On October 2, DJ Sveta will take her place behind the decks at Sleaze Ball for the 10th time.
The Ukrainian-born DJ first brought partygoers to their feet with her eclectic mix of tribal beats and dirty electro anthems way back in 1997. Since then Sveta has become a fixture at the event, pushing boundaries for female DJs in the process.
Sleaze has not only been one of the cornerstones of the popular DJ’s professional career, it also helped define her as a person.
“I first got into Sleaze Ball as a punter. I think it was ’93 or ’94. I remember being in the Dome before it got taken over by Fox and it was still when the Royal Easter Show would sometimes hire those premises and they had fridges behind in the round area and in those fridges they had pretty hardcore S&M fetish shows,” she recalled.
“I knew there was something like that out there and I kind of knew I would have that reaction to it when I saw it but I really remember that moment as having changed me forever.”
A few years later, Sveta would make the transition from dancefloor to DJ booth.
“I thought it was the greatest thing that had ever happened in my life, that I could get a Mardi Gras or a Sleaze Ball party. It was such a great opportunity to be able to play music you like and have people come along and wanna dance to it.”
Not that the experience was entirely painless.
“At the time it was pretty intense because there were hardly any female DJs and it was very competitive to get a spot,” she said.
“I remember a lot of boys saying you only got a spot because you’re a woman and you can’t mix, and this, that and the other, so you know you had to be pretty brave as well.”
It’s this bravery, combined with a burning passion for music, that has enabled Sveta to become one of the few DJs — male or female — to successfully cross over from the gay scene to the mainstream without losing touch with her underground roots.
The Ukrainian sensation’s versatility is legendary. At one end of the cultural spectrum, she has a 17-year association with the Hellfire Club under her belt as well as a seven-year residency at the Sly Fox and an eight-year stint at Tropical Fruits.
At the other, Sveta has coordinated music for a Collette Dinnigan showing in Paris, in addition to being Alex Perry’s right-hand woman for the past five years.
Sveta believes the key to her wide appeal is resilience and hard work.
“I’ve definitely come across many ceilings but I’ve managed to sort of break them by coming in through the back door. It’s almost always just by doing it and someone seeing it and someone wanting to hire me.
“If you survive long enough you get some kind of cultural cred. It’s been hard to be someone who’s had to do that all the way along. I think it’s easier for young people now.”
All of these achievements have lifted Sveta’s profile to the extent where she has developed an international following. In fact, the DJ just returned from playing sets in some of America’s biggest nightclubs.
“This year was my fifth or sixth return trip to New York. This year I did Mr Black again, I did the Cock, and I did Van Damme, which is one of the big significant nights there at the moment. And three or four others.”
She followed that up with a quick jaunt to Europe.
“I did a couple of shows, the most significant being in Barcelona. My manager Ricardo got me a gig at Razzamataz. I got to play the same night as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and, you know, five other people whose records I carry in my case and they were really, really into it.”
Sveta will draw on all these experiences and influences when she puts together her 10th Sleaze Ball set.
“When I’m in the Dome I tend to play more tribal-oriented, rhythmic sort of sexual music that’s more focused on beats and percussion and rhythms — less so on vocal,” she hinted.
“I think I’d like to play a really classic Sleaze set. From the line-up I can tell I’ve got one of the dirtier sounds from the DJs who are programmed in The Dome so I’ve basically been given the green light to do that.
“They can expect the sound that people associate with this year’s theme ‘decadence’. The sound of Sleaze.”
Sveta’s army of followers will be there waiting.
By MIKE MRKIC