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Artist Interview - Philippa - NZ DJ/Producer

Posted by on 18 July 2013


Philippa 1



Based in Auckland, Philippa has been a keen music enthusiast from day one. Her mother is a skilled and fanatical music teacher and thus Philippa’s early years were spent participating in all things musical, gaining advanced piano and singing qualifications by the age of 16… 
a beginning that stood her in good steed for future musical developments.

With a Bachelor of Arts in the study of Religion and a Diploma in Audio Engineering, Philippa is widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s top stratum DJs.  Having begun DJing late ’97 after falling in love with deep house, Philippa’s musical career has been one of hard work mixed with accolades and a steadfast nature that has seen her stand by the music she passionately believes in.

In 2010 Philippa was taken on by MAINZ
(The Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand) alongside Detroit native, electronic music legend Recloose, to co-write and tutor on the DJ and Electronic Music Production Programme.

As a promoter, her flagship events CHICAGO DISCO continue to pack out INK BAR (home to the infamous club nights), the party now eight years deep; CHICAGO DISCO has also taken to the skies every year on national tours, flying to hotspots and clubs of cool kids nation-wide.

When it comes to house music in New Zealand – particularly the deeper end of the house music spectrum – Philippa has been at the forefront of the genre, right from the beginning.  A new chapter has begun – mid July 2013 she’s moved to Berlin to get amongst what can only be described as one of the most alive house scenes in the world.  We wish her luck!

You have been DJing for many years now- how has your approach changed over
the years?

As I’ve grown musically I have learnt to follow my heart and taste 100%. This means more musical sets where you are likely to hear me playing cross genre, according to the emotional direction I feel like taking on the night. It’s still essentially going to be house music – but I will play from the nu disco and indie dance influenced end of things right through to deep house and grooving techno. I don’t restrict myself to the confines of a sub-genre anymore:  if I like it – I play it.  It can take a few years to stop “shoulding” on yourself and give yourself free rein as an artist I guess...

In general I like more adventurous and musical DJ sets.  You can hear if a DJ has wide taste
in music - it shines through.  The opposite is also true.

What impact has technology made on you

for DJing?

It keeps shifting and changing doesn’t it?
And this will only continue as the exponential rate of technological development marches ever forward.   I learnt to DJ on two Technics SL1200 turntables and used to spend up to $200 a week on highly coveted vinyl!  I’m glad I came up as a DJ in that era as it taught all of us from that era a set of invaluable skills… however I’ve recently made the transition to Native Instruments Traktor – and this I know will have a huge impact on my DJing.  The functionality of Traktor is just so much more – the lines are being blurred between traditional DJ sets and live performances – it really is an exciting time to be a DJ.

What gear do you use for DJing & production?

Traktor for DJing and Ableton Live with various plugins for production.  I’ve recently purchased Spectrasonics Trillian and am amazed by the sound quality and functionality of the plugin;  I also love the SoundToys and Waves plugins.  And shout outs need to go out to local guy Goldbaby, whose beat packs have been doing a lot to improve the sound quality of my beat writing…

You’re teaching the next generation of up & coming DJs & producers at MAINZ- how do their attitudes towards DJing & Electronic Music Production differ to those who may be already established?

A good question which has a variety of complex answers!  There’s definitely an open mindedness with young producers in New Zealand presently, at least with the students we have on the DJEMP programme at MAINZ.  This has changed even in the last few years – things were very dub-step dominated a few years ago, but the current crop of students are more open minded and open to exploring a variety of electronic music sounds.  I think this is a good place for us to be in NZ right now - it’s more musical and honest and I think bodes well for the future.

Having said that, we’re in a state of flux where things are shifting and changing constantly and I think to an extent we’re struggling to find a sound in clubland to identify with presently..  Which is partly due to our geographical separation from the rest of the world (which means we’re slightly out of touch), partly due to the commercialisation and corporatisation of clubland (especially in Auckland), and partly because New Zealand seems to largely lack an ‘adult’ end of the market (what we have here in Auckland is cool but small).  This is a shame to me – when you visit Europe for example clubland is full of adults (post 30) who still love to go out and dance /  hear music on a decent sound system.  I could go on forever here, but would probably send your readers to sleep so best I stop! Have I gone off topic?  I think I may have gone off topic…

What has been your favourite gig so far?

This is sooo hard to answer.  Any number of random nights at Ink Bar (that small, grungy and awesome bastion of underground electronic music on K Road) are hard to beat in terms of fun and the deep satisfaction you get from playing exactly what you want to play to a crowd that “get it”..  A gig I played in Berlin last July when visiting would be up there too..  As would a number of Splore and Rhythm and Vines sets over the years.

What’s on the horizon for DJ Philippa?

Mid July this year I am hopping on a plane and moving to Berlin, Germany!  They have one of the most vibrant house / electronic music scenes in the world.  House music is massive in Europe presently, whereas it’s very small in New Zealand. I’ve also been putting in serious hours in the studios at MAINZ for the last few years and my production is starting to get to a place I’m happy with.  To get signed to the labels I want to be part of in Europe, I need to be there.
Plus I’m really looking forward to checking out the gazillion artists I’ve looked up to for years, as well as the emergent artists, who regularly play the European club circuit.  It’s going to be fun to just get amongst for a while…

You can check out Phillipa's blog at