Finding a good DJ is something that can be somewhat difficult to quantify. I mean, let’s be honest, DJs really only “stand out” when they’re making mistakes or making strange choices. The true DJs that we want at an event will hardly make their presence known through flawless mixing and seamless transitions.
This month, I’m here to put a face to someone OC Weekly voted Best DJ: DJ Yellow Black Bird. With a sound inspired by her community in Santa Ana, California, Yellow Black Bird manages to mix rock, soul, and hip-hop effortlessly.
I got the chance to talk to her about that very community and her experiences as a female DJ in a heavily male market.
Germ Magazine: Hello, and thank you so much for taking the time to speak with Germ! Let’s start with how you got into music and specifically DJing.
Yellow Black Bird: I started DJing because I didn’t hear anyone play the music I wanted to hear.
GM: How would you describe your style of mixing?
Yellow Black Bird: I would describe my style as storytelling.
GM: I know that you mix using vinyls. Is that a personal preference, and what exactly is the difference between using vinyl versus other mediums?
Yellow Black Bird: Vinyl was definitely a preference in the beginning and has remained so 10 years later. There is a price to pay when playing vinyl. Vinyl is heavy and requires a lot of care. The difference is huge for me. I get nervous if I don’t play vinyl.
GM: What makes a good DJ?
Yellow Black Bird: I believe that anyone can be a good DJ. Anyone can do what I do. It just happens to be me doing it. I say this often and have taught several people how to use turntables…someone was even named OC Weekly‘s Best of under the DJ category. The reason I believe that anyone can be a good DJ is because everyone has a story to tell.
GM: Who or what would you say inspires you?
Yellow Black Bird: I get so much inspiration from Santa Ana. When I was little, I would hear funk and freestyle from backyard parties, Bone Thugs and Harmony and Rap blast out of cars, Mexican Pop and Cumbias in the house, and lots of Morrissey via my teenage sister (which means I got my first taste of Moz in the third grade).
GM: Being a female in an overly male-dominated role, have you experienced any discrimination or backlash?
Yellow Black Bird: I definitely think that being female makes you an easier target for criticism in anything. I always make sure to set a precedent of “you will respect me” and “you will take me seriously.” Although I am pretty shy and don’t care for attention, I strongly believe that it’s my responsibility to be visible and represent women. I take what I do seriously and try my best to represent women well.
GM: Finally, what advice would you give to young creators (in music, art, writing, etc.)?
Yellow Black Bird: Be yourself and be unapologetic.
GM: Thanks again for agreeing to this interview. You’re doing some amazing things, and I can’t wait to see more from you!
Check out this summer-inspired playlist from DJ Yellow Black Bird:
[8tracks url=”http://8tracks.com/germmagazine/dj-yellow-black-bird-s-summer-playlist” width=”400″ height=”400″ ]
As always, if you know a local band that you think deserves some recognition, let me know, and I’ll check them out. Maybe you’ll see them on Germ in the future!