HAI-LIFE | 5 Minutes With

HAI-LIFE is a New York-based DJ and producer whose signature house music blend of nostalgic grooves and disruptive innovation is setting her apart from her peers. Live, HAI-LIFE has brought her immersive visuals to the likes of New York club, Elsewhere, and festivals like Countdown NYE and GrooveCruise. Following the success of her independently released single ‘All I Wanna’ in 2022, which was widely featured on editorial playlists, HAI-LIFE has continued to bring originality and femininity to her authentic style. The artist’s latest single, ‘Call Me Baby’, aims to transport listeners back to the 90s with memorable grooves and bouncy melodies.

The nostalgic ’90s deep house vibe in ‘Call Me Baby’ is captivating. Can you share the specific influences or moments that inspired this track’s sound?

I am the most inspired by artists who are able to create an immersive world around their music, and that’s what I try to accomplish with every release. When I was making Call Me Baby, I was also listening to Deep Inside by Hardrive (which is such a classic 90s house song), as well as My Paradise (Vintage Culture Remix), which does such a great job at capturing that iconic 90s house sound in a modern way. With modern electronic music getting faster and darker, I wanted to go in the opposite direction, and create a tune that captures the grooviness and warmth you often find in 90s house, and what I feel is often missing from the modern dance scene. And, to really bring the song to life, I also released graphics and visualizers that really bring the song to life and feature retro phones and TVs that really transport viewers back to a different time before modern technology existed.

You’re a female DJ breaking into an arguably male-dominated scene. What challenges have you faced along the way, and how to you make yourself stand out?

While there has been progress, the electronic scene, especially in the US, continues to be predominantly white and male-dominated. It’s hard to see yourself thrive in an industry when you don’t see many people like you performing on big stages, or being featured on big Spotify Editorial playlists. And, that’s why I believe representation is so important. Seeing DJs and music producers like Peggy Gou, TOKiMONSTA, and Honey Dijon take the industry by a storm really helped expand my perspective on what’s possible for myself. So part of my fuel for working so hard is that I want to one day inspire other women and BIPOC artists to keep going and believing in themselves.

To stand out, I think it’s so important to embrace your individuality and strengths even if it goes against what everyone else is doing. For me, I prioritize worldbuilding and working with super-talented graphic designers and photographers because I want my music to be brought to life in meaningful ways. For other artists, they may choose to invest their attention and energy into other facets of their brand. Everyone’s path to success is different, so don’t be afraid to follow your intuition and forge your own path if that’s what you think is the right choice for you.

Your journey of breaking free and embracing your authenticity is inspiring. How has the world of house music and DJing been a catalyst in allowing you to express your true self?

Growing up in a conservative and traditional Asian household and culture, my decision to be a bold artist wasn’t an easy choice because it went against everything I was taught to do. However, my creative journey has brought so much color and joy into my life that I am reminded almost every day that I made the right choice. Through performing to big crowds and releasing my music, I have realized how powerful and special my unique style is as an artist. I have realized that I do have something special to offer to the world. And, that knowledge that I have gained through many experiences is what keeps me going because the journey is not easy and is filled with ups, and lots of downs.

Transitioning from investment banking to immersive DJing is quite a leap. If you could offer advice to your younger self embarking on this journey, what would you share with them?

I would thank my younger self for having the courage to take all the risks that she did, and for following her heart and honoring her desires. I remember how much anxiety I had in the beginning of my journey, and I am so grateful that even while I experienced so much fear and doubt, I never gave up and always showed up for myself–which is half the battle.

I would tell her to have more faith in herself, and that the universe will be on her side as long as she’s operating from a place of authenticity and integrity. I would also tell her it’s never too late to start. I had so much imposter syndrome in the beginning because I felt like I was “behind” because I didn’t start DJ’ing or producing since I was young, and instead, picked it up in my mid-twenties.

With ‘Call Me Baby’ garnering editorial attention, what plans do you have for future releases and performances that your fans should be eagerly anticipating?

As an indie artist who is self-funded and self-managed, I am so excited that my song ‘Call Me Baby’ has been featured on two huge Spotify Editorial Dance playlists (New Music Friday Dance and Shuffle Syndrome) because it helps me reach listeners all over the world. Both of these playlists feature super accomplished artists supported by big labels, so being included is a huge testament to my hard work and tenacity.

I am planning to release so much more music next year and at a more consistent pace. I finally feel like I’ve found my sound my confidence as a producer, so I’m so excited to get these new songs out into the world!!

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