Interview: DJ Stella Key (Setareh Zenouz) Talks Gear, Sets, and Checking the VibePosted by Mike Schuck
We managed to snag an interview with the highly successful DJ, producer, and singer, Setareh Zenouz, who performs as Stella Key.
With over 20 million song streams, Ms. Zenouz is a globally-recognized musician whose achievements have surpassed borders and entire continents.
Her music has become a staple on some of the most respected Spotify music charts.
She has also had a serious impact on the live music scene. Zenouz has performed at IBoatNYC’s summer concert series, attended by thousands of guests, and she's also played sold-out shows at The Meadows in Brooklyn.
Noting her achievements, top labels across the globe have signed Zenouz, including Magic Music Records, known for representing the best artists in electronic music, and Soave Records in the Netherlands, which owns some of the most widely listened to playlists on Spotify.
Jam Addict had the chance to ask Zenouz about numerous aspects of her life as a prominent musician and performer, including her setup, how she approaches sets, and how aspiring DJa can make their mark in a challenging music landscape.
Jam Addict (JA): When did you start playing DJ sets? Can you tell us about some of your best live performances?
Setareh Zenouz (SZ): I started out as a DJ three years ago, right before the pandemic. When the pandemic hit I couldn't perform live as I had planned to. But this gave me the opportunity to really work on my skills and put great set lists together.
After the pandemic and moving to NYC, I started playing live shows and I truly fell in love with DJ-ing for a crowd. One of my best performances was in summer 2022 at the IboatNYC x Crustnation event. This is the biggest party cruise ship in NYC and hosts some of the biggest names and events in the world.
I got the opportunity to play an opening set for one of the biggest electronic dj/producer duos, DVBBS. This was an amazing experience.
Another great experience was playing a sold-out show at The Meadows in Brooklyn. This event turned out to be much bigger than I expected, with some big names in electronic music headlining the show such as Ace Aura. I got the chance to meet so many amazing people and have a really good time.
JA: Do you tend to change up your gear/setup over time? Or not so much?
SZ: I’ve pretty much been using the same equipment, I’ve added more items as I felt the need. For example, I started with an AKG C214 mic and now I use the Antelope modeling mic, and I’m planning to upgrade to a U87. So if my work requires better gear for better quality, I switch or level up.
As for DAWs, I’ve always used Ableton, for almost six years now. I’ve also worked with the company itself, which is one of the biggest music software companies in the world. My work with them includes assisting in music production workshops and masterclasses and coaching upcoming artists.
JA: How far ahead of time do you prepare a particular set? Is there room for improvisation as well?
SZ: I used to put more time into preparing a certain set list in a certain order, but now I put most of my time into putting together good music for a particular vibe. That means most of my sets are improvised and are purely based on the crowd’s reaction, the mood, and what I like to play.
JA: What's something you've discovered about playing shows that you didn't realize at first?
SZ: Things don’t always go as planned, every venue you perform at is different. It’s very important to be prepared, for example having multiple USB sticks to back up your sets, bringing the necessary cables and gear, and basically being prepared for any technical difficulties. At the end of the day, you have to make it work and play a good set, no matter what might go wrong. It took me some time to realize this, it’s something that comes with experience.
JA: Do you have any advice for any DJs getting ready to perform for the first time or trying to improve?
SZ: I would say be as prepared as you can be and don’t forget to have fun. It’s okay to “mess up” as long as you pick yourself back up and don’t let a small mistake ruin your experience. Interacting with the crowd is another important thing to keep in mind.
The Jam Addict team is a revolving door of writers who care about music, its effects on culture, and giving aspiring artists tools and knowledge to be inspired and keep on creating.
If you have any questions or concerns or just want to drop us a line, don't hesitate to contact us! We always appreciate the feedback.