A true diva tries to achieve what she wants in life with style and class and won’t let people get in her way. Viva la Diva nee Anouska van Smaalen is a true embodiment of unwavering persistence and has been making her name in the competitive and male dominated European DJ industry. When she’s on the playbill, you are guaranteed the time of your life. Viva la Diva will take you on an eclectic musical journey that infuses Caribbean and Latin American flavors with pulsing Dance rhythms, where in no time she will have you swinging on your feet.
Born Anouska Melissa Louisa van Smaalen on June 1st, 1989 in Lelystad, music was always an intricate part of her upbringing. “My dad plays the saxophone, my brother is a rapper/producer and my uncle had a keyboard in the attic that we used to practice songs on”, she recalled. Growing up, Anouska was a quiet child, however when it involved music, she immediately came to life. She would host her own radio shows with self-made cassettes and played those on the loud speakers, so she could talk over them. “Back in the day, my brother owned a turntable and I was convinced that I could scratch, so every time I would break the needles, which were very expensive”, she recalled with a smile. “I would also tape video clips and would sing along with the songs and dance in front of the TV”, she admitted. Anouska grew up surrounded by lots of music and even danced ballet, jazz and street dance for many years. She started with music lessons at the age of six, and experimented with several instruments before settling on the keyboard. “Besides music I loved the outdoors and you could find me playing football or basketball with the neighborhood boys”, she shared. Anouska always found her inspiration in music, which on itself was her biggest motivator to continue in the music industry and often preformed the songs she wrote.
“I was in several dance and musical groups. Music has always been the common thread in my life”, she shared.
Regardless of any setback she might have experienced on her journey, her family and partner Tirzah continuously pushes her to not give up. “Lady Bee has been a huge inspiration and is a big example for me as a female DJ. Besides being an amazing DJ that makes wonderful music, she always stands her ground and does what she needs to do.”, she continued.
Although she played in the largest clubs in the Netherlands and Europe, the highlight of her music career so far has been her trip to Curacao in February to perform. ‘I’m happy with every achievement so far, because I worked really hard to accomplish those and I’m proud as a woman to make a difference in a male dominated industry”, she stated. “To establish a successful DJ career, you need to have a drive to pursue your passion and be open for changes and improvements”, she concluded.
The future for Viva la Diva is looking bright, and for the upcoming six months, Anouska is creating a few new tracks with lots of exiting collaborations and is also planning an international tour.
Ultimately she wants venture into event organization and hopes to promote a few major concerts and events in the near future. At the same, Viva la Diva hopes to continue to perform and produce more music. “The best advice I’ve have been given is to always keep my thinking logical and simple, and that’s what I hold on to when cultivating my career”, Anouska explained. Since music is her ultimate passion, it’s important for her that people have a good time when she plays for a crowd. “What’s good music? It’s the feeling that the tune gives you, like ‘I’m feelin’ sexy and ‘this is my jam”, she concluded.
The biggest misconception about having an artistic name like Viva la Diva is that people think she’s arrogant. “People confuse confidence as cockiness and that’s unfortunate, because I’m not like that at all”, she emphasized. It’s the hunger to transcend society’s social barriers and leaving a permanent mark in music is Anouska’s ultimate driving force. We need to acknowledge pure talent when we see it, because true divas like Viva la Diva should be treated with respect for their enormous talent and strong will, and as far as this enigmatic DJ is concerned, we have only scratched the surface.