WYAT: Beverly Skillz–all stage or halfstage name?
Beverly Skillz: Half-stage name. But I won’t say which is real!
WYAT: How and when did you first start deejaying?
Skillz: I first started in Lafayette around 2004.
WYAT: At what point did you realize that deejaying was going to be a careerendeavor for you rather than just a hobby or passion?
Skillz: I supposed it was when I started gigging every Friday & Saturday. I’ve had weekends where I’m at a show Thursday through Sunday.
WYAT: How did you come to be the resident deejay at Ampersand?
Skillz: I fi rst started doing Saturdays at Ohm Lounge from around 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Ohm was owned by the same people as Ampersand. When Ampersand remodeled in the summer of 2009 and re-branded, I came on as a part-time resident. I would play once or twice a month. Then over time, I built up a following and became the full-time resident.
WYAT: What have been some of your favorite memories from spinning at Ampersand?
Skillz: Wow, there have been a lot. Aside from opening for a few artists, the most fun for me have been our NeonGlow Paint Parties and BlackOuts. These parties are wild and I’m on the decks from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. for these. It’s a long haul, but everyone is there to party so it’s a lot of fun.
WYAT: You’ve opened for a slew of bigname artists as they’ve passed through New Orleans—who were your favorites to meet and work with?
Skillz: Well, unfortunately, I don’t get to have too many in depth conversations with a lot of the artists I open for because I’m usually deejaying while they are at the club. I guess the artist I feel like has been one of my favorites to be around would be Skrillex. He’s a really nice and down to earth guy. The fi rst time we brought him to New Orleans, we had him at Ampersand. It was pure insanity. At one point I look over and his manager is shirtless and wielding a bottle of Grey Goose over his head. It was hilarious. Another one of my favorites is 12th Planet. His shows are always a blast, and he is a lot of fun to hang out with. We always link up when he is in town.
WYAT: What is your thought process when crafting your sets each night?
Skillz: I don’t usually plan out my sets at Ampersand because they are so long. Also, I never know what the crowd will hit on the most at a party. I do a lot of crowd reading. My main goal is to keep the energy level really high. I’m not satisfi ed unless everyone in the main room has their hands up almost the entire night.
WYAT: You not only deejay, but you’re also an accomplished spinstress. What was going through your head while you delivered the performance that won you 3rd place at last year’s DMC New Orleans heat?
Skillz: Oh man, probably “don’t mess up, don’t mess up.” Unlike deejay sets, battle routines are planned out to the second, and if you miss a cue or a note, it can throw you off your game. Battling makes me a nervous wreck because I know I have to come with my A game for a full six minutes. I do love it though; I’ve always thrived on competition.
WYAT: Locally, and even nationally, you’re in a slim minority of women who are deejaying and gaining recognition. Do you find any specific advantages and/or disadvantages to being a female deejay?
Skillz: I think being a female deejay can help you get your foot in the door, but you have to come with some skills and represent. I don’t allow people to bill me as a “female deejay” anymore because I think it’s kind of silly. You don’t say “female architect” or “female lawyer.” I do recognize that some people still see female deejays as a novelty, but I don’t see myself that way anymore. I get the gigs I get, not because I am female, but because I have a proven track record of rocking the party for many, many years.
WYAT: Do you see more female deejays coming out of the woodwork?
Skillz: I do see more females coming up, but not necessarily locally. There are a few, but I would have expected more. I think that if girls want to do it, they should step up and give it a shot. Like everything, deejaying takes practice, and it takes some time to learn. You have to be a nerd about it.
WYAT: Who are your favorite artists right now, and who are your favorites to spin?
Skillz: Hmmm, for me right now, Flosstradamus is killing it. They are pushing a new sound that I really love. They have been around for awhile, but their most recent EP Total Recall is fantastic. I rarely fi nd a cluster of tracks all at once from a single producer that I love, but they really hit the nail on the head. WYAT: What records are on your turntables at home right now?
Skillz: Bikini Wax Battle Record and probably some random instrum ental on the other side. I’ve been working on my scratch game lately.
WYAT: You’ve proven yourself to be a successful deejay and turntablist—any interest in producing your own original tracks?
Skillz: I only released a handful of original tracks and remixes. The truth is that I have a ton of partially completed tracks that I still need to fi nish. I’d like to release an EP soon, but I really want it to be really good. I wish I had more time to work on my original tracks, but because I play for so many hours every weekend, I spend a lot of time searching for new music and creating edits for my sets.
WYAT: Anything special planned for your set at Voodoo?
Skillz: Hopefully I’ll be dropping a few original tracks for this. But I plan on going all over the map like I always do, with lots of turntablism.
WYAT: Any plans/costume ideas for this Halloween?
Skillz: I’m always a last minute costumer. I’m sure I’ll throw together something at the last minute. Count on lots of glitter!
Photo provided courtesy of Carlton Mickel.