DJ Shortee

DJ Shortee

The April 2005 spotlight is DJ Shortee, a rhythmically talented diva who’s one of America’s most popular female DJs. She’s been DJing for years, has her own series of “How to DJ” instructional DVDs, provides the background tunes at the Playboy mansion, and is one hell of musical talent! She gave us a great interview and if you enjoy it, let Shortee know! proudly presents DJ Shortee.

Citynet Magazine: Tell us about the Shortee early days (music, boys, …).

DJ Shortee: I’ve been into music all my life. Started playing drums & percussion when I was 7 yrs old. Took piano lessons too. Dabbled in the violin (but hated it). I was pretty active in martial arts and earned my black belt when I was 17. I taught martial arts lessons my senior year in high school & the first 2 years of college.

All my best friends in school were guys. I was a total tomboy. The only people that teased me were my friends so it wasn’t mean spirited. I was just always the only girl in the group. I played drums & percussion in the concert & symphonic bands all through middle & high school & also was the only girl who played snare drum in my marching band. In college I played drums in a punk rock band (as usual, all guys except me).

How did you get into DJing? Age?

I was 19 & playing drums in my punk rock bank in college. I was also very much into the rave scene which was my first real exposure to DJs up close, rather than hearing them on CD or seeing them on TV. I wasn’t interested in doing it myself until I met DJ Faust around that time through a mutual friend who was also a DJ. Faust was scratching and it amazed me because he was scratching all the same patterns that I played on my drums. He also saw me playing drums in my band and told me that I would learn to DJ & scratch pretty easy since I already understood rhythm & offered to teach me. We were both attracted to each other as well so we started dating. We lived together for 7 years and then got married about 3 ½ years ago. [Editor’s note: Cool!]

Greatest influences?

Dj Faust, Craze, Q-Bert, Jam Master Jay, Herbie Hancock, Phish, Queen Latifah, Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Dieselboy, The Grateful Dead, Tito Puente, Scott Henry, Drew Barrymore… the list is too long.

Favorite place to DJ?

San Francisco, DC, Baltimore, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Boston, New York, LA…too many places to name just one.

Place where you’d like to DJ but haven’t yet?

I’ve been booked in the U.K. for hip hop but I’ve never played Drum n Bass there. I would love to play DnB in the U.K.

How did the instructional DJ DVD idea come about?

I was doing a tour called “Take Back the Decks” where I was teaching how to Dj & doing lectures. At that time there were no DJ instructional DVDs out and I wanted to make one. There were a few videos but just for scratching, not the whole package: equipment mixing, scratching & beatjuggling, promoting yourself, etc… I did a low fi bedroom version first and then took my curriculum to a film producer & had it filmed professionally. I also featured Faust, Craze, Danny the Wildchild & Phantom 45 in it. By the time my first DVD “Shortee’s DJ 101” (beginners) was released, Q-bert had released a scratching instructional DVD about a month before that was pretty dope, but there still weren’t any well rounded ones. To this day, it’s still the only one out by a female.

We just released the 2nd one (Shortee’s Dj 202: intermediate/advanced) – which also features Q-bert, Faust, Disk, Babu, MC Armanni, Flare & more and we are about to drop a supplement DVD called “Turntable Tune-Up” that teaches how to fix your turntables.

I’ve gotten really good feedback on the whole series and they sell really well. The best is when someone comes up to me at a show and says that they learned how to DJ by watching it.

What was it like to DJ at the Playboy Mansion?

I’ve played at the mansion a few times now and it’s always a fun time. Not like a night club, more like a catered backyard party but it’s still fun cause everyone gets a little crazy. The grounds are really beautiful with the zoo in the back. Amazing. Lots of cool exotic animals. The grotto is pretty cool and it connects to the pool with this nice waterfall. The last party I played at the mansion was a lingerie party and everyone was dressed in lingerie & pajamas. I like playing at the mansion, but my favorite playboy parties to play are the Superbowl parties. They are HUGE and more like spinning a big night club or special event…which is more my element. The Heaven & Hell party in Houston last year was insane.

There are always a ton of celebrities at the Playboy parties but usually I’m working behind the decks and can’t really go out into the crowd & meet them. I’ve seen Paris Hilton, Rosanne and a few others but the only ones I’ve actually met in person have been Jimmy Fallon (Saturday Night live), Joey Fatone (N’sync) , Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane…oh & my favorite one so far was Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air). I LOVE that show. I’ve seen every episode at least 10 times.

