DJ Tina T is known for her ‘less skin, more skill’ approach to DJing and dominating crowds across the world with no limit of genres. She travels from her home in Vegas to the Bay Area every last Saturday to play to packed crowds at The Parlor including next Saturday, June 30th.

We chatted with Tina about her background, dominating the Vegas club scene and the summer DJ camp for kids she founded – Camp Spinoff.

DJ Tina T “Vegas Nights” Mix

You grew up in Seattle, what was the music scene like and how did that shape what you play today?

Seattle has the Pacific Northwest mentality and is overall more open minded. I grew up in the grunge rock era and then listened to ska, punk and reggae. Next I got exposed to turntablism, hip hop and the rave scene.

I love playing everything. The last thing I want to do is play the same thing all night. If I can I want to take the crowd to everything and throw them off guard.

Three years in a row you’ve been voted Vegas’s best female DJ. What drew you to that city?

I always wanted to do the megaclubs. When I was in college the first out of town booking I had was at Rain in the Palms – the most nervous I’ve ever been at any nightclub.

I got through it but remember after that gig it was something I wanted to conquer. I spent the next 2 years graduating college, preparing for it and coming back and dominating.

How do you go from being a DJ in one city and take it to that next level – getting sponsored, traveling and live the dream?

Skills have to be there but you have to know the right people. There are thousands of DJs more talented than me in their bedrooms practicing but they don’t know the right people.

If you’re keeping in touch with people and have had good experiences working with them, they’re always gonna keep you in mind.

You play every Friday at Marquee in Vegas which was just in the news for kicking house DJ Mark Farina off the decks because the bottle service crowd wanted to hear hip hop. Do you take requests?

The problem is that sometimes you’ll have three different VIP guests standing behind you – one of them asking you to play Bon Jovi, the other asking to play Soulja Boy and the other saying it’s a birthday and the cake’s coming out and they need “In Da Club” by 50 Cent – all at the same time. The general crowd is dancing, hands in the air having an amazing time but they don’t know that you have these micro managing people behind you freaking out.

My job as a DJ is to have the room’s best intentions in mind. Someone has to be the quality control and that’s the DJ. If you start taking random requests and throwing them in it’s going to throw off the whole vibe of the room.

Do you produce music at all or are you strictly mixing?

I do edits, remixes and mixtapes in Ableton but I don’t make things from scratch. The thing that frustrates me is that every meeting I have with managers or people in the industry they’re like, “If you want to take your DJing career to the next level, it’s all about production.”

Whenever people try to say there’s one way of doing something and narrow it into this one way, it just challenges me to take another path and show people – producing is not the one and only way to take your DJ career to the next level. Think outside the box, do something different and break down new doors for people to take different paths.

Not every DJ wants to be a producer. Maybe some DJs want to start a summer camp or collaborate with a violin player like Mia Moretti, I think that’s awesome. I want to see more DJs innovating and doing different things; not just taking the route that everyone says they have to take.

At Camp Spinoff you bring kids into nature and teach them about DJing among other things. Had you taught kids before? What sparked the initial idea for the camp?

I had taught kids here and there at workshops with the Scratch DJ Academy like The Art of DJing 101 but hadn’t had a lot of experience specifically with teens.

I started DJing when I was 15 so that age group of 13 to 17 in my eyes is a really sensitive time to get these kids fired and motivated to do something. Whether it’s sports or piano or DJing, I wanted to provide the ultimate place where they could go and explore that and have the support they need to continue pursuing that passion.

The Parlor presents DJ Tina T Saturday June 30th.