Introducing: Mary Droppinz

Get to know Mary Droppinz — the California-based DJ/producer whose high-powered blend of electro and breaks is infiltrating dance floors across North America and beyond.

12 min
Introducing Beatportal Header Mary
Mar 27, 2024
·
By
Ana Yglesias

For Mary Droppinz, DJing is all about energy.

“That’s my whole thing with DJing. I know that there are some promoters in America that are like ‘She’s too fast’ or ‘She plays bass, this is a techno nightclub.’ They’re getting too hung up on genre and speed. It has nothing to do with that shit. It’s about energy. I can come in and play some rough-and-tough 140 but the house girlies could really be feeling themselves because they see me omitting that energy,” the rising DJ/producer recently told Beatportal over video chat from her sunny Orange County apartment.

“That’s the secret of Mary Poppins in music, she has a big bag and she’s just pulling out whatever the fuck she wants to drop and educate the masses on new sounds and vibes,” she added. “I think it’s fun to have an element of surprise where you don’t know what you’re gonna get but you know the energy is something that you connect with.”

Her latest release, “Everything Is Energy,” is a mantra for this ethos. When Droppinz is working on a track, sometimes she listens to it on repeat around the house for hours or even days at a time to really live in it. This was the case for “Everything Is Energy,” which was released on the Femme House Vol. 2 compilation album on Insomniac Records. A TikTok doom scroll led her to discover the missing piece for the track as it was playing in the background, a speech she heard on “WitchTok.”

The dreamy-yet-urgent 172 BPM drum and bass tune—her first!—was born a year ago after setting the intention to really let loose and be free in the studio and make music she was super “gassed up about.” She wanted to allow herself to venture outside of the 130 to 135 BPM limit she’d put on herself, as that was the speed of much of the Southern California scene, which tech house has dominated for quite some time. The result of her newfound musical freedom was a lot of drum and bass. She loves pushing people out of their comfort zones sonically and gets a kick when her releases are in a genre not commonly associated with the label she’s releasing on. She was jazzed that her first drum and bass track came out on EDM-giant Insomniac.

Check out Mary Droppinz’s ‘Introducing’ chart on Beatport.
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Born Alyssa Johnson in Omaha, Nebraska to a teacher mother and drummer father, which sparked her lifelong obsession with rhythm and led her to piano lessons as a kid. As an adult, she got bored of doing the non-creative side of marketing and went back to school for art direction and Photoshop. It was there where she found DJing and immediately fell in love. Nine years ago, she gave herself ten years to try out the DJ thing while continuing a (more creative) career in marketing. If her DJing didn’t take off by then, she’d relegate it to a hobby. Luckily for the dance music scene, as she aptly put it, her DJ career has “been poppin’.”

“[When] I touched the decks, it immediately came over me. I saw my future [and knew] this is where I’m meant to be, and I’m going big. One time in an interview I was asked, ‘When did you know that you are going to be a big DJ?’ Since the first day I touched the decks,” she reflects with a chuckle.

Beatportal caught up with the artist on the rise for a wide-ranging conversation right before her birthday (April 21—given her go-get-it attitude, love for banging rave anthems and fierce fashion, it makes sense she’s an Aries). She discusses her biggest pinch-me moment (involving Skrillex), taking up space as a women DJ and making room for other femmes, her biggest tunes and more.

She describes her expansive sound as “vibey, booty, groovy, transcendental [laughs]… It’s booty-bouncing music, I like that shit when I go out.” She is influenced by hip-hop and emo / screamo music and, rather unexpectedly, The Doors. “Jim Morrison is the only artist I’ve ever looked up to, that I genuinely want to be like and care about. I’ve never really been a fan of anyone besides him. It’s weird. That’s why it’s sometimes weird when people are fans [of me] because I don’t know what it’s like to be a fan,” she muses.

One of her favorite sounds is the dub siren, as heard on “Everything Is Energy.” She has an old-school analog dub siren that she loves to play with in her productions and sets and showed off during the chat.

“I was into making breaks and, obviously, broken beat is like drum and bass, so it was kind of leading me into drum and bass but when I heard the dub siren and really identified with it, I was like, ‘Dude, I’m jungle. Jungle is my soul, bass is my body, breaks are my brain, house is home and techno is mood. They all work together but jungle is my absolute favorite; sample-wise and the feeling you get when you listen to jungle.”

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The Roland TR-8S rhythm performer drum machine is one of her favorite production tools—she likes jamming out on it to make her drums and enjoys how synchronous it feels to DJing. She also just got the TB-3 bassline synth (acid house is another favorite of hers) and would like to acquire more equipment in the future. For now, a lot of her production happens in Ableton. She loves finding sample packs from DJs she likes—”It’s kinda like DJing”—and really playing with the samples to give it her touch.

When asked if she feels pressure to stick with a certain sound, she says she wants to keep exploring. “I look up to Skrillex for what he’s done with his comeback.”

