DJ Spotlight: Sofia Fly
Sofia Fly is relatively fresh on the scene but has been making music and writing poetry for some time. We’re already big fans of the trans DJ/producer who plays everything from house, Latin, trap, to pop music. Her fiery sets focus heavily on LGBTQ and women artists, and during them she channels inspiration from both her Latin roots and her Toronto upbringing. Did we mention Fly is an accomplished rapper? She isn’t afraid to grab the mic to spit some bars during her sets, show up for her glow up!
How did you come by your DJ name?
I used to be a rapper/producer named PhilosoFly. I was performing shows, festivals, and producing for other local artists under that name. I was a finalist in 2017’s Battle of the Beatmakers under that name and was doing pretty well for myself, buuuutt then I realized that I was trans and that pretty much everything I was doing wasn’t actually me. It was me performing for other people (quite literally). So when I made the decision to transition, I wanted to change my artist/DJ name to something that better reflected me. So PhilosoFly evolved into Sofia Fly.
Is DJing something you’ve always dreamed of doing?
I’ve always dreamed of a career in music, whatever that looks like.
How did you come into it?
I started by making beats and producing, and I got pretty good at that, but it wasn’t really growing much career-wise, especially as I started going to more queer things and hanging out less with rappers. Not many people needed beats, but a lot of people needed DJs, so I was like, “Word, I can do that.”
How did you take that first step or become brave enough to start playing?
It didn’t take much bravery, actually. I was hosting local hip hop shows at the time, and I just rented some equipment, played around with it at home, and then fooled around with it at the show. I was definitely awful at first, but the shows were super chill and super low-key, so there were no high expectations to get nervous about. The first time I had a proper paid gig where people were counting on me, though, I was definitely nervous AF. I was also broke AF though, so I just powered through it.
How would you recommend aspiring DJs get into this world?
Make a bunch of playlists, go to a bunch of parties, download a bunch of music, rent some equipment, aaaaand yeah, practise that shit and have fun.
We are already big fans of your sets, but why does this city need a DJ like yourself?
Umm cuz my shit’s dope?
As a trans person of colour, have you faced challenges or issues as a DJ in TO that relate to this?
Well, on the trans side of things, it’s kinda the same as any other job. Just a lot of awkward interactions, misgendering, people looking at me like I’m an alien and shit. It definitely affects the gigs I get offered too. Like, 90 percent of the events I do are LGBTQ. Which is cool. I honestly haven’t been looking outside the LGBTQ community for opportunities much. I don’t know how much there would actually be. My instinct tells me that most heteros don’t give a shit about my music and would rather dance to some straight guy DJing Drake and Post Malone, but I don’t know. Eventually, I’ll step into that world more and I’ll let you know how that goes.
On the person-of-colour side of things, it means I’m often DJing for a crowd with a very different upbringing and taste and music than me. That was a big challenge for me at first because I didn’t have a lot of white music, I didn’t know a lot of white music, and I felt like I had to skip over some of my favourite tracks just cuz I knew the crowd wouldn’t get it. Now, I have a better musical knowledge, and I don’t do as much skipping over my faves as I used to. It seems to be working, but it’s still an ongoing struggle.
Give us three words, verbs or adjectives that describe your musical styling?
Trippy, bouncy, sexy-boss-bitch-energy.
What is your DJ pet peeve?
People requesting Taylor Swift.
Dream DJ to open or close for?
Not really a thing I’ve ever thought about. I would love to do Tomorrowland. That’s been a dream ever since I watched the Netflix doc.
Dream location? (this can be anywhere on planet earth, including at the top of a mountain if you want)
A house party at either Rihanna’s or J Lo’s.
Secret weapon song?
Well, it wouldn’t be a secret if I told you, now would it? :P
Other DJs in the city that you love?
Strangest place you've ever played?
Nothing overly strange. I did DJ an LGBT kids and families event on a Saturday morning once, though. It was adorable! But also, toddlers can be a tough crowd.