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Meet The Musically Omnivorous Avalon Emerson

I’ve always been fascinated and supportive of the underground community around here in Los Angeles. I mean why wouldn’t you love it? The parties go all night, people don’t stop dancing, the music is typically much more vibe inducing than any club event, and you often meet the most interesting people who are into it for real reasons. It wasn’t long until I was following my favorite afterhours promoters and DJ collectives on Soundcloud to stay in the loop, and somewhere in the mix I discovered 23-year old Kahley Emerson from San Francisco. You can call her Avalon, though. She plays those vinyl record things you might know about, throws late night parties that could potentially alter the way you think, makes original music and is involved in a whole lot of other things that you’ll be hearing about soon enough. After she first sent me her tracks and we exchanged favorite stories from our mutual friend’s events, I decided that it was only right to give Avalon an interview to show the people what’s up. Oh yeah, and her new track “Horoscope” premiered a few days ago, so dim your lights and turn on your fog machine. Everyone has a personal fog machine right? No? You should get one. Or not.

Being musically omnivorous is extremely important for a producer. Its easy to get lazy and just stick to your favorite blogs.

Where are you from? SF born and raised?

I grew up in Phoenix, AZ and started making music in high school when I was involved with a really lively freak folk/noise punk scene. I moved to SF in 2009 into this amazing warehouse with about 12 other young, creative people from all over the world…French, German, Dutch, Italian, New Yorkers, etc.

Were all of those people into similar things?

Everyone was passionate about his or her own projects… tech, food, scuba diving, music, and so on. It was an interesting mix.

So how did dance music come into the picture?

I’d been thrown house parties in college, and had just started getting into electronic dance music around then. But I had no experience DJing and never actually put together a real good party. I was still 20 years old, so I had virtually zero club experience. But for the little amount of music and parties I was involved with at the time, I just knew it was one of the most emotionally enthralling things I had ever experienced. So it just grew for me from that point onward.

As far as DJing, did you jump right into it, or were you introduced by a friend or maybe family?

One of the “warehomies” was this guy Matt, who produces under the name of Favorites. He used to DJ raves in the bay area. He taught me how to spin and we all threw the best parties.

I saw Theo Parrish last summer, and he blew me away with the kind of stuff he was playing, and how he was just manhandling the vibe and crowd…

The warehouse is where the heart is, isn’t it?

You can definitely feel the difference in a warm, friendly underground party. Not big club-promoted parties with five headliners and $16 drinks where everyone's concerned with instagramming cool photos of the cool people they're with.

But none of this was happening for you until you moved to the Bay…

Right. Our first big one was Halloween 2009… a few days before I turned 21. So that's where I'm coming from as a DJ and producer; I make tracks for my warehomies.

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On the other hand though, your work requires you to step outside from the shadows of the underground from time to time.

My boyfriend is a music journalist, and he writes a weekly column in SF Weekly called Lost in the Night and I shoot photos and video for the series, it'll be a year this summer that we've been doing it. We try our best to choose events that fill in the picture of modern SF nightlife as a whole—from private Carl Craig shows at a 100-year-old church in Oakland to a Steve Aoki massive at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. So in the end I get to see a pretty wide cross section of how a lot of different people are partying.

Would you say that seeing all ends of the music spectrum is an important thing for all DJs and producers alike?

Being musically omnivorous is extremely important for a producer. It's easy to get lazy and just stick to your favorite blogs.

And as far as your own production goes, has that always been present? Or has it been only as of late that you’ve been making stuff?

I’ve never really stopped writing songs, but I've only recently started releasing stuff to the public. I've been making remixes and re-edits for more utility use on dancefloors for a while though… past few years.

You’re busy making a bunch of tracks right now, what can we look forward to?

I'm in the studio all time! I'm finishing up a volume 2 for my "John McCain & the Cybernetic Chamber" series. I wanted a place to put my re-edits, remixes and sample-based productions. Check out the first installation.

Are all of your tracks and other productions getting put out on your own label project?

Yes, everything of mine is coming out under the digital umbrella of Non Seq. You’ll be hearing more about that next month with the official launch. We’re going to be introducing a cassette mixtape series, so stay tuned for that.

You’re mainly focusing on your productions and the launch of the label this year?

And some event stuff too, but I’m going to keep that under wraps for now.

When it comes to DJing, what’s your preferred setup and why? I really love the kind of parties you’re involved with because they’re always directed entirely by the DJ’s ideal settings.

Vinyl, CDs, a rotary, and an isolator. It’s the most fun for me and that’s all there is to it. Using an Isolator to make the songs sound dynamic and new and work into the vibe of the crowd has definitely become part of my style.

As far as influences and inspirations go, would you mind sharing who you admire locally and legendary?

As far as DJs go, I'm a shameless Harvey Krishna. Conor and Solar in SF are some really incredible DJs too; it's not rare when they hit the booth and sound way better than the guests they're opening for, especially when they play their expensive record nerd jams. I also saw Theo Parrish last summer, and he blew me away with the kind of stuff he was playing, and how he was just manhandling the vibe and crowd into feverish highs and hypnotic valleys. I could go on and on.

Well, before we wrap this up, how about you mention some of your favorite music event crews in the area. Who should the readers keep an eye out for if they hit up the Bay area this summer?

The Trill Team 6 guys throw some super fun parties in Oakland and SF and the Body//Current undergrounds in the mission are great. And of course Conor and Solar are always sure shots for parties. Oh, and the Honey Soundsystem dudes are magical.

Top 5 must-haves in your record bag, both old and new?

Kasso “Key West" (Jellybean edit)
Manolo “Night Rhythm”
Kenny Dixon Jr “Shades of Jae”
The Future Sound Of London “Papa New Guinea”
Ce Ce Peniston “Finally" (David Morales Journey mix)

Avalon on Facebook.

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