When you're out at a party or in the club and your favorite song comes on, you get the instant urge to scream, dance your heart out (even if it means sweating out your hair) and sometimes you even go down memory lane. So who is it that makes this happen? The DJ of course! DJ Heat is one of those DJ's. She is sure to keep you jammin' from the minute you walk in the club.
Singers, dancers, artist, and rappers have battles and competitions to determine who is the best at what they do. Every year, Red Bull hosts such a battle for DJ's, The Red Bull Thre3 Style Battle is an international contest for highly skilled DJ's.
This year, five DJ's from the DMV have been selected to participate in the first of three stages of this battle. The first stage is the preliminary qualifier which is held here in DC on January 25th 2013 , where five DJ's will face off but only three will place, stage two is the U.S National qualifier held in Los Angeles California in April 2013 the final stage is the World Finals in Toronto, Canada in December 2013. Each DJ gets fifteen minutes to "Rock the Crowd" and showcase their skills, this isn't your average 'scratch' and 'mix' competition, DJ Heat of WPGC 95.5, is one of the five DJ's selected for this year's preliminaries.
I had the opportunity talk to DJ Heat before the battle about what it means to be a DJ, and what she believes may be the most challenging part of the competition. After talking to Heat I'm confident she has what it takes to "Rock the Crowd"!
WI: How did you get started as a DJ?
DJ Heat: I was thirteen or fourteen years old when I first knew I wanted to be a DJ, I saved up all of my money and bought some DJ equipment and back then there was no YouTube or anything like that directed towards teaching skills or techniques, so I spent hours in my bedroom trying to mimic what I heard on mix tapes, not the ones like today but actual mix tapes, cassette tapes that I ordered fromThe Source magazine. It's just something that since age thirteen I knew I wanted to do, during college (Morgan State University) I fell off a little bit, but it has always been instilled in me so after college I picked it back up.
WI: What has been your proudest moment as a DJ?
DJ Heat: I would say the first time I was asked to DJ Sneaker Pimp, because at the time it was the biggest crowed that I ever got to DJ in front of and I was kind of in the zone because as a DJ, that's what you feed off of, the crowd reaction, it's a two way street, the energy that you give and receive. I was just like wow...To hear all the people screaming.
WI: You're the editor-in-chief of the award winning DC metro area Hip-Hop blog DcMumboSauce.com, for those who aren't familiar with the blog, can you tell them what it's about and what inspired you to start it?
DJ Heat: The blog is dedicated to the DMV music scene, some people think that it's strictly for rap but it isn't hip-hop specific, I post all kinds of music like Reggae, R&B, and Rock. I started the blog because I've always wanted to help artist in this area build themselves up and give them that extra push. I noticed when I started the blog in 2007 that there were a lot of music blogs out there but being that they're so big they get flooded, and the internet is important to build your buzz and get your name out there so we needed something locally to be a breathing ground for our local artist to build their buzz up and get their name out so I started DCMumboSauce.
WI: Over the years you have received several awards, which are you most proud of?
DJ Heat: I would probably have to say when I won three DMV awards in 2009, I won "Most Supportive DJ", "Most Supportive Radio Personality" and "Most Supportive Media Person", that was important to me because it's the fact that I was nominated for all of those categories and I won them all, and I believe in being genuine so I never campaigned for it or asked for people to vote for me, it just let me know that so many people in this area recognize what I do.
WI: The Red Bull Thre3 Style is like the battle of all battles for DJ's, how did you find out you were selected and what did that feel like?
DJ Heat: A Red Bull representative for the area, Modi reached out to me and he told me about it, I attended it last year and I have always been a fan of the battle, so when he asked me what I thought about it, I said I would do it, I'm happy that they reached out to me and I feel honored to be the only female in the Red Bull battle so I plan to represent well.
WI: For the Red Bull Thre3 Style, you and the other DJ's will be judged on creativity, track selection, mixing skills, stage presence and crowd reaction, which of these, if any do you feel may be the most challenging to accomplish?
DJ Heat: I would probably say crowd reaction, that's always a challenge because all of those other things play a part in the crowd's reaction. And the type of DJ I am I pay attention to the crowd and how they react, you never want to be too off the wall and get blank faces, you have to pay attention to the crowd.
WI: What is your all-time favorite track to get the crowd hype?
DJ Heat: You kind of stumped me with that one because, its certain tracks that you can still play that you'd be shocked that people still react to like Shawty Lo's "They Know" when I drop that in the club people still get hype to that, and even Master P's "Hot Boyz" you know it's crazy but I guess it's like music is timeless, it just depends on the crowd, Monica's "Like this and Like That" still gets some crowds hype and when I did the event for the Delta's last weekend they loved all the old school music. I do so many different types of events and there's a lot of diversity so it really just depends on the crowd.
WI: What advice would you give to aspiring DJ's?
DJ Heat: I would have to say, to learn the craft the old fashioned way because now as DJ's we use laptops and we have Serato, and it's a gift and a curse to use the software that we use, for someone like me who started out carrying actual records and DJing with actual records, it's a gift because we don't have to carry around a bunch of records anymore. But for newer DJ's that are starting straight out on the software, they're lacking a lot of skills that you had to have as a DJ coming up, like they feel like they don't need head phones, they don't know how to beat match, you know a lot of simple things so I stress, learn the craft the old fashioned way, pretend like you don't have that laptop you need to learn the basics of being a DJ, it's not as easy as saying I have a laptop and I got music playing so now I'm a DJ.
WI: Who was your biggest inspiration?
DJ Heat: As far as DJ's, when I was coming up I was a big fan of a female DJ named DJ Lazy K from New York, she was one of the first mix tapes that I ever bought just for the fact that she was a female and I was like ok, here's a female hip-hop DJ and I was kid and I wanted to grow up and be like her, and I'm blessed to actually be friends with her now, Lazy K was definitely a big inspiration. I also like DJ Scratch, he's amazing! That man was born to deejay, and he would do it 24 hours if he could. If he walks into a room and there's a turntable there DJ Scratch would get on it and you literally have to pull him away and I admire that, he's deejayed for LL Cool Jay, Jay-Z, the man is just a legend.
WI: What does the future hold for DJ Heat?
DJ Heat: Continuing to pursue my latest passion which is music videos, being behind the camera, shout out to Cool Kids Forever Films, I've been interning with them since last summer, so hopefully I can add director to my name, so being behind the camera, hopefully being in front of the camera too but definitely my next step is being in the film and video world.
To hear more from DJ Heat, listen for her on Pablo and Free on WPGC 95.5 weekdays from 6:00a.m-10:00a.m, you can also check out her website: djheatdc.com or her award winning blog: dcmumbosauce.com. Follow DJ Heat on Twitter: @DJHeatDC