Less Skin, More Skill: 411 Interviews DJ Tina T
Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, DJ Tina T headed out to Los Angeles after graduating from Washington State University, she made her first impression in Los Angeles becoming a finalist in the DJ battle hosted by the #1 hip-hop radio station POWER 106 FM, and the world famous Big Boy in the Morning Show. But it was her victory as LA Weekly’s first ever DJ Spin Off battle that Tina T took home the gold. After moving to Las Vegas in 2008, Tina quickly gained recognition.
With over 13 years of dues paid, Tina T has been able to merge her underground hip hop and turntablist background with the fast pace of mainstream pop, and the forward movement of the indie scene. She has rocked crowds in some of the hottest night clubs all over the world including the Bahamas, Philippines, Canada and Mexico. Notably, Tina T has toured all over the country with such companies as Red Bull, Etnies, DC Shoes, Reebok, Skull Candy, Activision, Teen Vogue and The Dew Action Sports.
Tina T has held down residencies at some of the most famous Las Vegas nightclubs including Prive, Tao, Voodoo and Tao Beach, with headlining performances at Lavo, Pure, Rain, and Tabu.
VANESSA WILLOUGHBY: Who is your biggest musical inspiration? Why?
TINA T: I can’t attribute all my musical inspiration to any one person because there are so many
singers, DJ’s, groups and artists that have influenced me in different ways. Here are a few: Madonna, Beastie Boys, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine, DJ AM, Mix Master Mike, DJ Q Bert, DJ Craze, Donald Glaude and many more…
VW: Do you ever get “stage fright” before a performance? If so, how do you combat the
TT: Not very often anymore, but I used to before DJ battles and big rooms in Las Vegas. I realized there isn’t much you can do to combat it and it’s all in your head. I have to give myself affirmations that this is what I do every day and I am fully prepared for anything that happens. Any nerves I have before going on stage go away after I start spinning, it’s just the waiting around that kills me.
VW: Have you always been a musical person? Is there any artist in particular that compelled
you to DJ?
TT: There were lots of local DJ’s in the Seattle music scene when I first started out who supported, inspired, encouraged and taught me how to DJ.
VW: What are your favorite types of music to mix/spin?
TT: I love anything high energy that will get people moving and hands in the air. Depending on the crowd, this could be a mix of house, hip hop, 80’s, rock and more…
VW: What made you want to start Camp Spin Off?
TT: I wanted to find a way to bring the DJ community together for a fun unique experience. I also wanted to do youth outreach and keep the traditional summer camp experience alive
while support aspiring DJ’s.
VW: What was the process of starting this camp? Did you find it easy? How did you go about
TT: It definitely wasn’t easy. The first year was the most difficult because I had to get
people to envision something that had never happened before with no pictures or video to show. I am very lucky to work with companies like Red Bull and Skull Candy who have always supported my different projects and were able to provide scholarships for kids to attend my camp.
VW: What is the age range for campers?
TT: Boys & Girls ages 13-17.
VW: What are the types of activities and lessons that occur at Camp Spin Off?
TT:There are three different types of DJ classes they rotate through each day: Basics on
turntables & vinyl records, Beat making & remixing with Ableton [and] Traktor Kontrol digital controllers. Our goal is for campers to get their feet wet on various DJ platforms so they can see what they like and prefer to continue with after camp.
VW: Will there be any special guest DJs at the Camp?
TT: Yes. (All names listed on camp web site under “Guest DJ’s). We also just confirmed DJ Eric Dlux from Power 106 Radio in LA and DJ Five from Las Vegas.
VW: Is the camp held at Forest Homes every year?
TT: Yes, we love this camp site. The facilities, staff, housing, activities and food are all
VW: How does the growing reliance on digital affect the DJ world? What do you feel are the
pros and cons?
TT: It is affecting it in many ways How we get and trade our music, how we learn and the
creative capabilities are now endless. I don’t like to think of the negatives because technology is the future and you have to move along with it or you will be left in the past. One thing we make sure of at camp is that kids learn about the history of DJing and how it has progressed into what it is today.
VW: What has been your favorite venue thus far?
TT: I am a big fan of Rain Nightclub in Las Vegas. Even though it has been around forever, it
is still one of the most impressive lighting, sound and production rooms I have played in. Most clubs have stayed strictly away from using fire since unfortunate club fires in 2003, but Rain is the only one who still manages to pull it off and its pretty amazing.
VW: Where is somewhere you haven’t played yet that you’d want to?
TT: I would love to go to Australia, Europe and China. I have dabbled in international travel, but there is still so much of the world I have yet to conquer.
VW: If you weren’t a DJ, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
TT: I would work in entertainment and event marketing. It is what I have always done and
VW: Are there any artists you’d like to work with?
TT: I would like to find a main stream artist or group to go on tour with. Someone like Beyonce, Jay Z, Black Eyed Peas would be amazing!
VW: How do you go about choosing which records to mix?
TT: I read the crowd and strategize my mix by observing the demographics in the room. I also
take in to account what part of the country I am in. Hot songs will vary depending on if you’re in the south, east coast, mid west or west coast. I also find personal favorites that I like to push.
VW: What is the best advice you can give to aspiring young DJ?
TT: Love what you do. Meet as many people as you can and keep in touch with them.
Be humble and know that you will never stop learning. Don’t burn bridges and be professional.
VW: Some artists have a distinct persona for the public (ie Lady Gaga, Beyonce’s “Sasha
Fierce,”). Have you crafted your own public persona? Is there a type of image you embrace?
TT: I embrace a mentality of “Less Skin More Skill.” I want the focus to be about my mind, not
my body. I also want to be a positive role model and inspiring and positive force in the DJ
VW: Many artists have used their status as a platform to speak out about political/social
issues. Are there any issues that you feel passionate about in this same regard?
TT: Without getting too political, I do support gay rights, the legalization of Marijuana for
medical use and preserving a women’s right to choose.
VW: And finally….What’s one surprising thing about you that your fans don’t know?
TT: I have some hidden skills in balloon art, foot bag and cake decorating. I am also half
Currently, DJ Tina T is holding down her Friday night residency at Marquee Nightclub in The Cosmopolitan Of Las Vegas. She is also preparing for the second year of her passion project called “Camp Spin-Off”, a summer camp program she founded in 2010, it is the only sleep-away summer camp for teens that inspires and teaches them how to DJ.
To learn more about Camp Spin-Off, visit Camp Spin Off.
For more about Tina T, visit DJ Tina T.
Photo Credit: Derrick Busch/Fox Racing.