From rocking the stage alongside international hip hop heavyweights such as The Game, Bow Wow, MANN and Tyga to name a few, Melbourne’s DJ AK is in a league of her own. As one of the first female dj’s to learn the art of turntablism, both on CDJ’s and the turntables, musical versatility has been the number one priority on AK’s agenda, blending her love of hip hop old and new in a unique and powerful set that is always a crowd pleaser.
Having gained both national & international interest with her previous mixtape campaigns, she has also achieved industry respect for her ‘The Best of Both Worlds’ mixtape released in early 2010 which saw DJ AK touring Australia. Building her brand even further and dedicating her time to scoring support slots with almost every hip hop show that hit Australia’s shores, DJ AK has had the opportunity to open up for international acts such as Ne-Yo, T-Pain, Big Boi & Fatman Scoop at the Winterbeatz Concert 2010 to rocking the urban stage at the underage Goodlife Festival. She also tours internationally, rocking dance floors all over the world and spinning at clubs from the prestigious Belasco Theatre in LA, Heat Ultra in Anaheim California, the nightlife of Papua New Guinea and the nightclubs of Europe.
As her DJ roster continues to grow, so too does the demand for her skills on the wheels of steel from some of the biggest names in the game. Busy djing alongside the likes of Ja Rule, Snoop & Mac Miller, Sean Kingston & Eric Bellinger from Australia to the US and back again, DJ AK is living her dream as Australia’s Queen of the Hip Hop Decks. She is fearless, hardworking and focussed on fast tracking her career as one of Australia’s most renowned female hip hop DJ’s and staying constant in her grind. This is her story thus far …….
Hey AK – how are you and how has life been treating you?
I’m great thanks! Life’s good, busy but good can’t complain!
You have been a female hip hop DJ in the Melbourne community for a few years now and have built up a very successful career for yourself in the meantime. How has the journey been for you and what do you think has been the biggest lesson you have learnt about the DJ business?
I am based in Melbourne but I’ve been djing in Sydney for years as well. I have done heaps of guest spots there from Magic City to Trill to Marquee, I also have family in Sydney so I’ve visited Sydney multiple times a year my whole life I love it there. My journey has been tough it’s not an easy gig trying to make djing a full time career just like any other business it’s a risk and you have to work damn hard and be willing to make a lot of sacrifices, one of the biggest lessons has been that being a female will only get you so far and sometimes can even be a deterrent contrary to what many people (especially males in the industry) think.
What was your greatest motivation to becoming a DJ and who inspired you to perfect your craft and pursue your dreams?
I was always really passionate about music my parents had no idea where it came from because neither of them are musical, I wanted to sing I wanted to act I just wanted to entertain I knew I didn’t want to go to Uni and do a degree I wasn’t interested in to work in a job I didn’t want to work in so for a few years after school I explored I worked in retail while I dabbled in acting classes and then one day I was out with friends and I thought hey I could learn to dj, my friend was a dj and I said to him you should teach me! We had a laugh about it the next morning I text him ok so when can I come round for lessons? He didn’t realize I was being serious the night before so he was like ok… Well come over have a feel for the decks and if it’s something you like you’re going to have to buy your own and learn yourself because that’s the best way you’re going to develop your own style. So no one “taught” me to dj I had tips and things along the way from different people but predominately I learnt on my own.
What do you believe is the DJ’s biggest role in Hip Hop and what do you see your role as being in the urban music community in Australia?
Educating the people, with technology these days it’s really hard to bring in new music if the crowd doesn’t know it before it was all so easily accessible people looked to the DJ for new records new jams but these days people want to hear the top 20 hits that they know every word to so I try and slip in an old skool classic or a new song I think will be huge before they know it sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. But when I play a classic song that to me was the shit and the dance floor doesn’t react a bit of my heart breaks.
What do you love about being a DJ and how do you maintain consistency and relevance in an industry and music genre that keeps changing?
You know there are some nights when I just can’t be bothered I’m tired or whatever and I have to go to a gig it feels like work BUT then when I get there and I play my first track and the crowd are reacting and I’m making them feel that way I realize how lucky and blessed I am that of all of the djs this venue has not only chosen me to entertain their patrons for the evening but they’re paying me for it? It just feels like I’ve had a shot of energy it’s hard to explain being up on the stage and seeing how happy you’re making people. Staying relevant can be hard but I think as long as you’re genuine about loving what you do and willing to put in the work then you will always have work, also you have to spend money to make money I hate it when djs complain about female djs and their “photo shoots” yeh I spend money on doing new shoots ever 6-12 months because my pics get used for press and if someone’s never heard me play and all they’ve got to go off is a photo then I’m going to make it a damn good photo!! Then when they hear me play that can do the talking.
When did you first fall in love with hip hop?
I was about 13 or 14 at the time before that I didn’t mind whatever “hip hop” was on the radio but then one day my older brother who was obsessed with all things hip hop left a 2Pac cd behind in my room when he was using my computer so when no one was home I listened to it and I instantly fell in love there was no going back after that.
Your thoughts on the evolution of DJing as an art form to something that is now fused significantly with higher technology and software driven tools i.e.: Serato etc. )
I mean I do think in the scheme of things it’s a great thing I started out on CD’s and even that can be a pain carrying around and I remember times when there was 1 new song I wanted for my gig so I had to burn a whole cd just for the 1 song. I use Serato now and just having my whole music library at the tip of my fingers is amazing I don’t think I’d ever go as far as using just USB’s or anything like that I try to keep as true to the art form as I can using turntables when they’re available. But I just don’t think things like auto sync and Serato are good for people who are starting out and beginners in the industry you’re cheating yourself by not learning to beat match by ear I’m so glad I started out just before Serato was booming it was out but it wasn’t as popular as it is now so I had to learn to dj by ear which is one of the most valuable things you should know as a DJ.
What are your current projects / mixtapes etc?
At the moment my main focus is working on getting to the states, I’ve had a few opportunities that have presented themselves to me over there and that’s the main focus. In between gigs and day to day life I don’t really have time to focus on much else I’ve been doing a lot of interstates lately which takes it out of you, I just opened up for Bow Wow for the 2nd time this week and I’m opening up for O.T Genesis in July so there’s constantly something exciting happening.
Where can people catch you spinning these days?
On Friday’s I’m either at Trill at Marrakesh or Ciroq at CQ in Melbourne, Sundays I’m at Fabrique and then I do a whole bunch of guest spots, concerts and interstates in between.
Your motto in life?
Work hard play hard stay humble!
For more on DJ AK Official visit:
Always Hip Hop