Michele "Roya" Chinichian on Tongue Tied's Silliness and One-Year Anniversary Party

Categories: DJ Dossier

Benjamin Leatherman
Michele Chinichian (a.k.a. DJ Roya)
Michele Chinichian knows a thing or three about throwing a boffo birthday bash. For proof, look no further than the magically delicious affair she threw in honor of her own b-day in January, which overflowed with unicorns, balloons, rainbow-colored party favors, and other playful revelry.

Chinichian, who performs as DJ Roya, will attempt to one-up herself with another birthday blowout, this time in honor of Tongue Tied's One-Year Anniversary (subtitled "A Night of Love") on Saturday at Apollo's.

We recently spoke with Chinichian about her experiences at Tongue Tied over the last year, why both the night and Saturday's anniversary party feature an air of amorousness (including some of the many hookups that have occurred there) and what they have planned for the party.

Name: Michele Chinichian

AKA: DJ Roya

Preferred genres: I focus on indie, '80s and '90s music and then throw in whatever else is fun to dance to. So it's not unusual for me to add a Motown, pop or old-school hip-hop track in my sets to mix things up. I have pretty eclectic taste but indie music is my first love.

Current gig: Tounge Tied, every first Saturday at Apollo's Lounge

Briefly, how did you get started as a DJ?
It was a fluke. My roommate at the time was a resident for Hot Pink! and asked me to help her with the music one night. I had a blast! I've always been a huge music nerd and loved making playlists. Shortly after that, another friend asked me to help her with a night she was starting at the Rogue.

I didn't have any expectations going into it, but it wasn't long before I became hooked. I'm an extrovert who loves music and dancing probably more than anything, so it makes sense that DJing would be something I would really enjoy. Whenever I have a house party, I spend hours on the playlist.

What's the explanation behind your DJ name?
It's my middle name. I felt awkward coming up with a random word that would represent me. So I decided to go with something that was still part of my name, but it's at least more unique sounding than Michele. It's Persian and means "fantasy" or "dream" in Farsi. I have a friend who used to tease me relentlessly about that.

What's your mantra as a DJ?
Jay and I had two criteria if we were to start a new night: one, it has to be fun, and two, we didn't want to feel limited. If I don't have fun dancing to a song, than I am reluctant to play it. When in doubt, I practice dancing to the songs in my bedroom. DJs that don't like to dance I think are weird. You got to experience the music from your patrons standpoint to know how fun it is to dance to.

So what other sort of music do you dig?
As far as 80s and 90s music, I did New Wave nights for a long time but am a little burned out on that genre. While I still enjoy and play those artists quite a bit, recently I've been playing more popular tracks from those eras. Basically, I've been basically scaling back the Joy Division and pumping up the Bell Biv Devoe. It's just more fun to dance to.
Mostly, I respond to the crowd. I play for others more than myself. Seeing our patrons have fun, is what's most fun for me. Their energy and joy is super contagious.

What's your favorite track of the moment?
A friend and regular of Tongue Tied just sent this to me the other day and I am kind of obsessed. [It's] a mashup by pomDeter of NIN's "Head Like a Hole" and Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." [It's] creepy how well they work together. I can't wait to play it.

What's one stereotype about DJs that you can't stand?
That they are [all] party girls/boys. Jay and I are both drug free business owners. I am reluctant to tell people who I want to respect or take me seriously that I DJ because I don't want them to presume I'm some drunk club kid. Main reason why I prefer everything to go under DJ Roya than my real name whenever possible.

Location Info



5749 N. 7th St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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