JoySauce Radio: Kaili

Meet Kaili, the coast-to-coast DJ with a global sound

Words by Howin Wong

JoySauce Radio: Consider JoySauce Radio our own personal song recommendations—from the tunes and videos our writers love to DJ-produced mixes of dance floor bangers—all from Asian and Pacific Islander artists around the world. 

Kaili is an underground legend, whose versatile and adventurous approach to blending genre and taste keeps the mightiest dancers and partiers on their hands, toes, and feet. Previously, she was based in L.A., playing all the iconic parties from Mustache to Rail Up, and now she’s taking New York City by storm. Though she’s a coast-to-coast underground staple, her sound is global. She effortlessly combines sounds from all over the world such as kuduro, drill, batida, UKG, baile funk, and footwork. Kaili has opened for international heavy hitters such as DJ Lag, Mexican Jihad, Tayhana, Coucou Chloe, and so much more.

Kaili is a multi-faceted artist with a whole body of work for us to discover. When she’s not DJing, she works in the visual and 3D space making beautiful artwork and making the Internet more glam. If you can’t keep up with all the cool things she’s doing IRL, thankfully you can catch her online radio show “BODYWORK” on NTS where she “brings you the practice of Bodywork, an hour-long cleansing ritual of club music traversing time and locality, applying pressure where it’s needed in order to release,” anytime you want. Luckily for us, Kaili has whipped up an amazing mix that spans her sound, whether that’s at the club or at home. Listen to the mix as you read our interview with her below:

“This mix was a joy to make! My intention was to create something that could soundtrack anything from a relaxed midday groove, to a commute, to an evening kickback. It combines my love for classic R&B and fun vocal edits with what I would consider more of what I'm listening torap, drill, a sprinkling of club and amapiano, and even a little ambient. It's definitely something that you can move to, and also has some twists and turns to keep it interesting.”

DJ name: Kaili (@kaili_xcx)

Location: New York City

Zodiac Sign: Cancer Sun, Libra Rising, Aries Moon

What is your favorite thing about DJing?

I love the ability to transport realms on the dance floor—inducing feelings of euphoria and transcendence for myself and the audience.

Any warm up routines before a gig?

I always try to get loose and comfortable and that usually means getting dressed and ready, and having a drink while listening to my current favorite mix or tracks at the moment.

Why is music important to you?

Maybe it sounds corny, but music is one of the closest things to magic to me. It’s a vehicle for the most simple and complex emotions. It brings people together at a very basic level in a way nothing else does.

Did DJing come easy or hard for you?

I’ve been making mixtapes since I was a teenager so I think it’s always been part of my nature to create experiences through song selection. When I started my first college radio show, I didn’t really consider myself a true “DJ.” Actually learning how to mix was one thing, and then taking myself seriously as a DJ was probably the hardest part.

What got you into mixing?

Being in college radio, I was listening to a lot of club and dance music and starting to go out to raves, and was wanting to create sets that executed my own vision. I was already mixing in some sense with selecting vinyl records—mostly soul, disco, and house—and then learned how to use a small Numark controller. I was really fortunate to be able to access the equipment and resources at the time, and being surrounded by people who were interested in the same thing.

Kaili first got into mixing when she was in college radio.

Courtesy of Kaili

What do you want to share in your sets?

Fun, enjoyment, a musical journey, weird and unexpected cuts, sexiness!

Any tips for anyone who wants to start DJing?

Be patient! Understand that it can be a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to software and hardware. Observe other DJs on a technical level. Ask DJs or your friends who are DJs, and chances are they’ll help you learn! I learned by absorbing a lot of my favorite DJs sets and mixes, and with the generosity of my friends and other DJs.

What are some of your favorite genres to DJ out?

I love to play any sort of club music, and I especially love intense baile funk, sweet and dark UK Garage, electro and breaks-heavy tracks.

Dance music aside, what do you like to listen to?

I listen to so much…I listen to a lot of ambient music, rap and drill, afrobeats, and pop and funk from a variety of continents. I’ve been listening to a lot of indie and instrumental projects lately, actually.

Kaili likes to listen to a lot of different genres of music.

Courtesy of Kaili

What are some of your favorite musical artists?

Right now, I really love Oklou, Organ Tapes, Nevrland, DJ Lycox, and Ice Spice. 

Do you play any instruments? If so, which ones?

Yes, I grew up playing classical violin and piano. I played orchestra all throughout school, and even did some regional symphony stuff as a teen!

