Los Angeles Music Culture Through A Chicana Lens: Q&A With DJ Spinorita
DJ Spinorita representing Los Angeles Music Culture

DJ Spinorita in Los Angeles, 2019.

Photo: Mike Vargas

The second largest city in the country has been home to niche groups and genres of music as it still continues to be today. From hip hop and rock and roll to cumbia, trance, techno, house, freestyle, banda and ska – music of the underground drove many to mainstream in a heroic way including Host and Director of KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic radio program, Jason Bentley, who was a driving force in early Southern California rave culture.

Dating back to the 90’s – Los Angeles was a place for exploration, revolution and uncertainty – the LA riots, Northridge Earthquake, OJ Simpson trial, and the bare bond market debacle of 1994 flash back in memory.

On the surface, Los Angeles seemed to forecast grit with a chance of palm trees but beyond the caverns of Hollywood; layered in facade, lived a special lair – the musical underground. This is where Angela Ramirez, a.k.a. DJ Spinorita got her start. From Alhambra, east of central Los Angeles, Angela is the daughter of Mexican-American parents, both with a love of music. A now unifying force in Los Angeles vinyl and underground music culture, DJ Spinorita is the host of Casual Play, the radio show she created a decade ago which is now part of the NTS Radio family broadcasting internationally as well as an integral part of the Los Angeles music scene.

Jacqueline Schneider: How do you know when you are connecting with people through music?

Angela Ramirez: It’s funny because I always think I’m only reaching my friends with the radio show, but a recently got a direct message from someone in Osaka, Japan who listens to my show 4x a day [laughs]. It’s mind blowing to think, but sometimes I forget the internet is worldwide and that people can tune in 24/7. I think in this little bubble of LA, it’s easy to forget how big the world is but it also kind of helps to think that way. I always try not to have a big head about it. I just know that it’s just music – that’s the most important part of being a DJ and doing a radio show, it’s not about me.

Jacqueline Schneider: Has music helped your mental health?

Angela Ramirez: For sure. There’s a song for everything! I just feel like I can turn to music any time. There are songs that I literally replay over and over, sing to, cry to, make me feel better about myself or about a situation or some I can send it to a friend.

Jacqueline Schneider: What makes someone a DJ?

Angela Ramirez: I think mentally you have to know that DJing is an artform. You have to know your music and have a sound. Also, investing time, learning the craft, practicing like crazy and leveling up your skills – there’s always something to learn – those are all crucial parts.

Jacqueline Schneider: What does the future of DJing look like with the influx of so many DJ’s? What do the next 5 and 10 years look like?

Angela Ramirez: I think the ones that do it for clout will just fall off because I think technology is going to just keep evolving. If you don’t know the artform or technology, eventually it’s just going to be a hobby. There are needleless turntables now and controllers are becoming so advanced. Technology is giving people the opportunity to expand into more evolved artists.

Jacqueline Schneider: Who/what is your biggest inspiration? 

Angela Ramirez: My biggest influence is my family. I have memories of my parents throwing backyard parties where my aunts, uncles, and neighbors would get together and dance the night away. I grew up listening to so many styles of music because everyone had their own taste, from Oldies but Goodies to Classic Rock and Hi NRG Disco, my parents, brothers, and sisters played everything. My sister, Raquel, is a huge influence because even though I am six years younger than her she would take me out to shows and concerts. Punk gigs, Ska shows, Hip Hop clubs, the infamous all-ages House club, Arena – and to see our favorite boys, the Beastie Boys who we saw over 4 times. From there, I ventured out and started going to raves and Drum n Bass parties. All of these memories, influences and nights out made me into the DJ I am today.

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The second largest city in the country has been home to niche groups and genres of music as it still continues to be today. From hip hop and rock and roll to cumbia, trance, techno, house, freestyle, banda and ska – music of the underground drove many to mainstream in a heroic way including Host and Director of KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic radio program, Jason Bentley, who was a driving force in early Southern California rave culture.

Dating back to the 90’s – Los Angeles was a place for exploration, revolution and uncertainty – the LA riots, Northridge Earthquake, OJ Simpson trial, and the bare bond market debacle of 1994 flash back in memory.

On the surface, Los Angeles seemed to forecast grit with a chance of palm trees but beyond the caverns of Hollywood; layered in facade, lived a special lair – the musical underground. This is where Angela Ramirez, a.k.a. DJ Spinorita got her start. From Alhambra, east of central Los Angeles, Angela is the daughter of Mexican-American parents, both with a love of music. A now unifying force in Los Angeles vinyl and underground music culture, DJ Spinorita is the host of Casual Play, the radio show she created a decade ago which is now part of the NTS Radio family broadcasting internationally as well as an integral part of the Los Angeles music scene.

Jacqueline Schneider: How do you know when you are connecting with people through music?

Angela Ramirez: It’s funny because I always think I’m only reaching my friends with the radio show, but a recently got a direct message from someone in Osaka, Japan who listens to my show 4x a day [laughs]. It’s mind blowing to think, but sometimes I forget the internet is worldwide and that people can tune in 24/7. I think in this little bubble of LA, it’s easy to forget how big the world is but it also kind of helps to think that way. I always try not to have a big head about it. I just know that it’s just music – that’s the most important part of being a DJ and doing a radio show, it’s not about me.

Jacqueline Schneider: Has music helped your mental health?

Angela Ramirez: For sure. There’s a song for everything! I just feel like I can turn to music any time. There are songs that I literally replay over and over, sing to, cry to, make me feel better about myself or about a situation or some I can send it to a friend.

Jacqueline Schneider: What makes someone a DJ?

Angela Ramirez: I think mentally you have to know that DJing is an artform. You have to know your music and have a sound. Also, investing time, learning the craft, practicing like crazy and leveling up your skills – there’s always something to learn – those are all crucial parts.

Jacqueline Schneider: What does the future of DJing look like with the influx of so many DJ’s? What do the next 5 and 10 years look like?

Angela Ramirez: I think the ones that do it for clout will just fall off because I think technology is going to just keep evolving. If you don’t know the artform or technology, eventually it’s just going to be a hobby. There are needleless turntables now and controllers are becoming so advanced. Technology is giving people the opportunity to expand into more evolved artists.

Jacqueline Schneider: Who/what is your biggest inspiration? 

Angela Ramirez: My biggest influence is my family. I have memories of my parents throwing backyard parties where my aunts, uncles, and neighbors would get together and dance the night away. I grew up listening to so many styles of music because everyone had their own taste, from Oldies but Goodies to Classic Rock and Hi NRG Disco, my parents, brothers, and sisters played everything. My sister, Raquel, is a huge influence because even though I am six years younger than her she would take me out to shows and concerts. Punk gigs, Ska shows, Hip Hop clubs, the infamous all-ages House club, Arena – and to see our favorite boys, the Beastie Boys who we saw over 4 times. From there, I ventured out and started going to raves and Drum n Bass parties. All of these memories, influences and nights out made me into the DJ I am today.

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