When Angel was 16, she recalls finding herself and her best friend under a bridge at a DIY rave. Unknown to exactly where it was, that night catalyzed her love of the DIY subculture.
“We started going to more DIY events, like Pep Rally, which had these awesome dirt raves,” she said. “We would hike out and then it would be in the middle of the forest.”
She remembers walking in the pitch black darkness near a spot surrounded by trees. Soon the cops would find the rave and shut it down. “I remember Chippy [Nonstop] When she was fooling around on them, she had this power.”
For Angel, this was the moment she realized that being a DJ with power and control shouldn’t just be down to white men in the EDM scene. But it was also for people like her and Chippy, women of color and people who are LGBTQ2IA+ and BIPOC.
Soon Angel would be more than just a spectator watching the sets in the muddy “venues”. She would play the sets overtime.
Angel, also known by her stage name “Angelphroot”, has cemented her place in the DIY rave scene since her debut in April 2022. At the Interstella event, which performed with her friend Estella Maise’s collective EOriginals, Angel shot Happy Hardcore.
“It was in a converted church, all ages… I was playing music that was made 10 years earlier [the ravers] were even born,” she said.
She started teaching herself during the pandemic, saving to buy a DDJ 400 deck and working on it alongside her laptop from school. What remains in each set is Angel’s presence, captivating audiences with her cross-genre sets.
But beyond Angel’s spiders there is something deeper at its core.
In Angel’s Instagram bio, she wrote “DJ with a disability,” which caught the attention of many people. “I like being something you don’t see every day, and for a lot of people, something you don’t see every day is inspirational.”
She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, when she was 17, and has been stuck indoors for most of the pandemic due to her immunocompromised condition. During this time she found a place to share her true self, her passions and criticisms; Tick tock.
“I was creating 40 pieces of content a day, posting 10 of them and starting to go viral and build a following,” she said. “I made a video saying, ‘Hey, I’m emo and I’m Indian, which is rare and for humans [hardly] see.”
This video has been viewed over 24,000 times. Angels TikTok is built around creating a space, not just for themselves, but for people with intersectional identities to find a safe space and not feel alone.
Her autoimmune disease is also discussed transparently on her site.
From videos about her style and expression as a person of color to talks about DJing with a disability, Angel has built a fan base of over 218,000.
“I feel like there are a lot of disability communities that can’t see each other doing things like DJing or dancing,” she said. “Imagine a person with a disability being this crazy DJ playing a rave in the basement of a church.”
Through TikTok, Angel has also created a space to challenge the stereotypical conventions of what young brown people should look like.
Angelic aesthetics are clear; Candy-core mayhem at first, but emulates the youth-based underground rave scene. Some nights she can be found with candy raver bracelets on her arms, and other nights she’s all black with latex and goth techno accessories.
In her style she implements traditional Indian, especially Nordic elements, from lehengas to traditional jewellery. Angel’s goal is to show people that they can break into an aesthetic they really love, be it emo or candy core pop.
“A lot of young people tell me they want to dress like me, but their parents won’t let them,” she said. “It’s sad for me because it’s not just a parenting problem, it’s everyone else who has a problem right away [negative] Responding to people expressing themselves.”
After being on TikTok for a while and starting DJing in 2022, the two have fallen in love and now Angel is hosting the parties and events she DJs at. Since her first gig, Angel has played at venues such as Sari Not Sari, Apt 200, CODA and Christie Pits Park to name a few.
She has also spun alongside Young Teesh, Ace, Zellers and Nino Brown. Angel spoke about how generous the DJ community is, especially for emerging artists. She has played about 50 gigs in 2022 and attends Toronto Metropolitan University.
“Chippy booked me for the Pep Rally recently, Young Teesh lent me her high-end DJ controller and let me learn on it,” she said. “People built me up and helped me learn.”
Now she hosts events, DJs consistently, and builds spaces similar to those she’s felt safe with. Similar to her predecessors, Angel tries to do the same.
“I didn’t really realize how much rave meant to people or how much a DIY rave could mean to them,” she said.
Angel remembers a kid having his first rave at Christie Pits, where Angel was performing. They had severe agoraphobia to the point where they could no longer go to school or work, and being at this rave made them realize how unjudged the world can be.
Ultimately, Angel is about creating a space within the DIY rave scene and on her TikTok, and giving people a space for free speech.
“People start raving young because they want that way out,” she said. “I try to show people things they’ve never seen before.”