When Jack Harlow was preparing for his first tour since the beginning of the pandemic, DJ Niyah shot her shot and was backing him up on stage within months. Over the course of his three-month “Creme De La Creme Tour,” she saw just how much Jack’s fans love him.
“We had this show in Austin after ACL (Austin City Limits). I remember the first two rows sang his songs word for word. They were singing like they had their headphones on in their room,” Niyah told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the veteran DJ explains what it was like performing in front of Drake, Lil Nas X’s surprise appearance at Rolling Loud, and how she inspires Jack’s fans. Read below!
How did you connect with Jack to become his DJ?
I’ve been a fan of his for about three or four years. I met him at a show of his I went to and kept in touch with him — not too often — through DMs. I found out later something happened with his DJ, and I took it as an opportunity to reach out to him and his team around the beginning of June. DJ Drama told me in July he was going to send my letter to the group chat and see what they say. He said they were going to give me a chance, but it took months and I stopped hearing from them. I tried to still keep in contact, but there was nothing. Out of nowhere at the end of August, I got a DM from Jack about calling him. I ended up auditioning around the first few days of September, and everything went well. Then, our first show was at BottleRock Festival.
After the festival, you went on a three-month tour with Jack. How did your involvement in the tour evolve over those months?
He’s a perfectionist, so after our first show at the festival, he texted me the same night a super long text message about things he really liked I did and things he wanted me to work on. Off the rip, I liked that he told me about the dos and the don’ts. I texted him back about how I felt about it and took his advice. We worked on it as the tour shows went on. Over time it got easier. I always make sure to check in with him. My role has evolved a lot because, in the beginning, I didn’t know where my spaces were to talk in the show. I was trying to figure it out during the first leg of the tour. On the second leg, I found where my placement goes, as a DJ, as far as ad-libs and emceeing.
What are some things you worked on over the course of the tour?
My vocal presence. In the beginning, I used to scream a lot. He taught me how to just speak on the mic and not scream. There’s a part where I come out in the show for one of his songs. He’d be on stage on top of this cafe, so I’d come out on the bottom and hype up the crowd. In the beginning, it was new to me. I didn’t know how to hype up the crowd for this one part of the instrumental. Then, he explained to me I need to give more energy. Towards the end of the tour, I really started to understand that part. It is hard for a female to speak on the mic. Sometimes I hate my voice. Sometimes I’ll hear my voice and like how I’d say things. I’ve been trying to learn how to use my voice.
Out of all of the shows on tour, which was the most memorable?
Chicago. That was our biggest show. We usually did venues with 1,000-2,000 people. Chicago was the biggest show with over 5,000 people. It was very special. To see 5,000 people at a show for him was really crazy and inspiring. I used to go to his shows back in the days when there were only a few hundred people. Everything was on point for that show.
Paint us a picture. How did a typical Jack Harlow show go?
It was a big Paris vibe. The stage design is an entire cafe. That’s covered for the openers. Five minutes before I do my opening set, they take off the covers and the crowd would go crazy. At that point, we play French music to give it the Paris vibe. When he came out, it was one big heart-to-heart experience. It’s a real rockstar show.
What were some notable fan reactions?
They love him for him. They wait for him outside after every show. We had this show in Austin after ACL (Austin City Limits). I remember the first two rows sang his songs word for word. They were singing like they had their headphones on in their room. That was my favorite reaction because it was so pure.
You performed with Jack during that Toronto show a few weeks ago. What was it like performing with Drake there?
It was exciting. It was a big show for Jack. We knew he was coming a few weeks prior. It was really fun. To see Drake in the corner of my eyes looking down at both of us, I can’t explain how that feels. I never imagined performing for Drake. Jack was ecstatic because that is his idol. After the show, I got to hug Drake, and that was one of my favorite tour moments.
I was at Rolling Loud when Lil Nas X came out of nowhere. That was the first time they did “Industry Baby” outside of TV. How did that come about?
I knew Lil Nas X was coming, but I didn’t know for sure that was going to go off. Jack and Lil Nas X’s relationship is really dope.
What is on Jack’s rider?
His rider was healthy because these people keep it clean (laughs). We always had Casamigos, lemonade, a bowl of fruit, granola bars, Essentia waters, and his Perrier sparkling water.
What do you feel is your value to Jack’s show?
What I’ve noticed is me being a female, and his crowd being mostly female, I inspire a lot of these girls. I get DMs from them all the time. After the show, they just want to talk to me. They’re shocked to see a female in this position. I added my stage presence and inspiration for the women in his show. I speak to a lot of his fans through DMs about their motivation and sharing knowledge with them.
What’s coming up for you?
He has a five-show run at his hometown of Kentucky in the second week of December. Then, we have Atlanta and New York shows. As of next year, I know he’s supposed to be going on tour again, but I don’t know the exact month.