By Griselle Rodriguez
If there is one thing DJ Kalkutta detests it is multi-hyphenate deejays. A self-proclaimed rookie to the scene, Kalkutta has made it a point to establish herself as a DJ as opposed to adding it on as a cool tag to many other branches. Although the former audio engineer major is still pretty new to the scene (she’s only been spinning for a little more than a year) and female, her newfound talent is successfully warding off prejudice from other deejays in the male-dominated genre. Blazing her own trail and steadily making her name known all over her home base of New York City and on the DJ circuit, DJ Kalkutta would prefer to keep her name hyphenate free…for now.
YRB: What made you want to pursue deejaying?
Kalkutta: I went to school for audio engineering and production, but I had no credibility in the music industry so it was hard to get people to listen to my beats. An ex of mine suggested I pick up deejaying, since it’s a walk in the park compared to production, and it would give me some ‘cred.’ So I did, and fell in love with it!
YRB: What is it like being one of the few female deejays in the game?
Kalkutta: Being one of the only females in a male-dominated industry is a blessing and a curse. There are a lot of jobs I get [more easily] when people need a DJ for “ambiance” or “image,” but it’s much harder to get hardcore club gigs.
YRB: Did you face any negative feedback when deciding on your career?
Kalkutta: I was adopted by a free-spirited, creative, single white woman and raised in a multi-cultural family, so she definitely allowed me to be as free-spirited and “go with the flow” as she was.
YRB: Who are some of your influences, both musical and/or as a DJ?
Kalkutta: As far as deejays go, my mentor Mel Debarge heavily influenced me. Some other NY deejays include Kiss, M.O.S. and Equal, and I’m a fan of house deejays Felix Da Housecat and Steve Angello, as well. Musically overall, I’m influenced by Pharrell, Kanye, Prince, Lauryn Hill, M.I.A., Madonna and Missy Elliott – all one-of-a-kind artists who span genres.
YRB: Who would you love to DJ for (celeb, event, etc)?
Kalkutta: I would pretty much do anything for Kanye or Pharrell. I would also love to be down with Nicki Minaj, as well. A female rapper and a female DJ–that would be kinda dope, right?!
YRB: Was there ever a time when you were starstruck or surprised by a celeb at one of your sets?
Kalkutta: Yes! A couple months ago, Prince [came to one of my sets], which was pretty much a religious experience for me. He is a total enigma–the rules of time/space continuum don’t even apply to him (laughs). His musical tastes are extremely particular too, so the whole thing was a bit nerve-wracking but I did what I do best and he told me he dug my set.
YRB: How hard is it to break into the New York DJ scene?
Kalkutta: I just basically threatened people’s lives, so it wasn’t that hard for me.
YRB: Have there been a lot of new technological advances that have affected your deejaying since you started?
Kalkutta: No, I never had to carry crates around or anything. I think I was just a spark in my parent’s eye when people were still doing that. Although, I have seen some iPad deejays around here. It’s cool if you use it for a controller, but you’re gonna get some side eye from me if I see you using that instead of turntables or CDJs.
YRB: What have you found really gets a crowd hyped up?
Kalkutta: Different stuff for different crowds—usually the latest hits as well as party rocking classics. I like to play fun, unexpected songs to get people amped-up, like Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” or Jay-Z’s “Lucifer.”
YRB: If you had to put together a perfect playlist, what would be on it?
Kalkutta: “Hot N Fun (Boys Noise Remix)” by N.E.R.D., “Dancing With the DJ” by The Knocks, “You’ve Got The Love” by Florence & the Machine, “Famous Girl” by Christian Rich, “Difficult” by Uffie, “Sunshowers” or “Bamboo Banga” by M.I.A., “Electric Feel (Justice Remix)” by MGMT, “1901” by Phoenix and “Shuv It” by Santigold.
YRB: Do you ever get tired of playing the same songs over and over?
Kalkutta: Yes, every DJ does. But I never tire of getting paid. So there’s that.
YRB: Have you produced any tracks for anyone? Is that something you want to get into or are looking to do more of?
Kalkutta: I’m building a monster catalog now. You ain’t ready!!
YRB: What are some upcoming projects?
Kalkutta: More “Slumdog Trillionaire” mixes. Also, working with several artists, including upcoming shows with Ke$ha, Ludacris and LMFAO!