|Home > DJ EMPRESS|
DOA: Hello Ms. Empress, thanks for answering a few questions for us to accompany your DOA mix! How have things been with you? Played any gigs you really enjoyed as of late?
Empress: Just played @ Konkrete Jungle here in NYC. Had a wicked time. I'm a resident (I play every 1st Monday of the month for the most part). Besides the fact that it's the longest running drum n bass (jungle back in the day) night out of all of the NYC weeklies, it has the best soundsystem. The vibe was great this past Monday & a bunch of old friends showed up, which made it even more fun.
DOA: As people may or may not know, in addition to your impressive DJing schedule, you have also been involved in production for a while. Can you explain the roots of how this came and a bit about your inspiration to produce in addition to DJing?
Empress: I started working in other people's studios when I was 18 here in NYC. I worked w/ a guy named Rob Hart (Scuba Studios), John Selway (still have the tune. It's called Ultraviolet, actually) the techno/electro pioneer and a bunch of other people/studios. In 1999, I met Sage & Ufo! and together we worked on tunes under the name Triadd. One of them was released on Skunkrock Recordings ("Hydroxy") with a Digital & Spirit RMX on the flip. I met one of my production partners/brother from another mother, Jinsoo Kim in 1998. He I started working together from 1998 - 2004. Together, we produced songs for bands, did remixes, our own original production and formed Sandbox Studios @ my apartment.
DOA: Your tune, 'Brooklyn Baby', has turned out to be quite successful. Could you elaborate a bit and fill everyone in on the big things that have been going on with this one?
Empress: Brooklyn Baby was a tune that I did @ Sandbox Studios. Jinsoo helped me with the pitching & timing of the samples and mixdown. One night we stayed up all night working on the vocal samples & got breakfast the next morning. As we were sitting in this diner, we see this guy w/ like 3 blinged out cell phones on the table with him and he was talking to his assistant. One of my favourite parts of the song is in the hip hop breakdown in the middle where I sampled Guru saying "Stop the non-sense / Brooklyn is the ill-est / the realest / observe these words as I reveal this / from East New York, back to Fort Greene / Brooklyn's classic mystical magic, seen?". So this dude thats sitting across from us was completely attracting my attention. I literally just could not stop staring. I finally realized in my sleep deprived state it was actually Guru. There we all were, magically at a diner in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Jinsoo and I had stayed up listening to that vocal for hours & then went to get breakfast, delirious. It was very surreal. I'm glad Jinsoo had been there because I probably wouldn't have thought I was seeing things!
After the tune was finished it was hard to get support from a lot of the DJs/Labels. No one wanted to put it out (b/c of all the samples) but SS ended up releasing it only on CD for his Jazz & Bass Sessions LP. Since then, I've had it up on my Myspace page and Nelson George (published writer, screenplay writer, director) happened to stumble across the tune & ended up using it (and the original; "We Live in Brooklyn") in his film "Life Support". The film stars Queen Latifiah, was produced by Jamie Foxx and was nominated for 3 Emmys.
DOA: Congrats, that's so exciting! 'Brooklyn Baby' isn't the only large scale success you've seen as a result of your production skills in recent times. You've also been one of the producers contributing to the legendary Blondie's latest album. How did this come about and how has the experience been overall for you?
Empress: Working with Blondie was an amazing learning experience. Jinsoo was their keyboard tech for years & every tour they'd go on, I'd make sure I'd strategically give Jinsoo tapes or CDs of tunes I was working on and mixes I had made. They would listen to them on the tour bus. In 2002, halfway through working on their LP, something happened w/ their main producer & Debbie (Harry) called Jinsoo and asked if he & I wanted to work on it. We snatched up the opportunity right away.
Throughout that time, Debbie was coming over weekly with her adorable dogs, chilling out @ Sandbox Studios. The LP, when we started working on it, had been recorded half way through. We were basically given the tracks that were recorded & were basically told that we could arrange and mix them how we saw fit. With that being said, they still wanted a rock LP because the rock style trend was coming back. The LP itself was totally all over the place with many styles & very little congruity. It was a stretch making the songs seem consistent. Everyone in the band wanted something different, but at the same time wasn't exactly sure what that wanted.
Check the album's Wikipedia page... they listed me as 'Chris Ingram' (it's really Christina). Hmmm how do I go about changing that? teehee ;)
One EXTREMELY important lesson I learned from that experience was to get a lawyer when dealing with major labels. Doh!
