THEHIPHOPDIVA.COM held a pretty lengthy conversation with DJ Shortee…here’s the abbreviated version.
HHD: You’ve been doing this for 15 years over different musical genres and you’re one of the best at what you do. It’s obvious with what you’re doing that you have a passion for music. Where does that passion stem from?
DS: I just really love music. As far as where the passion comes from for music in general, I think I was just born with it. My father is a composer and a musician and when I grew up I was playing drums, trumpet, violin, and all these different instruments. I got into DJing my early years in college. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else really I’m open to whatever. I also love jazz, funk, and soul music. I get a lot of inspiration from that rather than listening to electronic music or hip hop.
HHD: It’s tough as a female in hip hop and as a female DJ overall. In spite of all that you have still managed to accomplish so much. What would you say to others aspiring to follow in your footsteps to keep them motivated to achieve success and recognition in this field?
DS: Just do you. I didn’t set out to achieve certain goals because I wanted to be the first female. I didn’t know I would be the first. When you’re doing what’s most natural to you that’s when you start breaking through boundaries. When you do what you think everyone wants you to do that’s when you do what’s already been done. As far as things being difficult as a female DJ and producer, it’s not so much anymore as it used to be. There’s a lot of female DJs in hip hop now which is awesome. There’s still fewer that turn tables.
HHD: Your resume is quite impressive. You stated that you didn’t set out to be the first. When you first started DJing and you were thinking about your DJ career, what goals did you have? What did you envision your career being?
DS: I’m one of those people that’s along for the ride. I couldn’t have imagined back then what has actually happened. What could happen in the future is so much better than we could ever imagine. As far as I’m concerned I work my ass off and hopefully good will come from it. I knew I wanted to produce an album, but it wasn’t like I have to do it by this time. I just want to keep doing it and have security and have some amount of success. Now I’m thinking more practical. I come up with an idea for a project, I just wanna do it. I’m not very organized in my thinking.
HHD: You’ve DJed for tons of different crowds all over the world. Name an artist that you can play for any crowd and you know the crowd will go crazy for.
DS: Oh wow that’s a tough one. I don’t know if there is an artist that you can play for all scenes. Maybe Blackeyed Peas. They were underground, now they’re very commercial. They crossover. There are so many good artists that are like that and there are so many wack ones the crowd goes crazy for.
HHD: You have been recognized as the most diverse and technically skilled DJ in the world. You also teach at The Scratch DJ Academy and with the Grammy Foundation. Were you formally trained in what you do?
DS: In music yes, in DJing no. I’ve studied music theory. I’ve taken a lot of classes in music. So I have a lot of formal training in music and playing instruments. I was fortunate enough to learn some techniques from my boyfriend at the time who is now my husband, DJ Faust. When we met I was playing drums in a punk rock band. I thought, “He scratches, that’s easy. I play drums and he plays other people’s music.” I never seen anyone scratch like that. He was doing all of these intricate rhythms and I was really, really drawn to it. As he was teaching me there were no formal lessons. I would write the stuff down and write out the patterns, and remember it and learn it. Now it’s really organized. There’s curriculum, DVD series,and schools. So now people who take private lessons with me, or classes, or sessions, they can learn to DJ in a matter of weeks. It depends on how much they practice too. It’s invaluable and it’s helping the art form grow a lot faster.
HHD: You’ve toured the world with various artists. What is your most memorable experience and why?
DS: I am a Libra, I’m very indecisive. A good one would be touring on the We Be Girls Tour. DJing for such a wide range of emcees was really cool, all being female. A more not fun experience, let’s see…I’ve been strip searched in Indonesia. I’ve gotten my mixer broken in Israel by customs.
HHD: Is there any artist that you would like to work with that you haven’t had the opportunity to work with? If so, who and why?
DS: There are tons of people I haven’t worked with. Michael Jackson would have been amazing to work with. Stevie Wonder. Ray Charles. Blackeyed Peas, they touch so many people with their music. Artists like them who are more crossover, forward thinking. Any artist that wants to work with me.
HHD: Over the span of your carer you’ve seen the female emcee come up and take the spotlight. You’ve also seen her decline to where she is today. You’ve always kept your hands on the hottest music. Is the female emcee today still relevant? Why or why not?
DS: That’s like are emcees relevant, female or male? Are DJs relevant? Of course, they’re relevant. Female are relevant in any career. The female voice is different.
HHD: What upcoming projects do you have going on that we should be on the lookout to support?
DS: I have an electro album coming out, it’s called “Beat Freak”.
HHD: What is your definition of a hip hop diva?
DS: There’s good divas and there’s evil divas. A hip hop diva should be positive, forward thinking, powerful, very confident, good at what they do. You can’t be a diva and ask everyone to treat you like royalty if you’re not good at what you do. Be compassionate and lift others up. But a bad diva would be all whiney and doesn’t care about anyone but herself. That’s not a hip hop diva.
Check out “Supa Scratch”.
Go to www.djshortee.com for more info on DJ Shortee.
Check her feature article out on the Spotlight on Hip Hop Diva DJ Shortee page.