Candice McKenzie an up-and-coming DJ from England. Funky house music and mixing disco are her favs, and she’s working her way through countries around the world.
Citynet Magazine: Tell us about your youth.
Candice McKenzie: I was quite active as a child. I did gymnastics religiously and I was always playing out in the street with my friends. In my teens I got into football but that was because I fancied the players! I was always into music, from as long as I can remember. When I was young my dad used to record me singing nursery rhymes! I started listening to electronic music on the pirate radio stations when I was 10 or 11 starting with Happy Hardcore. My listening tastes then developed to US Garage, UK Garage then Funky House. The boys teased me in High School. I was a really ugly duckling and was teased all the time for my looks. They also didn’t take me seriously when it came to music.
How did you get into DJing?
I used to work in Clarks (a shoe shop) and one of my colleagues there was a DJ. We were doing a fashion show and he made a mix tape for it. I loved the tunes that he put on his tape but I was more impressed with the way he mixed one record with the next. I asked him to teach me how to mix and he ended up lending me his decks so I could teach myself. I used to make him a mix tape every week and ask ‘am I mixing yet’ and every week the answer was ‘no, you are not mixing on the beat.’ It was so frustrating as I didn’t get what the ‘beat’ was. It took a while but one afternoon I finally got it which was a huge relief as I was starting to pull my hair out!
Favorite music to DJ?
My favourite music to DJ is Funky House and Disco.
What kind of clubs have you played in? Where?
I have played in many clubs both at home and in Europe. Home includes a couple of the big ones, Ministry of Sound, Pacha London and Revolution as well as many smaller bars and clubs. In the countries that I have played in Europe there are usually only one or two clubs in the town so the club can be classed as a ‘superclub’. I once played in a strip club in Slovenia.
Have you done any serious modeling?
I have never done any ‘official’ modelling where I have been asked to do it. The only ‘modelling’ that I have done is the photo shoot for the new photos on my website. I’m too short to be a model; I’m only 5ft 1 1/2″! [Editor’s note: These days even someone that high can model. Not everyone has to be a runway model! There are different types of modeling out there…]
Has your sexy look affected how people react to you?
Yes and no. There have been some negative comments, people assume that I am using sex to sell and to get bookings but on the other hand there have been some really positive comments which is great. However I look there will always be someone out there who will judge me and have their opinion, that’s fine. I’m happy with my image and that’s the main thing. I find that a lot of male DJ’s don’t take me seriously. A lot has to do with the image thing. I find it hard sometimes to gain their respect and I feel like I always have to defend myself. [Editor’s note: This is common among female DJs]
Best experience so far?
I have had many great experiences, I’m not sure if I can put my finger on just one. The best thing about my job is being able to travel to parts of the world that I may not have travelled to for a holiday. For example, I don’t think that I would have ever visited Croatia if it wasn’t for the DJing. It is such a beautiful country and one of my gigs was in a bar on the beach. It was a beautiful night and I was playing outside in the warm summer air, pure bliss.
Worst experience so far?
The worst experience was receiving verbal abuse from a promoter in front of the MTV Europe cameras because I said that I would start my set with one particular record, and then I changed my mind.
Have people recognized you on the street as a celebrity?
I get recognised sometimes, usually in record shops, people will come up and ask if I am Candice McKenzie and they will say that they recognise me from my website or heard me on the radio. It’s nice when people come up and talk to you and I always make time to speak to them as they are the ones who keep me in business by attending gigs etc. Sometimes I get stared at when I’m on the tube or train, which is a bit weird though.
Has anyone ever run up to you in the street and brought you flowers?
Ha Ha, no! If that did happen I would be really embarrassed!
People assuming that I only get bookings because I am female and the promoter wants a girl DJ behind the decks to pull in the crowd.
Name anyone, alive or dead, who you would love to meet & hang out with.
Mel Cheren. I am currently reading ‘My Life and the Paradise Garage, Keep on Dancing’ and it is fabulous! I would love to go back in time and experience the days of Disco with him. That would be so cool. [Editor’s note: Mel Cheren is a co-founder of garage music]
What do you want the world to know about you?
Believe it or not I am actually a very shy person and I can be quite sensitive.
Greatest risk you have ever taken?
In March 2003 a week before I was due to fly out the Miami Music Conference I was hospitalised because of the Crohns. The doctor said the earliest I would be discharged would be Monday but my flight was on Sunday so on the Saturday I discharged myself. I literally took the drip out of my arm, left the hospital, caught the bus home, made myself a fried breakfast, withdrew all the money in my savings account and the next day, flew to Miami. It was so worth it!
It’s 12:01pm, what are you doing?
Getting out of bed!
Shopping. My purse is always empty because when I have money I have to spend it! Records, clothes and shoes are always on my hit list. I am currently in love with Knee High Boots and I have far too many pairs in my closet.
Favorite upcoming projects?
At the moment I am working in the studio on my first track. I am also looking forward to returning to Europe to DJ. I play regularly in France, Croatia and Slovenia and it’s always a pleasure to return to those countries.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Being at the height of my career, playing further a field than Europe in the most fabulous clubs in the world and producing more tracks.
Where are you from/live now?
My origins are half West African, half Jamaican and I was born in South East London, England where I still live!