Got the pleasure of chatting with Nicole Lyn Hill aka Dj. Ms. Nix, Whom I met at her house party a couple of years ago. I was in awe of her beauty. She was sweet and pleasant. She grooved and danced all night with the guests. You could feel the love for music in their midst, so I guess I’m not entirely shocked that she is now a DJ. Read her intriguing story…
Can you tell us a little about you?
I grew up in Toronto and Jamaica, and started showing signs of an art and performance addiction at an early age. I was dancing at 3, acting at 7 and enrolled in a school for the performing arts at 9. By the time I was 12, it was pretty clear I was going to have a life in entertainment. I’ve always felt very alive, and most like myself when creating and performing.
How did you get into deejaying?
Well, I don’t play an instrument (and I’ve been advised on more than one occasion NOT to sing) but I’ve always had an insatiable appetite for music, and an itch to express my appreciation of it. Thanks to the help of some really cool, generous people; namely my peeps at L.A.’s Scratch Academy, and Derrick “D-Nice” Jones, I now have the ability to do that. Doing it professionally never occurred to me until I played a short set at my friends’ wedding, and recorded my first full-length mix. I started getting all this amazing feedback, and thought to myself “Okay, maybe I can take this show on the road!”
We’re starting to see a lot more female DJs showing up and getting respect. Do you think it’s still harder to break in being a woman?
That’s a question I get a lot, and it’s kind of a yes and no as far as I see it. There definitely still are more males than females in the industry. But at the same time, I feel like it’s thought of as a “novelty” more outside of the DJ community than within it.
As far as breaking in, whether you’re male or female, that’s all about finding your own style, claiming your niche and marketing yourself accordingly.
Do you think of yourself as a female DJ, or just a DJ? Is there a certain pride that goes with being a woman in the industry?
Certainly being a woman gives an essential quality to just about everything I do, including dee-jaying. And even though I’m proud of that, it’s not always at the forefront of my consciousness. However, I’d be lying if I said there aren’t times that I can see it’s clearly tripping other people out. Not just that I’m a “female DJ”, but that I’m actually pretty good at it. I don’t mind the thrown reactions, though. I like to surprise people.
I learned on vinyl, which is the only way to build a solid understanding of the craft. Any music lover will tell you vinyl is foundation, and such a significant part of the culture that it could never be completely replaced by all the other fancy stuff. And downloading an mp3 isn’t nearly as much fun as going out, digging around for hours, and leaving the store with a record you thought you’d never be lucky enough to find in your hands.
But the reality is digital is way more convenient, and has given deejays the luxury of being truly mobile. I use Serato, which is pretty much the industry standard. It’s what you referred to as a hybrid set-up – using a laptop, mixer & turntables.
You are also an actress, right? How do you juggle both?
They complement each other really well, actually. I see them both as storytelling, so it’s great to be able to have more than one outlet to flex my creative muscles. And both give me latitude with my time and schedule.
As a DJ, do you have a taste in music/preference?
I love 70’s & 80’s soul. About half of it was made before I was born, but I’ve always felt connected to it. Could be residual influence from the records my dad had around the house when I was growing up. He was a DJ, and had all the good stuff. I have vivid memories of being in my living room, dancing my little butt off to his records! Even now, the songs that I have an immediate reaction to usually have that funky, soulful vibe.
What are you feeling, or what goes through your creative mind when you are mixing?
Wow. That’s hard to articulate! I’m feeling…the music, I guess. I try to hear and feel it, in a new way every time. Even if it’s a song I’ve played a hundred times, there’s always something – a rhythm, a bass line, a lyric – could be anything, that moves me and sparks the impulse of where to go next. It’s similar to acting in that way – when you’re truly listening and in the moment, it’s fresh and exciting every time. I’d liken it to a combination of free association and connect the dots. And when it’s really flowing, it’s such a high.
What online tools have helped you break out and grow your audience? HypeM.com? Facebook? Myspace? Twitter? Anything?
PodOmatic has been a great way for me to share my mixes and build an audience. Facebook and Twitter are handy for getting the word out – where I’m playing or if I have a new mix to download.
What blogs do you think we should all check out to find great tracks?
There are A LOT! It’s crazy how accessible new music is today. A few of my favorites are: okayplayer, ihearditon, earmilk, onsmash…the list goes on. Hype Machine is a great aggregator, offering an all you can eat buffet by pulling from these and many other sites.
There is however, a gaping hole in the music blogosphere, in my opinion. I have yet to find a current, consistent, quality reggae music site. There are some that feature Caribbean lifestyle & culture, but are pretty light on actual music coverage & reviews. It’s a shame, because there is a growing audience out there and the artists could really benefit from it as well.
Do you have mixed tapes available for sale?
I have mixes posted at www.ms-nix.podOmatic.com. They’re available to stream or download via iTunes, and they’re free for your listening pleasure.
Where do you spin/Where can people find you doing your thing?
I’ll be all over this summer, which I’m excited about. Right now you can catch me weekly at the W Hollywood on Tuesday nights. And you can always get updates on my Twitter & Facebook profiles.
Follow Ms. Nix here..