Queens of the Crossfade – “S.O.S” – Australia’s Pioneering Female DJ Collective!

SOS 2

Introducing S.O.S – Sydney’s Original SpinSisters. An inspiring collective of Sydney’s top pioneering female hip hop DJ’s Ms Hennessey, DJ D and Flygirl Tee. As individual entities in the urban music industry in Australia, these three women have held their ground and come up in the ranks against a strong masculine environment still very prominent in the Hip Hop DJ community, carving respected names for them within the industry.

Holding residency’s at some of the city’s hottest nightclubs, the ladies have played to capacity crowds ranging from 100 to 1000+ in nightclubs throughout Australia and the world, New York, Miami, The Middle East and Sicily to name a few. Not just content with the title of club DJ, they have successfully carved their own unique niches within the greater urban community that sees them branch off into singing, producing and hosting radio shows, from running record labels to penning the Australian Urban Music Industry’s first ever Hip Hop chronicle.

Joining forces as a collective being launched as part of “Graephotography’s Low N Slow Exhibition” at The National Grid Gallery on 20th April 2013 ( the first in a series of exhibitions showcasing those at the forefront of our local urban culture),  these women are force to be reckoned with individually and will be combining their spin power in an 1-hour long three – female DJ set as part of the urban showcase being held at the exhibitions opening night. History in the making and long overdue! They are fierce, beautiful, talented and passionate about the hip hop industry they represent and celebrate with pride at being Sydney’s reigning Queens of the Crossfade. S.O.S are stepping out from the shadows and ready to step up the ante for female DJ’s Australia wide! Here comes the BOOM!!

DJ Ms Hennessey

Ms Hennessey pic

As one of the hardest working women in Australia’s urban music industry, South African born hip hop DJ /Music Journalist Maxine Johns a.k.a Ms Hennessey is testament to the fact that hip hop is as much a woman’s world as it is for men. With over 15 years in the Australian Urban Music Community, Ms Hennessey has gone from hosting and producing her highly respected and ground-breaking hip hop radio show ‘Clubflavas’ on pioneering community radio station 2RDJ 88.1FM in Sydney’s inner west for over a decade, ending the show back in 2007. From radio she merged flawlessly into the nightclub arena and fast became one of the hottest female DJ’s in the scene, holding residency at Australia’s No 1 Old School R&B / Hip Hop nightclub for 8 years running – the formidable Red Room at The Chambers Hotel in Sydney. Spinning to capacity crowds every weekend has also seen Ms Hennessey take her one woman show and dj for clubs overseas ( Sicily) and nationally ( Melbourne, Perth), placing her at the helm of the urban music scene in Australia.

In August of 2012 Ms Hennessey launched her first blog page dedicated to interviews captured with a host of local and international Urban Music personalities, reality TV stars, music producers, artists and overall tastemakers in the industry. With over 10 years music journalist experience under her belt Maxine Johns aka Ms Hennessey has written on and continues to document the past, present and future role that the Australian Urban community plays on the global stage.

What made you want to become a DJ and how long ago did your journey start? Where was your first gig?

I started my dj career on radio some 12 years ago hosting my weekly Hip Hop show called ‘Clubflavas’ on respected community radio station 2RDJ-88.1FM, at a time when there weren’t many females on urban radio in Australia. My first show however was at the most awful timeslot of 2-5am playing a fusion of Dance / Hi Energy & R&B …..oil and water in my opinion back then but it’s amazing to me now that the two go hand in hand with the mix up music happening today. I worked my butt off to get a sought after 6-8pm timeslot where I was able to solidify myself and my radio show as a premier urban music show. I was blessed to have had ‘Clubflavas’ run for as long as it did (10 years) and I got to help break many dj’s and local artists into the scene by having them on my show and supporting their music. The international artists appeared in droves and truly solidified for me now, when I look back,  on how important and defining that radio show was for my journey in Hip Hop!

The merge to club dj was pure coincidental due to the success of my radio show and my playlists I was asked to appear at a club opening night and when word got out that I was on the club circuit I was totally surprised by the love and support I got. My first official gig as DJ Ms Hennessey was for the opening night of a club called Red Room at The Chambers Hotel some 8 years ago and I am proud to say I still hold that residency today and couldn’t be prouder to be a part of Red Room’s longevity.

Can you describe the feeling you get as a female DJ when you are rocking the club and people come up to the DJ booth and realise there was a woman behind the decks? Do you get the surprised looks or do you think female DJ’s becoming more on a norm in the music industry now?

