Kiki Toao: “My fingers were half-frozen”

Kiki Toao and Marceline in 2019
In 2011 Kiki Toao and I met during the Cannabis Liberation Festival in Amsterdam. In 2014 we spoke about her first gig.

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In 2014 Marceline interviewed the Dutch Monique Rijken aka DJ/producer Kiki Toao about her debut in the DJ-booth. We've known each other since 2011, when she, me and our significant others enjoyed the Cannabis Liberation Festival. Talking about her first gig, she says: "I felt like a numbed gnome."

“My first gig was in October 1997 at a street-party during Leidens Ontzet. I was totally into firm techno in those days, so they programmed me rather late. This meant that it was freezing! There I was, feeling like a numbed gnome. My fingers were half-frozen. I was more concerned with that, than with being nervous for the gig.”

DJ Kiki Toao Leids Ontzet 1997mg - Kiki Toao: "My fingers were half-frozen"


“I never had a mentor or a teacher. When I indicated to my boyfriend at that time that I would like to learn how to play, he merely said:  ‘You know where the turntables are. Good luck!’ That’s the only clue he ever gave me.”  

First headphones

“So, one year later, there I was, playing at Leidens Ontzet. That night, my father and stepmother gave my my first headphones. They were also present at my first gig. There was quite a crowd and everyone loved it!”  

Bam. Party finished.

“I did make quite a blunder. For a moment, I forgot to take into account that K Alexi‘s track M.C.M. is a short one. So, before I had mixed in the next track, suddenly all music stopped. Bam. Party finished. Shit. Well, what can you do at a moment like this, except for remaining calm? The organizer panicked and started yelling at me in a frenzy. Totally stoic and relaxed, I decided what my next track would be. ‘To fix this, I’d better play a real banger now’, I figured. So I did. I put on a new record and in no time I had the crowd going stronger than before and even started cheering. Coincidentally my mistake  turned out to be a really good thing because after this the party really got going!” (laughs) 

Freak out

“I’m still surprised that back then I was able to respond that cool. Now I would totally freak out. Right there and then I learned that you can get away with a huge mistake as long as, one way or the other, you try to fix it .”

Paternising tone

“I was only 22 and during my set several men, mind me: unasked, and on a paternising tone, started explaining the mixer to me. Unfortunately this still happens, but the only thing I can do is laugh about this type of sexism. One of the guys that organized the party, also tried to get me to pitch in for the rent of the stand. Because it would be for my own promotion. I never complied of course. Duh!”

Kiki Toao Rombout HitnRunmg - Kiki Toao: "My fingers were half-frozen"

Learned a lot

“So, yeah, you can say that I learned a lot of this first gig. And since then, I’ve never stopped learning. Every gig teaches me something new, whether it is music-wise or on a technical or business level.”

“On top of that, I tend to be bored easily by a large number of records that I have already played. I’m always on the look for new inspiration. Of course, in the mean time, every once in a while, I dig up the old smashers from the archives.  This way my taste and style is dynamic and keeps evolving. Constantly combining new input and various styles with old favorites keep it exciting for myself and hopefully for others as well.”

This interview with Kiki Toao is originally published on December 11th 2014 on

More Kiki Toao?

Kiki Toao’s first contact with the decks found place in 1996. Her professional career started with playing for Electronation in 2003 and as a resident for AsitBreaks in former Amsterdam club Amuse in collaboration with Subunited DJ Rombout.

From January 2006 til 2008 she organized monthly breakbeat parties at Studio 80 and Pakhuys Wilhelmina with Fragile Breaks collective in Amsterdam.

Currently she’s collaborating with partner Rombout as a duo, with main focus on techno. She’s also active as an audiovisual producer.

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