a DJ and promoter?
K: Well actually about 22 years!! Hahaha, I'm not joking! I think doing what I love has been good to my skin! I started DJing when I 18 years old and I also started promoting that same night. I'd done radio when I was in high school and my dream had always been to be radio host! Missed out on that dream probably because I was an absolutely gigantic stoner/tripper and took the best path for a girl like me, a DJ/promoter! Hahha, well, I got asked by a nightclub owner if I wanted to DJ and run a night at their club (The Bass in Canberra). I was so stoked and learnt it all on the way, all in public, hardly any of it gracefully! But practice really does make perfect and I also stopped smoking weed a very long time ago (and hardcore tripping even longer!).

M: What's your ideal location for a party, indoors and outdoors?
K: The most ideal location is the most ideal location for a party! There are so many ways to present your ideas so it's one coherent, magical experience - I guess what I try to do is choose the best environment on a case-by-case basis! But if money and laws weren't an issue, a tiny tropical island, everyone would come by boat FOR SURE!

M: What colours have you died your hair? It was pink the last time I saw you.
K: I've died my hair every colour aside from blue! And I've gotta say, I keep thinking, could I pull off blue? The one I definitely won't do again is grey. Had a little unwelcome adventure with that a few weeks and it's not for me!! Best way to be stylish – is don't do it just cause it's in fashion!

M: What's your ideal holiday location?
K: I've always really wanted to go to Kingston, Jamaica. And I still really want to! But since I never get to holiday I should just get to Berlin and London and do my music thing.

M: Favourite place to eat in Sydney?
K: Icebergs and Da Orazio in Bondi! I do the music for Da Orazio so feel a real sense of pride when I'm there and what can beat Icebergs Dining Room and Bar!? (Nothing!)

M: What are you listening to right now?
K: One of my favourite sounds in the whole wide world - a few birds outside my window!!!! I was up at 6.30am this morning (after the long weekend…Ouch!) preparing music for my radio show on FBI Click and also recording it…so it's all about nature's soundtrack for a few more hours!

M: How is your new FBi Click radio show going?
K: Awesome! I definitely wouldn't be making time for it at the crack of dawn if it were shit! So far we've featured exclusive mixes from my three favourite music producers Andrew Weatherall, Tornado Wallace and Dreems and Noise My Head, all brilliant DJs. Plus seeing Andy Webb who co-hosts it with me grow more confident every week is a joy! We get loads of plays too apparently so that's a massive win!

M: If you weren't a DJ/Promoter what would you be doing?
K: Bird watcher? I have no idea! I wanted to be DJ when I was a little kid…

M: I know personally, this year was a huge transition year for you. Out with old habits and in with zen, what helped you get there?
K: The same thing that made me stop smoking weed when I was younger – a massive desire and need to be good at what I do and to be a better person! It's that simple…and fucking hard in my industry! But most of the artists I tour and work with (that I love hanging out with the most and inspire me the most) all say the same thing – there comes a time in the music industry when you've got to look after your health! As a woman it seems even more important – in my opinion anyway!

M: I have been away for a while but when are we going to catch up?
K: Bondi to Bronte here we come!

See Michelle Own and Kali perform at the next THUMP party alongside Lady Shave at The Cliff Dive in Sydney, Thursday October 16th. RSVP here.