Interview by Black Dog Bone
You’re originally from San Francisco, but you’re in LA now?
Yeah, I just moved to LA. I actually just got back from Hawaii this morning.
What were you doing in Hawaii?
I did a tour in Hawaii, and I was shooting a music video for the song off my album “Baby Got Bass”, the Sir Mixalot parody. We did 6 days of shooting out there. We filmed on a boat and in three different clubs. We went to the jungle and did this whole rainforest shoot. And I know a lot of fire spitters out there, so we did this big fire performance. It was epic. And I did a little tour, played Maui, Honolulu, and the big island.
That’s sounds amazing, like a tribal theme with the fire and the jungle.
Tribal, but also sort of Burning Man, club style. It also has some urban elements. One of the places where we filmed is a club with this great graffiti art on the walls. It’s partially tribal and partially hip urban club culture.
How did you get into deejaying? There aren’t too many female DJ’s out there. Did it call on you?
It definitely called on me. My music journey was a hobby that took over. I was originally involved in comedy and film. I was a comedy writer and screenwriter. A boyfriend that I had was a DJ. I bought my first piece of equipment, a Roland 505 sampler, and I put a bunch of movie samples on it and would do vocals and rap a little bit. I just started playing music every night, and it was my favorite thing to do. I started emceeing with a lotta DJ’s in the Dubstep and Glitch-Hop world in LA. Then I started collecting more hardware equipment. I bought a synthesizer, and a mixer with effects. Even though I was pursuing an acting/writing path, my music kept growing and growing. Finally I went with it completely.
Did somebody teach you how to work with all this equipment, or you just figured it out?
I’ve been taught by some amazing people. When I first started doing it we had a group of friends who would get together and jam all the time. There’s definitely some pioneers with the hardware gear—Novatron is one and Atomic Dog and Zapper, who is actually my partner right now. He’s taught me quite a bit on the equipment. When I first started I just got together with this group of musicians and we’d have these big jams where we would daisy-chain one box to another. You would come into a room and there’d be all this hardware equipment, mostly Korg equipment, that we would play. I learned from jamming with and watching other people. I slowly started building my own sets and started to play on my own. The more equipment I got, the easier it was to do this. Each box is like a member of your band. One box is like your drummer and another box is your bass player, and your effects processor is like your vocalist. When you start off and just have one box, you’re just one member of a band. I slowly became a full on band. And with my comedy background, I think what makes my performance different is that I do the live vocals. I do kinda funny, sexy, character vocals. It’s the contrast of seeing a cute girl doing these raps and at the same time making all the music with the machines and knobs and cables and all that.
So you’re a cute girl?
All girls are cute. I think that’s what we bring, we bring cuteness to the situation. Especially in male dominated scenes. Electronic music is very male dominated. I think the female element is a great addition, especially when we stay true to being girls. We’re not trying to do it their way, we do it our way. I think it’s so necessary. I get inspired by other girls, who get inspired by me, vice versa. So often you go to a party and it’s one guy after another deejaying. Even just seeing a girl up there is inspiring.
In the Rap world it’s so refreshing to see artists like M.I.A. and Santigold. They’re more cutting edge than most of the music that’s going on.
It’s true and they bring an incredible voice that hasn’t been heard before. M.I.A. is a great example of somebody who blew it up. She brought not only a culture, but a very female empowered voice to the table. I say the same thing about Princess Superstar. She’s one of my heroes. I’d never heard her music until someone mentioned that I sound a little like her. When I heard her stuff I was so excited.
It’s a good time for women in music right now. A lot of women are bringing a female perspective and keeping it playful and very creative. That’s what you’re doing.
Yes. And I feel blessed to have the electronic background. It gives me a lot of control over my sound, because I’m make the beats myself and I’m making them on the spot. That feels good. I hope to inspire more girls to get involved with the music, get your hands dirty with the gear and learn how to do it.
When you perform you don’t just play your tracks from the computer?
When I play live I don’t like to hide behind the computer at all. It’s all live hardware creation. And it all comes out different every time. I write the bass lines and the loops and the rhythms ahead of time. But then when I perform live it’s all being mixed on the spot. If the crowd doesn’t like it fast, I can turn it down, make it slower.
Each time you do a song it comes out different?
Yeah. I have lyrics and everything the same, but it comes out different.
You’re like an electronic one-man-band. What effects do you use on your voice?
I use a few different effects. I have the Kaoss Pad and then I have the Roland sampler. Basically it’s pitch shifting and looping, and then a Vocoder. The Vocoder does the robot voice. From my comedy background I love to play characters, so a lotta my songs I’ll sound like a dude or I’ll sound like a robot girl or like a little girl. I can really play the characters with the effects that I use. I’ll probably end up adding more effects as time goes by.
In one box you have many different effects you can use?
Yes. I have a hundred different effects that I can use in my Kaoss Pad, and I have 26 on my sampler. And because I pride myself on being a lyricist, I really work on my lyrics intensely, so I want people to understand what I’m saying too. There’s such as thing as overkill with the effects and making it too crazy. You’ve got to find that balance.
How do your lyrics come about?
I usually have an idea for a story. Like my song “I Text Myself”, which is a parody, the chorus just kinda came to me. Then the lyrics came about because I wanted to tell the story of being online and having these online romances. You get this internet world where you have a crush on somebody online and you see who’s posting on their page. It’s this whole new culture. So I create this whole story and put myself in there as a character. I used to freestyle a lot more, but now all my songs start with an idea and a story and I start rhyming from there.
Are there a lot of female DJ’s doing something like you’re doing?
There’s a great girl DJ culture happening, especially in the Bay Area. Some of the best Dubstep DJ’s. There’s a crew called Redline. A couple of the DJ’s there, Ultraviolet and Kozee, two of the movers and shakers in the Dubstep scene were girls. Another DJ Laura has been a big influence in the Burner Glitch-Hop scene. There’s getting to be more and more of them. DJ Shawna, Ill-Esha, Lotus Drops, Smasheltooth, they’re all bringing their voices to the picture. Ill-Esha and Hopscotch are two producers who do live vocals with their music. It’s incredible.
“Slutstep” is your first album. How do you get the money to do videos in Hawaii and everything you’re doing?
It really comes from live shows. Most people put out a CD and then they tour. But because I have a good live set, I first started by playing live sets. It’s taken me a few years to actually put out an album. I started out making a hundred bucks here and there. Then I eventually was able to get booked everywhere and make a living at it. People would ask me if I have an album, and I’d be like, I’m working on it. I finally had to take some time off to finish the album. I’m one of the few artists to have a live career before releasing anything on CD.
How would you define Dubstep Music? It’s like a whole separate movement from Rap or anything else.
The Dubstep movement has been really interesting, especially watching it blow up and watching people’s reactions to it. It’s really different from what it started out as 5 or 6 years ago. It’s original roots in San Francisco were more on the Dub side, less on the aggressive, Brostep tip. I think now what people are calling Dubstep is very broad. I think there’s a movement of Bass music that incorporates Dubstep and Glitch-Hop, anything that has a heavy bass to it. What’s interesting the reactions people have to Dubstep. Some people when they see my album “Slutstep” they reject it just because they don’t like Dubstep. To them Dubstep is the rude aggressive music and they don’t understand its roots. But Dubstep like 10 years ago was really different. It’s much more simple and Dub-like. It’s interesting to see the movement evolve and hit the mainstream.