Catching up With Globetrotting DJ & Skincare Devotee, AMRIT
Establishing yourself in the creative industry can be scary and uncertain, but for some, it's a challenge worth taking. Luckily for Amrit Sidhu—better known as DJ Amrit—hard work and diligence come naturally. After moving to NYC from Australia, Amrit immersed herself fully in NYC’s nightlife and culture and made herself a creative asset for brands as big as Dior and Nike. Amrit's musical talents have landed her incredible gigs like opening for Jorja Smith, playing at exclusive parties around the world and serving as the right-hand woman to rapper, Tommy Genesis. We spoke to NY’s it-girl about being a creative, her personal style and what it took to turn her goals into reality.
Photography by Dylan Warmack.
For those unfamiliar, can you tell us more about who you are, your background and what you do?
I’m a DJ and creative consultant. I left a 4-year stint as a Talent Director (at a creative agency last year), so now, in addition to music (Dj gigs, touring, radio), I consult and collaborate with brands across everything from strategy conception to talent casting and creative direction.
You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that your upbringing was in Australia. Growing up, did music play a big role in your life?
I was born in Singapore but grew up in Australia-bounced around with brief stints all through Asia & Europe before settling in New York 8 years ago. The experience as a whole was highly influential in shaping my musical journey-the constant exposure to new sounds in different cultures and movements. Music has always been the constant in my life. I actually have a degree in music, so I studied everything from Jazz composition to Film music.
It goes without saying that NYC isn't for everyone, however you’ve navigated the landscape like a true boss lady. This ultimately has led you to amazing gigs and collaborations like spinning alongside Jorja Smith at the Guggenheim to working with brands like Fendi and Marc Jacobs. Can you speak more about creating opportunities for yourself? What advice do you have for someone aspiring to find their “dream job”?
Thank you! The biggest takeaway/learning experience from me that I can share is that your “dream job” doesn’t exist. Like anything worthwhile in life, you really do need to create that for yourself. When I first moved to NYC I didn’t even have a valid working visa, I was sneaking in and out every 3 months—and at my last agency job, I ended up evolving quickly from an assistant position to the role of a Director, overseeing a department I helped create. Take risks and especially as a woman of color—always ask for more. More responsibility, more creative control...more money!
Let’s talk about music for a bit. When you’re getting ready for a night out, who are you listening to?
Tommy and I have this fun playlist together, which we keep it updated with our favorite songs. The tour is called God is Wild, so we decided to play off that-the playlist is called God’s Girls.
What have been some of your most memorable sets?
2018 was a great year for memorable sets! Dior x Guggenheim is definitely up there, I got to play at the Moma for Nike which was definitely a big bucket list moment. It was also my first year being billed as an artist on festival lineups, I got to play Ladyland, Hot 100 & Wake Up Festival.. so that was very special to me.
When curating your music selection, do you keep the audience in mind? What is that creative process like?
I always try to read the room and keep the audience in mind, but also I think it’s important as an artist to educate and share new sounds. So I’m not really one for requests or trying to play all the hits. I love to mix up genres too-so if I’m playing a Hip Hop & Grime party set, I’ll throw in some disco and house samples or a K-pop song.
In addition to your personal work, you also DJ (and sing) alongside Tommy Genesis. Can you tell us more about the working dynamic and friendship between you two?
It's been great—manifesting your dream job while getting to tour the world with your best friend. What could be better! We start tour again in February, you can find tickets to the show here.
I’ve been bumping your EP Lies for a minute and I am obsessed—I love it! Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the evocative, boundary-breaking tracks?
I sneakily released that a while back. It was a fun and unexpected thing that happened in a very serendipitous way. As an artist, I’m always evolving and finding new mediums to create. I made Lies with my friend Sene. We were just messing around making song after song in my shitty Chinatown share apartment—half the equipment was being held together with duct tape. We ended up releasing the project because there was enough material to stand as a body of work. Almost immediately after we put it out I got really busy with DJing and he ended up landing the lead role in the movie, White Girl.. so it ended there. Who knows, maybe 2019 is the year for the comeback! The project actually got some cool momentum with TV syncs—it was even in an episode of Huang’s World during the Women’s march.