“I’m a DJ first and I’m proud of it. I want to be able to play a live set of my originals in the future, but I also want to still DJ too,” she says. “I like to create stories with my sets…not just banging it out the whole time; [creating] a rollercoaster of emotion.”

As the lead DJ instructor at LP Giobbi‘s Femme House, Droppinz is helping bring more women and gender-expansive people into DJing. She teaches free classes via Zoom titled DJing 101 and Everything is Energy, the latter being a very Mary Droppinz class about mixing genres and tempos and different styles. “Every single woman in my family are teachers and I tried to avoid it… but [teaching DJing] has been super fun and is a good ‘why,'” she explains.

“I’ve really paved my own way, [had to] figure this all out on my own…and if I can be a mentor in some way or be an inspiration to women and help them pursue their dreams and break conditional shit that’s been put over us in society, that [feels like] I’m doing something great for the world to help change it,” she adds.

“Being a woman and feral, I got big dick energy behind the decks and I’m a lady at the same time. [Laughs.]… I’m just glad to be that shameless bitch up there doing it so that the other girls can fucking go,” Droppinz says. “It really takes God’s strongest soldiers to be a woman DJ,” she adds with a laugh.

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The Cycle EP
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which dropped on Zeds Dead’s Altered States on Valentine’s Day, is another fitting sonic representation of what Mary Droppinz is all about. It’s a banging, frenetic three-tracker channeling different sounds and moods and is about acknowledging and breaking toxic cycles. She made them during the same productive studio sessions as “Everything is Energy” yet, interestingly, the release kept getting delayed and the cycles she was trying to stop kept rearing their ugly heads during that time.

The EP’s second track, sexy rave anthem “Pink Lambo“—which currently sits at No. 1 on Beatport’s Electro chart—represents the victorious “bad bitch” era after breaking the cycle. She was inspired by a pink Lamborghini parked outside of her apartment when she came back from the sauna one day. The lyrics “Pink Lamborghini, we can get freaky” popped into her head at its sight, and inspired a nostalgic electro beat.

Another big tune of hers is March 2023’s “Sandman” on Repopulate Mars, which samples The Chordette’s 1954 classic “Mr. Sandman,” a nostalgic diddy she used to sing with her grandma as a kid. It’s her highest-ranking track to-date on Beatport and still sits at No. 7 on the Electro chart and on the label’s top 10. “I’m really proud of that track. It charted in the [Electro] top five for the entire year… Repopulate Mars is known as a tech house label, but I did the same thing I did with ‘Everything Is Energy’ and snuck something in there to change it up. And it was a success like I thought.”

How the track got into Repopulate Mars label head Lee Foss’ hands is quite the Ibiza magic DJ dream. After playing at Amnesia, John Summit invited her to an afterparty at Foss’ Ibiza digs, and the latter’s tour manager asked Droppinz to send some tracks.

She names two conversations she had with male U.K. DJs that really liberated her. First, a conversation with Skream where he asserted that it doesn’t matter whether you’re producing in the box or with tons of gear; “what matters is the output.” She was talking to Hamdi about how she sends her tracks to production mentor Stephen Schroeder to master them before ever playing them out. Hamdi shared that he just puts a limiter on the master to play them out, so now Droppinz has given herself the freedom to test out her tracks in her sets as well.

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One of the “Ignite” producer’s biggest pinch-me moments of her career thus far happened during her set at Friendship earlier this year. She looked back to see none other than headliner Skrillex behind her, hand-gunning to her selections. Afterwards, he told her it was “perfect.” She still hasn’t emotionally recovered.

Yet, even with accolades from some of her favorite DJs and all her recent successes, she still feels the same as when she first fell in love with DJing nearly a decade ago—although she did have a premonition back then that she’d make it big.

The “Do It For Yourself” producer quit her full-time marketing job shortly before the pandemic, which ended up being a blessing in disguise. In fight-or-flight mode, she turned to the one place left for DJing, livestreams. On Twitch, she grew her following and really experimented with and leaned into her genre-jumping sound, since there was no one to stop her. It also allowed her to focus on DJing and put a ton of hours into it, so she was ready to really show off on the decks once things opened up.

Based on everything she’s predicted and manifested in her career thus far, we’re going to hear a lot more from her soon. As for what’s next, she wants to work with big-time U.K. and U.S. rappers, especially Wiz Khalifa. (“I was gonna Tweet the other day that ‘I’m quitting smoking weed until Wiz gets in the studio with me,'” she says with a laugh.) She wants to play in more cities and have more “magical DJ sets,” and channel her playful style with cool merch to make her mark in fashion, which she majored in in college. Beyond that, she wants to embody a more balanced DJ lifestyle.

“One of my goals is to really embody my feminine boss. I think that’s finding a nice balance of work and self-care. So often, the DJ culture vibe is: ‘I DJed in four cities in one night and I’m on a bender. I didn’t sleep for four days.’ I want to change that narrative. I want to be like, ‘No, it’s actually fucking sick that she said no to that gig, because she’s gonna take care of herself and there’s a bigger one coming,'” she says with a laugh.

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