A self-taught DJ, Lydo has made her name in New York’s underground scene with a mix of heady, fast-paced techno trance that can range from “sweet to moody, but always sexy,” she says. Having already made appearances on Boiler Room and at Berlin’s infamous Berghain, she has been steadily gaining a legion of global fans. Despite her star continuing to rise, community remains at the core of her music. Her line of rave gear—X-TRA GEAR—was borne from a desire to create practical rave items such as waist bags, water bottles and waterproof bags that she and her friends needed on the dancefloor. Lydo has also expanded X-TRA into a series of parties, where the goal is to create an inclusive, safe space for everyone. Whatever is going on in the world, we should all be free to just dance.
How would you describe your music to the uninitiated?
If by uninitiated you mean non-raver, I would say my music is pretty accessible. It’s so important to me to get people dancing. I play a lot of fast-paced techno-trance. It’s melodic and can range from sweet to moody, but it’s always sexy. I also like to infiltrate that techno with different elements of music from other genres that I like and listen to. So there’s always a hint of familiarity, I’ve been told, even if it’s your first time listening.
What kind of music do you listen to on an everyday basis?
It really depends on what mood I’m in that day. I can go for hours listening to techno mixes, R&B and things I grew up listening to (which included a lot of Craig David).
“It’s so important to me to get people dancing. I play a lot of fast-paced techno-trance. It’s melodic and can range from sweet to moody, but it’s always sexy.”
Describe X-TRA gear? Why is it important to you to make rave gear?
X-TRA is practical rave gear. It’s important to me mainly because there wasn’t any. Or if there were, they were products that sort of fulfilled our needs but not fully. I noticed that my friends and I would go out to raves and always be complaining about something or missing something, so I wanted to create a small line of extremely useful items made specifically for us and our needs. Of course, the bags and water bottles can be used or worn outside the context of a rave, but a rave is where this gear really thrives. I like to personalize the gear with small messages too, because it’s always been for the community. When you know, you know.
What was the catalyst moment that made you start X-TRA?
I knew I was ready for something, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was exactly, or how I would do it. I didn’t have a specific plan. I started with printing the logo “X-TRA” on a bunch of reflective slap-bracelets. At first I was just going to give them out to my friends, so we could find each other in the dark at this techno camp we were going to upstate. But then I just started handing them out to everyone. I remember looking around at one point, and all these wrists were flashing all over the dance floor. I started developing more items as a response to what my friends and I felt was a general lack of practical rave gear. I started making more things for my friends and me. I made the rave bag (elastic waist bags), then the waterproof fanny pack for festivals—a pool party essential. Then I realized people really liked them and wanted their own. That’s how it all started—the parties came later.
“I like to personalize the gear with small messages too, because it’s always been for the community. When you know, you know.”
Can you tell us how you started DJing?
When I was younger I used to spend hours getting high and listening to so much music. I still do that. I’ve always known I wanted to do something with music, so I waited until I could afford my own equipment and just kept practicing at home. I really just taught myself how to DJ three years ago. The first time I DJ’ed was at my house. But the first time I DJ’ed to a crowd was at a small rave, in a kind of DIY space. I remember a lot of people showing up to hear me play and it was a really f*cked-up set, in a good way!
What was your most memorable gig?
My most memorable gigs are always the ones where my fam comes out to support and surround me while I’m playing, and I can see them going crazy and having fun. I would have to say the most memorable yet was the last time I played Säule at Berghain in Berlin. Almost thirty friends flew out to see me play. I also met two artists I follow on SoundCloud, who flew in from Australia and caught my set. That was wild.
Tell me about the first ever X-TRA party?
The first X-TRA party fully transformed the basement space it was held in. I brought in my own lighting and sound. It was iconic. I brought in a hazer, and it was so foggy that people couldn’t see where the door was! I ended up integrating that into the visual identity of the following party’s flyers.
“My most memorable gigs are always the ones where my fam comes out to support and surround me while I’m playing, and I can see them going crazy and having fun.”
What does being “underground” entail when you can look up anyone or anything online?
Underground doesn’t necessarily mean exclusive or inaccessible. Or maybe it does, insofar as keeping ravers feeling safe at a party to fully express themselves. I think it’s good for underground efforts, especially creative ones, to gain the right kind and amount of exposure and get noticed. Because at the end of the day, it costs money, and publicity can sometimes help with that by bringing in a bigger crowd. It can be a bit tricky sometimes, though, finding the right balance. When it comes to my parties, for example, it’s always been about quality, not quantity. It’s always been about the music. So I think I’m always working on maintaining this balance of how big to let my parties or my brand get so that the essence of my message doesn’t get watered down, and so nobody’s experience is sacrificed.
Can you name 3 tracks you’d play for someone you’re introducing to trance and techno?
Nuclear Hyde – Accelerator
The Advent – Farencounters
Funeral Future – Blue Euphoria