Eva Zar’s Girls: Meet Creative Chameleon and Style Muse, Dylan the Gypsy
The NYC-based DJ and actress brings potent vibes to the dance floor and serious style inspo to your Instagram feed.
Dylan shot on a Lomography Instant Wide Polaroid Camera
Welcome to ‘Eva Zar’s Girls’, our new series where NYC-based artist and photographer Eva Zar shoots her creative wunderkind girlfriends and we do a little Q&A with them. Today, meet Dylan the Gypsy: an NYC-based DJ mixing everything from rowdy rap to smouldering r&b, distilled into mixes appropriately titled things like ‘DICK APPOINTMENT’ and ‘PUSSY POWER’. A regular in NYC’s underground club scene, she’s also an aspiring actress—and, most relevant to your Instagram addiction, a total stylistic powerhouse and probably your next style muse. Like a chameleon, she alternates between 20th century fashion ‘moments’ and iconic looks from decades past with bulletproof precision, but adds a slick contemporary attitude to keep it all uniquely hers.
A few weeks ago, Eva did a shoot with Dylan full of nostalgic cool and spring vibes, and we talked to Dylan about NYC, stage fright and community. Enjoy.
GIRLS ARE AWESOME: Hey, Dylan. Please Introduce yourself.
Dylan the Gypsy: I am a 21 year old actress and DJ from the suburbs of Washington, DC.
What’s the relationship like between acting and DJing?
I use my acting training a lot to DJ. Relaxation helps me stay focused, improvisation helps me feed off of the crowd and make decisions on the spot, and my ability to tell a story allows me to explore deeper when transitioning from genre to genre in a set or mix.
What attracted you to DJing and acting in the first place?
My aunt inspired me to become an actress. I had studied it for years and moved to NYC to pursue my career. DJing happened on its own. I’ve been into music my entire life – playing the alto sax & singing – so being surrounded by like-minded individuals helped me bring my dreams into fruition. I asked my DJ friends for tips, bought a controller and threw my own parties to give myself performance opportunities.
How would you describe your personal aesthetic?
My aesthetic varies based on what inspires me at the time. My inspiration changes a lot. It could be a time period, a movie, a color, a texture, the weather or my environment. I try to explore every side of myself when getting dressed.
What’s your approach to creating a DJ set, from picking the first track to actually finishing a set?
I choose songs based on the crowd I’m playing for. I rarely have a set order of tracks, unless I’m DJing a concert or something extremely niche-specific. I love playing off crowd energy and improvising.
How would you describe your community and the influence it has on you?
I am extremely pro-black, pro-religious freedom, pro-Women and pro-LGBTQ equality. I currently reside in Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn and although every neighborhood has its downfalls, I feel the most at home here. It reminds me a lot of what Washington, DC used to be (chocolate city-era). It’s definitely a safe space for me to live the way I want to live. It’s judgment-free.
New York is the city of DJs and artists. What makes you unique?
My style, intellect, spirituality and being unapologetically myself.
What’s your favourite gig to date and why?
Berlin at the St Georg club. The crowd had the best energy I’ve ever witnessed. It reminded me of being at an underground party in DC or NY in 2011 (my favorite year for underground rap). That type of symbiotic experience for myself and the party goers keeps me in touch with my own humanity, and is what motivated me to start DJing in the first place.
What’s the biggest DJ fuck up you’ve ever done?
Ha! I’ve taken some L’s in my day. The biggest one, though, would probably have been the day I had to DJ in Chicago for this rap artist I worked with. We had CDJs on the rider, but practiced on a different software and were unable to soundcheck with the CDJs. It was probably one of my worst performances ever, but also was a true testament to the patience and problem-solving skills I learned from my acting training. I never made a mistake like that ever again. Perform the way you practice, and always make sure your practices are done 100% full out.
Which memory of yours captures the spirit of New York the best?
I love how New Yorkers come together in the face of tragedy. Whether it’s inclement weather, a terrorist attack, or seeing a jerk on the train, New Yorkers always unite and that sense of communion and togetherness is what this melting pot is all about.
Why are you the Gypsy?
It’s a name I came up with when I was fifteen. I resonated with the term at the time because I thought it truly depicted who I was: a nomadic, free-spirited girl. However, I was unaware that it was a slur, so I’m currently in the process of rebranding and changing my DJ name to my legal name. It’ll also be easier for my acting career, too.
How do you deal with stage fright (for both DJing and acting)?
With Prayer and meditation. I say the al-Fatiha – the first seven verses of the Qu’Ran – before any stressful situation. Afterward I sometimes recite various Islamic surrahs under my breath as a mantra to calm down. My mind races when I allow stress to take over and it often ruins my performances.
What piece of advice would you give younger girls who want to start DJing?
Don’t listen to anyone else’s opinion and do what makes you happy. You can create the world you want to live in: your vision just has to be clear and specific. Also, make sure that your interest is genuine. A lot of people become DJs as a default career, over-saturating the industry. If you want longevity, study the greats, practice your sets, make mixes, meet people, give looks and be unapologetically you. No one will get in the way of you and what you want unless you let them.
What’s your achilles’ heel?
I take on more tasks than I can handle at once. I am still in the process of learning how to simplify and plan properly.
Who do you look up to?
My family, my friends, Donald Glover, Pharrell, Beyoncé, Issa Rae, Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, Donna Summers, Patrice Rushen, and Diana Ross.
How would you describe your music in three words?
For music lovers.