Pulling the Curtains Back on Scratch's Curated Talent Network: Women Who Rock the Decks

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Being a DJ requires musical talent, a keen understanding of the audience, and the ability to create a vibe that can captivate and entertain. Lori, K-la-V, and Nikki X are three inspiring female DJs who have made a name for themselves in this highly competitive industry through their dedication, hard work, and unique styles.

Despite the common misconceptions that DJs are just button pushers or that women cannot succeed in this male-dominated industry, Lori, K-la-V, and Nikki X have proven that talent and passion are the keys to success. Each has their own story of how they got started in DJing and what motivates them to keep pushing the boundaries and taking risks in their performances.

In this feature, we will explore their journeys, their favorite clients and events, their challenges, and the advice they would give aspiring DJs. Get ready to be inspired by these remarkable women who have been stand-out performers from the curated Scratch talent network year after year.

DJ Lori - Chicago, IL

How did you get started?

Find your passion, go with your gut and live your life. You will make history with your positive vibes.

I was with a friend in a local nightclub in the suburbs of Chicago, and I was bored by the whole scene of partiers drinking. I turned my head to check out the male DJ spinning 12" vinyl (aka records).

Watching him, and with my ever-tomboyish mind, it was instantly I decided that I wanted to learn because I was so intrigued by the skills of it all - making it a new hobby to fill my time. Eventually, I met two local male DJs at a then-popular record store called Taurus Records in Hammond, IN, and they came over to my apartment to listen to my mixing skills. The shocked looks on their faces when they heard me mixing was priceless. It was then I knew I chose the right career 😃. They hired me right on the spot, and the following week, I got my first gig DJing at Pepe's Mexican restaurant/social bar in Calumet City, IL.

What is your personality behind the decks?

(Pass the good vibes: people remember how you made them feel)

With the different types of DJ gigs out there these days, many times I find that a certain personality behind the decks is mandatory to help create a vibe for that event. A mall store gig typically is not going to require an energetic DJ hyping the crowd with super high energy music and emceeing like a nightclub or festival DJ, but it still requires a positive energy for the store for shoppers to want to stay and shop.

Overall, having a positive attitude with a smiling face towards customers, with that fun shoulder/neck/head bobbing dancing vibe added, makes a big difference for me, for people, and the store, of course. They say that a simple smile changes your mental state and your body reacts to it, so I always have a smile on my face for me and for people.

Favorite / most common false trope you’ve heard as a DJ?

When people generally ask me about the worst thing about my career as a DJ, the first thought that crosses their minds is that they assume that I hate taking requests. Actually, the opposite is true!

Taking requests lets me see what kind of music people are thinking of and wanting, so it can help to create the right vibe for an event. It then boils down to me using my expertise of putting the music together in the right way. Taking requests helps me to keep up-to-date on current music too. Industry music charts are never accurate in what music people actually want or listen to, so taking requests is always a great way to know what music people really listen to.

Another one is that some people assume my job as a DJ is always about fun; they never know about the scenarios behind the decks or off-the-job. There’s social media, handling the business side of the career, dealing with people in the industry, and the unique ways customers, fans, family, and friends are affected by my career. Think about it - our jobs as DJs are not your typical 9am-5pm, it's mostly a 9pm-5am job! With that comes challenges and negatives, but it also provides immense experience on how to deal with people, which is a super valuable skill that applies to life in general.

Favorite Scratch client/events?

All of them, truly!

I really love representing Scratch. Having the opportunity to spin for huge Fortune 500 corporations is such a thankful privilege to me, and I am super grateful for it.

Being a huge tomboy all my life, sports is a huge part of my life (softball, volleyball, competitive swimming). Having the opportunities to represent a respected sports brand like Adidas or even Monster Energy gives me the feeling I'm being a part of history, too, because of the brand's own rise to fame and fortune. By adding our skills as DJs to their brand, we are adding a social interaction on an entertainment level that brings the brand to a higher level. Especially if the brand came from humble beginnings, like I did, it really is satisfying knowing I am respected enough to represent Scratch and the iconic brands they have as clients.

DJ K-la-V - San Francisco, CA

How did you get started?

The seed was planted the night my music director friend invited me to a Far East Movement show and afterparty. I watched in awe as DJ Virman (the DJ in Far East Movement) tore up the stage. His DJ set was epic. At that time, electronic dance music was just hitting it big in the states, and he played the most creative Hip-Hop/EDM DJ set I had ever heard. I was so inspired!

Before being hired by Scratch Event DJs I had taken initial steps to pursue a career as a DJ, and I made substantial progress in the music scene. I was performing in my own group - D.D.M.C (DJ, Drummer, Emcee). We performed at Coachella, Kansas City, and several other shows. Following the disbandment of D.D.M.C, I was hired to perform with Rostrum Records recording artist Vali. Our performances included KIIS FM's Weekend Mixtape show, SXSW in Austin, Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg, and the Roxy Theater. I was also hired to DJ for Leon Thomas from the Disney Channel. It has been a journey filled with successes and failures, but my experiences have strengthened my resolve as a DJ.

What is your personality behind the decks?

As a DJ, your personality behind the decks is just as important as your technical skills. It's not enough to simply know how to mix and match tracks; you need to be able to read the room and make adjustments based on crowd energy. This requires an understanding of 'vibe' - being able to sense when people are getting bored or excited and responding accordingly. To do this well, you'll need a sixth sense that allows you to accurately assess the mood in order for you to adjust your set accordingly. Additionally, if you're spinning for an artist or group, it's also important that you act as their hypeman/woman by jeering up the crowd and repeating key phrases during live performances. All these components together create an engaging personality behind the decks that will keep crowds entertained!

Favorite / most common false trope you’ve heard as a DJ?

Most people don’t care as much as you think they do. Unless you’re playing to a room of DJs who tend to critically listen for DJ transitions and song selections, know that most people aren’t paying that much attention to you unless you’re calling out for it. As long as you have a great song selection for the type of event you are playing, and your transitions aren’t abrupt and distracting, most people will not be thinking much about the DJ. This even goes for web parties on Twitch and Zoom.

Favorite Scratch client/events?

I love working with really fun and dope brands. I’ve gotten a lot of free clothing and merchandise from brands. Also, working on really neat initiatives like getting people out to vote, the unveiling of a new tech product, promoting women’s rights, employee appreciation, and working with schools is really cool. I do a variety of events that have led me to meet some really awesome people, as well as led me to do some really cool things.

DJ Nikki X - Chicago, IL

How did you get started?

First and foremost, all my friends were DJs and every time we would hang out they would be practicing. I felt left out and asked them to teach me. Honestly, some of them were reluctant, but I was determined to learn. I forcefully made them teach me and 2 weeks later I was booked! It ended up turning into one of my biggest passions and loves in my life.

What is your personality behind the decks?

I try to be as outgoing and welcoming as possible. I know my job is to make people feel as happy and excited as I can, so I keep that as my first priority, and match my personality according to that vibration.

Favorite / most common false trope you’ve heard as a DJ?

I honestly do not have one haha.

Favorite Scratch client/events?

I love all of them so much! Every event has been exciting and unique in its own way. I meet so many awesome people through these events. They are all equally awesome.

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