You had your first amazing cover feature with SNEEZE Magazine, a publication which has highlighted creatives like Chloe Sevigny, Angelo Baque to A$AP Rocky. Can you tell us more about that experience and how it came about?
Funny story was they reached out to me to cast the story, and I’ve actually done this with a casting job before, but I put it back out to them that I was interested! It was supposed to be in-book, but they were really happy with the photos (shot by Peter Sutherland, a legend!) and ended up running it as a cover. I’m a big Sneeze fan, so it was cool to add to my collection with a cover of my own.
Previously you casted talent and have done some incredible projects with notable figures like Travis Scott and French Montana. What have been some of your favorite projects?
Working with the big names is always cool-but highlighting emerging talent has always been more rewarding for me. A few to name: Tyler Mitchell’s first modeling campaign (American Eagle), Salem Mitchell and her family for GAP, Ashton Sander’s first editorial shoot (VMan), many of Tommy’s earlier projects. I value my position in the industry with great responsibility and my motive was to always pay it forward and highlight my peers. It was always about taking these kids off the vision boards and putting them on the billboards.
You're constantly running from meetings to events and everything in between, yet you still manage to look effortlessly put-together. What is your signature go-to look?
My look is always some amalgamation of streetwear, tailoring and vintage. My signature is usually sneakers with a tailored pant or jacket (always oversized) and a vintage tee. My glam is pretty low maintenance (bare skin with filled brows) but if I'm transitioning into night, I'll slick on a glossy lip or bright eyeshadow to dress it up.
Do you have a Grail piece?
Anything from the 1991 Alaia show—it was all leopard print, caged leather pieces, sheer & velvet fabrics—aka the closet of my dreams! Same goes for Marc Jacobs’ 1993 Perry Ellis show. I know they re-released the collection last year but owning an OG piece would be iconic.
Where can we find you shopping and eating in the city?
Eating is one of my favorite things to do. I had so much food content that I started documenting my food journey here @amriteats. Some of my favorite spots in the city are Fish Cheeks, Dudleys, 49 Monroe, Williamsburg Pizza, Miss Lily's, Uncle Boons and Five Leaves (best brunch, get the pancakes). Fave shopping in the city is Totokaelo, Opening Ceremony, Frankie Shop, Round 2 and Awoke Vintage for thrift finds. For online shopping, I love the edits on SSENSE & Shopbop.
As a traveling musician, your work brings you all over the world—that calls for early mornings and even later nights. Can you share your beauty routine while touring and how you maintain your healthy glow in any time zone?
My schedule is hectic, so I try to keep to a regimented skincare routine because the travel can wreak havoc on my skin. I get a monthly facial for extractions-I love Glospa in NYC and Kate Sommerville in LA. I usually cleanse with Glossier Milky Jelly, tone with P50 or Ole Henriksen’s Glow 20H, serum with Caudalie’s Vinoperfect Radiance and moisturize with Augustinus Bader’s The Rich Cream. I like to mix that with Clary Collection’s Renew + Repair oil in the winter, it’s a lifesaver for dry skin/eczema. I always love the individual Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta peels because they’re easy to travel with. I'll alternate Crop Natural masks (their Aloe Vera one is awesome) and I love all the Amika hair care products-they smell really nice and their travel size dry shampoo is always in my purse. I recently started using the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask on flights. Honestly I could talk about skincare forever!
Lastly, what's to come for you in 2019?
I have so much fun stuff coming up! I can’t wait to share it with you guys. New radio mixes, a Europe + USA tour starting in Feb & a couple of collabs which will be a first for me on the design front. I’m excited.