Seattle native DJ Tina T has spent the last 13 years perfecting the art of DJ'ing. Her sound consists of underground hip-hop and mainstream pop, yet she isn’t afraid to mix it up with electro, house, and '80s rock. She has catered to the hottest nightclubs in Mexico, Philippines, and the Bahamas and is no stranger to sharing the stage with the likes of Run DMC, Black Eyed Peas, and Lady Gaga. Currently, she is holding down a Friday night residency at Marquee Nightclub at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Whilst being incredibly busy, DJ Tina T took out some time out to talk to YH about her achievements and her one-of-a-kind summer DJ camp called Camp Spin-Off.
On being voted Las Vegas’s ‘Top Female DJ’ for the 3rd consecutive year:
I’m honored every year to receive this award and appreciate having people vote for me. I moved to Las Vegas with the goal to break into the nightclub scene, and this award makes me feel like I have definitely accomplished the goal I set out for! I look forward to breaking out of this category and being nominated for other things as well.
Her attraction to DJ'ing:
The DJ community and art of it all was very appealing to me. In Seattle, most of the DJs were my friends, and we supported each other. It felt good to find something I could be part of. I love the freedom musically in DJ'ing and the creativity it allows.
On Camp Spin-Off, a camp specifically designed for teenagers who want to pursue their passion for DJ'ing:
I think it’s important to support teens that have an interest in DJ'ing and don’t know how to go about pursing it. When they come to my camp, I know they are serious about learning, and I wanted to create a place that gives them the best instruction, equipment, and advice. A lot of people learning to DJ these days may never have touched a vinyl record or a turntable, so it’s exciting to give them that experience. I want them to know the history of DJ'ing so that they can have true respect for it.
Camp Spin-Off is not exactly your traditional camp:
It’s a mix of a traditional summer camp activities and new age technology. You have kids producing beats, spinning records, and working on laptops in the middle of the woods. What makes it different is that kids can pursue their interest in learning how to DJ and experience the fun of camp fires, living in cabins, and hiking in the woods. Unlike traditional camp counsellors, our staff are all professional DJs who take a week out of their schedules to give back and help aspiring DJs.
On campers being submerged in an intensive one-week program:
To pursue a passion, you need inspiration, support, and people to learn from. Not everyone can submerge themselves in what they are interested in, but if you have the opportunity to, then it is a lot of fun! There is nothing I enjoy more than being surrounded by other DJs and people who share the same interests and passion as me. Camp Spin-Off is essentially designed for campers who have never touched a turntable before. We don’t have any advanced classes at the moment. It is an introduction into the world of DJ'ing on a technical, historical, and social level. All the classes are fun, and the kids that attend are excited to learn everything they can while at camp. We do have return campers who use the opportunity to practice, reunite with friends, and brush up on their skills.
On surprise guest DJ appearances throughout the week:
The question and answer sessions with guest DJs are great for everyone who want to hear stories from touring or DJ'ing for recording artists. It amazes me how thoughtful the questions are from the campers. Giving kids access to meet and interact with professional DJs they hear about or see on TV is really valuable and exciting for them. Future campers make the most out of these interactions by researching the guest DJs and their accomplishments before meeting them at camp.
On the aftercare support that is offered:
Most of the kids keep in touch with each other and their counsellors on Facebook. They share advice and updates on what they are doing. I visit The Boys and Girls Club in Las Vegas to catch up with former campers. I also visit kids in different cities when I am there to DJ.
On Camp Spin-Off offering financial support:
We have a scholarship program that is based on financial need. There are also several community organizations that have scholarships designated each year for kids that are passionate about music and DJ'ing.
On Camp Spin-Off branching out:
I am hoping to start an East Coast Camp Spin-Off very soon!
On gender equality in DJ'ing:
I feel there are more woman balancing out the playing field in DJ'ing today. It is still male-dominated but changing quickly. At camp, we have an equal ratio of girls to boys. It’s great to see more young girls getting into DJ'ing, and I hope I can be a positive role model for them.
Jabeen Waheed is a writer, blogger, and reporter from London who loves to be unpredictable and non-stereotypical. Her favorite TV show is "Criminal Minds" and counts "investigating the paranormal" on her to-do list. You can read her blog or follow her on twitter@JabeenWaheed