Rocking a party at a white-hot nightclub is just the tip of the iceberg for Lindsay Frio, who DJs under the name Lindsay Luv. Her job might keep her up until the wee hours, but it takes plenty of hustle during the day to make it all come together. "I’m up early answering emails, managing my accounting, chasing down bills, updating my websites, downloading new music, planning photo shoots, social networking, and the list goes on," she explains.
The Boston native was raised on a steady diet of Springsteen and Neil Young, courtesy of her parents, and played the saxophone from an early age. While working in music management and promotion, she developed a friendship with the late Adam Goldstein, a.k.a. DJ AM, who suggested she try her hand behind the tables. She’s been spinning for larger and larger crowds ever since, keeping the dance floors packed at L.A. clubs like the Mondrian’s SkyBar, where she’s the resident DJ, as well as New York’s Webster Hall, along with private parties for the likes of Britney Spears, Richard Branson, Pharrell, and her friend Mel B. When she has any spare time, she enjoys hiking and going to the beach, but these days she’s working almost nonstop. "The one thing that has remained consistent throughout my jobs in this industry is my attachment to discovering new music and sharing it with other music lovers," she says. Looks like she’s got her work cut out for her.
Here, in her own words, Lindsay discusses wilderness trips with her family as a kid, DJing at the Playboy mansion, and what it’s like to be complimented by Suge Knight.
Tell me a little bit about your background. Where were you born, and where did you grow up? What were you into as a kid?
I was born in Boston, grew up in a small suburb outside the city, and graduated from UMass Amherst. I’ve always been into music. I played the saxophone for many years growing up, and in high school I would help promote emerging local bands at the time like Dispatch and Guster. I was always very active. I was captain of the cheerleading squad in high school, and I would spend every summer traveling and horseback riding out west in places like Arizona, Wyoming, and Montana with my family. My parents lived on a Navajo reservation before I was born, so visiting the west was a big part of my upbringing.
How did you get involved with music in general, and DJing in particular? Was there someone or something that was influential to you at an early age that made you decide on a career in music?
Music was always in my blood. My parents are still hippies at heart, and raised me on vinyl of their favorite artists like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, and Social Distortion. When I moved to New York I got involved with the management team for The Raveonettes. Their producer, Richard Gottehrer – a legendary songwriter and producer in the music business – and his notable business partner Scott Cohen, were really the first people to mentor me in the industry. As I moved through different music-related jobs, I was eventually booking various artists like Justice, Chromeo, and Mickey Avalon for brand events in New York. In doing this, I crossed paths with the late Adam Goldstein, aka DJ AM. We immediately became friends and I would send him all my underground music finds for his sets. When I was between jobs at one point, and the economy had just taken a turn for the worse, he suggested I DJ. I had never thought of it as an option before, but suddenly it seemed like a perfect fit. I bought all the equipment he recommended, practiced for hours each day at my friend’s club Ella in the Village in New York, and the rest is history.
When did you know that you had made it?
While New York definitely held the building blocks for my career as a DJ, the actual day I moved to LA was my birthday, and I had been booked to DJ at the Playboy Mansion. Playing at such an iconic place for a wild party on my first day in Hollywood was pretty epic, and set the pace for my career moving forward in my new home. DJing rooms and private parties for the likes of Britney Spears, Richard Branson, Pharrell, and intimate affairs like the baby shower I just spun for my friend and Spice Girl, Mel B, really felt like defining moments. At the end of it all though, making it for me means making a living by sharing great music with whomever wants to listen and dance.
What is an average day like for you – if there is such a thing as an average day?
I really look at my career as building a brand, the brand being Lindsay Luv. Before I was even DJing, I was building a following regarding my work in music within social media outlets like Myspace, where I had amassed over 25,000 followers. What happens in the DJ booth is only half of the battle. I always wake up early, around 9 am, and immediately hit the computer. I generally take a break to hike and run errands, and then it’s back to work before a gig. Some days are spent solely on email, others are spent recording mixes in my home studio, and others are spent on the road touring. Traveling nationally and internationally takes a lot of additional work. I am going to DJ in India for New Year’s Eve this year, which is exciting, but has taken a ton of work in securing visas, scheduling press opps, immunizations, paperwork and so on.
What are some of your favorite clubs to DJ?
I have been a resident DJ at SkyBar in LA since I moved here. They essentially enticed me to move from New York and rock it at their gorgeous poolside hot spot both for their summer pool parties and weekend evenings. SkyBar is a staple in LA, and you never know who will drop by. The staff is amazing and so is the view. Every summer pool party and Saturday night I have DJed there has been packed, and we have so many great regulars. What more can a DJ ask for? I also love to play at cutting edge spots like Hemingway’s and many of the cool SBE spots like MyStudio, however since I DJ so many big events I get the opportunity to bounce around to tons of different clubs, which keeps it interesting. Back in New York, Webster Hall on a weekend night is really thrilling to play because they function as a concert hall as well. Last time I played there, I went on after having seen Nine Inch Nails play the same stage the night before. It was surreal to play on the same stage as huge artists, with an incredible sound system and to thousands of people that go there to party each weekend!
What advice would you give to a DJ who is just starting out?
I think there are a few important tips. Always remember to stay humble and professional. Be the DJ that the people hiring you can count on, and always treat each gig like it’s the biggest gig of your life. That way you always rock it! And stay inspired. I never use a set list. I allow the night and the different crowds to dictate my sets as I go. Also, download and research new music constantly. People look to you to inspire them, not bore them with the same sets night after night. I think being true to yourself is always a great piece of advice as well. You may not be the best scratcher or the perfect mixer or the latest it girl, so focus on what your talents are and build your confidence and your brand around them. Recognize and own up to what makes you special in a sea of talent.
Have any funny or interesting things happened while you were DJing?
I love the fact that notorious Death Row Records legend Suge Knight came up to me while I was DJing at the Mondrian Skybar the other week. He told me he had seen a million DJ’s but that I was special and really lit up the room. He took a picture with me and told me he would come back again to see me spin. Sure enough, he came back the following weekend and we took another picture. I know he has a very intense background, but to me he represented the person who brought some of my favorite hip-hop albums to the forefront of the industry when I was young. Hearing a compliment like that from someone so notable was pretty amazing.
Is there one particular style of music you enjoy working with? Any favorite artists?
I really love it all. I have played every genre and often spin them all in any given set, which is why I label myself a true open format DJ. Some of my favorite artists are Madonna, Daft Punk, Michael Jackson, Robyn, The Gossip, The Raveonettes, Jack White, Dr. Dre, Rihanna, Chromeo, Snoop Dogg, Swedish House Mafia, The Animals, The Rolling Stones, Blondie, The Faint, Holy Ghost, Garbage, and The Cult.
Finally, what do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working?
I love outdoor activities in California, like hiking and kicking back at the beach. My biggest passion outside of DJing is cooking. I love to cook and spend a ton of time in the kitchen and entertaining for friends. I love wine and going wine tasting, and I also love traveling to exotic destinations, whether for work or play.
Photo by Shannon Cottrell
Hair by Elisha & Carly of The Establishment
Makeup by Melissa Sandoval