GTPulse: Prim Brings House Music to Traverse City Nightlife

If you regularly partake in Traverse City nightlife you’ve probably seen the name Prim advertised as the DJ for bigger yearly bar nights like the day before Thanksgiving, or for weekend gigs at standbys like U&I or the Double Wide. I spent much of my late teens and early 20s dancing to techno and house music in questionable Detroit venues and after hours. I hadn’t seen any traces of the music and its culture in Northern Michigan, no traces until I met Prim.

The stage name Prim is a delightful contradiction because when I met her in person she was anything but. A rhinestone-studded necklace that read ‘Baby’ hung around her neck, her tattoos peeked through an off the shoulder black top and her amber, catlike eyes gazed back at mine like she knew a secret that I didn’t. Her interesting beauty and relaxed disposition begged the question, who is she?

Prim is Andrea Pawlak, a Muskegon native who still works out of her hometown. Lately, she’s been on the road more than home, and a lot of that traveling is to come to play gigs in Traverse City.

“I come up here a lot to play, I play downstate and I’ve had some out of state opportunities. I stay busy for sure.”

She got pulled into the music culture when she was 20. She was attending music festivals and fell in love with the music that fueled so much movement, happiness and connection.

“I thought, other people can do that and make money…I can too. Then, girls weren’t really doing it.”

Andrea wasn’t discouraged at the idea of throwing her hat into a male-dominated, DJing ring, in fact it motivated her even more. 

“Once I started saying I wanted to do it, my ex-boyfriend said, ‘You should do it. You’ll be successful if you’re actually good at it because there are not that many girls.’”

Andrea bought the supplies she would need to DJ. The equipment is expensive, so she collected it piece by piece and looked at it as an investment that would eventually pay her back. She is self-taught and pored over YouTube videos for countless hours to teach herself how to mix music with her equipment.

Andrea is more of a producer than a DJ. A DJ is someone who is hired to play songs and not someone who produces their own music. Andrea produces her own, which is why she goes by Prim and not DJ Prim.

“I have my own original music and produce my own original music, but there are DJs out there who don’t have their own original music they’re just a DJ. That’s really common.”

Her first show was at a dive not too far from her home at a place called Jimmy’s. She was full of nerves, but her friends came to support her and despite criticisms, she has of her first performance now, she pulled it off.

“It was so scary, and I practiced right up until I had to leave to do the show which is funny because I feel like I never practice anymore. It went well but I totally didn’t know what I was doing at all.”

She’s come a long way from Jimmy’s. Beyond being regularly booked throughout the year all over Michigan, she opened for T-Pain and the now deceased Juice Wrld over the summer in Grand Rapids.

“That was huge. I loved T-Pain when I was young.”

She hopes to have more opportunities like that for 2020, with a big dream being to play a music festival. However, she doesn’t mind the gigs she gets now, and she enjoys the opportunity she has to make people move.

“You gotta read the room. Sometimes I play Union Street in Traverse City and you’ll get bridal parties that come in and I’ll switch it up for them a little bit. They want the twerkin’ music because they wanna get down.”

Going into the new year, Andrea also wouldn’t mind more opportunities that allowed her to travel outside of the country to bring her music to an international audience. She’ll still have gigs in Traverse City throughout the year. If you haven’t gotten an opportunity to dance to Prim, allow yourself the indulgence. Her music style is fast, fun and fearless.

“I liked the name Prim because it was short and started with a P, and I’m not prim and proper at all so it was ironic. I thought maybe one day I’d get tired of the name but I really never have.”

Tired is the last word I would use to describe Andrea, her music or her style. The young producer brings her unique style and energy wherever she goes, and has a talent for getting people out of their seats and onto the dancefloor. See her in action next on New Year’s Eve at Rare Bird.

Categories: GTPulse