This much I know: Kelly Anne Byrne, DJ

I have over 3000 records. I still buy vinyl. It’s not a musical snobbery thing. 

There is no experience like going into a record shop and sifting through the sleeves. Whenever I’m abroad, I always visit record shops. You will usually find me in the disco section.

My DJ’ing career began when I took a mixed tape to The Dice Bar and asked for a try out. I only switched to playing CDs from vinyl three years ago.

Music has been an interest ever since I was very young, my parents were big music fans, although, growing up, I wanted to be an actress.

Dad is a plumber and back then my mother did interiors. He was into Bowie and Marvin Gaye. She was into Motown and disco. My earliest memory of music is at my mother’s aerobics class when I was six. She used to teach and I’d sit and wait.

I remember her playing Donna Summer, and then she’d play Michael Jackson’s ‘Human Nature’ for the wind down. My earliest memory of a gig is going to see Prince in Cork when I was around 10. He blew me away.

I did a degree in film at DIT after school, and also studied drama in the Gaiety school. I spent a couple of years in New York, studying playwriting. All that time, I was DJing for cash. When I got back to Dublin, I started working on Phantom and that lead to the Today FM job.

I’m very disciplined, probably too much so. I have always been really independent and determined. My mother told me that as a kid I’d be the one waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs with my schoolbag saying ‘let’s go.’

I loved my primary school, Mother of Divine Grace in Finglas, as they encouraged us in all the arts. I didn’t enjoy secondary school so much. The teachers left me alone. They knew my aim was to do very well. I got the highest Leaving Cert results in my school.

My biggest fault is that I criticise myself too much. My second biggest fault is being over analytical. Living too much in my own head is not a good thing. To cope, I go to therapy. It really helps. It gives you self awareness.

Being a live DJ and doing radio are very different. I love the immediate reaction from live gigs.

There is nothing like the energy in the room when you are playing live and seeing people so happy, forgetting about their problems. I’m not a self-absorbed DJ. I am there to show you a good time.

People see me as very outgoing but I can be quite shy. I overcome the shyness by thinking of going on air, or playing live, as performing a role. I was very nervous before my first radio show but that approach helped.

The trait I most admire in others is positivity. If I could be someone else for a day, I’d be Muhammad Ali. I watched the documentary I Am Ali recently and couldn’t believe his outlook on life. How determined he was. And how very decent and dignified, and how he refused to support the Vietnam war.

I believe we veer too much towards pessimism in Ireland. I found it a struggle to get used to it again after I’d lived in New York.

I can’t drive. I never bothered to learn. I haven’t needed to as I’ve always lived in the centre of cities.

My greatest fear is failure. Both of my parents taught me to believe in my dreams.

I used to believe in an afterlife, but now I think you only get one shot at it. My biggest challenge was the break up of my parents’ marriage when I was young. But I always try to take a positive from a negative.

I’m single at present. I think it’s hard for men to go out with live women DJs like me. DJs are generally all male.

So far life has taught me that the most important thing is to know what you want and to only to do the things that your heart is in. Otherwise, if you try to do things that you don’t believe in, you will end up feeling dead inside.

The Beat Goes On with Kelly Anne Byrne, Saturdays on Today FM 10pm–1am TXFM Evenings with Kelly Anne Byrne, Weekdays 7pm–10pm.


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