I always have nervous energy coursing through my veins before any set I do – whether it be my resident night or if I am travelling around Australia – nerves are nerves and I believe this is what can make or break your set. I channel my nerves into a shot of adrenaline and once I step on that platform and place my headphones on its game time. Seeing the reaction of people’s faces when I dj is often one I take with mixed emotion …..more often than not the guys are really into it and totally impressed that a female is rocking the crowd, coming up and high fiving or giving a thumbs up if you drop the right track at the right time. Women, I have noticed over the years have gotten better at showing their emotion towards a female dj – in the early days we could have been likened to an alien being on display where the crowds just stand and stare and scratch their heads in disbelief ( lol ) – today however woman are coming up and shaking hands, praising our skills and taking Instgram photos so it’s definitely becoming much more the norm now and almost treated with grand reserve when they see a woman actually working behind the DJ decks – not just standing there pressing the play button.

The artist / song / DJ that inspired you to DJ and why?

I have a three pronged response for this question. The first one would have to be Jay Z ….Jigga has always been a great inspiration to me as an artist for how he carries himself and Hip Hop in general, and the next artist would be Queen Latifiah. Gosh to be able to be the opening DJ for a Queen Latifah show  is something I stash in my bucket list and manifest good thoughts and prayers towards ( lol ) – her drive, her focus and her attitude as a strong female in this industry is something that truly resonates with me. The song that inspired me – now that’s a little challenging to answer as it’s never been any one song, more like a genre of music that has inspired me to DJ and that genre would have to be a fusion between Hip Hop and Soul – something about blending the two together has always made sense to me, both on the air and on the decks. The DJ that inspired me and still does to this day is DJ Premier. From his beats to his philosophy, Primo is the definitive Hip Hop DJ and continues to teach and inspire me with every step my own DJ journey takes. In the words of the formidable KRS-One “Rap is something you do – Hip Hop is something you live!”

DJ D

DJ D pic

DJ D is synonymous for her style, passion and knowledge of music, crowd rocking and vinyl spinning and has seen her garner a legion of fans throughout the years, following her like the pied piper of Hip Hop. Her sets are filled with the hottest music, perfect fusions of past hits, current bangers and eternal classics mixed with precision as only DJ D can. Staying true to her art, she prides herself on her vinyl scratch technique and continues to wow the crowds rocking clubs all around the country in her 4 inch designer heels, ne’er breaking a sweat!

Devoted to her craft and our urban music community, DJ D has added radio presenter to her already impressive resume and spearheads the much talked about and listened to thrice weekly radio show Mixxbosses, Wed 7-9pm on community radio station 2RDJ 88.1FM (Radio2RDJ.com) locally and internationally, then broadcast from the USA via ladyspinstersdjs.com on Fri 7-9pm and Sun nights from 7-9pm (USA). Working tirelessly to create the MixxBosses brand to include DJ crews, mix-tape production and recording label, DJ D has her eyes firmly focused on being more than just a good looking female that knows how to rock a crowd. She is solidifying herself in a game that is still at times emasculating and breaking the façade about the DJ booth being just for the boys. From one female dj to another I got nothing but love and respect for what she continues to achieve for her fellow females spin sisters!

Can you describe the feeling you get as a female DJ when you are rocking the club and people come up to the DJ booth and realise there was a woman behind the decks? Do you get the surprised looks or do you think female DJ’s becoming more on a norm in the music industry now?

My response to this question has definitely changed over the years.
Back in my early days of spinning in the clubs, when everything was vinyl, the female factor was met with a lot of opposition, strange looks from patrons, and even comments such as ‘check out that chick, what the heck is she going to do up there?’ My response came through the decks with some tight scratching & beat juggling; this would usually result in jaws dropping, shocked expressions and moments later, high fives, along with comments such as ‘I’ve never seen a chick cut like that before’.

These days it is a different experience, I get a lot of ‘you’re not really doing that’, and when they take a moment to come up and investigate ‘are you really doing that? You couldn’t possibly be doing that with vinyl it’s too perfect,’ to which I’ll use my old tricks and do a quick scratch/beat juggle, ‘OMG she’s really doing it!’.

Your radio show Mixxbosses on 2RDJ-88.1FM has proven very popular with listeners and newcomers alike. What do you think makes your show different from the other music shows on air and what do you think the appeal to your show would be in attracting your listeners?

