“The thing I love about music is that everyone really makes it their own,” says Harley Viera-Newton, a London-born, LA-raised DJ who now calls New York City home. On a recent fall day in a cozy West Village studio flooded with sunlight, a makeup artist puts the finishing touches on Newton’s fuss-free look, and we chat about her style, career and well-honed spinning instincts.
The daughter of a Columbia Records exec who signed The Spice Girls and Massive Attack and a Brazilian model turned co-founder of Tom Binns jewelry, Newton grew up in a creative family. Although always a music lover, she fell into DJing by accident. While still a student at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, Newton and a friend started a weekly gig at an East Village bar. The night quickly became a neighborhood staple. One thing led to another and, after manning the turntables at several VIP brand events, Newton signed with Roc Nation, Jay Z’s label, whose roster includes Rihanna and Willow Smith.
Although her favorite tracks run the gamut from punk to rock, having played in cities all over the world, Newton knows the value of a good classic. “Sometimes when you DJ a new city you’re like, ‘Ah I don’t know what they’re gonna wanna hear,' but you get it pretty quickly because it’s that sort of understood communication and it’s really fun. [Music] is the universal language. You can put on a Prince song and pretty much no matter where you are everyone’s like ‘Yeah!’”
When it comes to her personal style, Newton describes it as “all over the place, kind of like my music taste.” This attitude is evident in the Michael Kors looks she picks for the shoot—casual pieces with glam touches: a cotton sweater bedazzled in rhinestones worn over a denim button-up with a crystal collar and a little black dress with leather details. Dresses actually happen to be her style uniform. “At night I usually wear a little black dress or little fun shifts. I try not to overthink it and just wear what I feel really good in,” says Newton.
As the sun sets we follow the style-savvy DJ to the hot-spot No. 8 club in Chelsea, where she’s booked to spin for the night. As she steps behind the turntables, the atmosphere is electric. Soon Newton’s catchy beats have everyone in the room dancing with abandon.