When DJ Ayes Cold is up in the booth — where she’s prone to sling dizzy swirls of trap, R&B, grime, juke or whatever else the mood demands — her eyes are as sharp as her ears.
“I try to balance my vision for the night with what I see happening in real time,” the District DJ says. “I want people to feel uplifted, so I want to feel like people are viscerally connecting with the music. A lot of DJs tend to be very self-aware about their lanes, but I’m more of a selector in the gray areas. I wouldn’t call myself an ‘open-format DJ’ in the classical sense, but I try to play to the crowd.”
That means spinning a flexible mix of forward-thinking party music to mystery mobs all over the city. Among the spaces Ayes Cold is booked to appear in the next two months: a handful of windowless dance venues, a starry rooftop, a subterranean supper club, a trendy retail space and an aging RFK Stadium. It’s impossible to predict who might show up on these dance floors, but Ayes Cold says her background — born in Chicago, raised in India, degree from Georgetown, quit her nonprofit gig to make music — might help her relate to D.C.’s motley party people. “I think varied experience as a person makes you a stronger selector,” she says. “The more you’re able to experience in life, the more in tune you are, the more empathetic you are.”
The same holds true for those out in the crowd. “For me, it’s not about being sole creator of the night,” Ayes Cold says. “You let the audience curate with their response.”
Shows: U Street Music Hall on March 16; Tropicalia on March 18; the Doc Marten’s store in Georgetown on March 23; Eighteenth Street Lounge on March 23; the Hamilton on March 25; Marvin on March 28; Songbyrd on March 31; and the National Cannabis Festival at RFK Stadium on April 22.