DOA: Have you been working with any fellow dnb artists recently and if so who? Is there anyone you have in mind that you'd like to work with in the future?
Empress: I was in the UK (mostly London, Bristol & Brighton) from May - July. I worked on a bunch of tunes, but nothing unfortunately got finished. It was a bit rough and I wasn't in one spot long enough to really get anything done. I did, however, have fantastic shows while I was there. Since I've been back I've been working on tunes alone and then getting as much feedback as I can from friends on AIM. I'm currently trying to work out mixing. Two weeks ago, I was in Boston and worked on a tune with the Terravita crew (DJ Crisis, Mr. Matt & Mc Incite). That tune needs a bit more love, but its close to being finished :)
DOA: Covering all spectrums, your talent doesn't stop at DJing and production. I recently caught wind of you doing some live vocals as well. Can you tell us a bit more about this? What style music do you lay down the vocals on and will this be an ongoing project for you?
Empress: During 2006, I would take vocal lessons weekly. I've always sang, yet have been too shy about trying to record. It was great to study my voice as an instrument. I've been working on producing drum n bass and dark electro type tunes to lay vocals on. You can hear me on the mix and on my myspace page on the tune "Only Love" and be on the look out for more tunes in the future.
DOA: When you're not on the hustle with your musical endeavors, what are some personal interests or hobbies of yours that you enjoy the most?
Empress: You mean there's something more to life than music?!?!?! ;)
Exercise, exercise & more exercise. I love it. I do push ups all the time. I love to feel strong in my body. I also worship the sun as much as I can. I love delicious food, learning, reading (I'm a big book worm), hanging out with positive, intelligent, loving, creative, spiritual people, dancing, nature; basically being hedonistic and relishing in the extremes of life. From the city to the country to the club to my bedroom... I'm probably more of a hermit than most people think. I tend to need a lot of alone time. Oh and most importantly: LAUGHING as much as possible.
DOA: Good advice. Where can people catch you DJing in the near future?
Empress: First Monday of every month @ Konkrete Jungle. I also play a lot of corporate and non-dnb shows here in NYC. But a lot of the time, I can't invite people to the shows because either they are private events or the place has its regular clientel thats not dnb oriented. I hate doing promotions but have learned its really important, so I'll keep you updated. ;)
DOA: You're a busy girl with a lot on your plate but it's obvious you're very passionate about what you do and that you'll keep rising. Thanks once again for the interview and of course for the mix which I'm sure will be enjoyed by many! Any last words or shout outs you'd like to make?
Empress: I try as hard as I can to make sure my loved ones feel loved and appreciated, so I'm not going to do a long list of shout outs. It would take toooooooo long! :)
However, I do want to give a humoungous shot out to all junglist soldiers marching on right now, spreading the vibe & sound.
Sending Love & Light,
enjoy the mix ! xx
Commix - Be True [Metalheadz]
Axiom - Air Raid [?]
Shock One ft Elisa King - Don't You Know [Viper]
Absolute Zero & Subphonics - The Code (SKC Remix) [Renegade Hardware]
Lifted Crew - Levitate [Lifted]
Red Light District [White label]
Axiom - Deadzone [?]
Bad Company - Synthetic Sister [White label]
The Upbeats ft. Ryme Tyme - Tonka [Bad Taste]
Mista - Pleasures [Virus]
Drumagick & Youngman MC - Davi [Chronic]
Empress - Only Love [?]
J Majik & WIckaman - Freedom [?]
D Minds - Mr. Happy :) [True Playaz]
The Upbeats & MVS - Dead Beat [Bad Taste]
High Contrast - If We Ever [Hospital]
Loxy & Matt U - Cloudstepper [X-Tinction Agenda]
The Upbeats - The Stars [Bad Taste]
TC & Subfocus - Borrowed Time [D Style]
Sigma - High Top [Viper]
C.A.B.L.E. - Strangeland [?]
Break - Runoff [Quarantine]
Commix - Strictly [Metalheadz]
Gridlok & Ryme Tyme - Dose 
Axiom, Optiv & Psidream - Break In [DSCi4]
M.I.A. - Boyz [XL]
>> DOWNLOAD THE MIX <<
Please visit: DJ Empress' myspace page for more info.
Words + portrait: Inaya
mix looks really really good!
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THERE IS NO UNIVERSE!!
need to go check out brooklyn baby!
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