Please introduce yourself and tell us where you are from.
This is DJ D, also known as Australia’s premiere female turntablist, from Sydney Australia.
When did you start DJing? – and what or who were your early passions and influences?
Growing up in the 80s meant playing with dad’s 78s 45s & 33s, and helping my sister sell records at her record stall; from an early age I was always fascinated about how a piece of plastic could make music. I started my vinyl collection in 1983 at the age of 5.
I had my first gig in 1988 at the age of 10. I fell in love with the art of turntablism, as well as inspiring people to have a good time on the dance floor through music. Another major influence were the DMC sets of that era, they were so ingenious and entertaining back then, and still are when you watch them back today.
As for influences on the decks, Jazzy Jeff is definitely up there for his transformer scratch – still one of my favorites today, along with set he did alongside Fresh Prince such as ‘live at union square’, I almost wore out the tape listening back to that one again and again and again. Another notable influence is Roc Raida for his body tricks; body tricks are one of my favorite things to do as so many people still today are surprised when they see a female on the decks, a female doing body tricks just helps take things to that next level. We must always give props to QBert & Mixmaster Mike for what they did for the art of turntablism. Musically I can’t go past DJ Mase from De La Soul for so many killer samples and great beats that De La Soul brought to us in the late 80s & early 90s.
As much as skills on the deck were so important for me as one of the only females coming up during this time, rocking a crowd was just as important. I began touring the club scene nationally around 1998, and hit the international circuit from 2005 onwards.
[ Watch DJ Ds 2012 video bio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U-Irl8MvyI ]
What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic career?
One of the standouts was definitely competing in the DMCs in 2005; I placed 8th in Australia as the only female competitor in the Australian Nationals that year, and sadly I don’t think there has been a female that has entered since.
[ Watch DJ D’s 2005 entry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sGZKAT98fY ]
More recently I was approached to perform an all vinyl showcase at Sydney’s 2014 DMCs; with little time to prepare I pulled out some old routines that included body tricks influenced by Roc Raida. To be able to perform these in front of X-Ecutioners own Total Eclipse was definitely a moment I won’t soon forget.
[ Watch DJ D’s all vinyl DMC 2014 showcase https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ2FMaUZQLc ]
Other most memorable moments include being able to support artists that I grew up listening to, in particular Naughty By Nature 2003 & 2007, Bel Biv Devoe’s Ricky Bell in 2003, KCI & Jojo’s Jodeci Tour 2005, Montell Jordan 2005 & 2006, and Snoop Dogg’s DJ Jam 2008 to name a few.
What are currently your main challenges as a DJ?
Ultimately, keeping turntablism alive. It is becoming rarer to find turntables, or one’s that actually work, in club venues around Australia. With a vast number of the newer gen of DJs using USBs and CDJs as their tool of choice, the game has definitely changed in more ways than one.
Although I began using a laptop with vinyl for ease of international touring around 2007, vinyl is still my first choice when hittin the decks – there’s just nothing out there that can replicate the feel, control and sound of the real thing, not to mention the show factor.
In an aim to keep turntablism alive and pass on the more traditional ways of DJing to the newer gens, Mixxbosses Worldwide was founded in 2008 and is currently active in 9 countries including Australia, USA, Germany, UK, New Zealand, Middle East, Malaysia, Japan, and Spain. Check out www.Mixxbosses.com for more info.
What do you usually start with when preparing for a set?
After a quick chat to the promoter about how the night is pitched, I generally update my music collection to make sure I’ve got all the material I need. Aside from online sources, this also includes digging through my record collection that all began well over thirty years ago where I have fond memories of going household shopping with mum not being able to wait to get to checkout where local supermarkets would stock 45s and a few 33s, much like the candy bars you see today; in later years it was all about saving that lunch money and going second hand vinyl shopping in the city.
During the updating process I create a lot of my own remixes to ensure my approach is unique, sure patrons will hear tracks new and old, but in a totally different way. There’s nothing like knowing that you’re the only one in the world with that particular remix, or mashup, especially when it gets the crowds attention and gets them going.
Finally, I prefer to rock up early to a set to hear what the previous DJ has dropped, so I can continue the flow and keep building the vibe of the night.
How important is building a real relationship with the music you’re playing for your own approach? There’s so much music out there, is it even possible to build meaningful long-term relationships with a particular track or album?
So important – to be able to spin naturally you need to know your material inside out – know the breaks, the best entry and exit points, know how to work those beats…
It’s amazing to see how approaches have changed over the years. What still amazes me these days is that back in the day when we could only lug around a hundred or so pieces of vinyl to a gig, when gigs were more like 3-6hrs long, you’d rarely hear the next DJ repeat a track, in fact it was frowned upon by fellow DJs and patrons. Yet these days, with thousands and thousands of mp3’s to choose from, you hear the same tracks again and again and again…
For me a good DJ is one who is creative in their approach, unique, one who thinks about building the vibe of the whole night – not just their one hour set, which seems to be the average length of sets these days.
