DJs are as much a part of fashion weeks as the editors and street style regulars. They provide the music of the moment, the heartbeat (and model-stomp) of the show. But there are some in the industry who have so much talent and passion that they have used the fashion world as their opportunity to explore very successful new ventures. DJ Evalicious is one of these musical heartbeat-makers, but she has also made the world beat as top model, actor, and musician: Eve Salvail. The Quebec native turned the fashion world’s idea of beauty on its head when she entered the scene in the 90’s. With her shaved head and head tattoo, she redefined what the industry had come to think as “beautiful” and ushered in an era of androgynous sex-appeal. Since then, she has become the muse of great designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, and has appeared in many films such as “Pret-a-Porter” by Robert Altman, “Celebrity” by Woody Allen, “Zoolander” by Ben Stiller, and “The Fifth Element” by Luc Besson (that awesome airport scene combo of the see-through mini skirt and red boa? That’s her). Now, DJ Evalicious is exploring her childhood talent and passion for music by being one of the most celebrated celebrity DJs, traveling around the world to places like Egypt and Seoul to pump up the dance floor, and playing gigs for Tag Heuer, Zac Posen, Saks Fifth Avenue, and many, many more. Oh, and she was recently knighted in Canada, making her Dame Eve Salvail. It’s true: passionate and inspiring, Eve Salvail can truly do everything.
Music is not new to you, as you’ve been singing in bands and writing your own music since the age of 14; what started this passion?
I really don’t know what started it… perhaps listening to Edith Piaf and David Bowie obsessively? I used to tune my brother’s guitar for him when I was young. He would tell me I had a “better ear” than him. I always enjoyed good music, making mix tapes (back then we had cassettes), and playing with my father’s turntables.
When did you realize being a DJ was your (next) career direction?
That was a fluke, and although I was in love with DJ-ing right away, it took years before I became semi-good at it. A club owner asked me to DJ one night and so I did…
What is it about DJ-ing that attracts you?
I used to repair recorders and tape players at home. I was always fascinated by wiring audio, that is one side that attracts me. But I think most of all was the challenge of becoming good at DJ-ing when I had no rhythm. I wanted the respect that boys get in this industry, not only as a woman, but as a former supermodel.
Did growing up in Quebec, and the creativity that is there, have an influence on you growing up?
Very much so. My parents are both artists as well, which made it even easier for me to flourish as an artist. I grew up in the countryside of QC, in a city called Matane, which also had a great influence on me.
How did you start in the fashion industry?
I went to Japan and did a few contracts there, a contract is usually two months in length, and I got bored of being a model. So, I shaved my head, got the tattoo, and moved back to Montréal, where soon after I was discovered by Jean Paul Gaultier.
What is the story behind your famous dragon tattoo?
After talking to my father about wanting to model with a shaved head, and him saying it wasn’t very original, I thought… what about tattooing my head? He thought it was a great idea. The actual dragon is an 800-year-old Chinese art piece made of bronze. I found it on the cover of an art book in Japan.
You were hugely influential as a model and actress in the 90s; did the fashion world fuel your passion for DJ-ing?
Thank you. Perhaps. My experience in the industry is certainly a great advantage when I spin for fashion shows or fashion events. I thank my modelling career for all the doors that it’s opened up for me.
Has there been any sort of noticeable transition to go from modelling and acting in the industry to DJ-ing in it?
Like I said before, the world of DJs is mostly run by men, and the nightlife industry rarely thinks an ex model can play, and almost always has little respect for the idea. That is the challenge. But if a door closes in my face, it just makes me want to win the key to open it again!
What role do you believe DJs have, or should have, in the industry?
Play music? Make sure everyone has a good time!
Why do you think fashion and music have become so deeply intertwined?
I think the cinema, fashion and music industries were always intertwined.
Could you describe your musical style?
I prefer to play “open format”, which is a bit of everything really. I can play anything though. I believe my job is to play what the crowd wants to hear, whether it’s Guns N’ Roses or Taylor Swift.
Do you have an artist you particularly love at the moment?
How has it been spinning for such high-profile clients as you have had?
I see a lot of Bowie in your work, the way he lived and breathed for his art and stood for being whoever you want to be; in this vein, who do you count as your outside inspirations?
Well, shockingly enough, Bowie, for one. My parents. Edith Piaf.
Can you tell us about the experience of appearing in one of Lenny Kravitz’s videos?
That was an amazing experience; from meeting him to all the technology and props, to what I wore. I really was impressed and a bit star struck too.
Do you have any DJs, past or present, who inspire you?
Yes. DJ AM.
What would be your dream DJ gig?
Playing with/for Rihanna.
You have already traveled around the world playing gigs, but is there one place you want to go you haven’t already visited?
London. I’ve never played there and all my playlists stem from the UK Top 40. I love andy music that comes from the UK as well as their musical choices.
This is probably a very hard question, but do you have a favourite musician/band?
Rihanna and Jay Z are my two all time favourite artists as a DJ. As for what I listen to at home… any Jazz from the 40s, and I’ve never stopped loving and listening to Edith Piaf.
Any advice for aspiring models?… and for aspiring DJs?
Models: Have fun with it and try not to let it get to you. I say that because it is very hard to be a model and deal with this industry emotionally.
DJs: Reading a room is what a DJ does. Try to see what people on the dance floor react to.
You’ve already accomplished so much, but what are your plans for the next five years?
Thank you. I wrote a TV Show. Look out for that in the next few!