By Stephanie Amy Collazo
DJ Ms. Nix, or Nicole Lyn as she is known in the acting world, is making a name for herself on both coasts. Though she is recognized as an up-and-coming DJ from Los Angeles, Ms. Nix got her start in the entertainment industry as an actress on the Canadian teen comedy series Student Bodies. Since starting her career as a DJ, Ms. Nix has acquired a client list that includes household names like NBC, Vanity Fair, Warner Music, Universal Pictures and W Hotels, just to name a few. She talked to YRB about her experiences in music and her plans for the future.
YRB: When did you know you wanted to be a DJ? How did it all start?
Ms. Nix: I can’t say that it’s something that I’ve always had an ambition for – I kind of fell into it. I’ve always been curious about deejaying, like what that feeling is like. My stepdad was a club DJ when I was growing up, and so it was like a part of my consciousness from a really young age…but I never really thought of it as something that I would do until one day I decided I’m just gonna mess around and maybe find somebody that can teach me a couple things. So I found the class, and I kind of just took it up as something to do on a Saturday morning and figured out that I loved it and I was pretty good at it and started playing for friends and stuff at gatherings, and they were like you need to take this show on the road. So that’s kind of what I did – it was actually a happy accident.
YRB: Do you think it’s still difficult to break into deejaying as a woman?
Ms. Nix: I don’t think it’s difficult. I think there’s definitely a niche market out there for female DJs. It might be harder to get those club gigs and those hip-hop gigs that the guys get because they are always going to call the guys for those first, but there’s a way in and if you’re determined enough and you’re good enough I think any female DJ who’s good enough and determined enough can knock those barriers down.
YRB: What musicians inspire you?
Ms. Nix: Oh my god, that I can go on and on about. Okay, let’s go with a handful – I’m going to say Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Thelonious Monk, Jay-Z, Nas… Yeah, I mean like I said, I can literally go on and on.
YRB: What style of music do you like to work with?
Ms. Nix: I have really eclectic taste, so depending on my mood and the venue and crowd I am playing for I’ll try to work in as much as I can get away with. I try to surprise people and put things together they wouldn’t normally hear together. So you know, on any given night, on any given set I’ll play Foster The People and Nas and Lupe and Beyonce…it all depends on what inspires me. I kind of go with my gut, really. I don’t like to prepare too much and there’s always something that I’ll find in a song, whether it’s a lyric or a bass line or a little horn section that sparks something in me, and I’ll find somewhere to go after that. So I can go from something released in 2011 to something released in 1982…and sometimes it works and sometimes the people are like – oh, interesting. But I’m willing to take chances, and I think that’s what people enjoy about my sets.
YRB: What has been your favorite venue to DJ in so far?
Ms. Nix: It’s hard to answer, but my favorite city is New York hands down. People appreciate music [and] they go out to, not just listen to music and be out, but to dance and have a good time and feel something – and I really feed off of that.
YRB: What song would you say never fails? What’s always a crowd pleaser?
Ms. Nix: I would say you can’t go wrong [with] anything by Michael Jackson. It takes people places, his music takes people places, and it makes you feel good, you know? It’s not like the most deep-seeded makes you think about life music, but it’s music that touches your soul and makes you want to move. You really can’t go wrong with Mike. I like “Get On The Floor,” “Burn This Disco Out,” they are a little less known then “PYT” or anything off of Thriller but people are always happy to hear them.
YRB: How do you create your perfect playlist each time you spin?
Ms. Nix: Like I was saying earlier, I try not to prepare too much. If I know that I’m playing to a very specific crowd I make sure to have certain things at my fingertips, but in terms of how I’m going to play those songs or where I’m going to go from one minute to the next – one hour to the next – I don’t usually plan that out; I usually just sort of wing it. Once I have stuff in my crate that I know I am probably going to use I kind of build the set around that.
YRB: Most memorable event and why?
Ms. Nix: I would say two things: my very first gig ever, which was in downtown L.A. at a new spot called The Crocker Club. I was given maybe two days notice and I felt completely unprepared and thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest, but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity so I made it work and I felt like I had really accomplished something after that. So there’s that, and then this past New Year’s Eve I deejayed a party for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami on the beach at a beautiful house and with beautiful people…It was New Year’s Eve, everyone was there to have a good time, and the vibe was just right, and the scenery certainly helped – it was beautiful.
YRB: Dubstep seems to be the big thing in clubs nowadays, what do you think of this trend?
Ms. Nix: Some of it I can appreciate for what it is, it’s definitely a different sound. People that are producing dubstep right now are coloring outside the lines, essentially, and it doesn’t always move me the way I like music to move me, but I can definitely appreciate it for what it is. But I find it more atmospheric then something that I want to party to.
YRB: How do you see the music scene changing within the next five years?
Ms. Nix: Well, it’s totally going to go more in the direction it’s been going in the last five to ten [years], which is more digital and I think more accessible. I mean, my younger brothers and sister who don’t work in the music industry and don’t have any ambition to be musicians or to be on top of all music, have access to songs and even albums before they’re released. To me, it’s just an indication of how accessible music is to everyone. If you know where to look you can find it, and I think while there is a downside for artists in some respect, I think it’s kind of a cool thing because everyone can be “in the know.” The more fans feel that way, the more loyal they will be to those artists.
YRB: Are you still pursuing an acting career?
Ms. Nix: Yes, definitely! I work whenever someone will hire me is what I always say. But deejaying, this happy accident of deejaying, has really helped to fill in the blanks for me. There’s a lot of downtime. It’s a challenging business acting in TV and film, so I feel really fortunate to have something that I feel equally as passionate about to help me express myself and in some creative way when I’m not acting.
YRB: What have you worked on recently?
Ms. Nix: I did a short film with some friends, Robin Lee produced it. She and I met when we did Deliver Us From Eva with Gabrielle Union and Essence Atkins and a couple of our other friends, so she and her husband produced it I played a role in there, Robin played a role, Hill Harper was in it, but it was just kind of one of those things where we got all of our friends together and everyone pitched in and got on set when we could, and that’s always nice and encouraging to know that they can make things happen and make fun with your friends at the same time. So that’s called MisDial, and I think it should be coming out maybe early next year.
YRB: Any advice for up-and-coming DJs?
Ms. Nix: Be yourself and play what you love. You gotta know how to read a crowd, for sure, but people can always sense when you’re trying too hard and when you’re really just trying to please. When you’re able to read a crowd but make your set your own, put your spin on it, your own little touches, something that says something about your taste but moves you, I think people can really relate to that and it makes a difference in how they respond to the music you’re playing.
Special for YRB readers:
DJ Ms. Nix’s “HOT NAKED SUMMER NIGHTS” playlist
Beijo – Earth, Wind & Fire
Electric Relaxation – A Tribe Called Quest
Can’t You See – Total ft. The Notorious B.I.G.
Sending My Love – Zhane
Rock The Boat – Aaliyah
Lovely – John West ft. Pusha T
Summertime (So Hot) – Eric Roberson
So In Love With You – Jill Scott & Anthony Hamilton
LoveSpeak – Shi Wisdom ft. KJ
Summer Jam – The Cool Kids ft. Maxine Ashley
Party – Beyonce ft. Andre 3000 & Kanye West
Like I Love You – Melanie Fiona
Baby Face – Nadine Sutherland
She’s Always In My Hair – Prince
Just Be Good To Me – The S.O.S Band
Swim Good – Frank Ocean
The Birds (Part 1) – The Weeknd
Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People