Simply put, we don’t just play music. There is a lot of ‘edumacation’ going on through each and every episode including our flash back segment where we feature well know tracks and the originals that they sampled, the current urban charts around the globe, the week’s headlines in urban music news, and guest DJs and Artists worldwide that almost always have a story to tell. I’m sure the double pass giveaways to weekly club events also help J and those that tune in know that we love to play real rnb and hip hop tunes, and old skool. We also have Mixxbosses Radio Germany, and will be working on shows in other countries in the near future.

Your poison? Serato, CD’s or straight vinyl DJ? Your thoughts on the technology of djing today?

Straight vinyl, hands down. Nothing will ever be able to replicate it exactly – from the instant reaction, to the solid feel. I’m a visual person, and often terrible with names, so I also really miss those picture covers that would save me in the club each and every time – when I couldn’t remember the title of a track or artist name, I’d always remember the bpm or the way the cover looked, that is was ‘the one with the red label’ etc.

Flygirl Tee

Flygirl Tee

Flygirl Tee has been a formidable part of the DJ spectrum in Sydney for years, holding her ground in an all-male DJ crew and going on to build an enviable career as one of the industries finest hip hop DJ’s. Don’t let her diminutive size fool you. Her extensive knowledge of urban music and its surroundings have given her the edge to create playlists and mixes that are larger than life, allowing Tee to be more of a performer than DJ. She has Dj’d for MTV, Sony Music, Pioneer, EA games as well as the NRL Grand Finals 2010 & Nickelodeon Kids choice Awards as pop princess Jessica Mauboy’s Official DJ.

She has been booked to support some of the world’s biggest international acts & after-parties such as Snoop Dogg, T-Pain, Ne-yo, Chris Brown, Akon, Ice Cube, Pitbull, Evermore and more, with Grammy Award winning Hip Hop artist T-Pain, inducting Flygirl Tee as one of his own Nappy Boy DJ’s.

Flygirl Tee has perfected her DJ skills to the point of packing out dance floors, using a mix of the freshest  R&B, Hip Hop music, fused with the sounds of old school, electro & dubstep remixes to keep the dance floor bouncing. She is a risk taker and a pushes the envelope when it comes to the common perception of the female DJ. Not one to be pigeonholed, Flygirl Tee is undoubtedly an A-List DJ packing both style and skill!!

What is your preferred music style to spin to Hip Hop / R&B?  What is it about the urban music genre that attracted you to DJ and keeps you grounded?  

I’m always attracted to melodies, whether it’s in a chorus, lyrics or riff in a beat, maybe it’s because I’ve loved singing since I could talk.. Whatever the genre, a good song, is a good song!  I love the energy Hip Hop brings, the beat, the confidence, swag, while I’m playing it or have on blast, it makes me feel like I’m invincible while listening to hip hop music hehe.  But  I love how RnB can bring the sexy or fun out of you at the clubs, or bring out the soulful or sadness behind closed doors..  I can’t choose between the two! Nope you can’t make me (laughs. It’s all about a combination of the music, songs &  artists that all help articulate a feeling or emotion I can relate!

Can you describe the feeling you get as a female DJ when you are rocking the club and people come up to the DJ booth and realise there was a woman behind the decks? Do you get the surprised looks or do you think female DJ’s becoming more on a norm in the music industry now?

OMG I don’t think I can describe the feeling, but it feels sooooo goooooooood! Lols especially when people make a point of checking out the Dj – that’s like a full on compliment coz it reaffirms that they’re having a good time & taking time out to know who the Dj is plus I’m helping contribute to somebody’s awesome night. Yeah that’s what happened with T Pain actually.. I happened to be Djing at Sin City in Gold Coast, the crowd was going nutz and he happened to be partying there the night before his gig.. He was loving the vibe/set, was coming to give props to the Dj anyway & realised the Dj was a lil Asian chick & was blown away.  They asked me to be part of his crew Nappy Boy Dj’s and yeah it’s an awesome feeling to be considered as good as other great guy Dj’s.

As a DJ what do you think your sole mission is in this journey called hip hop?

As a DJ I aim to inspire people through music.  Whatever it is you love to do, just do it.  I get to help create memories & good times doing what I love. I get to share the music I love with everyone  I get to do what makes my heart happy. Hip hop is about being real & true to yourself.

SOS

For more information about SOS DJ Collective visit these pages:

DJ D – : www.djdworldwide.com

Flygirl Tee – www.flygirltee.com

Ms Hennessey – www.mshennessey.com &  www.mshennesseyspeaksblog.com

SOS website coming soon …..

*(All Images in this article taken and supplied by Graephotography – www.graephotography.com  )*

Always Hip Hop

Maxine

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