Photos by Justin Dean and Chuck Holliday
A wise man once said you cannot put a slew of jealous souls in the same room who are all vying for one thing, because in the end, there will not only be bruised egos, there’s also the backlash that could only rival a Harlem shootout in terms of intensity. In the case of Houston based model-turned-turntable assassin DJ Southern Belle, backlash is nothing surprising, considering the road to get to the recently held SEA Awards — trying to convince an industry used to seeing her as nothing more than eye candy that she is worthy of being nominated in a music related category was enough of a challenge. Putting together her first mixtape proved the naysayers wrong….for a minute. But with a Female DJ of the Year award now in the record books, it’s officially time to put the “fail” pom-poms back in the closet.
We caught up with DJSB (as she’s affectionately called throughout the southern region) during the aftermath of her SEA Award win to discuss the circumstances surrounding the award, perception, and whether the other female DJ’s can accept a model beating them at their own game.
Avenue 1: Let’s get right into it – tell me about the SEA Awards because there are some people who are not familiar with them, just like there are lots of other award shows that people are not familiar with.
DJSB: The S.E.A. Awards stands for Southern Entertainment Awards. It was started in 2004 in Nashville, TN by Janiro Hawkins III, Jesse Johnson, and Brent Buford. It’s designed to give credit to those left out by other award shows, and also to shine light on independent artists, but the south as a whole. It’s filled with music, conferences and invaluable networking for all participants both on stage and off. As the S.E.A.s grew, its reached outside the southern regions and it has gained popularity overseas now! For the past four years, it’s been held in Tunica, MS in the Casino Resort. Not only its an award show, but during the week it’s a Music Conference. DJ’s, Artists, Labels, etc. go to the conferences and learn the “ins and outs” of the industry that they don’t teach you. One of the head coordinators of the conference is a lady named Wendy Day. She is phenomenal. She’s helped out a lot of independent artists to gain the recognition they deserve. It’s pretty much like a big networking party for the south to come together as a whole. Not only that, but to also provide a pedestal for Southern Music that the World will have to recognize.
How many nominations were you up for?
I was up for 4 nominations. Best Host, Best Intro, Mixtape Rookie of the Year, & Female DJ of the Year. I only won one, and it was Female DJ of the Year!! YAY!!
Now obviously, you have a modeling background, so winning the Female DJ of the Year award must have been an entirely different feeling on all accounts.
Oh definitely. I’m still screaming about the win!! (laughs) I’ve also been DJ’ing for about 5 years and its a little harder because as a female, you have to go just as hard as the fellas and prove to them that you too, know how to read the crowd, mix, cut, and scratch just like them. And when you get the recognition, you still have to go above them to be above their level and gain respect.
I know the party poopers were heavy and alive in that audience – you got some female DJ’s who been DJ’ing for 5-10 years and haven’t won anything but a #1 Daughter pendant, haha!
(laughs) Now be nice. (laughs) I mean, just step your grind up. It’s like as if you were an artist. You gotta do something to set yourself apart from the rest of the artists. As a DJ, I set myself apart from everyone else. I don’t want to be a carbon-copy of someone else that’s out there. I want to be my own individual person.
What were the vibes like? Any beefs, knockouts, Mike Tyson Punchout?
Hmmm…Well…I’m gonna be honest. There were some people that questioned the 5Ws + H about me winning. And yes, I was kinda “threatened” by a few people that I thought I was cool with, so I had to move around. It wasn’t a fight like it was last year, but I promise you, I really wanted to go Muhammad Ali on a few, and bite some ears off like Tyson. I don’t fight pretty. Don’t let 34C-26-33 fool you. *laughs* I mean this is the S.E.A.s!! Some people treat the S.E.A.s as if it was the Grammys or the Oscars. I’m not saying that the S.E.A.s aren’t credible, but I swear people take things a little bit TOO seriously IMO. Overall, I kept a positive attitude and kept my head to the sky.
What was the feeling being on stage and what did you do?
