Interview: Yo! Mafia

Interview: Yo! Mafia

If you want a quick biography of Yo! Mafia in two words, look no farther than ‘crowd pleaser’, because that’s exactly who she is. Crowd pleaser, risk taker, style guru – keeping the crowd moving is just one of her natural talents. Others include traveling like a pro with her Incase luggage and accessories, doing a backflip and stealing your heart, always sporting the freshest wheels and keeping it real 200% of the time.

Q: Tell us about yourself.
Mafia: I’m a DJ and creative from Melbourne, Australia, hustlin’ my way around the globe, playing records for a living and spreading nothing but positive vibes!
Q: How did you get involved with the music scene? How did you end up becoming a DJ?
Mafia: I was at serious cross roads in my life, having classically trained as an actor at one of Australia’s most prestigious drama schools since the age of nine. I was grinding so hard from show to show and not making a lot of cash, when my dream job at the local record store came my way. It was a huge decision to make – turn my back on a passion I honed since childhood for a full-time job in a music store. This was in the mid 90s, so, you can imagine the vinyl that used to come into the store! As the vinyl buyer and grader, I had first dibs on any second-hand records that walked through the door. I amassed a HUGE collection of original pressing Hip Hop and Funk 12” and thus begun the obsession. From there a good friend who put on nights at one of the bigger clubs in town asked vinyl store workers to come in and spin their collections. I took the challenge by the horns, jumped on the ones and twos and never looked back. The acting experience allowed me to feel completely comfortable on stage under any sort of pressure and as someone who doesn’t shy away from the spotlight, I had found the perfect balance of both worlds!

"It was a huge decision to make – turn my back on a passion I honed since childhood for a full-time job in a music store."

Q: What influences your work? Why?
Mafia: Definitely a good beat. If it makes your head nod and your face go STANK, then it’s a winner in my eyes. I’m all about positive feel good vibes so the music has to be uplifting and get the party started from zero to hero.
Q: How do you stay inspired?
Mafia: I’ve always had a passion for research – whether it be in music, acting, sneakers, culture and streetwear. I’m a fiend for knowledge, especially for the bibs and bobs that make me tick. I guess you could say I get a little obsessive about the things I love. It started with buying at least 10-15 magazines a week when I was in my early teens, to writing faux biographies about my favourite musicians or actors on my Commodore 64 to, of course the advent of the internet and spending hours a day researching, scrolling and soaking in as much information as I could.
Q: Do you have a favorite track(s) that you’ve ever made? What is it/are they?
Mafia: I like to stay in my lane as a DJ and do what I do best, which is rock the party. I’ve tried my hand at producing but I find the hours of sitting in a studio by myself torture. I feed off a live crowd and like to do all my “production” aka “mash ups and blends” on the fly while I’m DJ’ng. It keeps me on my toes and keeps my career very interesting. I’m a huge people pleaser, so I thrive on the instant gratification of a live blend working super perfectly.
"I’m always stuck for juice when my laptop or iPhone dies at the airport, so now I literally charge it up from my NoviConnected and I’m good to go ALL DAY!"

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
Mafia: I really try and take care of myself. I’m a lot older than most working and touring DJs, and have been at this for a LONG minute, so there’s a lot of chiro, acupuncture, massage and swimming to keep my mind and body sorted. I like bundles of quiet time and hitting the podcasts, listening to a lot of interviews from artists that inspire me, picking up my camera and taking snaps wherever I am and chilling with my cat, Rahzel!
Q: How did you get involved with Incase?
Mafia: I’ve always been a huge fan of Incase – ever since Ari Marcopoulous launched his Cool Grey DSLR Camera bag back in mid 2000s. I was heavy into photography (time wise I wish I still was, but I still have a massive passion for it) back then and needed the perfect bag for all my gear. Fast-forward to this year and a good friend introduced me to the Incase team Down Under and we just gelled from the get go. It’s been a fantastic relationship of like-minded creatives and couldn’t have come at a better time as I’m travelling more than ever.
Q: What is your favorite incase item to use? Why?
Mafia: Definitely the Novi Connected Case. I’m always stuck for juice when my laptop or iPhone dies at the airport, so now I literally charge it up from my case and I’m good to go ALL DAY! No more carrying battery packs or worrying about being on 2%! It’s a stellar case and believe me I can pack at least 4 days’ worth of stuff in that one little carry on. MASSIVE!

"I was an INCREDIBLE gymnast haha! I could do a backflip and steal your heart!"

Q: What’s your involvement with Sneaker Freaker?
Mafia: I used to be the Senior Online Content Producer at Sneaker Freaker back in 2007 until 2012 when I made the epic move to become a full time DJ. It was a very hard decision to leave, as it was such an incredible learning experience under big boss dog Woody. I like to say that he gave me a journalism degree in the time I was there. I knew I’d end up working at a magazine one day and by chance I reached out to Woody to get his opinion on another job I was about to take. Surprisingly, he said, “just come work for me”. and the rest was history. It was the invaluable training in online media that kept me there for so long. I’ll always be completely loyal to the brand and am so incredibly proud of where Woody has taken SNKRFRKR.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
Mafia: That I’m a pretty low-key person behind the scenes. I have a super amount of crazy energy to expel when I’m onstage and also when I’m around people, but my lifestyle is pretty low key and I like to chill as much as I can. It’s a skill I’ve had to learn after burning the candle energy wise with so many gigs and travel, so the balance is getting there nicely these days. Oh, and I was an INCREDIBLE gymnast haha! I could do a backflip and steal your heart!