. . . continued from part one
I really appreciate your statement about “dollar bin DJs.” What is is that you think, beyond say, creativity, that really “makes” a DJ stand out and stick around? And in your case, what were some of the signature qualities that helped you get to where you are?
The essential qualities for a DJ to possess are pretty rudimentary but not everyone has the passion to upkeep them. For one, a firm grasp on music and how it has evolved, as well as how it becomes relevant again. Before I even attempted to play records for a room, I researched and researched. My entire career is essentially an ongoing research project-I used my open mind and understandings of genres and types of music to expand the horizon of the world to me. One thing a lot of new DJs don’t understand nor care to research is how the music that they are playing now originated. Unfortunately, the days of the record store have been numbered and are very limited (especially in Ohio)-so someone starting off as a DJ doesn’t necessarily have the luxury of going to their local record store and going through crate after crate of records.
Which leads me to another point, DJing is more than a trend, it’s a life one has to be willing to accept. If you are in it to be the next’ superstar celebrity DJ then I honestly want nothing to do with you, ever. However, if you are in it because you have experienced the practically orgasmic feel of exploding a room through creativity, reading, and programing, then you may be my best friend 🙂 A lot of new DJs, hop on the trend of whatever music is popping off right now, rather it is dubstep, bmore, moombathon, indie-electro, etc and they dedicate their whole brand of DJing to playing this while it’s hot. Unfortunately these kids (I don’t care if you’re 45 or 23-you’re a kid) fail to do know their history and realize that what they are playing isn’t relevant in terms of actually being new.
We’ve seen this here countless times with songs like Paper Planes, or American Boy, to bands such as MGMT, Justice, or Holy Ghost, to whole genres such as Dubstep and Moombathon. [They fail] to realize that the only reason they know of it is because it’s new to the mainstream, not to anything else (which can mean up to a 2 year difference!). So while actual DJs are doing their jobs; by that I mean introducing new music to audiences (educating) while giving them a comfortable palette of what’s familiar (catering), these dollar bin DJs are staining the life by playing what they just heard came aware of via an outdated source (radio, MTV, etc).
Everything is spontaneous, I enjoy the fun and the challenge of the creative process. Music is a journey and I like to share my journey – the highs, the lows, the successes, and the failures – equally with my audience. I feel you can’t do that going in with your set predetermined. Even if you are playing the same club every week, week in and week out, you can’t predict how the room is going to be paced. Yeah, you may have an idea of what songs are really going to get everyone going, but that in itself is not enough, you have to read in real time and program everything to fit in its right place every night.
What are some of the other venues, and how do they differ from Bounce?
Some of the other venues vary from Bounce in the crowd that they attract. It sucks that this distinction has to be made (but it seems necessary in this region and unfortunately this day and age) but Bounce is one of the only lgbtpqqia exclusive clubs in town. Granted, I am aware of the safety levels of being a transgender person and very publicly exposed so I don’t play in venues or events that pose a high risk of personal safety for me-because of trial and error I have seen on first hand how ugly things can get. The other venues, however, that I do play in are very open minded venues and have the real mentality that it doesn’t matter what your story is-you come for good music, period. It (this message) doesn’t echo too well across the local lgbtpqqia spectrum in Cleveland, but those in the community that have made it out to these venues realize that it is a friendly and open change of pace from their ordinary nightlife. The main venue is the Bside Liquor Lounge in Coventry Village (Cleveland Heights)-it’s literally an underground venue (located under the Grog Shop). We have world renowned DJs and acts in the venue and the resident and rotating DJs there are of [high] caliber.
In addition to DJing, you also work as a makeup artist and designer. Can you tell us a little more about that work and how it all connects to your work in music?
Working as a makeup artist as well as graphic designer directly relate to my career as a DJ. For one, I never need a stylist and between my design skills and marketing know-how I am practically my own publicist and marketing team. I have an extreme love for photography as well and if I’m not behind the decks I can usually be found behind the lens. A lot of people always approach me about EC and ask me ‘who does your flyers, they are always so neat’ which in itself leads into its own line of work by doing design work for other clubs, djs, promoters, businesses, etc. I like to use my creativity as not only a benefit and efficiency for myself but for others out there too-even if it’s outside of the nightlife community and involves working with local organizations, or educational environments.
How did you come about the name “saint.”? Does your music redeem your listeners from sin? 🙂
I like that reasoning! I wish that was the case, I actually earned the nickname in high school. I went to a catholic high school and whereas I had my teenage bad girl club moments, I wasn’t a known troublemaker and believed in concepts such as respect for my instructors. One day in study hall, a few students were conspiring to some antics and asked me if I wanted in, I promptly responded with a ‘no, I’m good but thanks’ in which the questioning student asked me “what are you going for sainthood or something”. From that point, I snapped back with a “yes actually I am-so you can refer to me as saint for now on” and the rest is history 🙂
How has it been to be a transgender woman in the music and entertainment scene? What have been the benefits? the challenges? changes you hope for in the future?
My journey being a DJ as well as being a transgender woman has been one full of challenges and unexpected rewards. One of the greatest challenges is the fact that I didn’t begin my DJ career as a transgender woman, for the first 7 or so years of my career I was not yet out. When I came out, I was worried about whatever devastation my career would face, if I would even ever DJ again. As many know, the realm of the DJ is one that is largely dominated by heterosexual, cis-gender men-a transgender DJ may ruffle one too many feathers. Once I made the decision to come out and go public with my transition, the reception from the DJ community has been overall great. Yes, some connections and relationships were lost but the ones that have maintained and the ones that continue to grow overshadow any severed connections. One of the challenges I continue to face is the necessary task of education, I know I’m just here to play records but I do have an obligation as a representative to the transgender community to educate people the dynamics of gender, sexuality, etc.
Are there other transpeople in whom you find inspiration or whom you consider role models in your field?
There are definitely other transwomen that influence me, however I find it rare (at least in my current city) to find other transwomen DJs. The ones that I do know of have been tremendous influences on my confidence-it’s a great reminder that I’m not necessarily alone out there. In general I find inspiration and admiration in many women, trans or cisgender, one of the key examples is in my mother, who is my biggest champion 🙂
What are some things you are doing / hope to do in order to serve as an educator beyond just an amazing DJ and industry role model?
I try to speak and do advocacy work with the greater LGBTPQQIA community and beyond. I have spoken at colleges and universities, shared my stories with adolescents and young adults, as well as having the honor of speaking before my city at events such as Trans Day of Remembrance. I share my story and my mind with as many people as possible in hopes of increasing the accuracy in the representation of the trans community. I hope that my story and my experiences will help people with the same struggle as me realize they aren’t alone and you can, as my mother always believed, dare to be different while being successful.
– Retail DJ