QueerGirl got a chance to speak with DJ Heabnasty about what it was like to play in the DJ Battle at Dinah Shore, her thoughts on producing, and her favorite aspects of the queer-female nightlife community. Read the full interview below and make sure to get your tickets to her upcoming show at Uptown Tavern in San Diego!
QueerGirl: Tell us a little bit about how you got started with DJing. When did you start and what inspired you?
Heabnasty: I started djing in about 2010, but it was tough because DJ equipment is expensive, I just had got out of school and was working as a lab technician, so any extra over time was going into purchasing DJing components. When I was in high school, I was always finding new music on blogs and using sites like Napster and Limewire (sorry) to download tracks and make mix-tape "cds" for friends. I did this a lot and soon friends encouraged me to look into DJing because they thought I could do it. I ended up taking lessons with Tony Aguilera at Global BPM and surely enough, fell in love with it!
QG: Who are some of your favorite queer-female DJs? Has anyone influenced your own DJ style?
H: I was a huge blog haus fan in 2007, listening to a lot of synth-indie influenced producers/bands like: Crystal Castles, MSTRKRFT, A-Trak, Simian Mobile Disco, Fisherspooner, The faint to name a few. As for queer DJs Maya Jane Cole and Black Madonna are pretty up in the game. Female DJs that have inspired me are Anna Lunoe and Brazzabelle.
QG: What is your favorite type of music to play?
H: My favorite music genre to play is electro and future house. I also like reboots and flips of original songs. I dabble with old/new school hip-hop and trap music, but that typically is played when doing a club set in Hillcrest. I'll throw in 90's pop like Ace of Base and Spice Girls, because who doesn't like a sing-a-long after midnight?
QG: What are some of your favorite events you have played in the past?
H: I had the honor of playing in the DJ Battle at Dinah Shore this year. The preparation for that 5 minute set took me about eight hours and brought out a lot of emotion in me. I ended up winning runner-up (to first) but for an upcoming DJ that has been the outcast for sometime, I'll take it!
QG: Do you produce at all? Or have you ever thought of getting into producing?
H: Although I have not produced a track, the work behind producing an original track inspires me. Hopefully I'll take a stab at it, but I'd love to take a class at a community college first prior to investing in expensive production software.
QG: What kind of music do you listen to on your own time?
H: I actually grew up in Orange County and listen to a lot of alternative indie rock. I love anything with a good melody progression and I think some people would be shocked to know, I love listening to Surf Rock and FM949.
QG: Where do you see the queer-female nightlife scene heading?
H: I think with fresh promoters like you and Debbie Masliah thinking up engaging events that bring the community together will influence people to try and get out of the same (lesbian) rut and enjoy a new environment.
QG: What’s next for DJ Headbnasty?! Is there anything big coming up?
H: I'm actually DJing in Joshua Tree for a friend's wedding next month, so that should be pretty exciting! I'm hoping to work on a mix-tape/free download so I can broaden prospective clients. I have a friend managing a new restaurant downtown that hopefully I'll have the opportunity to play soon. Also, I want to plan a queer event in Pacific Beach. Think of it as a queer take-over!
QG: What is your favorite thing about the queer-female nightlife scene? Least favorite thing?
H: My favorite thing about the queer-female nightlife scene is the sense of being comfortable out at a bar and just enjoying yourself. I know it's uncomfortable going to a straight bar and feeling like cis-men staring at you. The least favorite part of the queer-female nightlife scene is when women tend to stand among their clique and intimidate others. I'm always happy when people come over to say hello and introduce themselves.
QG: We noticed you recently won a DJ competition at Uptown Tavern in San Diego- congrats! How are you able to read a crowd correctly to figure out what to play?
H: Thank you! Honestly, when it comes to reading the crowd you've got to play what they know from radio, pop culture, but once you have them on floor, try to slip something new! That way you satisfy your needs as a DJ and they support you as a performer. There's a lot of trial and error. It annoys me when I meet DJs that refuse to play one more genre and have this pompous attitude of what the crowds needs to "get" with. Play what makes people happy and make sure your transitions are clear. If people are vibing, then slip in tunes that mesh well and everyone is happy!
Make sure to follow Heabnasty on Instagram!