Do you think there is room for more female DJs in the market?

There are a zillion DJs in the world (male & female) and there is definitely room for more female DJs with real skills who take their craft seriously. The ones without skills are a hot fad for a minute but they don’t ever last, nor are they taken seriously. There are still a TON of really skilled female DJs out there that are worth a listen and there is always room for more.

Do you wear any specific type of clothing to DJ?

Depends on the event. For Playboy I have to dress sexy, but I try to stay classy and I’m still wearing more clothes than most of the girls at those parties. For some hip hop shows I dress up if it’s a high class night club. For raves, underground hip hop. breakdance battles & drum n bass shows & dress comfortably in jeans & t-shirts or tracksuits. You know, b-girl style :O) That’s the real me anyway. I’m just a b-girl at heart.

How much of a partyer are you? Do you party hard?

I like to party and I’ve done my fair share of craziness in the past… especially in high school & college. But now I’ve settled down a bit. My husband & I like to drink wine but we aren’t too crazy these days. Sometimes we rage but not like before. It’s rare that we get wasted if you know what I mean ;o)

What’s your greatest talent?

I’m a fast learner as long as it’s something I’m really interested in.

What has been the best experience in your job?

Meeting people that actually dig what I do.

What has been the worst experience in your job?

Dealing with ignorance… not just with my career but in life itself.

What’s the most common question that people ask you?

“Can you get me into the Playboy Mansion?”

What do you want the world to know about you?

I’m dedicated, career oriented, and I love what I do.

What’s the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Following my heart and living day to day rather than following a “life plan.” Just going with the flow & hoping it leads to great things filled with happiness.

Pet peeves?

LA traffic. Bad drivers. Oh yeah… And requests to play any song by Brittany Spears.

It’s 12:01am. What are you doing?

At home: working on music
Away from home: playing a gig

Thong or regular undies?

At home: regular (they are comfy;o)
Away from home: thong (no visible panty lines)

What kind of men are you attracted to?

Personality: Fun, Funny, Talented, Honest, Interesting, Intelligent, Driven, Caring, Sharing, Dedicated & Loyal. Musical talent is the talent that attracts me the most.
Looks: Tall, dark & handsome. Taller than me (which is not that hard to be), dark hair & great eyes. I was always attracted to the skinny skater boys in school rather than the football jocks. I liked the toned guys rather than the ones with really bulgy muscles. When I met my husband I was really into dreads (& he had them)…8 years later he cut them off and that’s when I started liking short hair.

A day spa, a flight in a F-15 fighter jet, or passionate animal-like sex?

The fighter jet…(as long as we aren’t at war in it ;o) Cause that’s the only thing I haven’t done out of the 3.

Any secret pleasures?

Hanging out with my cats and my husband at home. Sounds boring but when you are in clubs all the time for work, it’s something to look forward to. Oh, and I love Denny’s French Toast. It’s so fattening but that’s what makes it sooooo good!

Favorite upcoming projects?

We just released the 2nd DVD in the series “Shortee’s DJ 202”.(intermediate) I’m releasing another supplement DVD in the series that teaches how to fix & tune your turntables (“Turntable Tune Up” out this summer). Currently we are working on the advanced DVD “Shortee’s DJ 303” to come out next year. I’ve also been teaching as a professor at the Scratch DJ Academy here in LA (it’s the west coast branch of the original school co-founded by Jam Master Jay in NYC.)

As far as music production & DJing goes my main focus is Hip Hop & Drum n Bass. Faust & I have been concentrating on producing Drum n Bass under the name “Urban Assault” so junglists should be on the lookout for those tunes soon. I’ll be touring Southeast Asia in June and working on another European tour for the summer. I was also just asked to start mixing as a radio DJ on Power 105.9 which I am considering. It’s the dopest hip hop radio station here in LA and sounds like a lot of fun. We’ll see about that. I’ll keep you posted =o)

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I can’t say really. Whatever I’m doing, I hope it’s with my husband & that we are successful, happy & healthy. [Editor’s note: Amen!]

Where are you from/live now?

I was born in Alexandria, VA, grew up in the DC/VA/Baltimore area, lived in Atlanta for 8 years and I now reside in North Hollywood, CA.

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