Artists in their own words: DJ Soul Sister
Who: DJ Soul Sister of New Orleans
What: Performing at the BUKU Music + Art Project Saturday, March 11 (VIP S.S. BUKU)
Artist’s chosen location for Interview: High Hat Cafe (4500 Freret Street) where we both started with a bowl of gumbo and an iced tea.
Q: Who is someone you think about even though you’ve never met them?
MW: Oddly enough, I’ve met almost everyone I’ve ever wanted to meet.
Oh, yes. I know who. I’ve always wanted to meet DJ Spinderella. When I was in eighth grade, that was when Yo! MTV Raps debuted on MTV, and I always have to explain how rap music and rap videos were not so widely available how they are now, so this show was a big deal. When I was in eighth grade, the only way to watch rap videos was on BET, or on MTV, and on MTV, you got them for only one hour a week on Saturday nights from 9:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
Saturday night is usually when teenagers are going out, so you have to be very dedicated to stay home on a Saturday night to watch those videos, and I would do it. Spinderella, Salt ‘N Pepa’s DJ, is the first woman that I ever saw dealing with records and DJing.
I had been dealing with records, meaning collecting, for awhile because I liked them so much, but the concept of DJing with records was nowhere in my realm. I was always interacting with records. My dad had a nice record collection, and I would go around picking them up, putting them in their sleeves, or organizing them.
When I saw Spinderella in that realm--with records and mixing them--as a woman Djing, I thought ‘I can do that.’ I was a music lover, and she was the first female visual icon I had, even though the concept of being a DJ was not in my mind at that point.
Also, I would have loved to have met Teena Marie. We used to communicate on social media. We would tweet each other, and this was on direct message level. It would always be about music, and a couple of times, it was even more than that. I revere Teena Marie. I love her. I played a party that she was a part of, but I never got to meet her in person.
I will always have the magic of Teena with me, though.
Q: When do you know it's time to leave a place or an event?
MW: When it’s no longer comfortable. Whenever I throw an event, I never just show up to only DJ. If I am doing a set or if it is a “Soul Sister presents” event, I check out and try to control everything I can. The temperature of the room. The ambiance of the room. The promotion. The number of people that are let in. All of that contributes to the enjoyment of an event. I want the bar to follow capacity laws because if people are packed in like sardines and they can’t feel comfortable or can’t move then that’s not enjoyable for anyone.
If I go to someone else’s event, and those elements are off then I don’t find myself able to really relax. And if the sound is bad, I will leave within three seconds. [Laughing].
That even flows over into restaurants for me. If I’m at a soul food restaurant and they’re playing country music, I’m like, ‘I gotta go. I gotta get out of here.’ That doesn’t vibe with me. [Laughing].
Q: What is something you wish was never invented?
MW: Jim Crow laws.
Q: What class would you like to take now rather than in elementary or high school?
MW: I don’t know if it was a class or a club, but my high school, which was Cabrini, gave a class in auto mechanics. You learn how to change your oil or change a tire. I wish I could take that class, so I could stop being beholden to people today.
We all need that education. I think about the fact that Cabrini is an all-girls high school, and those are such great skills because you have to deal with all this sexism when you go into the mechanics. I was at the tire place, and I was having some kind of issue with my tires, and the clerk asked me, ‘Don’t you have a husband, brother, or boyfriend that you could call?’ and I thought, ‘Why don’t you just help me? That’s why I’m here.’ [Laughing].
Q: How would you finish this phrase, “The least we can do is…”
MW: The least we can do is have fun. [Laughing]. That is a phrase I have learned to shape life around. When I was growing up I was always shy and reserved. I absolutely loved playing with Barbies, and I had all the Barbie accessories --the Barbie Dream House, the pool, everything. My favorite thing to do with my Barbies, though, was to transform them into disco style, and this is in the early 80s, you see. I made my own flag that I would fly on top of the Barbie Dream House, and that would let everyone know that it was disco time.
In my adult life, though, I eventually threw all the shyness and reserve out of the window because why live like that? We are here to live life to the fullest and enjoy ourselves and each other.
The way that we do that is by having fun together.
Even in these very strange times that we are in right now, there is still such a thing as joy. We have to remember that. Those who came before us had so much to deal with, and there has to be a balance between those struggles and the joy that we find in life. And you have to find that joy.
And life gets better as we get older, I really believe that. People will tell you, ‘oh, high school is the best time of your life’ or ‘prom is the best time of your life,’ but I never believed that. What does that say to a young person? Once you are eighteen everything is downhill? That never made sense to me.
Another lie that they tell you is that once you turn forty everything goes downhill, but my life has only gotten better and more fun. I am the queen of late bloomers. When I got older, a lot of things started to unfold for me. The milestones. Maybe I was more prepared for those moments.
DJ Soul Sister will perform at Mardi Gras World on Saturday, March 11 at 4:15 p.m. as part of the Buku Music + Art Project 2017. You can also check her out weekly for her “DJ Soul Sister Presents Hustle Saturdays” every Saturday at the Hi-Ho Lounge (2239 St. Claude) starting at 11:00 p.m. For even more, tune into WWOZ (90.7) on Saturdays from 8:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. for her show “Soul Power.” You can learn more about DJ Soul Sister by following her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
BUKU Music + Art Project is a quirky boutique event that delivers a big festival punch without compromising its underground house-party vibe. Tucked right in the heart of New Orleans’ Lower Garden District, BUKU’s intimate industrial setting fits perfectly with the festival’s fusion of relevant EDM, hip-hop and indie rock. From the signature BUKU Graffiti Wall to the classic New Orleans food to the dozens of pop-up street performers and art exhibits brought on-site, BUKU blends the rich traditions of New Orleans with the progressive attitude of our attendees, and has become a reflection of the creative, youthful culture that is fueling the new New Orleans.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.