Close Menu


Throughout June we hosted a new bunch of participants here at Reform Radio for another round of our DJ Sessions. Funded by MAES, attendees were led through the likes of mixing, beat-matching and self-promotion. This cohort also received masterclasses from the likes of Not Bad For A Girl, Genre Music and GigPig. To close the course, our new DJs took to the decks at Revolution Manchester to play a 10 minute set, showcasing all they’d been working on.

We were lucky enough to catch up with two of our participants, Caylee and Cookie, about what they got up to and where they plan to take their new DJing skills. Check it out below.

The recent group of participants on our DJ Sessions

Introduce your name, pronouns, and what you get up to in your free time.

Cookie: My name is Cookie (they/them). I’m a multi-disciplinary artist. I do design, illustration, mural work, poetry, and spoken word. I’m also a vocalist in a punk band and a creative producer for The Untold Orchestra.

Caylee: I’m Caylee, my pronouns are she/her. I don’t really do much in my free time. I used to bartend at events. I’ve quit that now to live life and focus on where I’m going next.

What prompted you to get involved with the DJ Sessions?

Cookie: I bumped into a friend who was on the last DJ course when she was on her way to Reform. She just had a different energy about her. We both had said we were going to learn to DJ this year. She said I had to get on this course so that we can do a B2B we’d been planning for years. I could just tell from her energy that it was a good thing. I immediately signed up.

Caylee: Well, I heard about this through my friend and also through the Job Centre. I signed up as soon as my friend told me about it and then the Job Centre helped me to get onto the register. I have a few DJ friends. One of my friends, he’s a very accomplished DJ and producer. I used to always go to his events in Sweden. I just love the way that he gets the crowd moving. He’s constantly in the zone and I just admire his craftsmanship. I was wondering how he does it so I decided to give DJing a go.

What do you love most about DJing?

Cookie: I’ve really enjoyed learning about the equipment. I do ad-hoc stage managing and I’ve wanted to know what all the names of all the equipment are. Because I work on live shows, there’s no time to be asking questions. So it’s been nice to be around people who are willing to help you learn at your pace. It’s been really encouraging.

Caylee: The creativity of it all. I’m enjoying just getting behind the decks, freestyling and having fun. It’s just constant excitement. Once you learn something and then you can apply it yourself and it actually sounds good, it’s the best feeling.

Cookie: I completely agree. Sometimes I forget I’m not in the crowd dancing and then I come back into the room and remember I’m the one in control of the music.

Caylee: Me too. I’m in the practice rooms raving to my own mixes. It’s the best serotonin hit.

Cookie, a participant on our DJ Sessions

Did you have much experience in DJing before? What’s one stand out thing you’ve learnt at Reform?

Cookie: I didn’t have any experience in DJing so it’s amazing being able to just understand all the different operations on the decks. Doing hot queues; I’m obsessed with the fact that I can do all these new things. I feel like I’ve got a higher knowledge of the music now.

Caylee: I think just knowing how to make it sound good. I’ve enjoyed playing with the tunes, taking out certain aspects of a song to help another song and even having two songs playing at the same time. It’s the best feeling when it’s sounding good together.

How would you describe a DJ set of yours in three words? 

Cookie: High energy, intense and eclectic.

Caylee: I would say fun, light-hearted and different.

Do you have any role models in the music scene that inspire your DJing practice and why?

Cookie: Jaguar, as a DJ. I met them a few years ago when I was doing body painting at The Warehouse Project. It was when they were just starting off. They were telling me what they were going to do in terms of doing a diversity rider, so that when they get booked, it ensures that they have other marginalised genders, races and identities at the same events. I was saying they were going to change the game with that and they really have. Now, they’ve got their BBC Introducing residency and it has actually changed the way that most DJs are booked.

I also love Metrodome. He’s been DJing since he was four years old and he is such a varied DJ. I love watching him and seeing his same childlike energy now and the faces he does when he has excited himself. He’s the only person I’ve seen that can turn up to a gig, realise he’s left his USB back at home, borrow someone else’s, and play the tunes better than them. Adele, one of our Reform mentors, has also inspired me too. I was blown away by her DJing.

Caylee: Me too. Adele just had so much energy in her when she was playing for us. Again, my friend Eric is a huge inspiration to me. If it wasn’t for him, I would have never even thought about being a DJ. I’m from a very musically inclined family but I can’t sing or play any instruments. Now I’ve got into DJing, it all makes sense; this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

From left: Adele (Reform Mentor), Naomi & Les (creative practicioners)

Let’s throw it back to your first day at Reform versus now, tell me a bit about your first impressions/feelings/emotions in comparison to how you feel now. What has changed? 

Cookie: I feel really comfortable in the space now. I’ve been to Reform for a couple of other things in the past and I was always worried being around such expensive equipment. I would always think ‘Cookie, don’t touch anything, don’t knock into anything’. Now I know what everything is and what it does. I feel much more comfortable here and very knowledgeable. I feel like I’ve learned so much in these past few days, but in a manageable away.

Caylee: I feel very much more confident in myself, even just in general, and also optimistic about my future. I used to be so scared of the future and thought I would have to do a boring 9 to 5 job. Now I know I can take other routes and still live my life happily.

If you could DJ at any festival, event, or place in the world, where would it be and why?

Cookie: Definitely We Out Here Festival. It’s the most comfortable I’ve ever felt at a festival. It’s very well mixed in terms of diversity and race and gender. There’s a lot of opportunities to DJ in the different spaces there. For example, they have a roller rink you can DJ at. Last year, on another stage, they had breakdancing in the background and DJs on stage. I would love to have that mix of creativity going on around me.

Caylee: If I was going to choose a festival, it would be Boomtown. It’s such a colourful festival. Venue wise, the Avicii Arena is my favourite. You know when you have a really personal connection to a certain place that you can’t explain to someone else? It’s just my place.

What will you take from the DJ course moving forward & what are your plans from here onwards? 

Cookie: The course has given me a space to be inquisitive which is nice. It’s a welcomed inquisition rather than making you just get on with things without asking questions. There is space to ask more and it is welcomed to do so.

Caylee: It’s given me lots of knowledge and skills, and the confidence to actually put myself out there. I’m obviously sad that I’m not coming to Reform anymore, but I’m excited to actually get out there and see what I can do with my new skills in the world.

If you want to find out more about our future courses, drop our Engagement team an email on

Close Menu
Close Menu