In the world of DJing, one must command the tables, but as a female in the industry, DJ Casey Connor commands attention, although it’s not always for her turntable prowess. While the Brooklyn native (now LA resident) has been spinning for more than five years and has amassed an impressive list of celebrity fans, she’s still challenging the notion she’s not just another pretty girl-DJ wielding an iPod.
“I actually do DJ,” says Connor, in regard to the notion that female DJs are just eye candy. “I mix and I blend, and when I’m DJing, I’m performing, I’m on the microphone, I’m emceeing, I’m announcing, I’m singing along to the songs, I’m dancing—so I’m more of a performance DJ more than anything.” Connor takes pride in her ability to mix, unlike some of her counterparts who may use their gender as a gimmick.
“To be honest with you, a lot of those girls are doing it a lot more because of the novelty,” she says. “My male peers really kind of groomed me into actually spinning, whereas these girls, they rely on their looks first, and then if they can DJ, it’s almost like an added bonus. I really don’t respect that in DJs today, especially female DJs. To me, if you’re doing something that requires talent, you better know what you’re doing instead of relying on a look for it.”
A protégé of famed DJ Spinderella and onetime temporary replacement in the Salt-N-Pepa lineup (Spin was out doing the mommy thing), Connor admits that being female in a predominantly male circuit does have its advantages. But it has its annoyances, too—like being hit on by club-goers and clientele. “I’ve had so many different pick-up lines from guys. And girls. It’s pretty insane. People will write things on napkins like, ‘I hope you spin in bed as well as you [spin] those records.’ Just, cheesy, cheesy stuff.”
Though Connor laughs when talking about such experiences, she understands the pros and cons of her situation. “People look at you first and they’re like, ‘Whoa. She’s a really good-looking girl and she can DJ?!’ It’s kind of disheartening, but at the same time, it kind of works in my favor.” Connor seems to take it all in stride. “When I’m trying to DJ and I’m into my zone, I have these guys trying to hit on me, and I’m like, ‘Look, guys. We’re not in a bar. I’m not a patron. I’m working right now. I don’t sit in your cubicle trying to hit on you while you’re working.’ That’s what I tell them and they’re like, ‘Good point.’ It’s pretty funny.”
She-jay complications aside, Connor has chosen to mix a variety of musical styles instead of mastering one particular genre behind the decks. “DJs today, they only spin house, or they only spin hip-hop, but the more styles that you spin, the more of an audience you can attract. I think it’s definitely helped me.” And with a gig on January 11 for the Players Ball at the Empire Ballroom (Digital Underground will also perform), this decision appears to be working for her. Additionally, Connor has several residencies at clubs in LA and just finished touring for two years with the Maxim magazine model search.
With 2008 just kicking off, Connor says she is putting DJing at the top of her priority list, though she still takes time out to volunteer in the community. Currently, Connor is pitching her own reality show and focusing on spinning for celebrities, but says she wouldn’t mind coming to Vegas more often and stepping behind the one and twos (and threes and fours, since Connor spins both vinyl and CDs simultaneously). She adds, “My ultimate dream job would be to go on tour with Janet Jackson as her DJ.” She’d return to Europe if the opportunity to DJ there arose.
s if her DJ career weren’t enough to handle, Connor continues to pursue singing, songwriting and acting . Her songs have been featured on albums by Jessica Simpson and the Backstreet Boys, among others. Connor’s also had minor supporting roles on both the big and small screens. So, if her acting or singing careers took off, would she quit DJing as fast as Hollywood starlets drop out of rehab? “Not at all,” says Connor. “I don’t think I would ever abandon [DJing] because it’s a love, and I would never be able to abandon a passion of mine.”
For more information about DJ Casey Connor, visit www.caseylive.com. For ticket information about the Players Ball on January 11, call Empire Ballroom at 737-7376.