hey! dw
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hey! dw

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2015

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Electronic Pop




"Flare Magazine"

In our 9–5 series, we ask boss babes what a day in their work lives entails. This week, D.W. Waterson, known by her DJ name “hey! dw,” gives us a glimpse into her music-obsessed daily grind

Age: I’m going to say 25.

Is that actually your age? No! But people look at women differently in this industry. If you’re 25 and killing it, then you’re considered super skilled, but if you’re older, people see it like, “Well, you should be that talented by that age.”

Education: Bachelor of fine arts in film from Ryerson University

Length of time at current gig: four years

Did you know early on that DJing is what you wanted to do? I’ve always loved music. I started out playing drums in different rock bands when I was around 15. In my first year of university, I remember this jock showing off to the popular girls how he could DJ using software called “Virtual DJ.” I didn’t know anything about the DJ world but when I saw him do that I ran down to my room and downloaded the program and started DJing. I was a “bedroom DJ” for a couple of years—meaning I just DJed in my room—and then my friends started telling me that I was really good and encouraged me to get out there. I started working as a DJ and then built the brand of hey! dw and then incorporated my drums about one-and-a-half years ago.

What does it mean to be a DJ? I’m the party captain. I have a crowd where some people are wasted, some people are sober, some people don’t want to be there but their friends dragged them out. It’s my job, within the first 10 minutes of my set, to get everybody on the same page and from there, take them through a storyline of different beats and ways to dance—from really bassy to disco to remixes of songs they love. Then at the end, I build it up, do a huge drum solo over some tracks and everyone freaks out and then I get off the stage.

How did you make your brand unique from what’s out there? Most DJs kind of just walk up, plug in a USB key and hit some buttons. Then you have full bands with synths and all these original songs. I’m this weird in-between. I play drums and DJ at the same time while wearing a cheerleading uniform with cartoons blasting behind me. Anyone who sees me says it’s like nothing they’ve seen before.

How did you pick the name hey! dw? D.W. are my initials so when I was trying to figure out a DJ name I thought of the opening sequence of the children’s television series Arthur when he says “Hey! D.W.!” to his sister. I thought it was really catchy and that people would remember it from their childhood. And now people just scream “Hey! D.W.!” at me.

Is there anything in particular about D.W.’s character that you related to? She’s a little bit of a shit disturber and there’s one episode where she plays a song on loop because she loves it so much and I figured, I could definitely relate to both those things.

Has your DJ persona changed over the years? Totally! At the beginning, hey! dw was really juvenile and just wanted to run around and smash drums. Now there’s more sexuality to it. I made out with a girl on stage while a remix of Selena Gomez’s “Hands to Myself” was playing. Hey! dw has evolved into more of a teenager, so it’s cool to see that change in a character that you’ve developed.

How do you know what’s going to get people up and dancing? A lost skill for DJs is learning how to read an audience. I think a lot of people just play the music they like, thinking that means that other people will like it also. Then they’re surprised when not everyone is into it, but they don’t have a backup plan. Every crowd is different and every party is different. Sometimes people want more Top 40 stuff, others want bassy stuff from the UK, some parties want more drums and others want less. It’s all about trying different tracks, seeing what the audience responds to, and then using that as your foundation for how to write the rest of your set.

How do you find good music for your set? I do a lot of crate digging—which is really blog digging—to see what people are talking about. You kind of just end up going down rabbit holes where you were looking for one thing, but then you find another.

Are you drawn to any particular type of music? I love everything, but for DJing, I like stuff that’s bouncy and fun to dance to or has really deep bass that pretty much blows your pants off. It’s cool to see crowds react to stuff like that.

What differentiates a professional DJ from someone who just downloads some software and makes their own mixes? Those people are flashes in the pan. They’re often college dudes who are somewhat attractive so they get hired to do some cool clubs. Then they drink and party their faces off until they realize that they can’t keep up with that. They’re gone within a year and a half to two years. So it’s really all about stamina. It’s about constantly hustling and networking for shows. The DJs who have a career understand that it’s a business, and the DJs who don’t, think it’s all one big party.

DJ hey, dw

How do you get in the zone before a big gig? I chill out. I sit at home, maybe I’ll watch Netflix or dick around on social media, but when I put on that cheerleading uniform, it feel like the intro to Batman and Robin when they’re slowly suiting up. I put the cheerleading uniform on, red lipstick, a leather jacket and then I just become hey! dw.

