VALIDA

Artist, KCRW DJ

November 2016
Genre-blending free-style DJ, Valida, is a KCRW radio host and nightlife maven who has DJ’ed worldwide and whose exploits locally have included helming many Los Angeles dance and live music nights, including, currently, Wednesday’s Desert Nights at the Standard Hollywood. Valida's steady rise comes from her exceptional musical sensibilities and a knack for seamless blending of a variety of music styles, gaining a reputation as one of LA’s most loved eclectic DJs, fearlessly fusing everything from disco to country and anything in-between. Originally from Sarajevo, Valida fled a heavily conflicted Bosnia to pursue higher education in the US. Valida means “to be well, to be worth; strong; power; strength.” For anyone who knows Valida, these words describe her well. She is focused in music but very vocal about animal rights, to the extent of getting in lengthy internet fights with friends.

“People don’t want to know the truth. I’ve had some people unfriend me and accuse me of being preachy. It’s OK; resistance is strong with those who don’t want to know. It’s safe being in the dark and there is a certain “strength in numbers” happening since the meat culture is the dominant one. Once you know, you have to do something or live with the fact that your diet is causing needless suffering and environmental degradation, and that is a hard pill to swallow. So, they rationalize, kick, scream, and pull out all the defense mechanisms you can think of. At the end of the day, they are not fighting with me but with their own conscience, and they will never win that fight.” - Valida



"I must admit, it's a constant challenge being vegan in a carnal-dominated culture."

What motivates you to maintain the vegan lifestyle in a non-vegan world?

I must admit, it’s a constant challenge being vegan in a carnal-dominated culture. There are days when I literally don’t want to get up because my Facebook feed is full of needless, horrendous animal suffering humans force upon our fellow earthlings. I always emphasize “needless” because the myth that a vegan diet is somehow inferior because it’s not nutrient-rich has been debunked by leading food experts and nutritionists. A vegan diet is far superior to the “regular” one, but that’s another thread. I have to get up and share my experience and feelings on the topic because the thought that my posts can make a difference and perhaps change the mind of even one person in a day is plenty of motivation. Also, I love experiencing new vegan foods. The sheer abundance of vegan restaurants and vegan groceries in Los Angeles is encouraging. Food experimenting has been so much fun.

What do you say to people who constantly say things like, “so many humans are suffering in the world…shouldn’t you care more about them than the animals?” Or - "A portion of your tax money as a US resident goes to war, but you want to save a little puppy?"

I say right back at them: “What are you, personally, doing to help the humans who are suffering?” Most people who talk (haters) are the ones doing the least. The ones busy helping are too busy to “talk.” I say, find a cause that you believe in and run with it, whatever that may be. If everyone took on one thing that they were passionate about instead of criticizing others for their choices, we would be far better off. I save puppies, you save humans...great...everyone wins.
At the same time, what do you say to those who claim you can’t ever be truly vegan. Just by walking outside, you can’t help avoid stepping on an ant every once in a while.

I would tell them to get a life. I don’t have time for stupid. If I did choose to entertain them, I’d say, fine...so I’m 99% vegan. I’ll take that label over someone who pays someone to kill a cow so that they can eat its flesh. Less than 1% of people who eat meat actually do their own killing. I think the percentage of meat eaters would drop dramatically if slaughter houses had windows, and if they all had to kill their own meal.

Although it’s rumored he tried a brief stint of eating a vegetarian diet, Kurt Cobain wrote, "It’s OK to eat fish because they don’t have any feelings.” What if a scientist could prove animals can’t feel any pain? Do you yourself have proof that animals have feelings? Does your choice stem only from empathy or do you consider your health and the environment as well?

It’s important to remember that Kurt died 20 years ago. We’ve come a long way since then and have scientific proof that fish can absolutely feel pain and can recognize faces. Also, I try not to get too bogged down with hypothetical scenarios. I am certain that animals have complex feelings and emotions just like humans. They don't speak “human,” so we may not understand them in the same way; however, few people can misunderstand the emotion of a mother cow who bellows for days after her calf is taken away from her minutes after birth. Watching those videos is so heartbreaking. Also, my cat and I talk every day and he expresses love and fear and happiness much like a person.



"I think the percentage of meat eaters would drop dramatically if slaughter houses had windows..."


"My cat and I talk everyday, and he expresses love and fear and happiness much like a person."

How do you feel about people who embrace veganism because it’s “cool” or a “fad?”

I don’t think too many people are doing that. Maybe a few celebrities here and there, but I personally haven’t encountered anyone who is doing it for fashion. The gluten-free diet is more of a fashion statement in my humble opinion, which is too bad, as there are people who genuinely suffer from gluten intolerance. It’s too bad that we have perverted the gluten-free idea. I sometimes see water bottles with a gluten-free label. Really???

