That's me (above) and this is my FEMTASTIC JOURNEY INTO SOUND!
In this installment of Diggin in the Digi-Crates, I want to introduce you to the ladies who light my way, creating amazing music and living as an example to other women and creators.
DJ STEF 415
I have to start out a post on crate digging (albeit digi-crate digging) with a nod to DJ Stef who passed away last fall. This woman showed us all the way. Known worldwide to hip hop vinyl diggers everywhere, her loss has been felt. I have to thank Stef for being so respected in hip hop culture. I benefited directly from her coming up before me. My challenges were less because of the hard work this amazing woman put in. Get ready to be schooled by any mix or radio show she throws down. (She gets bonus points for dropping Floor Wax by DJ Zeph feat. Rashaan Ahmad in this particular mix).
PURPLE PAM
Another recent loss who was always such an amazing inspiration for me, was Pam the Funkstress.
I remember the first time I saw her DJ with The Coup. Not only was she DJ'ing with a live band but she did her routine where she juggled records with her breasts while taking off her bra!! Whaaaat!?! Years later, I would take DJ gigs just to be on the same line up as her. She always had a kind word and huge smile for me.
Pam worked so hard and not only did she go on tour with The Coup, but she ran a catering business! Right before Prince passed away, he had chosen her as his tour DJ and my first thought was no one deserves this more than Pam.
LATYRX - LADY DON'T TEK NO
This track gets an honorary mention because it's the closest any male artists have come to a feminist anthem (in my experience and opinion). You can't imagine the power this song had for me when I first heard it back in 1997. I'd never seen this video until I did a search for this post. I have this on multiple vinyl pressings (of course...) including one with a tight DJ Shadow version. In my early days of DJ'ing in clubs, I dropped this track into every. single. set. I even cut my sound engineering teeth by mixing a live performance I was lucky enough to multitrack record straight from the sound board. Latyrx - Lyrics Born and Lateef - are still two of my favorite artists. They're work never gets old, and unlike many other prominent artists in hip hop, they're lyrics are inspirational to me as a WOMAN.
I love this video and I love this song. I can listen to on repeat for an hour. The lyrics, the production, the soundmix... everything is perfection. I've known K.Flay since she was at Stanford and used to come down to hang out while I was radio'ing (photo above was taken during a guest set by Amp Live). To see her evolve from someone with mad talent who rocked the mic and produced her own tracks, into one of my favorite artists (Period.) has been such a treat as well as inspiring. This woman works her ass off to keep making better music. Don't take my word for it. Listen.
"Can't Sleep"
And for the reggae fans, here is a Marley remix by Roy Two Thousand that she is featured on. You can really hear what I'm talking about, the growth from then to now, even though her verses are still hella tight.
DAMN THAT DJ MADE MY DAY!
Lady Fingaz and La Femme Deadly Venoms are my girls. They are awe inspiring. They are a joy to DJ with as well as just sit back and check the techniques, and they have all helped me be a better DJ. I can't say how lucky I am to be surrounded by women are so talented and dedicated to their craft.
Only Lady Fingaz could get me to listen to Beyonce and actually enjoy it (obviously I'm not a drone in the BeyHive). And that in itself illustrates what I love about an awesome mixtape. it can put music into a context that makes you hear things a new way. DJs aren't just for rockin a party, they serve the purpose of reframing culture in a way that heightens the experience of it, exposing new layers and possibilities for how it makes you feel, maybe even think.
Also members of La Femme Deadly Venoms original crew, are the leading ladies of scratch, DJs Celskiii + Deeandroid. Skratchpad is a SF Bay institution that continues to provide a space for up and coming turntablists to hone their technique.
The Art of the Skratch: DJs Celskiii + Deeandroid | KQED Arts
Kat 010 was in the original iteration of La Femme Deadly Venoms, but before that she was better known as the keyboardist for Crown City Rockers (if you like the Roots, check them out - live jazz meets hip hop in trueschool fashion) and has been featured on several Lyrics Born tracks as well. Her psychedelic hip hop classical moogalicious spacetastic vibe is pretty much perfection in my ears. I remember the first time I saw her play in 2001. I had never heard hip hop like that, played by a live band including hand triggering samples on an MPC2000. Everybody does it now but 17 years ago, midi was rare in performance space and most hip hop acts just used a DJ or played beats on a cd and rapped over a pre-burned set.
"DJ. Scholar. Radical."
In short... I want to be just like Ripley when I grow up.
She dropped the first Dubstep DJ set I had on my radio show back in 2006. The first time I met Tycho and saw him perform was at an event she helped organize at UC Berkeley where Matmos was the main speaker (also 2006 I think).
This lady is badass! Wherever she leads, I will gladly follow! Her doctoral research into intellectual property and social justice issues makes me feel so lazy. She even spent almost a year in Jamaica working with an organization whose directive was to return intellectual property rights to artists recording and releasing music from prisons. Until talking with her, I never realized that being in prison can prelude creators from owning rights to their own work in some countries.
Her bio says it all: "Cofounder of Surya Dub (SF), member of Dutty Artz (NYC) and Cofounder of HEAVY (NYC). Focusing on genre smashing heavy sound: a junglist approach taking on everything from kuduro and baile funk to footwork and breakcore, afrobeats and soca rubbing up against booty bass and jersey club. You won't know what's coming but you will feel it when it hits!"
Here are a couple banging sets so you can hear all that genre touching in action.
Post Script Session:
When I was in school to be a sound engineer, I was the only girl in my class. As a female hip hop DJ, I went through a fair amount of light hazing. The people in this session have been amazing friends and supporters. I'm manning the sound board for this one. That is my happy place. Although it didn't come naturally to me and learning wasn't easy, I love all aspects of sound. And it was worth all of the discomfort and challenges I've faced in being a woman in a field where women are rare. So happy there is an organization like Women's Audio Mission (below) to help make the path easier for women who have a voice and ear for what makes a recording or mix awesome.
Thanks for joining me on my FEMTASTIC JOURNEY INTO SOUND! This is why sound matters!!! So I've included some links that show why female DJs, Emcees, and sound engineers are so awesome! I love what I do! I drool over gear. I've built my own mixer, soldering and fets and all! I've made my own cables. My parents pushed me into ballet when I was three years old and classical violin when I was ten. I can't help but wonder what my life would have been like if I was learning protools and midi at age ten. My DJ friends have little girls who start scratching at age three! I can't wait to see what they are doing in ten to twenty years.


We Need More Girls on the Mic!
When I started doing radio, this was the hardest thing for me to get used to. I didn't feel like I had something to say worth hearing. I passed up the mic, the first time it was offered to me. So thank you to my good friend Raggedy Andy who helped me take those first steps and broadcast my words live. That day literally changed my life!
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One last cut since I totally appropriated the title of my post from one of my favorite tracks ever!!! I used to open my radio show with this record every week until certain people threatened to steal if from me (it was an original pressing).

 

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