I had the pleasure of virtually meeting Emilie a few weeks ago. I've been keeping up with her page for almost a year now and have always admired her skills as a DJ, content creator, and mental health advocate. Check out her story here and give her a follow!
Photo by: Austin Avila / @mint.beats
Who: Emilie Rodriguez | DJ Emz | Graphic Designer | Mental Health Advocate
How did you get started? I'm originally from San Diego, and music has always been a huge part of my upbringing. It's the way my family and I bonded. I was always making playlists and it became a conversation starter among my family and my peers. People wanted to know what I was listening to - and that made me comfortable being social. In college I majored in psychology and I also took some radio classes. I had a radio station at SJSU and created my own show - which was called The Mood. The idea behind it was to blend psychology and music together. For me I've always felt that music is really healing. I used to make mixes and used Soundcloud very heavily. There I met my friend Nate. and we made a mix together and it really took off. He also really pushed me to use my controller that I eventually got. My first show was in 2018. My boyfriend and I had a friend that threw shows in Downtown called The SJ Come-Up, and two weeks later I was there doing it. I had no idea how any of it was going to pan out moving forward, but it's been taking off from there and it's been so much fun.
What sounds are you inspired/influenced by? I definitely like R&b the most. Aaliyah, Sade, oldies, etc. I also really enjoy bedroom pop and indie too. What I really admire the most is production. That's actually how I got started DJing first. A lot of my friends were into production at the time. I asked myself whether if I wanted to produce or DJ first and I chose Djing. Regardless though I still love beats, I can sit there and listen non-stop. Sango is another influence that put me on.
How have you been taking care of yourself during COVID? Phew. I feel like this past year has been a ton of healing. I started therapy again and it's been the best thing that I decided to come back to. I've had a lot of time to think and realized there's a lot of more work to do on myself. I've been reading, meditating, and putting a lot of importance on getting the right meals into my body. I started weight-lifting too. I have a lot of anxiety, and if I don't exert my energy I'm a mess! I've been trying to be patient with myself - I recently posted a video and I talked about how I haven't been motivated recently. But I've also learned to accept this chapter of my life and not force anything.
Projects you'd like to share that you're working on? Right now I'm been working on self-care kits. They're coming out sometime this year. It's going to be a combination of my passion for mental health and music. Another thing I'm working on is an event for MACLA in Downtown San Jose. It's going to be a DJ stream focused on mental health. I'm calling it Sound Healing Sessions. I'm really looking forward to that. I also started my page called Lemonhoneyicedtea. I released it on my birthday and it's been live since. That page is my baby. I do all the graphic design and branding for it.
What type of work do you do besides Djing? Right now I work at a mental health non-profit. What I do is help psychiatrists process intakes, scheduling and run referrals. I plan to go back for my masters and become a counselor myself. This has been my first job in mental health so its been an interesting journey and its been A LOT. It's meaningful and very intentional to me. The communities we serve are usually underserved, undocumented, and face a lot different challenges like poverty and social injustice. This is another reason why I wanted to start Lemonhoneyicedtea. I feel there's a lot of wellness pages out there, but often times they're not inclusive so I wanted to offer that.
What keeps you motivated? That's a good question. It changes day-to-day for me. I feel like motivation comes and goes. If anything I think about what makes me happy. I've always found to grind through the times, and I know sometimes you can't always do that. I definitely think I'm more emotionally motivated more than anything. I'm still finding my balance. I also think about family story and my background. My dad immigrated from Sinaloa, Mexico and worked so hard for that we have today. There's definitely pressure for me to walk the straight line - you know, like to get a good job, get insurance, make sure I have stability. I feel like I owe it to them. I struggled with that thought because I thought to myself how am I going to do Djing and have a 9-5 job at the same time? I later realized that my dad came here so I could have these opportunities and advantages. Overall, that's what keeps me motivated.
What song has been on repeat for you this year? Theres a couple! "Be on my Side" by Melanie Charles. It's more of a slower and gritty sound and its just been there for me. A band and album that I've been listening to a lot and they're called Morabeza Tobacco and I love them. They're vey indie and electronic with hella synths. Definitely a good road-trip listen.