When you have seen a Dj continuously persist to show their love for the scene and continually throw down skills on the decks for decades, it is a truly remarkable thing to experience. Noncompliant is no stranger to midwest Techno parties and has always left crowds begging for more. I have been so fortunate to watch in real time what a good friend can accomplish given time, foresight, followthrough, and immense amounts of dedication. Outspoken for LGBTQ and Feminist rights, she is a warrior who is always open to a discussion, a hug, and one hell of a set behind the decks. Get ready for her first-ever performance at Movement this month, and get to know our Women Crush Wednesday, Noncompliant.
Lisa, First off a monumental congratulations is in order. You have been DJing for decades as DJ Shiva, and are a hero to female techno warriors everywhere. I have been privileged to have stood in the same techno venues as you absolutely slayed the decks through my 20’s. How does it feel to be recognized for your music and style all over the US and Europe after all your hard work, tenacity, and followthrough?
It’s pretty nifty, I can’t lie! Especially since it took so long to happen. But sometimes you just have to do the thing, even when any level of success seems unlikely, just because you just can’t stop playing the music you love.
What do you feel has been the secret to your success?
“Nevertheless, she persisted.” I think I just kept doing what I do, pushing forward, trying new things, because I just really enjoy what I do. And I think I never tired of it because I never let myself stagnate. I ventured into other genres, played with new and emerging DJ technology, and just generally kept my sense of “oooh this is neat, let’s try it!”
I also always tried to support other people, and those networks of friends are always a great space for support, even when things are going badly. We have often kept each other going, played each other’s records, played each other’s parties, and just stuck together even when things were bleak.
What made you decide to rebrand yourself at this time?
There were many factors. It was meant to just be a pseudonym. Techno artists love doing different projects under anonymous pseudonyms, and that was originally the idea. I meant it to be a specifically feminist-oriented project. But it just all came together in a way that I thought maybe it was time to just completely make a change.
It was utterly terrifying to just drop my old name and change suddenly. And in hindsight, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Your “DJ coming out party” of sorts was Unsound in 2017. What was it like playing such an illustrious event, after years of “paying your dues” in the Midwest?
It was wild! I played a massive venue with a massive crowd and it just felt so good. Also, Krakow, Poland, is beautiful! I ate many pierogies and walked through a park that is older than the United States. That was really something else.
What was going through your mind as you booked your flights to Berlin to play their most notable clubs, including Berghain?
Is this really happening? Is this really happening NOW? I never really expected all the work to take until the age of 45 to pay off, but here I am. A lot of people gave up before now. I never did. I might be a little stubborn.
Tell us a little about your time in Berlin?
When I am in Berlin, I mostly just hang out with friends and eat lots of currywurst and falafel. I rarely even end up going out unless I am playing. I am so very not exciting. I’m not a big partier. I just love playing techno on big sound systems.
What was the most notable experience you had playing overseas?
It’s stereotypical to say, but Berghain is always notable. It really is like nothing else. Also, playing Concrete in Paris was a really cool one. The club is a boat on the Seine, which is cool on its own. I did a B2B with my friend Erika and we had AMAZING French cuisine (and cheese) before the gig. Afterward, we went and stuffed ourselves with a fancy breakfast at the hotel. We were so tired, but very happy and just giggling a lot over good food.
How did your time there influence your style?
I learned how to play longer sets. Europe is very much into longer techno sets. Playing 3-4 hours is normal, whereas it is a bit more unusual in the US at clubs or festivals. I tend to have a very fast-paced style so when I am there I have to learn to relax a little bit. It’s fun to learn new ways of doing things though. If you’re still learning new things after 24 years of DJing, that’s a good thing.
You were recognized as one of Mixmag’s Top 20 Breakthrough DJ’s for 2017. What were you doing when you learned the news that you had been chosen?
I can’t remember what I was doing but I was pretty damn stoked, I remember that!
What did that feel like?
Validation. It’s all felt like validation. That I was right to keep going. That the choices I made, some of which are very contrary to how most people live their adult lives, were worth it.
You have been chosen as one of the midwest heroes to play Movement in 2019 along with the likes of Orbital, Stephan Bodzin, and powerhouse females ANNA and Amelie Lens. How excited are you moving towards the event now that we are only a week out?
Reality has NOT sunk in yet. For Midwest DJs, this one is kind of a big deal. It’s in the place it all started, it’s in the Midwest, so many of my friends are there every year or most years, and I get to take my friends John and Lailee who have made it possible for ME to be there almost every year of the festival.
But it really hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s kind of this gauzy, dreamlike thing at the moment. I will freak out later.
Playing the “birthplace of Techno” is a huge career milestone for any DJ in their career, and I know we are all excited to witness what you have planned. What can we expect to hear in your set in Detroit?
I have no idea. I never know exactly what I am gonna play until I’m doing it. I do have a folder of “things that would be cool at Movement”, but that’s just some wishful thinking.
I CAN say that you can expect some bass, some jack, and some bang. Those are the three main components in any Noncompliant set. 😉
As a female DJ in this industry, you have been outspoken on the LGBTQ community and female rights. How have you navigated the pitfalls and upward momentum of success?
Try to just be who I am, listen and learn as I go, and if I fuck up, try to do better. Main things I have learned: don’t read comments and do your best not to get into arguments with trolls on the internet (at that last part I have only had mild success).
Practical stuff: I don’t drink at all when touring, always wear earplugs (even while playing), and I know to always get sleep rather than go to the afterparty.
Also, if you get any kind of success, never pull up the ladder behind you. Do your best to bring other people with you. That’s something that’s good for women and any marginalized person to keep in mind.
Any suggestions for others following in your footsteps?
Success is rarely overnight and it’s never just about money or fame. It takes a lot of work and a whole lot of luck to get ahead. If enough arbitrary things line up, you might get lucky and get famous or something. But more importantly, if you love what you do and you keep doing it no matter what, that is the truest definition of success.
They will have very big shoes to follow. Thank you so much for speaking with us today Lisa. We can’t wait to follow all of your success and well-deserved accolades.
💗 Squishy hugs.
You can catch Noncompliant at Movement on Sunday, May 26.