Sasha Grey may be the first to admit she got this gig because Rolling Stone once called her “The Dirtiest Girl in the World.” Grey may be the first to admit it all started as a big joke for a few promoters. She may even be the first to admit that nothing really sets her apart from other aspiring DJs, except, well, where she’s come from.
But Grey is unfazed. She’s done this before. At age 18 she blew down the doors of porn, shocked sensibilities, and brought intellect to an industry
“Promoters were contacting me for a few years to fill DJ opener sets because I think they read my music writing on Myspace, of all places,” Grey tells New Times, laughing at her chosen platform of expression. "I missed some really cool opportunities early on so I finally decided to try it out. But it began as a big joke for at least a couple promoters. Like, Haha, let’s see if we can get this girl on stage.” She pauses and clarifies, “But it’s not a joke."
Grey’s love for music goes back to her upbringing. Among her vinyl collection are records she bought when she was 15 and her eclectic sets owe their origin to the sounds of her childhood – her father singing blues, her mother humming jazz, her sister listening to East Coast hip-hop, her brother banging funk.
This breadth of musical experience gave Grey a shot of confidence when she first took the stage in L.A. “I was barely 21,” she says. "I’d hardly ever been to a club in my life. I was comfortable out of naivety to just do this thing that I thought was cool and
With nearly 190 adult films under her name, this wasn’t the first time Grey performed under pressure in front of an audience. But it wasn't the on-camera stuff that acclimated her to performing. She insists the real boost came from the conventions, where she'd stand face-to-face with fans. “It made me comfortable being in front of a crowd and playing into a crowd when it’s needed,” she says. "I’ve always been an interactive person when it came to my work and fanbase. [DJing] is just a different level. It used to be singing, taking photos, talking. This has changed but there’s still that connection with the fans.”
Grey is well aware of your expectations.
Photo Courtesy of the Artist
This hasn’t entirely
"Let’s be honest, a lot of this is celebrity driven,” she says. “But I'm attempting, within all this madness, to create something that the audience responds to and doesn’t just look at. That was a struggle a lot in the beginning – just being a fixture at an event rather than a provider of entertainment. I feel like I’ve finally started to cross that
"I’m thinking about this a lot because I’m at the point where I want to be able to pick a sound and go with that,” she adds. “I’m really trying to figure out how to balance that big room sound with the independent productions I do on the side.”
Grey’s also trying to manage her instinct to challenge the status quo and her place in what she sees as the male-dominated and misogynistic electronic dance music industry. Right now, however, her focus is on creating, on those “independent productions,” like the album she just completed. So she admits her revolutionary tendencies will manifest “little by little" as she gets more traction in the industry.
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But she sees that same male domination as a hidden invitation for women to show up, show out, and prove themselves as DJs and producers. “Now is a good chance for women to stand out,” Grey says. “And we could change it by being better. If you want to challenge something, you’ve got to be among the best.”
She knows. She’s done this before.