I met Slow Like Whoa six years ago on Fairfax while she and my sister were working at DOPE. Since then she has transcended into a multi-faceted artist and DJ. Slow has a deep power inside of her and comes off as welcoming with a dash of intensity. She’s one of my closest friends and a confidant in this chaotic world. 

Slow Like Whoa (Tori) has a strong affection towards low riding, candy painted, old school cars. So we shot her wearing Ziran in a body shop that specializes in Impalas. We got into what drives Slow. 

What was the first song that you’ve ever heard that stuck out to you?

Damn, that’s so hard because my favorite songs change almost once a week! I think it would have to be something by Stevie Wonder because my mom would play his record all the time. She had the album, “Songs in the Key of Life,” so something from that album!

What music did she play? What would you hear in your house all the time? 

I grew up Christian. It was either church, gospel music or old soul. I think the first time I ever saw a music video I was fifteen or sixteen. It was Destiny’s Child or something like that. My mom also played a lot of soul like Fifth Dimension and Al Jarreau! That was one of her favorite artists. She loved “We’re In This Love Together!” So good! Such a beautiful song.

Did the music you listened to influence your character, like the way you carry and present yourself?

For sure! I think more than anything music influences me and the way I dress and think about the world. Growing up on soul it was all about a mindset of LOVE, POSITIVITY, and WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS. I’ve carried that on.

They talked about love a lot differently then. I think they were still attached to the mindset of love powering us through a lot of things. It wasn’t so much about the physical form, though they still had some disgusting tracks. There was more of a balance about deep love and truly believing in it. I think now it’s just a lot of physical.

Yeah, people don’t believe in love anymore. It’s super physical, super in the moment, and not a thought afterwards. It kind of sucks.

It does! How do you bring the energy you want to create in this world to your sets? How do you create what you want?

I start by setting my intentions before I even get there. So I can bring what I hope to inspire in others, and make sure my energy is right before I even step in the space. If I can, I light some incense and palo santo to set the tone for everyone else to enter into the space. I carry strength and energy that’s rooted in love, because I know in nightlife and entertainment everything can go in a completely different direction. There are so many things that can go wrong in a set, as far as equipment goes and hooking up everything. I’ve definitely gone to gigs and couldn’t play because the equipment wasn’t right.

So the preparation is needed for you to go out and present yourself with a certain type of energy.

Yup, that’s my spiritual tool belt!

Right, and ready to fight anything that presents itself! Have you ever been in certain places as a woman and a DJ where you have to maneuver through a certain energy that isn’t the best, or not in alignment with you? Or has it been a pretty smooth ride?

I’ve definitely had to maneuver energy because it’s so cool now to be a girl DJ. But you’re still expected not to know anything. Sometimes you go into these places and it’s like, “Oh, let me help you.” I’m like “Aye I got it!” I got all this equipment because I know how to use it. So it’s definitely interesting navigating those spaces because I try not to feel offended or react emotionally to the things, looks, or comments people say. People say the craziest stuff! There’s been a couple of times where I just look at them like I can’t believe you would say something like that! Which makes it even more important for me to keep myself centered. 

People will try it!

They will! The spirits will definitely influence! I think the more familiar people are with me, my name, and the business I carry out in those places that they’re a lot more secure in what I bring to the table. It makes it easier for me to walk into those places and get things done.

Does the confidence you carry in these places as a DJ bring more confidence in your personal life - whether you’re just home, hanging out, or in your daily life?

For sure! Earlier in my career someone pointed out to me that I had nothing to be nervous about. That I’m really good and my blending was on point, but I was still scared to step out and do my thing. Yet they reaffirmed that I GOT IT! That’s something that I constantly have to be reminded to apply to my personal life because I’m not looking at myself from the outside in. I forget how much experience I have, how much heart I have, and what I put in.

I also focus on my intentions in those spaces - that even if something does go wrong, it’s still okay! The world isn’t going to end! Using that in my life has made me feel more confident and bad ass! I’m TIGHT! It’s who I am, and it took a minute to step into this energy. It’s taken time for me to accept that power. Now I don’t apologize as much and I’ve truly stepped into it: I’m just going with that FLOW.

I’ve experienced that with you. I also know you go beyond DJing - you are a multifaceted artist. How did you find DJing to propel you forward when you can do so many things?

When I first started, I knew I wanted to be in music but I wasn’t sure how, or if I wanted to create music. I just knew I wanted to be surrounded by people and it gave me an opportunity to learn. I don’t know if this is some sick obsession or what, but I love to learn! When I first started DJing I realized I could travel deep into any genre or world of music. I can get paid to share music with people and play their favorite songs, and connect with them while growing my soul and my knowledge of that craft. I think it was the gateway into me figuring out who I was, and what resonated with me the most… while also experiencing so many styles of music. This then propelled me into the performance art I create. I knew the art would evolve at some point, but I wanted that foundation of knowledge and familiarity with music first.

I think it’s also good for people to see that artists can be more than one thing, because humans are more than one thing. We’re all multifaceted. Especially as a woman, it’s important for others to see that we are more than the narrative that is usually expressed. We are all things at once. I’ve always admired that quality about you - that you are able to embrace all that you are. 

One thing that we live by here at Ziran is to be natural, spontaneous, and free in all that we do. As our Muse, how do you implement this lifestyle?

I’m a Sagittarius, I love spontaneity! I think the reason I hold it to such a high value is because it reminds me to be in the moment, and appreciate the things that do happen and not focus on the things that don’t. I also love traveling - I’m the type of person that if I had the money I would just get up and go! I think having that openness welcomes a lot of positive energy. There were times where I was more closed off and if I wasn’t sure about something it would be a No. Now I’m more interested in exploring and seeing if and how I resonate with certain things. It’s allowed my energy to be more at ease and with the Flow.

Keep up with Slow Like Whoa: @SlowLikeWhoa

Words + Photography: Trayein Duplessis @triiiniiti.xyz

November 2019. Los Angeles.