Who are some of your favorite DJs?

I have a lot of favorites! To name a few, I’m a huge fan of Manara, Asmara, 8ulentina, and Scratcha DVA. I gravitate towards cross-genre and explorative mixing styles. I’ve also been fortunate enough to catch these DJs multiple times and they’ve killed it every single time!

Where is the craziest place you’ve partied or DJ’d?

On top of a semi-truck!

How would you describe your sets?

The Astral Plane once described my style as exuding joy as well as driving and hybridized, and I have gravitated towards that description ever since. I play for the girls and for the heads!

Favorite tracks to play out?

Aaliyah’s “4 Page Letter” remix by limitbreak! And Pouchenvy, DJ Marfox’s “Funk Em Kuduro:, and Dave Quam’s “Even If The Pope,” to name a few. But really there are so many!

Any new scenes or genre’s you’re excited about?

I’m really excited about drill, including NY/NJ drill but also I’ve been a big fan of UK drill for a while, as well as all the drill club mutant offshoots. I also love some of the European ambient scenes, such as the Heartbroken and United in Flames NTS shows.

Kaili is a huge fan of drill, including NY/NJ drill, as well as UK drill.

Courtesy of Kaili

What do you think is a DJ’s job?

Get people dancing, and also introduce them to something new! A DJ is given a lot of cultural power especially now, and it’s their job to put people on to new and interesting combinations of sounds.

What does it feel like when you are DJing to a crowd?

Sometimes it can feel overwhelming when all eyes are on you and every move you make is being watched, but mostly it feels exciting to get to share the present moment with everyone in the room.

Where would be your dream gig?

I’m not sure if I’ve identified a singular dream gig yet! I would love to play in Asia, like at Shanghai’s All Club or Shenzhen’s Oil.

Favorite guilty pleasure track?

I try to not really believe in guilty pleasure tracks…but I’ve loved Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” since I was a kid, and I still do!

Any cool stories that came from DJing?

I feel like I’ve been able to DJ a lot of really cool venues that I wouldn’t be able to attend otherwise. From Malibu pool parties to the full L.A. Hotel circuit, I’ve definitely seen a range of experiences. One time at an afterparty for a Frieze event, I saw a rejected wedding proposal…yikes.

What’s next for you as an artist?

DJ-wise, I want to keep playing parties and different venues, but I also want to build upon my DJ practice and play shows that aren’t only centered around after-hours, but maybe also ambient and experimental shows as well! I also dabble in a lot of mediums. I work with visual and 3D mediums (such as the graphics for my parties or for other people) and want to expand on a visual and musical scale. I’ve also been working on making garments, some of which are hand knit. This year, I’m focusing on building a body of work that speaks to my passions and interests.


  1. Shay - Notif
  2. Bloodz Boi, Yvncc - 着迷 Magnetic (prod. Jaguarclaw)
  3. Dave Quam - Curse You Out
  4. Jetty - On the Jetty
  5. Asmara - Dheere Dheere
  6. Kevin Kofii - One Wish Riddim
  7. Wizkid - Money and Love
  8. Usher - U Don't Have To Call (Jun Tanaka Edit)
  9. Shelhiel - Chillin (Larria. Remix) ft. oceanfromtheblue
  10. Brandy - I Wanna Be Down (Ysus Dion Remix)
  11. Rihanna - Kiss It Better (Jaydon Lewis Amapiano Remix)
  12. Wrack - Ai (Sonia Calico Remix)
  14. TDJ - Shhhh (Just Outside)
  15. nevrland - Vlvt
  16. Zino Vinci - I Neva New Dat
  17. Nelovesbias - Infinity Ft. Mene Gene
  18. Ice Spice - No Clarity
  19. Moh Baretta - Jackie Brown
  20. 8ulentina - Repeating Narrative
  21. Nunu - Stagethree
  22. Faye Wong - Xiang Nai Er 香奈儿

Published on March 8, 2023

Words by Howin Wong

Howin Wong is a LA-based brand strategist, DJ, and JoySauce's LA-based wearer of many hats. In addition to being JoySauce’s brand director, his new show 'RuleBreakers' will be debuting later this spring.

Art by Ryan Quan

Ryan Quan is the Social Media Editor for JoySauce. This queer, half-Chinese, half-Filipino writer and graphic designer loves everything related to music, creative nonfiction, and art. Based in Brooklyn, he spends most of his time dancing to hyperpop and accidentally falling asleep on the subway. Follow him on Instagram at @ryanquans.