When On Tap learned that DJ Ayes Cold’s five years of experience as a DJ in the DC area have been influenced by a lifetime of hearing exciting sounds by forward-thinking musicians worldwide, the cause for her growing appeal became quite obvious. If headed to a festival in the DC area this summer, she’ll likely be playing a set, and you’re certainly in for a treat.
Born Ayesha Chugh in Chicago, DJ Ayes Cold has actually lived in numerous places during her life, including the DMV, which she currently calls home. She attributes her upbringing in locales as diverse as California and India to her parents being “mobile people.” This “mobility” ultimately led her to discovering music – namely playing the piano for roughly a decade as a child – as a “hobby and source of comfort” as her transient childhood pushed her to develop hobbies in lieu of long-lasting childhood friendships.
The diversity of her early tastes is impressive. Classical music, classic rock icons The Doors and Eric Clapton, modern rock names including Nirvana, INXS and Guns N’ Roses, and soul pioneers Prince, Seal and Sade all found their way into Ayes Cold’s ears at an early age. She believes this “shaped her ear” of inspiration for the progressive house and hip-hop culture-inspired and bass-heavy global sounds she currently spins.
Also, the DJ’s parents working in the tech industry allowed her to become a keenly aware early adopter and adapter to the spread of more forward-thinking underground music via Internet downloading services like Napster and LimeWire. This influence has made its way into her work at present. In her sets today, there’s just as many sounds familiar to pop-ready Spotify listening playlists as there are underground hits culled from SoundCloud searches for African, Caribbean or South American indie dance producers.
She’s gearing up for an extensive summer festival lineup, adding to her repertoire of live performances. Last year’s warm weather months included the Broccoli City Festival, Trillectro and the H Street Festival, and she’s fresh off the heels of a U.S. tour as one-third of agit-pop indie darling MIA’s one-time touring drummer Kiran Gandhi’s all-female electro-organic bass and dance trio, Madame Gandhi.
She describes the balance between being both a solo act and in a band as “motivating and inspirational,” as well as “a treat for showcasing her wide cultural knowledge and awareness of the world.” As with all things DJ Ayes Cold, there’s an awareness of her understanding of the “then,” “why,” “how” and “who’s listening and dancing” regarding the music she’s playing that makes her work truly significant.