The DJ from Goa, India, who has made Cambodia her home, combines her amazing technical and musical gifts with an infectious, energetic and passionate personality. She talks to Eileen McCormick on the role of fashion in her life.
Good Times2: What’s it like to be a female DJ in Cambodia?
DJ Donnabelle: Well, I was raised in a mixed household in Goa, India, and I loved it. My mom is a pianist who always encouraged me to follow my path as a DJ. Even growing up in a country, much like Cambodia, where women are expected to act a certain way, I never felt out of place because of all the support I had.
Good Times2: What is your attitude about fashion and what role does it play in your life?
DJ Donnablelle: Fashion is important for me as an artist and a DJ. I have to enter a different world when I perform. I am also aware that I am an icon. Someone will like my shoes, my clothes, my hair and how my makeup looks. I have to take responsibility for being an iconic figure and I want to make sure that my trends have a positive influence on the younger generation.
For instance I don’t allow anyone to smoke on stage with me. Also, I think we have to use our sexuality and allure with reason and not allow it to overtake our talent.
Good Times2: What is the difference between club fashions in Goa, Dubai and Phnom Penh?
DJ Donnabelle: Goa is always sun, sand and sea so it is very relaxed. In Goa, they still dress to impress but they are not going to wear high heels. Dubai is over the top but we like it. Over the weekend people in Dubai like to go out and spend their money, and look good as they spend it.
Cambodians really know how to dress well and they have their own form of sexiness. It’s nice here in Phnom Penh because clothes are cheap and you can have things tailor made.
It seems that the party scene here, on the whole, has people with a good fashion sense. I also love the small salons in the side streets. The girls are so good and you can get a complex hair-do for nothing. It’s crazy.
Good Times2: What is your ‘guilty pleasure’ fashion?
DJ Donnabelle: We all have it and I have to say there is no shame in my game. I love my Ali Baba Arabian pants. They’re just so breezy to wear in hot places. I know people want to laugh when they see me wearing them. On the other hand I have some people who think that they look cool. So I think I’ll wear them – whether they’re in or out of fashion.
Good Times2: Describe your favorite outfit in which you feel like a queen.
DJ Donnabelle: I love corsets for some reason. When I put them on, I feel like myself a few years ago. Now I’m a bit overweight because my husband has made me extra happy, as we say in India. I am at a different stage in my life, now. I prefer to feel like a queen every day in my life, taking care of my dogs, not smoking, and eating healthily.
Good Times2: How do you dress when you’re DJ-ing on stage?
DJ Donnabelle: I love my heels and boots but when I’m on stage I have a complete makeover and wear flat shoes so that I can jump around. Whatever I wear must support my tunes for I need to put my soul into it. My style adds something to my stage persona but I don’t want anything that is uncomfortable and could impact my performance.
That’s a rookie mistake most of us make including me when you first start out DJ-ing. You try hard to fit the stereotypical look of what a DJ is supposed to be at the cost of your music.
Good Times2: What is your fashion outlook for the Cambodian club scene in 2018?
DJ Donnabelle: Bell-bottoms and big flowers are the trends for 2018. The 1970s inspired look has made a comeback on the Cambodian dance floor. I predict that platform heels will also make a comeback this year. Fake eyelashes, too, might be a trend. I can’t get them in India, and in Dubai they are so expensive. But here in Cambodia, you can get them and it is so cheap and they fit well, too.