Our music editor, Cameron, recently sat down with K104’s Dj She Real as part of our COSIGN DJ Spotlight series. Their conversation is below:
Cameron: Thank you again for talking with us today. I’m actually very excited for this interview. Well first things first, go ahead and tell us a little about yourself.
She Real: Okay well yeah! I’m Dj She Real. My government name is Sherell Adams. Grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. I started Djing in college at UNT in 2014. I got most of my start from doing videos online. I would record myself as I was learning and put it online. Every video would get more views and that got me my recognition. Helped me get booked for clubs and parties. It just kind of went from there.
Cameron: Can you give us some insight into your Dj name?
She Real: My Dj name is bounced off my real name because it is Sherell. Back then you know how Twitter use to make your real name into your twitter name.. well I just kind of broke it up. Everybody in school would call me She Real so I just put DJ in front of it.
Cameron: Word? This whole time I thought it was from the “Is She really the Dj” drop? So where did that come from?
She Real: That came from me doing shows all the time, and people not use to seeing a female Dj. As I’m Djing people would literally come up and ask me “Are you the DJ” or “Are you Really Doing this?”.. And I’d be like… well I’m up here. Every time I went places I would hear “Is She The DJ” so I just made it my tag.
Cameron: Do you still get that a lot even today of people still being surprised that it’s you?
She Real: People who haven’t seen me, I still hear it. A lot of times when I go to the clubs I like to walk around and talk to people… so by the time I go to the booth they’ll still be like “ Oh.. She’s the DJ?” so that is still a factor.
Cameron: What would you say is your biggest strength as a DJ?
She Real: My biggest strength I would say my creativity. How I put certain things together. I focus on party rocking and moving the crowd. However, at the same time, I still incorporate the original style of Djing. I spend a lot of time working with vinyl records to improve my scratching skills. Even how I learned how to scratch… I learned by ear. I would pull up Jazzy Jeff videos and I would replay it until I memorized the routine. I would try to imitate the sound. That’s how I learned how to scratch.
Cameron: That’s dope how you taught yourself how to do that. What would you say are your favorite type of gigs?
She Real: I definitely enjoy nightlife gigs and concerts. I get free range of what I want to do and I love getting a good crowd reaction.
Cameron: What would you say is the hardest part of what you do. Especially coming from a woman’s perspective.
She Real: Well there’s a lot *laughs*. One, getting men in the business industry to take you serious, that’s very difficult. Especially when it comes to your money and your rate. Because we all know women don’t get equal pay in this industry (just like everything else). I can get booked for a gig but still people will try to pay me less than what I’m worth. There’s this stigma where women are seen as openers you know? That’s kind of been my obstacle. Showing that we can go hard and hold down a show. Or them trying to get over on you. Guys hitting on you. That stuff is annoying too. Also hearing things like “Oh she’s dope for a girl”.
Cameron: How do you overcome those obstacles?
She Real: You just have to stay grounded. For my first year, I could’ve been a lot further in my career if I didn’t. I wanted the respect first. When I first came out there were a lot of males trying to do the tit-for-tat. I got hit with things like “I’ll put you in this venue if you go on a date with me” or “I’ll book you if you let me get ya number”. I turned down so many gigs when I first started. I didn’t want to be seen like that. So I told myself I guess it just wasn’t my time to enter into this market so I focused on improving my skills and putting it on social media. Eventually, the buzz and the people from social media pushed me through the door. It got to where the people want to hear her so we’ll put her in.
Cameron: That’s amazing. There are people out there willing to sacrifice their dignity and integrity to get further in their careers. Major props to you for staying the course, blocking out the negativity, and using pure hard work and talent to get where you are today. Which kind of segues into my next question. What has been your proudest moment or greatest accomplishment?
She Real: Definitely making it to K104. That’s still crazy in itself! They found me on social media. I was uploading these mixes called “Is She The DJ” on sound cloud and everybody was talking about it. One day I got an e-mail from them with #IsSheTheDJ. They said we’ve been listening to you and we want to bring you in. To this day, I still can’t believe it. I could be driving somewhere when they play my mixes during holidays and weekdays, pulling up to the gas station and hearing my drop “Is she the DJ” and folks don’t even know it’s me right next to them. I went from Djing in the bedroom and small venues trying to get my name out there, to now, I can have my creativity and mixes heard by millions of people.
Cameron: Are there currently any Djs that you Cosign, have as mentors, or Djs that you think are dope and would like to give props?