Being on that stage was a wonderful feeling. It went by so fast because after Gucci Mane and Nicki Minaj performed, DJ Chuck T and DJ Bobby Black presented the last four awards. When DJ Chuck T read the winner for Female DJ of the Year, I was like “OH SHIT! This is my category. What’s gonna happen?” I held my breath and when Chuck T said “DJ Southern…”I gasped and he said “Belle” I screamed “OH! THAT’S MEEEEEEEEE!!” I grabbed my parasol, popped it open and I remember literally running down the aisle. I was told that I had a standing ovation when my name was called, and that people ran down the aisle to get a closer look. They couldn’t get on stage because they had it roped off. I was told that I looked like a contestant off of “The Price Is Right” and looked like I won the big showcase. I mean it was MY showcase and I DID WIN DAMNIT! (laughs) My voice was gone as I did my “speech” because I had helped host one of the pre-show parties the night before and I had too much fun!! I was nervous but at the same time I was shocked. I didn’t even have a clue. I shouted out to so many people, that I left out a few people. I couldn’t name everybody ya know?
So I heard about the shout-out you gave to “KingPin” during your acceptance speech. What was the big controversy all about?
(laughs) As I stated before, people take things a little too seriously. KingPin Productionz is one of the BIGGEST street teams out there. (They won Street Team Of The Year, by the way.) Me and KingPin met before in Houston during the Ozone Awards and we ran into each other again. We chatted and he dropped some industry knowledge and basically gave me some insight to step my business game up. I wasn’t the only one he gave advice to. I guess since I’m a female, people felt it was something more to it. Anyway, as I was doing my speech, I noticed he was on stage taking photos and I said “OH! KingPin!! Thank you so much for having my back. I love you.” It was one of those “I Love Yous” that you say to a friend for being there for you. It had gotten REALLY quiet and someone shouted “OOOH! S**T!” I swore I heard some crickets chirping. (laughs) Someone approached me and was like “I heard that you were KingPin’s girl.” I just laughed it off. After the awards, me and KingPin caught up with each other and discussed that, but its no biggie. Me and him is still cool-de-la!
Talk about the performances. Any killer ones? Who disappointed?
My favorite one was by a guy from South Carolina named “Primo Starr.” He did this song called “Say Hello To My Life.” Oh my goodness!! He gotten a standing ovation for it. The song was so real, and everyone could relate. It’s basically about a person that’s struggling in life, and that’s going through the motions. I mean we all are going through that right about now due to the recession, and people being laid off left and right. It’s one of those songs that everyone is gonna feel probably 5, 10, or 15yrs. from now. People go through things regardless. I was kind of disappointed in Gucci Mane and Nicki Minaj’s performance. I think that Gucci Mane was very tired. I understand that he’s back home now and he’s been doing shows left and right. Nicki Minaj is a pretty lady. Her outfit was on point, but she seemed a little nervous. They only did 2 songs, and walked off of stage. They didn’t say anything like “Goodnight S.E.A.s! See you next year!” or “Thank ya’ll for your support!” or anything. They just walked off, and people were looking at one another like a calf staring at a new gate. We were all like “Uhh…okaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Are they done?”
What’s good with the next mixtape? And what else is on the horizon?
I just wrapped up a mixtape entitled “Don’t Mess Wit Texxus” with Kileen Texas’s own Yung Texxus. It’s available now. I also re-released my last mixtape “Southern Unplugged: The Preamble entitled “Reloaded” That too is available. I’m actually working on another mixtape as we speak. I can’t say the name of the title, but you will definitely know when it drop. I’m also hosting a local cable TV show called “I Know My City” which will be airing around April. You can catch me at the Core DJ’s retreat in Atlanta, GA in late April. I’ll be doing my tour again soon and just keep it pumping. There’s a lot in store, but I can’t say too much. Although, if you go to my myspace page, my schedule is updated frequently. myspace.com/djsouthernbelle. Also, my article is in this month’s issue of the Ozone Magazine. If you haven’t copped it, go do that or you can read it online at http://www.ozonemag.com/?p=7839 I’m featured as one of the Sexiest Female DJs.