DJ Fifi La Roux Interview

When did you first know that music was a passion and what styles of music and artists inspired you initially?
My dad was a musician so I grew up around a lot of music. My dad would sit around the house playing piano or guitar, or he would bring me to his friends’ recording studios where I would watch all sorts of people play all sorts of music and get exposed to a lot of different styles. Both my parents are big music aficionados and they would listen to a lot of records and CDs at home. I also started dance classes at 3 years old so I was constantly listening to music in dance class and at home while practicing.  I don’t remember a time when music wasn’t a big part of my life.  My passion for 60s soul and rock & roll certainly comes from my dad. Also, I grew up in the 80s, and the music of that time was a big influence on me. I had a Fisher Price Phonograph record player in my bedroom and would listen to my own little collection of 45s on it. (The first records I owned, when I was about 5 years old or so, were Cyndi Lauper “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Tina Turner “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”) MTV was a big influence on me as well. I was a latchkey kid – I would get home from school in the early afternoon and just sit in front of the TV and watch MTV for hours until my parents got home from work. This was in the 80s and early 90s, when MTV was amazing. I vividly remember watching the world premiere of the Cure’s video for “Lovesong” and it just blew my mind. I think that’s what got me into goth music, which stayed with me throughout my teenage years and beyond.
What styles/genres of music do you collect and why do you gravitate to those styles?
I mostly collect records from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, as well as French records from all eras. I studied French in high school and college, which is what got me into French music as part of an overall interest in French language and culture. Plus French EPs, especially from the 60s, are so fun to collect. In the past few years I’ve branched out and started collecting music from other countries as well, particularly Spanish garage rock 45s and girl pop from all over the place (Japan, Italy, Sweden, Germany, etc.). I also have a big collection of 80s goth and post-punk records, which has been an ongoing passion since my teenage years.
You are a DJ on KSPC Claremont. How long have you been a radio DJ, what do you play on your show and what tips do you have for other radio DJs?

I have been a DJ on KSPC since 1999. I started when I was in college and just never left. My first radio show was an industrial music show called “Things That Go Stomp In The Night.” I also did a hardcore punk show called “Insomnia!” every Saturday at 2am, a folk and Americana show called “Country Music for a Lazy Afternoon,” and a completely freeform show called “Fugue State” where I would pick a new theme every week, everything from experimental music to post-rock to spoken word to riot grrrl to twee pop, whatever, and pretend I had amnesia and couldn’t remember who I was or what the show was the week before. That was fun! In 2013, after a few French-themed episodes of “Fugue State” went particularly well, I started doing “Le Show” full time, which is my French/Francophone music show. I play French and Francophone music from all eras and all genres, from all French-speaking countries, every Saturday.It’s amazing that after eight years of doing a weekly French music show, I still haven’t run out of new music to play!  There’s always something new to discover, and I love that. In 2020, right as the pandemic started, the station needed more DJs who were able to record their shows at home, so I started doing a second show called “Atrocity Exhibition,” which is all goth/post-punk/industrial music – the music of my youth. I’ve loved getting back into those genres as well.

My advice for radio DJs is to focus on educating your listeners about the music you play, and learn to love the sound of your own voice! These days, with Spotify and Youtube and everything, anyone can listen to a playlist or pull up any song they want to hear. What makes radio special is the DJ curating the selection and teaching you about what you’re listening to. Find something interesting about the music you’re playing and tell a story! Your listeners will thank you.

I absolutely loved your 45 Day 2021 mix this year of French candaian cover versions. I had never heard any of them before so it was an education for me. Can you tell us about some of the artists and history involved and why you chose that style for your mix.
Thank you! I love French-Canadian bands, especially from the 60s. They were doing the same types of covers that a lot of bands in France were doing at the time, but the Canadian bands seem to rock harder.  hey were definitely heavily influenced by the Beatles, as was everyone at the time. As far as the history, from what I know, in the 1950s and 60s Quebec really started to assert its independence and identity as a French-Canadian province and there was a big movement there to preserve and promote the French language and French-Canadian cultural identity.  Similar things were happening in France, which has always been very diligent about preserving the French language, e.g. with requirements that radio stations play a majority of French-language music, etc.) There was a huge market for French-language versions of popular American and English songs, plus the 45 was becoming a very popular format, so there was just this explosion of French-Canadian bands putting out singles, both cover songs and original songs in similar styles to what was popular in America and the UK. For me, they’re fun to collect, and there are so many of them so I never run out of things to search for! As for why I chose that theme for my 45 Day mix, it’s because I love a challenge. It’s my favorite part of DJing. A lot of my biggest dance-floor bangers at Décadanse Soirée (our monthly french pop night in LA, coming back July 10!) are French-Canadian 60s records, but I’d never tried doing a whole set of only those songs. When I realized so many of the ones I was picking were covers, I decided to further challenge myself and play only cover songs. (In contrast, this time I decided to challenge myself by going as broad as possible and including several different genres and eras. I was inspired by your 45 Day mix and the way you skillfully mixed together so many different types of music. Thank you for that!)
Thank you i’m glad that I inspired you. My 7 year old daughter Zizi45 has just stared DJ’ing and is very inspired by female DJ’s. What tips would you have for her and any other young DJ’s out there?
That’s amazing! I can’t wait to hear her mix! My biggest tip for young/up and coming DJs is to learn everything you can about how your equipment works – turntables, mixer, speakers/monitors, sound design, etc. Nearly every venue I’ve DJ’d at has had some sort of sound problem or equipment failure. You’ll save yourself a lot of headache – and impress the venue owner and guests! – if you can just calmly fix the problem yourself. This goes double for female DJs, who aren’t often encouraged or invited to learn the technical side of things. Also, if you are female/non-binary or anyone else who has been historically excluded from DJing, please find others in your community and do your best to support and lift them up as well. There are a lot of amazing women DJs in LA and I am happy to support each and every one of them. We all benefit from each other’s success!

DJ Fifi La Roux Links –