Having recently signed with Jump Touring, Central Coast based DJ Tori Pepper is heading out on a December tour, including her first ever international gig! I caught up with Tori about breaking in to the EDM world as a metal loving photographer, diversity within the dance scene and her favourite places to play!
Hey bud, thanks so much for talking with me. Keen as to catch up!
Thanks for having me!
So, back in 2011 when I was working on the Central Coast (doing the door at fucking Gee Wizz!), you were already pretty well-known in the area, but as a photographer! What are some of your best memories from back then? How has the coast club scene evolved from those days?
GEE WIZZ! God I had some good nights there. 2011 was epic for me, I was 19 and my job was a full-time club photographer so it was basically go-time from Wednesday through to Sunday and didn’t have to worry about day work. We had ‘Wednesday Woodies’ which used to pump with some big name DJs, Thursday Gee Wizz for the alternative kids, Friday & Saturday back to Woodport again and Sunday Beery. The past few years the coast really took a downfall, I’m not really sure why, but it’s coming alive again now. Woodport is now Proud Mary’s and the boys there are doing some pretty epic things never before seen on the coast, and the guys at The Beery are bringing in some dope artists from time to time which makes Sundays a lot more fun (and difficult to get up on Monday mornings for work!)
How did your evolution from photographer to DJ come about? Were you already playing sets when you were shooting?
I’m a metal head but ever since I got my hands on MOS Clubbers Guide 2003 I gained an insane passion for dance music. I always thought I had pretty good taste in music and was always the one to burn the CD’s for high school parties & when I turned 18 and started shooting at clubs I wanted to learn to DJ so badly but never had the money to get decks. At the end of 2014 I had a pretty rough breakup around tax time and so I decided to do some retail therapy and bought myself some shitty little decks and taught myself. 3 weeks later I had my first gig!
Where was your first ever gig?
My first gig was at Pulse Nightclub and I don’t really remember it because I was so nervous (and drunk off their $5 vodka red bulls) but I’m sure I did okay haha!
You’re about to jet off to Bali for your first international headline set, so good! Have you had any other international experiences or will this be a first?
Nope this will be my first international set! I went to Bali for my schoolies in 2009 and Sky Garden was only this tiny little bar with heaps mad food, but now its #88 nightclub in the world so it’s pretty cool I get to make this my first overseas gig!
Something awesome I’ve noticed about the DJ worlds is that there seems to be a helluva lotta diversity; men, women, poc, the queer community all seem to be right in amongst it. Why do you think the club scene flourishes in this area when so many other areas of music lack?
I think now that EDM is a lot more mainstream, you hear it playing on the radio, it’s in all of the clubs in some form, a lot of genres are implementing it into their music, so it does bring people of all kinds together. You see chicks at the front of the crowd head banging to dubstep and trap and not giving a shit if they get sweaty and ruin their hair and make up. Going to hardcore shows back in my teens it was quite rare to see any girls there – let alone up the front throwing the F down.
Artists aside, have you found the party-goers to also be a more inclusive and diverse community in comparison to other types of live music? Especially in regards to the queer community.
Most definitely! I know that a lot of queer people refuse to go straight clubbing for some reason. Thinking that they will be judged or run into trouble or maybe even just their pride. But I see a lot of queer people in the crowds these days and it’s awesome to see that they feel comfortable to set foot out of Newtown or Oxford Street.
It’s not unusual for DJs (male and female) to show off a bit of skin and flaunt it for the crowd. Have you ever been pressured/encouraged to show off what the good lawd gave you when you play?
Hahaha I definitely have not. I have a solid tom-boy style and everyone knows that – plus I think it would be slightly weird if I jumped up in booty shorts and a little mesh crop or something. I do think theres a lot of pressure on the more feminine DJ’s though, which is pretty shitty I think. It’s a very male dominated scene and a lot of them don’t take female DJ’s seriously or give them the time of day, so naturally they are going to feel pressured into standing out above the rest.
You recently joined the Jump Touring roster, tell us a bit about how that came about?
My manager Belle and I had been watching their stuff for a while and one thing lead to another and here we are! Now Akos has to put up with me as well as Belle haha!
What are some of your favourite places to play?
I love playing at Empire and Home The Venue in Sydney but I recently debuted at The Helm on the Sunshine Coast and that is probably my favourite place to play so far
Who are you listening to right now?
I literally made a spotify playlist of all the emo songs i listened to from 2004-2010 a few days ago so a lot of Taking Back Sunday, Funeral for a Friend, Alexisonfire, Enter Shikari, Underoath etc.
Who are some small/local acts we need to check out right now?
My boy WILDLYF is making waves at the moment with his future bass, along with 15 year old Perto who is killing the clubs right now. If you haven’t heard Blanke yet I highly suggest you check him out asap! Badrapper has this gnarly new trap sound that is making everyone go crazy for him and SIPPY is 100% about to explode up outta here and she’s on that dubstep vibe.
Catch Tori on tour through December.