Being a hip hop DJ have you seen the changes in the music from when you first started and when the music is now?
Yes most definitely. I remember the days when people would go out to underground nightclubs to hear hip hop & R&B tracks, as it was not something you heard in mainstream venues, let alone on the air waves.
DJs were booked for their specialty in that genre, and sometimes even for their collection of exclusive vinyl cuts, breaks and remixes; as there were only so many copies pressed it was near impossible for other DJs to bite their style if they hadn’t scored a copy for themselves. This was also during a time where urban DJs in the local scene could be counted on two hands, and the idea of a female on the decks was challenged by promoters and patrons, simply because it wasn’t the done thing.
It’s quite amazing to see how things now are almost the direct opposite – it appears that more and more DJs seem to be a ‘jack of all genres’ not to mention the saturation of urban tunes on the charts, and these days with technologies increasing accessibility, we need to add a couple of zeros to the end of that early figure to reflect how many DJs are out there these days.
What makes you decide to play a particular record during one of your sets? Is there a criteria other than pure subjectivity, for selecting what to play at a gig?
It only takes me a few seconds of hearing a new track to decide whether it’s something I’ll drop in a set – it’s got to feel and sound right, and if it doesn’t but I know the crowd will be wanting it, then it’s remix time!
When spinning, track selection for me relies on crowd motivation. My approach is not about thrashing just the hits, but rather about building a vibe and taking patrons on a journey through music new and old. So it really is the environment, whatever is happening in that moment, that drives me to choose the next track.
For me a set is not only a way to get people moving on the dancefloor, but also a chance to educate – through tracks that sample other tracks, to classics that some of the younger generations might not have heard. So many tracks these days seem to be reinventions of old school tracks, for me it’s important to pay homage to those classics.
When there’s more music than one can possibly take in, it is becoming increasingly hard to know what constitutes an original and a remake anymore. What’s your opinion on the importance of roots, traditions, respecting originals and sources?
Learning about and respecting roots is something that has driven me from day one. For me there was nothing more exciting then digging through second hand vinyl to listen to a track and say: ‘Hey! That’s the sample that so and so used for their track’.
These are the sorts of tracks that that I would sneak into my sets, even for brief moments, to let patrons know that the hit they know and love actually came from somewhere else. It’s also an approach I love to use when doing my remixes.
Since the inception of Mixxbosses Radio Australia almost 8yrs ago, I’ve had a segment on my radio show called ‘flashback’ where we play 2-3 tracks that sample each other throughout various generations, hitting eras as early as the 1950’s to the present day and age. It’s amazing to see where some of our current hits have been inspired from, and how producers have worked their magic to transform or pay homage to these old skool tracks.
I’m also currently working on a mixtape for radio use only that takes on the concept of ‘the old vs the new’, combining a number of remixes of recent releases that appear to be reinventions of classic 90s and 80s tracks – especially to let clubbers of today know where those ‘cool new’ riffs are coming from whilst paying homage to the originals.
Where do you currently stand as far as your career is concerned? Are you anywhere near where you would like to be?
I’m at a bit of a turning point in my DJ career, cutting back on the number of club gigs I take on and spending more time on production and working in the studio. Having toyed with production many years ago in my early days of DJing, a return for me was inevitable, along with hitting the mic again – singing was something I also had put on hold many years ago to give my main focus to holding it down on the decks.
I’ve always recognized the need to give back to industry, and to try and help others aspiring to contribute to our communities, so a lot of my time is invested in building our international network of Mixxbosses Worldwide, giving artists and DJs a platform to be heard, whilst we all work together for the greater good of real music and skills.
Following my re-appearance as guest showcase at last years DMC competition in Sydney, many have asked me if I will compete in the 2015 DMCs. All I can say is watch this space I’ll definitely keep people posted at www.DJDworldwide.com
Have you given it any thought to becoming a music producer? Because it seems a lot of DJ’s now a days are taking their craft to the next level as producers,
As I mentioned earlier, this was always on the cards for me, having toyed with production in the 90’s and 00’s I had always planned to make a return in later years.
I had founded my own record label a few years back called Wall to Wall Records, where we have worked on a handful of projects and collaborations, however I’ve always dreamed about having more time to invest into creating and releasing more material. This is definitely what’s around the corner for yours truly.
Can you let us know where people can find you on the social media network?
The Official website DJ D I http://www.DJDworldwide.com
Dee Boss – http://www.facebook.com/DJDWorldwide
Deejay Diana – http://www.facebook.com/DJ78D
DJ D fan page – http://www.facebook.com/DJDDJD
DJ D Worldwide – http://www.twitter.com/DJDworldwide