“I’ll drop a new single, and if they fuck with it, then they fuck with it. If not, that’s cool too because there are a lot of other opportunities out there,” says Parisa, a DJ from Japan. Nicholas, The Stack founder, sat down with her at LA’s Verve coffee to dive into her compelling backstory, her mentality as an up-and-coming DJ, and how she is succeeding in the world of entertainment.
Let’s start with an intro. What do you do and how did you end up in Los Angeles?
I’m Parisa, originally from Japan, currently living in Los Angeles. I’m a DJ, producer, model, and designer. I moved here to study in college and to learn English. I had the option of NY or LA, but I chose the West Coast because I love the culture and the music here.
You talked a lot about growing up with music, how did you first get into DJing?
I grew up listening to disco funk through my mom and rap classics such as 50 Cent, Nate Dogg, and Snoop Dogg through my dad. Being in the dance community in high school also exposed me to hip-hop; I had my own dance crew and went on tours. But my passion for music really started in middle school when I played percussion for a brass band.
One day, I met this guy from a Japanese culture magazine called Ollie. When I was hanging out with him, he was surprised that I knew all kinds of music and one day asked, “Why don’t you give DJing a try?”. It had always been a dream of mine to be a DJ since I was a kid, so I gave it a shot. I told him I was down and he linked me with a guy from the Japanese band, Magic Stick, and he taught me the fundamentals of DJing. He would let me play anything I wanted whenever he hosted parties. I’ve pretty much been in the booth since then.
I’ve listened to a few of your mixes, and a lot of it was old school soul and R&B influenced. It’s awesome to see someone so young with your music taste.
Well my upbringing was kind of different. Being half Japanese and half Persian, I looked different. My skin color, my eyebrows, my hair; it was all different. All the kids that I grew up with were Japanese. But my mom taught me how to embrace my differences, and all about music, like disco, funk, and soul. She taught me how to dress, taught me how to love myself; she was my main influence for the type of music that I produce. I appreciate her just being her, she gave me the sauce. She’s so fly!
What was your major breakthrough after you moved to LA? What was the biggest event that helped you progress?
The team, Word of Mouth. When I was in Japan, I met this guy named VJ who was also from LA. Long story short, I helped him out big time and now he jokingly calls me his life saver. Since I moved to LA, he hooked me up with a lot of events and connected me with many other people in the industry.
During the beginning of Word of Mouth, there were only 5 of us. It was just the homies. As time went by, we started growing like crazy. We went from having a few friends at our event to having lines formed outside the door. Looking back at this, I’m just glad to be a part of the team.
Let’s dive into the fashion side of things. What do you do in terms of design?
Well I do a few things. One of my biggest projects are these wide pants that are under my label, Design by Parisa. Right now, my designs are being produced by a company called BIONICMAN; they’re pretty much my business partner.
How did you get connected with them?
I got to know a lot of people when I was in high school while I was trying to balance dancing, DJing, and modeling at the same time. I started modeling for BIONICMAN and after that, they started to fuck with my style. When they found out that I DJ, they asked if I wanted to spin in their city, Nagoya, and that’s how it all came together. I was able to design my first t-shirts in preparation for the show, and they sold the fuck out.
Where do you find inspiration when designing clothes?
Just like music, I definitely get inspired by my mom’s style, which involves a lot of vintage and classic items. I go to the flea market on Melrose every Sundays. When I see a piece I like, I’ll put it in my brain and try to write it down. When I have an idea, I put it together, ask “Can we do this?” and I make it happen. It’s a quick process that literally happens in a week, from start to finish.
What’s next on your mind in terms of design?
I’ve been working on a website to sell and resell vintage clothes called WG Soul Club. A lot of my fans based in Tokyo would always ask me where I get my clothes, like my Guess jeans, my Tommys. So I was like, let me start a website so I can just buy it for you guys and send it to y’all back in Tokyo. But it’s not all just reselling, I’ve made a logo for WG Soul Club and it’s so fire. I’m going to print it on hoodies, shirts, and everything just because of how dope it looks.
Did you think LA would be like this when you moved here?
No, I didn’t expect it at all. My plan was to just come to LA, learn English and leave, but people have really shown me love out here. However, LA still doesn’t feel like home to me. I tend to be hesitant when it comes to trusting people here. Things can happen so quickly that are out of my control so I need to protect myself. I’m lucky to have met all the people that have supported me.
When I first got to LA, I met this guy named Jason Castro and he’s been an older brother to me. He showed me what’s real, what’s fake. He always treats people with respect and dignity. He introduced me to a group called 50k. Being the only female in there, I’ve learned to become strong and independent.
With all that you do, what is it you want to be known for?
I want to simply be known as Parisa. From you, or from other people, they might know me as a fashion icon. It’s cool, but for me, playing percussion and piano is the main squeeze of my life. Not many people know that since I never show that side of me on social media. I prefer to keep it lowkey since I know I’m good. I love my music; music is gonna be forever in my life. Design is only when I have inspiration.
Any advice for people who are trying to succeed in music or fashion?
My friend always says, God never made you to fail. That means that in everything you do, if you have confidence, you’re gonna make it happen. At the time, I didn’t know if I wanted to stay in Japan or go to LA. When I talked to my friend, I was talking to myself and my own soul. She said “if there’s anything you want to do, don’t think about it in your head. Just think about it from your heart.”
When I was a kid, I used to have a lot of haters, but my mom would always tell me I’m the best. She’s where I got my confidence from, for everything that I do. Every single person has a capsule in their body that unlocks their hidden potential. For you, it might be music. For others, it might be photography, or design. Those capsules can be unlocked if you have the confidence to make the decision to open it. If you know what you want to do, the answer is there for you. In my head, I always tell myself that I’m the best and that I’m great. I never compare myself to anyone else. I just want to show everyone that if you have the confidence, anything is possible.