By day, she is the Executive Director of End of Life Choices Oregon, where she employs years of experience in nonprofit development to guide the mission of the organization. By night however, Krista has become a leader in the local dance music community as well, consistently spinning anywhere from festivals like SOAK and SHIFT, to clubs like the North Warehouse, The Den, and No Requests, until their doors closed.
One can wonder what connects these experiences (and we'll get to that in our conversation below). What is apparent however, whether it be in executive management or DJing, is Krista's demonstrated success through dedication, and understanding how to formulate the most effective approach possible.
Although you've only been DJing the last four years, music has always been a part of your life; from playing cello and upright bass early on, to your post-college indie rock band The Flashbangs based in Colorado. Tell us a bit about your experiences with music throughout life, and how these different expressions connect for you.
I’d love to say that I come from a musically talented family. But the truth is that I grew up with a father who loved rock - Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones - and a mother who loved R&B/Soul like the Jackson 5 and Roberta Flack. I remember playing vinyl on our record player and dancing for hours, looking over the covers again and again. One of my first memories is dragging my parents out to buy the Donna Summer album “Bad Girls” with my birthday money when I was 4 or 5 years old (can’t remember the exact age). I had no idea that the lyrics were, well, naughty. I’m sure my parents were less than thrilled. But I listened to that album non-stop. I think that’s why I feel very drawn to disco. It makes me happy and nostalgic.
I’ve always loved to sing. Always. I’ve been in several choirs. And as you mentioned, The Flashbangs in Denver which was a mostly female Indie band. I have tried playing the guitar and ukulele (they are sitting on shelves collecting dust if anyone wants to make an offer!)…but part of that was to assist with singing. Sadly, I cannot seem to multitask vocally with an instrument.
I recently caught an awesome set from you at the annual community dance music event Playground here in Portland. Over the last several years though you've become incredibly active as a DJ, and Playground seemed like affirmation of your place in the scene. Where has music been taking you currently? And what can you share about your time in the Portland dance music community?
Playing Playground was a real treat. I have been attending this event since 2015 or 2016 maybe? So a joy to be asked to DJ a set at this event.
Music has been taking me to some incredible places lately! I just played with LuSid in Bend a few weekends ago for So Much House. He’s an amazing DJ that sings and plays the guitar and electric didgeridoo - it was fun to watch him make magic on the stage. I also just played Pride weekend at The Sports Bra on Sunday, which as an ally, I feel pretty smitten to have the honor to participate.
What are some upcoming events you're excited about, whether that you're playing, or attending in the audience? I know you mentioned a new camper van also. Any exciting trips planned?
Well, I am looking forward to seeing Ali Wong next week. I’m also looking forward to a Mount Tabor Dance Community set on August 2nd. I have been trying to keep my calendar light this summer so I can do more camping and prepare for Burning Man. I already have 4 sets scheduled and more in the works. I am trying to get out of my camp and meet as many people as possible through music. The conversion van is also going to the Burn. Fingers crossed Vandra White is ready for the Playa!
Alongside Claudia Martinez in 2022, you co-founded Broad Beats, a club night geared towards booking incredible female and nonbinary talent. Can you tell us about your experience with Broad Beats?
Working alongside another female identifying DJ, and friend, is very special. In a world that is very saturated with male identifying DJs our thought was to shine a spotlight on those who are less likely to get the prime spots in our local scene. Promoters do include female identifying DJs…but normally to open or close. When you think about it, and we all know from going to shows, there’s just not that many people around during those set times. And if you are not exposed at more peak times, well, you just don’t get as many new followers. It’s simple math.
But getting off my soapbox and back to Broad Beats... It was an exciting, valuable experience. I am very grateful to the owner of No Requests who not only asked Claudia and I to be resident DJs, but offered a Friday night to run with our idea. Now, it was still a lot of work trying to coordinate a monthly show while working full-time, managing our own gigs and personal lives. At the end we just all wanted different things, although Claudia and I are still Broad Beats but not as a monthly event right now. We are giving ourselves a break and reevaluating this fall about steps forward.
Outside of the music world, you have built your career in nonprofit development, helping to grow many the vision of quite a few organizations, currently serving as the Executive Director for End of Life Choices Oregon. I'm curious to hear about the personal side of this work for you.
The answer is that I have always seen value in public service. To help others. Be connected to a cause that is greater than myself. The best work that I have done in any job has been mission driven. What set it off was my experience with the Peace Corps. I volunteered for 2 years after graduating from college. I later worked at the Peace Corps office in Boston and Denver after attending graduate school for international management. You can only work for the organization for 5 years - I would be there now if I could! What I got from this experience crystalized that this type of work would be my career, even when I made a detour and I owned 2 yoga studios in Massachusetts for five years. It was still in service to others and didn’t make much of a profit (nonprofit joke).
Perhaps a bit abstract, but is there anything that connects the worlds of executive nonprofit management and DJing clubs and festivals for you?
Wow. That’s a fascinating question! Thinking about this a bit more, maybe one of the connections or threads is that you have to be a multitasker? You have to wear many different hats in each business. There are different stakeholders and you need to connect and communicate with people on various levels. In general, I resonate with people from all walks of life. And I truly enjoy doing so. It’s not an act but a genuine curiosity to connect with another human and learn more. Maybe that makes me easy to chat with? This seems to come natural to me, even as a child, and I am happy that it’s the connection with another human that counts. And what seems to occur naturally ends up being a good thing for everyone involved. Mutual respect and connection. And I am all for it.
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