Budding Mississauga artist set to DJ for Barack Obama
It's not unusual to hear that a Mississauga-born or based artist is making waves in music, television or film, but it's not every day that you learn that a 22-year-old DJ—one who has already toured with incredibly popular artists—has been hand-picked to DJ a Toronto event for former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Dahlia Keisha Palmer, better known as DJ Rosegold, is about to enjoy something of a career milestone on Thursday, Jan. 23 when she plays for the beloved former Commander-in-Chief at his Future Skills: A Conversation with President Barack Obama event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
But while the sold-out Obama event (some tables might still be available for brands) will be a big one for the budding star, it won't be the first time she's played to a huge crowd.
Rosegold, who once dreamed of becoming a French teacher (she studied at Glendon College, the bilingual campus of York University), has been playing for crowds for some time now. Over the past two years, Rosegold went from DJing for family and friends to playing at sold-out festivals around the world, touring with Grammy-nominated artist Jessie Reyez and independently-curating 10 sold-out events in Toronto.
In addition to being a DJ, Rosegold is also a celebrity artist liaison who works with artists who come to Toronto. She's worked with clients such as Lil Mosey, Jidenna, Swae Lee and Christian Combs, just to name a few.
Insauga.com got to chat with the rising star about her favourite gigs, her musical influences and her love of food.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity
Insauga.com: Have you always lived in Mississauga?
Rosegold: I have, I was born at Credit Valley Hospital and I've never lived anywhere else in my entire life. To be honest, I'd love to move to Los Angeles, but the comfort of being at home and having my family around is more convenient.
Insauga.com: What high school did you go to?
I went to St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School. I don't know what made me want to move schools, but I also ended up going to Loyola Catholic Secondary School and went there for one semester.
Insauga.com: What prompted you to get into DJing?
My father is a reggae artist and he used to write music for artists in Jamaica. My brother [a producer, audio engineer and artist who goes by the name of Chillaa] wanted to take music seriously from the age of 7. He was always writing songs and we would go to the studio with my dad both here and in Jamaica.
My mom built a recording studio in our basement in Mississauga about 12 years ago and my dad and brother worked out of the studio, so I was always surrounded by music. I would always have DJ programs on my phone and I'd use them for fun, but I was not good at all.
Then, one day I went to Long & McQuade and purchased a DJ controller. I said, 'can I return this if I'm not good at it?' That was January of 2017.
The first thing I did was download a DJ program called Serato. I started playing around and downloading music. I branded myself on social media, went to parties and made connections. That's one of the most important things—being able to build relationships and network. You need to network, network, network—it's so important.
Insauga.com: When did you start DJing professionally? Have you DJ'd in Jamaica as well as North America?
The first time I DJ'd in Jamaica was in 2018. I played in my dad's hometown of Mandeville. I've also played in Kingston.
Insauga.com: What's your biggest career highlight to date?
Every gig that I get booked for, there's always something that tops [the last time]. I would definitely say one of the biggest accomplishments was going on tour with Savannah Re and Jessie Reyez in 2018. She brought me on tour with her as her tour DJ. That was the staple of my career.
I also DJ'd an event that was hosted by Cardi B, right around the time Bodak Yellow came out. I never got to meet her, but she followed me on Instagram the next day and I reconnected with her in LA, so that's a highlight at my career.
Insauga.com: Any favourite celebrity encounters?
I met one of my favourite artists, Roddy Ricch, in Vancouver at Breakout Festival. That was the coolest interaction, he's super humble and really nice.
Insauga.com: Has your career allowed you to travel a lot?
I've played in Jamaica and the U.S., and most recently I was booked to DJ in St. Maarten for Haywire Weekend. I'll also DJ in Colombia in May.
Insauga.com: How did you find out you were wanted for the Obama event?
I don't think I realized how huge this Obama opportunity would be until my family was like, 'hello, it's Obama!'
I got a direct message [on Instagram] at 10:30 pm from Rhiannon Rosalind, the CEO of the Economic Club of Canada. She said they'd love for me to come and DJ.
Insauga.com: How challenging is it to pick songs for Obama?
Obama releases his favourite music picks [on social media]. He just released his favourite songs of the decade, so I've been looking at those posts and tailoring my playlists to that. With a corporate event, they tend to be specific about the type of music they want me to play. Knowing Obama likes reggae and hip hop and rap, it'll be so much more fun for me as a DJ to be able to play around with his choices.
Insauga.com: Are you nervous?
I don't know, I think I'm more excited than nervous. My nerves usually hit in the moment. Once I get on stage and realize 'this is happening,' that's when the tingling feeling starts.
Insauga.com: Are you hoping to meet him?
I'd love a picture with him, but this isn't a random person—I'm going to call him President Barack Obama. I know there are guidelines and restrictions. I'm crossing my fingers that I can get a clip of him walking past me.
Insauga.com: Where did your DJ name come from?
It's funny, I hated the name DJ Rosegold at first. Before I was DJing, I bought a rose gold iPhone and rose gold Beats by Dre and I was obsessed with the colour.
My mom and I will sometimes brainstorm ideas and we'll look around the room for inspiration. She said 'how about DJ Rosegold?' and I didn't love it. We started telling people about it and I got pretty good feedback. The one thing that's been a challenge, is typically when you look up a product that's rose gold, there's a space between 'rose' and 'gold.' A lot of times, my name is misspelled on flyers.
Insauga.com: What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue to do big festivals, Coachella and Rolling Loud are on my list. I also want to continue to DJ for celebrities and go on another tour.
Insauga.com: Do you ever play in Mississauga?
I play at &Co quite a bit—that's actually where I DJ'd for Cardi B. &CO does a Wednesday night party that I recommend.
Insauga.com: What's your favourite restaurant in Mississauga?
One place I actually found on insauga.com was the Pump House Grille in Port Credit and I love it now. I also like El Mariachi in Streetsville, it has the most bomb burritos. I'm also obsessed with Gladiator Burger, their mac n' cheeseburger is ridiculously good and the poutine is so good too.
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