You might remember Eve Speciall's platinum blonde bob and chameleon-like looks from the 2009 season of Australia's Next Top Model - at least you would, had she not turned their offer down. The model/DJ has always danced to the beat of her own drum (or should that be discs?): she got her Australian Fashion Week break as an Iced Vovo in Romance Was Born's legendary 2009 show, and when her peers headed off to uni, she boarded a plane to Tokyo, working as a Disneyland princess (Cinderella, mainly, but occasionally Ariel), before fashioning herself into the ultimate slashie: a model and music maestro.
It's a compelling combination, and one that has high fashion houses clamouring: Speciall DJs for Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana and Givenchy, has recently finished an American tour for M.A.C and just this week DJed for Calvin Klein. She also holds the music director title for Hong Kong Fashion Week - a coup she landed after she was spotted working on her music backstage at MBFWA in 2011. Now, Speciall divides her time between Hong Kong and LA. We caught up with her to see how she does it.
Did modelling or DJing come first?
Modelling came first. I had just pulled out of Australia's Next Top Model 2009 right before filming began because I didn't want to be on reality TV, I wanted to earn my career the 'old fashioned way.' I signed with Vivien's Model Management and started travelling with work. After a stint in Tokyo, I really caught the desire to DJ and bought second-hand decks when I got back to Sydney. I had trouble finding anyone with the time to teach me to play so I'm self taught. I gave myself thirty minutes to set up the equipment and make sound come out, then didn't leave my bedroom for about three months. I LOVED it.
Which is more important to you?
DJing is my passion, my creative outlet, my baby. As a model, at the risk of sounding crass, you are a tool for use. You're seeing out someone else's vision and realising their creative direction. I enjoy modelling a lot, but with DJing I can represent myself fully. I curate and create whatever vibe I want with music, which to me is a really empowering and exciting thing.
How did DJing for luxury brands - Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton, for instance - come about?
The fashion and music scene in Hong Kong is really strong and tight knit, which makes it ideal for forming good working relationships that were mutually beneficial to both my DJing and modelling. Word spreads fast in a city like Hong Kong.
What were they like to work with?
High-end brands like Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Dolce & Gabanna and Miu Miu have a very clear directive of what they want for their brand, so my job is to really respect that but still inject moments that define a set as my style. I would love to work with any of those brands as a model however I'm so thrilled to be on board as a DJ, it's really enough for me.
What's the best DJing gig you've ever done?
The wildest story is the time I DJed at the Playboy mansion for their notorious Halloween Bash. Ultimately though, I think my best memory was playing the Do Over in Hong Kong a couple of years back. People still talk about it as one of HK's recent best. I remember feeling like it was one of the tightest sets I've played, a lot of friends were involved and I had a really good response from the crowd and the guest DJs so it's a happy memory.
You've garnered quite a following in Asia - why do you think that is and how has it affected your career?
I owe everything to my time in HK and the people there who have supported me. Hong Kong gave me a much more accelerated start to my career than many others are afforded, which is both a blessing and also tricky to navigate when you're starting out and trying to find your sound. I used to (and sometimes still do) get booked solely because I'm a blonde model behind the decks. My challenge was to deliver more, look better and sound better than people expected. I didn't want to let anyone who had put faith in me early on down, but I think I was technically underqualified for a lot of what I was booking. My mantra has been to say yes to every opportunity that interests me and use it as a learning curve.
What are you most proud of?
I allowed myself to be proud when my parents stopped asking me when I was going to resume my deferred uni degree. I am all in and they respected that and are excited for me. Also when I first DJed in Las Vegas, a super proud moment was having my sister watch me spin for the very first time -there's something about family support.
You've made a foray into fashion design - is it something you'd like to do more of?
Absolutely! I had been working with Hong Kong brand WIP as their campaign model for five or six seasons. The designer approached me about launching an Eve Speciall crop top, which turned into a 26-piece collection: Eve Speciall x WIP. It was a great experience working with the designer Kay, he was able to interpret my ideas into design, which I give him great credit for on account of my very questionable sketches!
What's on high rotation on your playlist right now?
Club Cheval - From the Basement to the Roof (Oliver remix)
E-40 - Choices (Yep)
Disclosure ft. Gregory Porter - Holding On
Danny Brown ft. Rustie - Attak
Nosaj Thing - Lords
Wet - I don't want To Be Your Girl
Troyboi ft. Armani White - Do You
Danny L. Harle - In My Dreams