(Original Photo By: Igor Snitkin)
Words By: Kelly Boyle
There is a difference between wanting something and the willingness to do what it takes to get it. It is a difference that we sometimes oversee or forget, as most childhood dreams tend to fall by the wayside and our ambitions toward them fizzle out as we get older, never quite getting around to putting ourselves to the test of achieving them.
For producer/DJ Juicy M, however, there was almost no difference at all, as she gladly accepted every challenge placed at her feet and rose to the occasion time and time again.
From a very young age, she always found herself searching for the next challenge, whether it was performances for family members, school plays, or her first gig as a DJ. As the stages got bigger and the stakes became higher, it only made her more excited. Although, she hadn’t quite thought of music as a career until her first club residency.
“I didn’t really think about the career in the global sense my first year as a resident DJ at the local club. But then we had a guest DJ, Gan-G from Germany and he stayed and listened to my set. Then after he came to me and said that I’m the best female DJ he had ever seen and he must bring me to Germany for a show. That was the moment when I first realized that I can be the best not only in my town, but in the world as well.”
This moment, having sparked the beginning of Juicy M’s journey, was a major shift in her life, offering a light at the end of the tunnel after growing up with a rather turbulent childhood.
“My childhood was great and bright, but unfortunately short. It ended at seven when my father started to drink. Until I was 11, I had to hide under the bed or in the attic of our house almost every night. When I got older I found out that my country isn’t that great and I need special approval to enter almost every other country in the world. People assumed…”that girl from the Ukraine entering a European country without a husband ‘must be a prostitute.’ Everyone knows what racism is, but nobody knows what is National Origin Discrimination. Believe me, it is a real thing and it is just as bad as racism and sexism. Sometimes it’s even worse because you look normal and everything’s fine until they see your passport and then are like ‘Oh, you’re from the Ukraine.. I’m sorry, that might be a problem..’ Do you know how many times I heard that?”
At the age of 11, Juicy and her mother ran away from her childhood home in hopes of escaping her abusive and alcoholic father. They fled their small village en route towards the capital, Kiev, by hitchhiking with little to no food and nowhere to sleep.
“These were the darkest days of my life and I still don’t quite understand how we made it. I guess the only advice I would give to myself is, ‘Stay strong little girl, everything is gonna be better than you ever dreamed!’”
All of these harrowing experiences Juicy M had throughout her early life resulted in a drive and determination that has set her apart from the rest of the crowd. The extra mile that artists and musicians are sometimes fearful of traveling, Juicy M sees them as merely a step and jumps at the opportunity— always looking to improve.
“My biggest music-related struggle was in 2013 when I uploaded my first four CDJ videos and became much more famous. I had been DJing for six years already, but I suddenly realized that being a good DJ means almost nothing. You really have to be an artist, you need to produce and sell your music and only that will bring you to the main stages. This understanding that everyone knows you, yet you’re still no one and have to start from scratch is difficult.”
With all of the struggle that comes along with an artistic career and the mental pressure we tend to put ourselves under in our efforts to forge our own path, there are still those redeeming moments that make it all worthwhile.
“I will never forget my first soldout shows in the UK in 2013 when I first saw huge lines of people trying to get to the venue just to see me perform. I still remember their screams when I got out of the car. This is what keeps me going.”
That very same feeling of genuine love and acceptance is exactly what Juicy M tries to perpetuate in the rest of the music industry as well when it comes to interacting with other artists and figures.
“I always admire how the tech industry is getting so big because it’s based on the principle of sharing knowledge. And I strongly believe this is something that is lacking in the music industry. In fact, we have kind of the opposite…just a bunch of jerks flying private jets and will not talk or just say hi to you because you’re not on their level. It can be a very unfriendly environment. My way of contributing is just not being like them. When I choose music for my podcast I never look at who the artist or label is, I care about the recording itself and if I like it or not.”
We could all certainly take a note from Juicy M’s philosophy and build each other up, rather than asking for their resume first. If we all did that, who knows how much more wonderful music we’d hear.