By Christine Benedetti | May 22, 2015 | People
Caribou Club mainstay and remix aficionado DJ Folami gifts the high country with the international sounds of the New York City clubscape.
At home, behind the scenes: From her booth at the Caribou Club, DJ Folami is quietly bringing big city sounds to town.
She’s the sound track to your night, but doesn’t need you to know it. Folami Small would rather sneak her influence into the evening and end the night with a beat drop. Working six to seven nights a week at Aspen’s exclusive Caribou Club—and as its first female resident DJ—she has the stage to make that happen. “I like [how music is] a great identifier,” she says. “I like getting people together who wouldn’t normally party or dance together. It’s like a social experiment.”
As a manager at the now-defunct Guernica in her hometown of New York City, Small often took control of the turntables when DJs she had hired were late or didn’t show. She moved to Aspen for a restaurant job in 2004, and soon traded in her late nights behind the bar to those in the booth. Between her full-time position at the ‘Bou and DJ one-offs for special events around town, she’s continued to self-manage her tour and publicity; during off-season this spring she went to Europe and Asia to test her skills internationally.
“I think people who are native to New York have a definitive sound,” says the classically trained flautist, adding that she stays current through constant research and networking. “I want to make [my sound] as global as possible.” Indeed, she often incorporates overseas influences into her set lists that leave guests wondering, Who is this artist? And who is this DJ? Her recent obsessions include European electronic and K-pop, which would often leave the crowd guessing. This winter, she caught a group Shazam-ing her tracks during an après-ski session at The Little Nell’s Chair 9 Lounge.
Her goal is to subtly influence her listeners. This is easier to achieve when she deejays events around town, such as the annual Aspen Cares fashion show, Aspen Gay Ski Week, the Food & Wine Classic, or private parties. Las Almas Petit Hôtel, a resort in Manzute, Mexico, has utilized her preference for staying in the background and taken it to another level, hiring Small to compose a sound track to play, day and night, over the hotel’s speakers. “I want [my music] to be unobtrusive, but still interesting,” she says.
Following her success in Aspen—a testing ground for cosmopolitan sounds, given town’s international residents and visitors—she’s ready to continue her global rise. But don’t expect her to give up the Caribou throne anytime soon: She loves making music and bringing people together. Says Small, “There have been some great love connections made on that dance floor.”
photography by billy rood