Let’s talk about the costume. Where did that come from? For Halloween once, I went as Gwen Stefani during her Hollaback days. Then, a few years later, I was DJing a Halloween gig so I re-wore the costume. The next day on the Facebook event page, everyone was asking about the “cheerleader DJ” so I noticed it was an easy way to tag myself. So I decided to wear it when I DJed.

That’s so fitting since you are basically the cheerleader of the party. Exactly! And it loosens people up. A lot of DJs wear leather jackets and are all about being cool and having a squad. I’m up there, dancing my face off in a cheerleading uniform. It allows the audience to dance harder and realize that it’s not a pretentious, cool thing. It’s a party.

When you’re DJing, what are your hours like? I usually aim to get there around 10 or 11 p.m. and then I’m usually leaving at around 3 a.m.

How do you keep yourself going for the entire night? I run on adrenaline. I’m allergic to coffee and I don’t drink alcohol so this is a pure life high that I’m grabbing at.

You mentioned earlier that DJing can be tough for women, how has your experience been? It’s a boy’s club for sure. At the end of the day, I wish men were being asked these questions—like why there’s so few females in the DJ scene. But it is changing. There’s a lot of female hustlers in Toronto especially, but all of the gatekeepers of the gigs are men and they want their homies to come through and make money. For me, it’s also hard to be taken seriously in a cheerleading uniform. Working with a lot of bars, they have a hard time listening to a blond cheerleader directing them where the tech needs to go and how things need to get setup. Once, a sound guy didn’t realize that I was the headliner and kept going to the opener DJ asking what he wanted to do with the lights and stuff. He couldn’t figure it out that I was the person in charge.

Who is a DJ you admire, and why? Annie Mac from BBC Radio One. She is a god. I’ve been following her for years. She introduced me to falling in love with electronic music. She went from an intern at BBC Radio to having her own radio show to having the top dance radio show. She is the trendsetter in electronic music, she kind of dictates what kind of styles and sounds are coming out. She now throws her own events and has a festival in Malta that I went to in April. She has built an empire, which is amazing.

What’s the best part of your day? Anytime I can play music loudly.

What’s the worst part of your day? Ugh, waking up. I just always want an extra two hours.

What attributes does someone need to be a DJ? You have to consume a lot of music. All the time you need to be listening to SoundCloud, radio stations, Spotify, and also be practicing mixing, and hustling to get those little gigs so you can be in front of an audience and learn how to read a crowd. A lot of it is persistence.

How do you unwind at the end of the day? Hanging out with my friends and having some good healthy food. My friends really help ground me so it’s about being able to hang out with them and sharing successes and happiness. - What its really like to be a dj

"D.W. Waterson: Today’s Notable Young Professional"

Today’s Notable Young Professional is acclaimed DJ, creator, film producer, and indie director D.W. Waterson, who we caught up with to find out about the inspiration behind her work and advice for other creatives in any industry…


Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I’m a film director by day and a DJ by night.

What was the inspiration for your career route?
I remember when I was in my pre-teens, every Friday night I would go to Blockbuster and rent festival-nominated films, seasons of TV, and the latest 90s teen movies. I was hypnotized by the art of storytelling, the actors, the cinematography, the drama, the magic; I would actually sit there and take notes. Little did I know all of those nights would up add up into creating the foundation for my career.

In regards to DJing, I didn’t see that coming at all. I started playing drums and was in and out of rock bands but it wasn’t until university that I saw some jock showing off Virtual DJ to a bunch of popular girls. Once I saw that, I was hooked. I locked myself in my dorm room and started mixing music.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
When That’s My DJ Season 2 premiered, hearing the audience roar and applaud rendered me speechless. That moment will be ingrained in my memory forever.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
In five years I see myself on tour as hey! dw DJ’ing music festivals all over North America and Europe while having released my first feature film. In 10 years I see myself showrunning my first television show while also touring as hey! dw. In 20 years I see myself still touring, showrunning to shows with 3-4 feature films under my belt, on top of fostering and producing up and coming talent.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Just do it! A lot of people talk about doing projects, being creative, and getting out there but few actually do. Be brave, take the risk, and jump.

What does the word notable mean to you?
To stand with an individual voice and make your mark.


Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
I love the Dupont strip. There are all these hidden gems of restaurants like Big Crow, my new favourite, Bar Begonia, and all of this just steps away from Casa Loma where you can overlook the entire city.

What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
BBC Radio 1 keeps me locked in to the best in up and coming music. Been jamming to ‘Skwod’ by Nadia Rose for the past couple weeks, as well as Galantis’ “No Money’

Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
If only Kate McKinnon had Twitter.

Runners up: beeple_crap and slimesunday on Instagram. Brilliant graphic designers; I’m obsessed with their stuff.

What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I was just in LA for two months, I love it there. The energy, the people, the industry, the nightlife, the tacos… I will definitely be back soon.

What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Not being at THE party.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Not going to lie, Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘E.MO.TION’ has ruled my playlist over the past few months. Do yourself a favour and listen to that album.

What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I spend too much money eating out; would love to spend more money at farmer’s markets.

And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success for me is filling my days and nights doing the things I love surrounded by the people I love. - Noteable

"hey! dw – That’s My DJ (Original Mix)"

Writer, director and producer of the web-series ‘That’s My DJ‘ and founder of Toronto’s Home Brew, hey! dw dishes out her newest single.

The title track from her aforementioned web-series, “That’s My DJ” is a dark yet bouncy flavor of house music. The record leads Season 2 of its video storytelling with appropriate aesthetic to match its plot. - Dancing Astronaut

"Five Questions With D.W. Waterson"

DJ/ Director D.W. Waterson was named Best Director at the New York Television Festival 2016 Independant Pilot Competition for her hit web series, That’s My DJ. You can see it online at www.thatsmydjseries.com. I had the chance to ask D.W. a series of questions in our Five Questions With segment! Enjoy!

Introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is hey! dw and I am a DJ/drummer who will tear apart the stage and turn it into a sweaty dance party at the drop of a hat.

Tell us a bit about your music and DJ style

For me it’s mostly about “how quickly can I make this crowd lose their mind and take off their clothes”. I jump all around the dance music genre’s playing bass-y deep house tracks to a little bit of tropical all the way to bangers and trap.

Do you have any upcoming shows? For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?

Right now I’m finishing up my debut EP so just playing some private parties until 2017. As for live, I jump back and forth between mixing and playing live drums while also hyping the crowd till no end. It’s all about creating one epic party moment for me.

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

Oh there’s so many!! One of my absolute favourites that ALWAYS gets the crowd going (as well as myself) is A-trak’s remix of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ‘Heads Will Roll’ #classicbanger

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/artists?

If you haven’t heard of Repartee or Featurette, they are two electronic pop bands that are currently blowing up and will blow your mind. - Canadian Beats

"Hyphenate Creatives"

What do you do?

Director by day, DJ by night, kinda like a superhero. ;)
What led you to these jobs?
I started out as drummer in my high school years, spending my Friday nights at band practice or binge-watching the latest releases from Blockbuster. This led to me attending Ryerson University where I studied film, and ultimately found directing. In my down time at university I discovered DJing to supplement my lack of drumming -- it started as a hobby and has now fully blossomed into career, which is crazy and mind blowingly amazing!
Which woman inspires you in the creative world?
Boss lady and queen Annie Mac. To think she started out as a intern at BBC radio 1, and now she is the host -- of not one, but two -- of the most popular radio shows in the UK. And on top of all of that, she has her own brand of live events all over the UK, and now her own music festival in Malta (which I was lucky enough to attend this past March). #praise
What advice would you give to other ‘hyphenate creatives’?
Just do it! A lot of people think, dream and talk about who they want to become, what they want to be doing with their life, but putting rubber to road and really cranking out content is where you will find your voice and your passion. - Sophomore Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



hey! dw pumps out her signature bouncy British beats and deep house anthems. Spreading it on thick with a buttery blend of party licks and live drum solos she is sure to get your blood flowing. With her high-energy performances and iconic cheerleading uniform she is the electronic artist to watch in .

Not only a DJ, hey! dw is also a multi-faceted talent: 
a writer, director and producer of the award winning web series That’s My DJ. She is also the founder of Home Brew, a night bringing together the best of Toronto’s indie DJ’s & live musicians.

She’s known for taking her audience through the spectrum of the best and latest in dance music, ranging from deep house, bounce, nu-disco all the way to the latest in bass. If it makes you sweat, she's playing it.

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