Just as every piece of music is dependent on rhythm, every person who decides to pursue a career in music will follow a certain rhythm. For some, that rhythm is as sporadic as UK jungle, a journey with wild peaks and valleys, great successes, and great missteps. For others, the rhythm follows the linear path of a minimal kick drum as they discover their niche and hold steady.
For Victoria Rawlins, the rhythm of her career is that of the perpetual turn of a record, steadily moving towards the central point as a widely regarded DJ, vinyl collector, curator, and radio personality.
“I love music,” Rawlins says over Zoom from her home studio in Los Angeles. “The relationship between me and the records and turntable and the people.”
Rawlins has exclusively played vinyl in her sets for almost the entirety of her 13 years as a DJ. Whether she is playing her streaming program, Psychic Bassline, on Twitch (where she has reached the coveted status of partner) or performing at a celebrated music festival like Dirtybird Campout, she is always spinning wax.
Rawlins has lugged records through airports. She’s (unfortunately) watched records melt on the platter during sets in the desert.
“[Vinyl] is what got me into DJing,” Rawlins says. “I have a relationship with my records. I feel like I own them more, and I feel like I support the artists more by owning records and playing them.”
Rawlins now has “thousands and thousands and thousands” of records in her collection. There are so many that she is building a fourth vinyl shelf in her home. During her Twitch show, a mix of camera angles show off her vast collection surrounding the decks as she digs to find the next heady selection.
Rawlins’ collection began over twenty years ago when her sister’s vinyl collection became her own (Rawlins would play them more than her sister). That initial wave included a very eclectic pallet of sounds, she says, “Jazz, dub, reggae, goth, punk, big band orchestras, female vocalists,” among others.
This initial exposure to so many styles stemmed from her parents, both artists. Her father was a jazz musician, and her mother was a singer signed to Latin Motown. Her mother also served as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Music and Art School in East Los Angeles.
“I grew up going there as a kid, and I took all the classes. Singing, tap, ballet, violin,” Rawlins says of the school. “I grew up there at that school. That school is amazing.”
Rawlins pawned all of her instruments as a teenager to buy more records, and the rotation got closer and closer to DJing. With her collection already established, getting DJ gigs was as simple as reaching out.
Victoria Rawlins at Dirtybird CampINN 2022
“I was told if you have needles and headphones you could start playing out,” Rawlins says. “At first it was for alcohol because I was pretty under age. So that was good enough for me at the time but it began to be a real job and I got paid for it. The more jobs I did the more I got booked.”
Like the trajectory of her record collection, Rawlins started out with more band-heavy sounds. Playing punk rock in dive bars before finding focus in dance and electronic, which viewers of her Psychic Bassline know is now her bread and butter.
“I am not psychic. The bassline is psychic,” Rawlins says.
Rawlins continues to stream the program on Sundays despite the fact that most DJs have abandoned Twitch for live gigs. In a recent broadcast, she explored everything from minimal to disco. From electro to techno. All vinyl all night.
Even before the pandemic settled in, Rawlins and her husband considered a function along the same lines as streaming. They imagined hosting friends in their record room while they streamed DJ sets. So, when Twitch became the saving grace for DJs and dancers in 2020, Rawlins hit the ground running. She had all the equipment. She had all the records, and now nearly two years later, she’s still going.
“Twitch is kind of like my radio show. Everything is controlled. I get to connect with people globally, and they’re really listening. They’re real listeners who are also music lovers,” Rawlins says. “It’s still a blessing.”
In the thick of the pandemic, Rawlins caught the attention of the famed record label, party brand, and cultural force, Dirtybird, after Rawlins was a guest on Nala’s streaming program, TV Party. Dirtybird was building their Twitch programming at the time, and they offered Rawlins a weekly slot.
“They’ve been so wonderful to me,” says Rawlins of Dirtybird. “They really took me in.”
Rawlins went on to perform at Dirtybird CampINN and Dirtybird Campout in 2021 (with her records). After Campout wrapped in October, Label Boss Claude VonStroke announced that Rawlins would take the helm of the newly minted Dirtybird Radio, formerly known as The Birdhouse.
“I love doing it,” Rawlins says of Dirtybird Radio. “I do all the voiceover work. I get to host a bunch of different artists from the Dirtybird label and beyond. It’s just been another really great way to get to know other music acts out there and showcase talented people.”
At the core, that drive to showcase talented people is how Rawlins has maintained her steady accruement of success. With every record and every needle drop, she spreads the good word of great music, whether to her nearly 12,000 Twitch followers or the hundreds of people who dance before her in real life.
But soon, Rawlins will showcase even more of her own talent through upcoming original productions, which is something she has been working towards for a long time.
“That’s a big goal for me. To finally put out my own music. It’s been on the mind for years and years and years,” Rawlins says. “Now that I’ve gotten into dance music I understand I could do my own stuff and play it. It all makes sense now.”
For years Rawlins career has followed the consistent rhythm of vinyl on a turntable, and not too far in the future, that vinyl will have her name on it.
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