We had the good fortune of connecting with Eliza May and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eliza, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I was always passionate about music. I went to music school for 8 years, I was working on a radio station and at clubs as a DJ and I wanted to make it my career. I also never wanted to work 9-5 so I ended up working 24/7 lol
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It’s quite a long story. When I was 5 years old my older sister got killed. My parents went to see the famous mystic Baba Vanga in Bulgaria to find out what happened. They also asked her about me and she said she was hearing music when trying to see into my future. So my parents decided to take me to music school. I chose piano as my main instrument. I was in music school for 8 years and finished it with merit at the age of 13. I didn’t really enjoy it back then and took a break from music up until my first year at university. I was working at a University radio station, turning music on and off and talking on the mic. That’s when I saw an ad about DJ courses. I thought it was about radio DJing and went to check out the 1st free class. It was about club DJing! At that time I knew nothing about it, I had no idea what DJs do and couldn’t even tell genres apart, I didn’t even know the difference between trance and house. But I had some free time and I decided to take the course. I really like learning new things and thought why not to learn a new skill. I ended up liking it and found my first residency a couple of months after.
I wanted to keep growing as a DJ so I went to Moscow. There I went to Audioschool and learnt how to mix on vinyl, produce music and scratch. I also had a private teacher that helped me learn faster.
I even took part in a few DJ competitions back then. First one didn’t go well. I took the 2nd one much more seriously and won 2nd place which was my first big achievement in DJing. Then I kept working at nightclubs in Tyumen and some nearby cities.
After I graduated University my parents asked me what gift I wanted for my graduation. I was on scholarship so they didn’t spend any money for my education and saved it to gift me.
I told them that I want to go to San Francisco to learn scratching from DJ Qbert. It sounded crazy to them but they told me that it’s fine. If I can get lessons from him they would sponsor my trip.
And it was actually very easy for me to organize everything. DJ Qbert replied to me on Facebook and told me that I’m already his student (I was at his online Skratch University) and I’m welcome to come to the Thud Rumble office any time and he would teach me.
It was also easy for me to get a visa to the states. Everyone was scaring me that being a young single girl from Russia it’ll be impossible to get it but I was so excited telling the officer about my dreams and desire to learn scratching from one of the best DJs in the world that he didn’t even ask me for any documents. He was just like “Go get it”.
And just like that I was in the Bay Area.
I was staying in a motel in San Bruno near the Thud Rumble office and from the very first day there it felt like home. People in the office were so friendly and helpful. They let me practice every day Monday thru Friday. Sometimes I’d practice 6 hours per day. I still have no idea how they were able to cope with me. DJ Qbert would come to the office once or twice per week and would show me new elements and combos and I would just practice them till next time I see him.
They had me open for Qbert at California Academy of Sciences about a month after. I was basically just scratching for half an hour. I had a great time and met a lot of cool people. And they also took me to my first ever NAMM Show in Anaheim. I had never been to shows like that before and it was incredible. After that I decided to visit Miami and of course I also found a teacher there. It was DJ I-Dee. I loved his beatjuggling and wanted to learn from him. He was giving classes already so it was easy to schedule lessons with him. I stayed in the US for a total of 4,5 months. Then I came back to Russia and focused on improving my English. During my first visit it was even challenging for me to say hello. So I was watching a lot of movies, TV-shows and cartoons in English and it helped me out tremendously. Next time I came to the US I could understand pretty much everything. Speaking part was still pretty hard but I made a huge progress.
Next time I went to the states was about a year after. I got invited to DJ at Pioneer DJ booth at the NAMM Show which was a huge deal for me. I was playing on the same stage with Invisible Skratch Piklz and I think there were only 3 or 4 other DJs performing so it was definitely an honor. So I came back to the Bay to meet with the Thud Rumble crew and we all flew to Anaheim for the show. The show went great, Pioneer DJ gifted me the S9 mixer which I still use and absolutely love. After the show I decided to stay in LA for a bit, I had a couple of shows lined up, also I met my future husband at NAMM and a lot of other people who were helping me in my journey. I met a lawyer who helped me to apply for O1 visa, I met a lot of promoters and business owners. So instead of staying for a few weeks I ended up staying much longer.
And now 6 years later I’m a US citizen, I’m married and I’m DJing in the states and all over the world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would definitely go to the beach, I’d prefer to go to Malibu as it’s cleaner and less crowded. We would walk on Malibu Pier and have breakfast there. Then we would tan on the beach and maybe even swim/surf. For lunch, we would go to Nobu Malibu and then finish the day at El Matador beach for some amazing sunset pictures. The next day we would check out some tourist spots like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Rodeo Drive and would have dinner at Barton G – their dishes and desserts are so unique and definitely Instagram-worthy!
For day 3 I’d show my friend downtown Los Angeles – the beautiful Walt Disney concert hall, Angel’s Flight and Grand Park. We would have a matcha latte in Little Tokyo and visit the infamous Bradbury building and The Last Bookstore.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a shoutout to my mentor – DJ Qbert. If it wasn’t for him, I’d never got interested in scratching, I’d never come to the states to learn from him, and would never be where I am today.
Tony Barnes Jr, Fury Photo, Senate Club