There's No Place Like NoMad

January 13, 2015

Artist Spotlight: DJ Lily Vanilli

DJ Lily Vanilli talks about her favorite places in NoMad, why she loves the crowd at Ace Hotel and her upcoming projects.

Okayfuture, the host of the forward-thinking music blog, returns to the Ace Hotel New York’s lobby bar this month for a Wednesday night residency. Okayfuture curates each week, bringing in guest DJs to spin their favorite progressive urban, R&B, hip-hop and electronic music.

This Wednesday, Okayfuture will host an evening with Lily Vanilli. Lily is quickly becoming one of the city’s go-to DJs, opening for acts like Erykah Badu and Wu Tang Clan and spinning as a show DJ for Danny Brown, SZA and Marz Lovejoy. Lily’s work has also grabbed the attention of corporate clients MTV, Sony, Complex, Red Bull, Beats by Dre and Virgin Mobile. On a typical Friday, you can find Lily taking up her post as the resident DJ at the Hudson Hotel.

We sat down with DJ Lily Vanilli to talk about her upcoming set at the Ace Hotel New York.


Lily, you performed at the Ace Hotel New York during Okayfuture’s last residency. What was the experience of DJing at Ace Hotel New York like and what about the show has drawn you back?

The Lobby of Ace Hotel is a very friendly and comfortable space; it feels like you’re part of a community of strangers just hanging out in every nook, imbibing and enjoying the music. The overall vibe makes it a welcoming and inspiring place to DJ, and [that is] the purpose of Okayfuture’s series — to set the tone for introducing new music [from new artists. That] keeps us coming back.

Has working with the Okayfuture crew exposed you to music you normally wouldn’t have come across? Has this changed the way you approach your own DJing?

Working with Okayfuture has turned what was already a lifelong search (and research) of music into limitless discoveries of unknown depth and expanse. There’s so much music out there — I spend hours every day listening and learning… and there’s still so much more.  It definitely broadens the scope of what you can expect me to play when I’m DJing.

You’ve shared bills with some of the biggest names in hip-hop, R&B and electronic music – everyone from Erykah Badu, Wu Tang Clan and Danny Brown to Bonobo & Odesza. Do you have any standout favorite show moments?

Most recently, playing Central Park SummerStage this last summer was one of the biggest honors I’ve had. In 2013, I played on the Diet Coke float, the first float, in the NYC Pride Parade. The float turned onto Fifth Avenue and it was just a sea of people. I read somewhere it was 2 million.

Are there any favorite artists you have yet to work with? Any dream sets or collaborations?

There are so many, but some that come to mind are Jessie Ware, BANKS and Lorde.

For our readers that are unfamiliar with Okayfuture and your own work, what can they expect from this Wednesday’s show?

Okayfuture is an electronic music site that introduces new kinds music and artists with an intuition of the future. The series of events partners up our contributors with new, up-and-coming artists before they’re famous — so you can expect to hear music you’ve never heard before.

Ace Hotel New York is centrally located in the NoMad neighborhood. Are there any favorite restaurants or bars you’d recommend for those checking out the show?

The Breslin right next door is one of my favorites for obvious reasons. The lamb burger is one of the best in the city. I also love Hill Country Barbecue. And if you’re shopping, there’s Opening Ceremony and Kitsune close by.

With the start of 2015, the internet is already full of buzz about new projects and album announcements. Are there any upcoming releases or shows that you’re excited to hear?

The only ones I can think of right now are Future Brown on Warp Records, Brenmar’s Award EP on Fool’s Gold, and Madonna’s upcoming album Rebel Heart should be interesting.

Do you have any projects in the making for 2015? Any shows or mixtapes we can look forward to?

Currently, I have a Friday residency at Hudson Common. Too early to tell what projects will come out of 2015, but I perform at the SXSW music festival every year, and Okayfuture is hopeful for another Central Park SummerStage show this summer. I also have a habit of putting out a special Valentine’s Day-inspired mix every year.


For more information on DJ Lily Vanilli, visit her online or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.