She Real: Yea I have a few mentors. I have to shout out DJ Jay Clipp. He actually has a DJ school in Dallas that I sometimes help teach. The Keep Spinning DJ Academy at South Side. DJ Steve-Nice at K104 is another. DJ Frosty and DJ Swerva. As far as dope DJs.. there’s so many.. I’ll do my ladies. DJ Poizon Ivy. DJ Duffy who is a pioneer. DJ Teja Alexia. DJ Christy Ray. DJ Does It All. Dj Sammie B. And it’s crazy because we’re all a young generation of DJs too. I really hope I’m not forgetting anybody.
Cameron: We’ll blame your head not your heart. Do you ever have people (especially women) come up and say that you’re an inspiration to them? Do you hear “hey I didn’t think I could do this but I see you out here so I know I can make it too”? Does that happen a lot?
She Real: Yeah it does. I feel honored but at the same time it’s still overwhelming. I take it all to heart. I try to answer every DM and e-mail. Especially for women. If they have questions on how to get started. The game is open for everybody and I have no problem with helping or giving information.
Cameron: Reach one teach one. Alright, lets go ahead and get into some music questions. What is currently on your playlist right now?
She Real: I’m very different from what I actually play. I’m kind of Throwback. I love Big K.R.I.T… J. Cole. Nicki Minaj. When I’m at home I still jam UGK and Outkast. When I’m at home chilling I love the old southern rap. That’s all me, all day.
Cameron: What are some of your favorite music samples?
She Real: “Here I Go” by Mystikal which also was used in “Move” by Ludacris.
Cameron: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
She Real: I hope to be on tour somewhere. That’s my ultimate dream. Playing in different cities to reach a bigger market. Even overseas. Hopefully I can get to the point where I’m DJing internationally.
Cameron: Have you had gigs out of the country? What was your favorite?
She Real: My favorite was Jamaica. Montego Bay. That was so cool because they’ve never even heard of a Female Dj.
Cameron: Oh… so they were very welcoming of that?
She Real: Yes! There was a lot of hype behind it. It was exciting to see people’s faces and looked at me like I was a ghost. The range and freedom of what I could play. I could throw in a pop record or some reggae and really just create some things. I love Dallas.. but in the south the range isn’t that crazy and I kind of have to stick with one specific type of music.
Cameron: So where can the good people find you?
You can find me on social media @thedjshereal, Soundcloud: Dj She real, and website djshereal.com. K104 I’m on air Monday-Friday at 2pm and Saturdays from 8-10pm. As far as gigs I bounce around all over the city if you follow my page.
Cameron: Any residencies? Or people just gotta catch you when they catch you?
She Real: I use to do residencies.. One it was too much drama and two it was hard to keep a creative atmosphere. I like a change of scenery being in different parts of the city.
Cameron: So I have to ask. The famous viral mix that you made. The Drake mash up. Did you expect it to blow up the way that it did? (Click here to Watch the Video)
She Real: I didn’t…. and the crazy thing about it was… I get dreams of mixes. I woke up at 3 in the morning and it kept playing in my head. So I got up in the middle of the night and I tried to put it together but I couldn’t get it to sound like how it did in my dream. The one that I actually posted was the first take. I recorded the video like 20 times! I spent like 5 hours trying to make it sound the way I thought it should. At the end I got frustrated and deleted every video I did except for the first one and I almost didn’t post it. Then one of my friends saw it and encouraged me to put it out anyway. So I did… and I was not expecting the reaction at all. It just started blowing up. Within 24 hours I had over 30,000 views… then 200,000…. then 500,000…then 700,000. The next day I woke up to 1.09 million views. The dopest part about it was I got recognized by a huge Dj pool called BPM Supreme. They reached out to me and asked if they could post it. Which is a huge deal because a lot of Dj pages (and I might get some heat for this but whatever) they don’t really showcase black people… especially a black woman. I was nervous because I thought I was gonna get so much hate and I ended up blowing out everybody that was on there. I had people from all over the world sending me screenshots. People from London, and Amsterdam, and Canada just showing love and writing me in languages that I don’t understand.
Cameron: Hard to believe you almost didn’t put it out. Just shows we can be our own worst critics sometimes. Congratulations on your success. We at Cosign wish you the best in your endeavors. My last question. If I’m a brand new Dj and I’m trying to get booked for gigs, and keep getting booked what advice would you have for me?
She Real: Perfect your skill. You have to be 10 times better than the guys in there. You don’t want to come out and not be up to par. You’ll have the quickest ending career ever. Then once you’re ready it’s all about branding and marketing. Go to networking events. Whenever you do DJ, get pictures and videos. When I first started that is something that helped set me apart. Just knowing how to brand yourself is essential. I made myself look bigger than what I actually was. I had these elaborate videos that elevated me. You have to invest money and you got to have quality.
Cameron: If you could curate a 15 song playlist of artists that you Cosign (local or non-local) who would be on it?