Art is self-expression, but when someone’s art becomes a career, sometimes the artist must compromise the self to get paid. That was the case for the small and bubbly B-girl Michelle Kolnik a.k.a Crykit, who moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles in 2011 to DJ for Tao and LAVO. As grateful as she is for her career as a professional DJ, corporate gigs have their downsides. “It’s been a struggle keeping true to myself and weaving in and out of being mainstream,” she says.
Crykit says she likes to mix the obscure music that she likes with elements of recognizable lyrics, such as classic ‘90s or hip-hop tracks, but it’s a challenge to present her eclectic tastes in one mix —especially to venues that are only concerned with mainstream music. “I love everything under the sun. How do you package that?” she says. “I’m still figuring that out.”
It isn’t just on the Strip crowd that loves Pitbull and Lil Jon. “Even Downtown where it’s way more open to being creative and different, still a lot of places I’ve been told ‘We’re starting this night as something unique,’ but then as time moves on, it turns into ‘Okay we gotta [play] what’s making people drink and the top 40 stuff,’” she says.
But now the 35-year-old has free reign to express her playful, underground style at Commonwealth every second Tuesday of the month with Playhouse. Crykit is taking full advantage of that freedom by blending her love of visual art and fashion into the party with live art demos by Smurf and Ricardo Arts, props for photographs created by artist Pretty Done, and clothes from her Instagram shop, Crykit’s Playhouse.
”I love that remix culture. Even within fashion, it’s all about do-it-yourself, remixing it, revamping it, making it your own. We are accessible to so many different tools to make it our own,” she says.
While Crykit is excited to have the license to do what she wants, her Las Vegas DJing career catering to different crowds taught her a valuable lesson. “I am way more aware of what people respond to and catering to sing-a-longs,” she says. “People want that one thing they can join in on…They want to feel part of something. I’ve learned that giving people things that they can relate to or feel part of is important. Not just playing stuff I listen to in my bedroom.”
She’s trying not to think about her party being on a Tuesday during the slow season but recognizes these reasons are exactly why she is able to do what she wants. She recognizes the lack of support for creative culture has in Las Vegas and, more than anything, Crykit wants Playhouse to be a night for artists. “I want this party to be a platform for collaborative self-expression, networking with other artists, and people in the creative field to explore, have fun, meet, greet and see where it takes them.”
Monthly every second Tuesday at Commonwealth from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. No cover.