How important is it for your partner to be vegan? Your friends? Your family?

I don't know the answer to the first one. I am single for now. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, but I'm hoping to fall in love with a vegan, of course...ha! My family is very respectful of my choices. My sister is vegan and both dad and mom only cook vegan when they're around me. Friends vary. Many are vegan, and most others are happy to explore the abundance of vegan restaurants with me. Some still have their heels dug in deep in the ground. I still love them, but I admit, I have a hard time understanding them. They are all highly intelligent people, and it just doesn’t make sense to me that they can continue with the mainstream diet which not only causes animal suffering but is also really bad for the environment and their health. It is a mystery.
It’s no surprise there are more vegans in music than on wall street. Artists tend to believe paradise is possible and seek a world with no war, no guns, and as little abuse to humans and animals as possible. Artists believe in improving the world and are generally sensitive to suffering. Do you witness a lot of compassionate people in your line of work? Would you bet there are more vegans in the arts field than any other field?

100%. Yes, artists are dreamers, and we are dreaming up a world devoid of human and animal suffering. I constantly meet vegans in the arts world - be it music, film, visual arts. So many of my heroes are vegetarian or vegan. The list is really long, but just to name a few: Prince, Russell Simmons, Natalie Portman, Ellen Page, Jared Leto, Michelle Pfeiffer, Alicia Silverstone, Ellie Goulding, and Moby, who just came out with a most incredible music video for his new song, "Are You Lost In The World Like Me."

Are you scared of what our quickly approaching election will mean for our country and our world? Do you wish American politicians showed more concern for our environment?

The American election is frightening. I am no fan of either candidate and think we made a huge mistake by not giving Bernie Sanders a chance. History will tell just how bad we messed up. Other than Bernie, Jill Stein has a great agenda, but, of course, the mainstream media will make you believe that she has no chance. I think it’s important for her (Jill) to get to the 5% so that we can tap into federal funding and build on our progressive movement for 2020. I have the luxury to vote for her as I live in a blue state, but I'm not sure what I would do if I lived in a swing state. Truth be told, both major party candidates scare me equally for different reasons.




VEGAN COMPANY PLUG

Bunny World Foundation is a local, LA-based rescue that I have a strong connection to. My sister started it ten years ago, and so far, they have rescued thousands of bunnies and a number of dogs and cats. “Bunnies for puppies” and “bunnies for kitties” sub-divisions exist in the illegal bunny trade in the Downtown district of Santee Alley. You may have heard about puppy mills, but there are equally horrific bunny mills. My sister has been fighting on the city level to bring about changes in legislation that will protect not just bunnies, but all animals currently being sold, and bring to a halt the overall illegal animal sales. It’s an uphill battle because the organization that is supposed to help in this fight, Los Angeles Animal Services, is not the ideal partner, and rather than help in her efforts, have often been the cause of bureaucratic red tape, frustration, and incompetence, but she can tell you more.

MUSIC PLUG

I recently DJ'ed at Circle V, the first all-vegan music and food festival put on by Moby, which included musical performances, panel discussions, and yummy foods at The Fonda Theater in Los Angeles. The turnout was incredible. At least a couple thousand people turned up for the earlier part of the day and the concert portion of the event was sold out. To be surrounded by so many people who share your beliefs and values was empowering. It energized me and gave me more strength and motivation to keep fighting the good fight. The animals don’t have a voice. We have to be their voice.

I also just filmed my music video for my new 80s-inspired single, "Stars." It’s a love song. I thought a lot about the story line and one day after reading the Sarajevo daily news (I keep up with all the latest from my home country) and the recent war on stray dogs, I was inspired to act. In Bosnia we have a huge stray dog/cat problem, so I decided to make the video about a love between a human and a stray dog. I went to Sarajevo to shoot it with director Sandra Bang from Swedish band, Pomona Dream. I love her visual aesthetics and when I told her about my idea, she loved it. Sandra is also a huge animal lover who didn’t need too much convincing to fly down from Gothenburg. We worked with a local dog rescue, Angels of Sarajevo, and shot it in two days. The star of the video is Lena, a local stray whom we “borrowed” from a dog boarding home. She needs a home, as do thousands of dogs just like her. She was one of the most gorgeous and loving beings I have ever encountered. The premise of the video is that we are all stars in the eyes of a rescued animal. Stay tuned!

Special Thanks To: Bunny World Foundation and Lejla Hadzimuratovic
Photography By: Amanda Farmer