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Meet the Welsh DJ who made history at the first live music event in more than a year

09 May 2021 7 minute read
Katie Owen.

David Owens

A week ago today Katie Owen created a slice of history.

Taking to the stage at the first live indoor music event in the UK in more than a year she acted as the arch conductor of an impromptu massed choir.

This gathering of thousands was literally music to her and all our ears.

Katie’s role as the stage DJ for the first live indoor show on these shores in more than a year was a joyful celebration; the sound of 5,000 voices singing the words to the tracks she was playing back to the stage in rapturous union.

It was a moment many of us feared wouldn’t happen, while dreaming of the day it would.

The test event headlined by local indie heroes Blossoms, inside a big tent in Sefton Park, was a key part of the UK government’s Events Research Programme, a vital step in science-led research, which will provide key data to support the reopening of live events and venues by way of mass testing.

It was the light at the end of a very dark tunnel, as we collectively navigate our way out of the most difficult year many of us have ever experienced.

For Katie, from Merthyr, it was her first gig back in more than 12 months, after an abrupt emergency stop was applied to a career that was very much in the ascendancy.

Rewind to 2019 and there was no stopping the Welsh DJ. The summer of that year saw her signing with one of the biggest UK music management companies, the Coalition Agency after being recommended to the agency by music legend – former Creation Records boss, Alan McGee.

Coalition represents star names including Sara Cox, Greg James and Jo Whiley.

Radio 2 presenter Whiley took Katie out on her ‘90s anthem tour and to top off a fantastic year, the talented young DJ appeared on Radio 1 over Christmas covering for Jack Saunders on the station’s Indie Show.

Katie has subsequently been snapped up by Money Management, who represent the likes of Nick Grimshaw, Annie Mac, Trevor Nelson, Tom Ravenscroft and Matt Edmondson.

When the coronavirus pandemic struck like many in the creative industries her career came to an abrupt halt, those dreams she had long harboured unceremoniously shelved.

Radio 1

Radio 2 presenter Whiley took Katie out on her ‘90s anthem tour and to top off a fantastic year, the talented young DJ appeared on Radio 1 over Christmas covering for Jack Saunders on the station’s Indie Show.

Then the coronavirus pandemic struck and like many in the creative industries her career came to an abrupt halt, those dreams she had long harboured unceremoniously shelved.

Here she tells us about getting back on stage at Sefton Park, how hard it has been to cope and her hopes for the music industry following that momentous show last weekend.

Tell me how you ended up playing at Sefton Park?
I’ve DJ’d quite a few times for (promoter) SJM who were involved with the festival, they got in contact with me a week before and asked me to play so it was pretty last minute but I’m so grateful that they did.

It was all a bit of a whirlwind beforehand then?
It was absolutely incredible, like a surreal dream. I couldn’t sleep the night before because I was too excited, it honestly felt magical, as if I was a kid on Christmas Eve again.

What was it like at the site when you arrived and what tests did you have to take?
I had to take the Rapid Lateral Flow test and have a negative result, everyone was in really high spirits and happy to be there so it was a nice vibe. The only difference was there was a one way system and we had to wear masks backstage.

How did you compile your setlist for the gig?
I’m quite spontaneous, I don’t tend to make setlists for my gigs. I like to judge it by the crowd. It’s really important to interact and connect with them so you can play the right tunes and guarantee that we all have the best time. My absolute priority is to get every single person singing their hearts out and enjoying themselves.

How nervous were you before hitting the stage and what was the reaction like from the crowd?
I wasn’t nervous at all, I was just so over the moon to be playing there. The gates opened at 4:30pm on the dot, a sea of excited faces came flooding in and quickly started to fill up the huge tent – I was the first artist on stage playing a two hour DJ Set. My first gig back in over a year and it was to five thousand people. The crowd were phenomenal. It couldn’t have gone better. The atmosphere was so positive and everyone was in high spirits. I enjoyed every second.

It must have been one of your easier gigs given how up for it you and the crowd were?
Definitely, the energy in that tent was magical.

The reaction looked insane…
It was amazing! After not playing for a year to having five thousand voices singing back at you, it felt so surreal. It was a special night that I’ll never forget and I’m so honoured to have been a part of it.

It sounded like you were completely drained afterwards – how did you feel coming offstage and then in the days afterwards?
I was genuinely so exhausted. I didn’t even stay for a drink afterwards, I went back to my hotel room and slept. It took me a few days to recover. I think the lack of sleep, too much excitement and five hour journey there caught up with me but it was so worth it.

How hard has this last year been for you – especially as your career was on a massive upward trajectory when coronavirus hit?
It was really hard, I went from DJing three times a week, having loads of festivals and gigs to look forward to and loads of work to absolutely nothing for a year. It’s been really tough, there has been lots of tears.It was difficult, but I forced myself to stop dwelling on it all though and am feeling really positive about this year. I’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline which I’m really grateful for.

Katie before the gig last weekend.

How have you occupied your time during lockdown?
I’ve started doing five hours of Welsh lessons a week and two hours of music production. I’ve also been making a few House mixes.

How hopeful are you now about the future of clubs and live music?
I want nothing more than for it to fully return and I know many others feel the same. I’m hoping that after the pilot festivals last weekend we’re on the right track.

Katie’s top five Sefton Park tracks

1) Blondie – Call Me

2) Oasis – She’s Electric

3) Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

4) Donna Summer- I Feel Love

5) The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army

Keep up to date with Katie’s latest news here.

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Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
3 years ago

Setlist? Only the most cheesy of wedding disco outfits have setlists. Club DJs nearly all “play the crowd” and though certain tracks flow into others it is the crowd reaction that dictates the direction of travel.
Alan McGee does DJ sets and I know he hasn’t got a clue what he has played let alone what comes next.

2 years ago

Hi blogger thanks for sharing this blog, which is useful for another dj business, i also implement new dj promoters business

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