Creating the Soundscape with DJ Niki De Saint

— Expert Interview

The most unforgettable experiential encounters are those that overcome us. That strip us of our thoughts, that catapult us into the present, overthrowing our senses in euphoric disorientation, fleetingly disrupting our preconceptions and recasting the moment into a shared thing of beauty. The dream-weaving that takes a room full of individuals and waves a wand over the energy causing a singular vibration of joy. You often can’t put your finger on it, but it’s that magic, made up of carefully conceived layers within layers, that creates a transformative event that stays with you. That makes you better for having been there.

One pivotal element of such an experience is the elevation created by sound. Wielding the power to flip the mood from soft, sublime and romantic, to dazzling, energetic and celebratory with the push of a button, Sydney based French vocalist/DJ Niki De Saint is a veritable sorceress behind the decks. Having gigged extensively throughout Europe she brings an international repertoire of sounds and classics, a clairvoyant intuition of mood, and her Parisian chic to every event, making her highly in demand for runway shows, high end fashion soirees, and of course weddings. After bringing her beautiful vibe to our LANE hosted events Anna Sheffield Celestine and  Lee Petra Grebenau trunkshow recently, we caught up with Niki De Saint to find out more about the woman behind the spinning wheels, her inspirations, and how she interprets an event brief to melodically curate the perfect ambience every time. 

How would you describe your sound?

I am addicted to music that makes me feel emotion. Like a great bass line that grooves between the beat making a track come to life or the little hooks in a song that keep you wanting for more. My sound has all of these elements because I only ever play songs that I truly love. Music that sits in the same place repeating or being intrusive never makes my playlists. My sound is more of a sophisticated mix with a variety of forgotten classics, soulful grooves and feel good melodies where you simply can't help but want to bop to the beat. I'm a groover, I need to dance through life. Music is my soul, without it I feel lost. Creativity for me requires obsession and music is mine, it's my happy place my home.

How do you adapt this to suit the crowd? We obviously experienced your versatility at the event, mixing in songs to suit the moment (including one particularly memorable experience with a bride where absolutely everyone (you and us included!) was in tears!). You’re not just a musician but a physician when it comes to reading a room and knowing just the right dose of soul required! Is creating those moods and shared emotions in a room something you consciously do, or do you do it almost without realising?

I left school when I was 15 years old to be a professional musician. I have been so fortunate to work with some of the best in the business and I soaked it all in, I observed, I listened. So I honestly feel for me it is an innate reaction. I'm always watching the room reading peoples faces trying to read their minds. I intuitively become one of them, mixing myself in the crowd. It's all about their experience and music should enhance this and never be off track or compete with the environment. Creating the perfect atmosphere is my job & I take to very seriously.

Every gig is different but weddings are extra special. This day being such an important moment in time, I look to create more love, more happiness for the bride and groom, their families and friends as a whole without ever being cheesy or too generic with my song choices.

How do you cater to a bride with a very specific brief / set list? Do you source music especially if you don’t have it?

Yes absolutely! It's very important that clients hear music they know, music they love. Playing tracks that aren't known would be like serving wagu beef, no matter how stunning, to a vegan. Music is love and memories, so I need to tap into that, I need to know their style. That is what helps me create an epic wedding playlist! So firstly, I ask for her and the grooms Top 20, from here I can see what kinda girl she is and what makes them tick. 

Describe the creative and logistical process involved from when a bride first gets in touch, until you see her on her wedding day? How do you brief out the event if the bride is perhaps unsure of what she’s after? 

I start with where the wedding is being held, the atmosphere she and the groom are wanting to create. I am a music stylist, give me a mood board and I could literally design the right playlist just from imagery! If a mood board has not been created, I will simply request the rough schedule for the day. So I can get an idea. If it’s canapés over sunset then a romantic chill mix is required, or a barn wedding in the mountains - folk with a mix of classics is needed etc. I think if a bride is unsure of what she is after then its a matter of us talking it out over months and walking through the process together. If musically she has no preference this is where I'm needed even more so. I want to get to know my bride - who is she? It's just a matter of having the conversation because organising a wedding can be very daunting, so much to think of, so much to do in preparation. If I can help to ease the load then I am happy!

As an effortlessly stylish woman (yet disarmingly down to earth and a pleasure to deal with!), you bring an aesthetic element to your performances that allows you to seamlessly slot into any event brief, complimenting the style-scape whilst maintaining your own distinct vibe. Tell us about how you developed your style and how the visual aspect compliments your sound?

Spending my time between France and Australia and working within the fashion industry it has naturally developed my style. I'm all about comfort that is effortless and chic. I feel my look compliments my sound. It's a funny thing to say, almost a little strange, but it is what it is.

Tell us about the best wedding you’ve ever performed at. What made it so amazing and how did you contribute to that energy?

There have been so many beautiful experiences that I cherish but one in particular was a couple where there was a language barrier. At first I was concerned, but what I love about music the most is it's entirely universal! It was a special day for all, the love and fun was off the scale, and set in a stunning tropical location, we were all in our own little heaven!

Is there a formula you follow or is every event different? How so?

Every event is different. It's important to really take the time and care to understand your clients needs, their dislikes too. Good music can transform any space into a magical place.

If today was your wedding day what tracks would you be walking down the aisle and having you first dance to!? 

I am madly in love with the most beautiful man who is my soul mate lover and we luckily have the same taste in music! I can’t see myself in a wedding dress, I'm too much of a tomboy. So I will be dancing down the aisle in a black designer jumpsuit to "Starman" because we are both obsessed with Bowie, he'd be at the other end singing his heart out and our first dance has to be to 'God Only Knows what I'd be without You" by The Beach Boys. Classic and keeping it real x

These moments obviously require an emotive sound element, but in your experience what other moments do you find particularly critical across the day that are perhaps overlooked and could be elevated from a sound perspective?

Sound is so important - don't we all want to hear every word - I see this a lot when average PA systems are used. Some celebrants use their own little small units, this is asking for trouble especially for outdoor ceremonies.

You’re Sydney based but available worldwide, tell us the best way to get in touch with you?

Via my website is best, and you can follow along with what I'm up to on my instagram account @nikidesaint_dj

Finally :

What would we find you doing if we peered through your window on a Sunday morning?
Listening to Ricki Lee Jones or old classics on our trusty record player sipping espresso and sitting on the back veranda in the sun.

Morning person or night owl?
As I get older I like my mornings - they are so peaceful and calm.

Coffee or champagne?

Summer or winter?

Realist or dreamer?
Total Dreamer.

To enquire about working with our go-to music stylist Niki De Saint on your wedding or event, see here.

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