“I live by some advice this girl Lissa told me/The other day Lissa told me that she missed the old me/Which made me question when I went missing/ and when I start treating my friends different…”- Drake -The Resistance
DJ Lissa Monet is a product of Toronto, Canada that encompasses style, class and skill to form a following that’s all her own. This female master of the turntables is not only a DJ but a famed blogger and T.Dot staple that’s earned her the nickname the “Go-To-Girl” for connections and insight into the industry. A now two-time Stylus award winning “Female DJ Of The Year” , Lissa Monet sat down with HipHopWired to tell us how a mentor in the DJ game showed her the ropes, who else is repping for Toronto besides her good friend Drizzy and how she plans to expand her takeover.
Origin: Toronto, Canada
Current Location: Toronto, Canada
Top 10 Playlist:
1. Jay-Z – Allure
2. Mary J. Blige – My Life
3. Notorious BIG f. 112 – Sky’s The Limit
4. Gregory Isaacs – Night Nurse
5. Janelle Monae – Letting Go
6. Carl Thomas – I Wish
7. Isley Brothers – For The Love Of You
8. Dwele – Hold On
9. A Tribe Called Quest f. Faith Evans – Stressed Out
10. Drake – Successful
HipHopWired: Take me back a little bit and tell me about when you got started. How did you really got into the whole DJ scene.
DJ Lissa Monet: I basically got started when I got started partying and I started partying at a really young age. I was going out to all these parties and started realizing that I knew a lot of the music, whether it was new or old, like I was up on what the music was at whatever party I was at. So I started building relationships with DJ’s and promoters and stuff like that and there was this one particular DJ who was like “Why don’t you just start DJ-ing? There aren’t any female DJ’s or there aren’t many female DJ’s in Toronto.” So I said ok and I would go to his house and practice, he would teach me how to mix and like put music together and stuff like that. Then he started a weekly on his own and was like “Why don’t you come and open for me so you can get familiar?” and that’s how I kind of started playing in clubs.
HipHopWired: And what DJ was that?
DJ Lissa Monet: His name was Kap’n Kirk from 4-Korners.
HipHopWired: Who would be some people that you would say influenced you besides him?
DJ Lissa Monet: There’s a really dope DJ here in Toronto by the name of DJ Starting from Scratch, he’s that DJ that everybody looks up to and tries to be like. He’s one of those DJ’s whose musical knowledge is really, really vast and he’s got a basement full of vinyl and stuf like that. He’s able to play at any party he’s hired at and I think that’s why he’s the type of DJ that everybody strives to be like. The more flexible you are the more you’re able to spin at and be hired for. Right now he’s on FLOW 93.5 and he’s just that dude that everybody looks up to. So Starting from Scratch for sure and from a business perspective and DJ angle I would probably have to say guys like DJ Clue and Funkmaster Flex who turned their DJ profession into franchises in the sense that like Funkmaster Flex went from DJ-ing to television to his own line of rims and the car shows and stuff like that. I’m not into that, but I can totally see the possibilities so as a DJ it totally opens your mind to be like you don’t have to be just stuck DJ-ing all your life, you can take your personality as a DJ and open that up into different areas and interests and expand on your empire. My other influences music-wise, Jay Z is somebody that I look up to, I guess you could say he’s kind of like my unspoken musical godfather. You can listen to his music and just learn. I learned a lot of my street smarts from him and stuff like that, how to deal with people and how to “move through a room of vultures so to speak.” (Laughs) I just learn through music. Mary J Blige took me through a phase in my life and right now Drake is doing his thing and what he talks about really reflects life in Toronto, like the world can now kind of get an idea what it’s like to live here. My influences really come from Toronto and artists who are really doing the same thing.
HipHopWired: So what is the hip hop scene like in Toronto? I know everybody is looking at Drizzy right now, but what else is out there?
DJ Lissa Monet: We’ve got a lot of talent, Melanie Fiona is from Toronto and on the R&B side we’ve got this girl known as Trish who is absolutely amazing. There’s also another R&B singer by the name of Tim Davis who’s also really, really good. On the hip hop side, Drake’s got a dude that’s kinda coming up under him by the name of P Reign, there’s another rapper by the name of JD Era who’s lyrically insane, we’ve got a lot of underground acts like Tona, those are the people that come to mind right now that are doing things in the city on a commercial level.
HipHopWired: Going back to you, I heard you won the 2010 Female of the Year for the Stylus DJ awards?
DJ Lissa Monet: Yeah, yeah.
HipHopWired: You won last year for Female DJ of the Year and then this year for Female DJ of the Year again. So how does it feel?
DJ Lissa Monet: What was really cool about this year was I was able to transcend just Female DJ of the Year and I was nominated for 4 categories, I was nominated for Mixtape of the Year which was a mixtape that I did in collaboration with another DJ by the name of P-Plus which was called Love Letters and Broke Hearts, I was also nominated for Toronto DJ of the Year and Club DJ of the Year. I’m like the first female DJ to be nominated in categories outside of just Female DJ which was amazing. That was probably like the best part, winning the award was cool but the fact that I was able to nominated in different categories with all the other boys was probably the best part of that whole Stylus experience.
HipHopWired: Being that you are a female DJ, do you ever feel like people automatically doubt you or judge you? But if you’re winning all these awards though does that really still happen or was that just like a back in the day thing?
DJ Lissa Monet: You know what it’s weird because I never really felt like I was treated that way and if I was I probably didn’t notice. I built a lot of really good relationships with other DJ’s, especially how I started playing downtown in some of the more major clubs. I was just calling guys up like “Hey can I open for you? Hey can I do this party or can I do that party?” I was totally down for doing it for the experience and stuff like that and I wasn’t trying to make money off of that, but sometimes I’ll play with DJ’s who have never heard of me before and sometimes it’s an ego thing, some DJ’s like to play prime-time when the club is packed and they want to play all the hits and stuff like that. I had to learn that I’m just starting out and I’m a female and sometimes the last thing people need is a diva, if I have to open up for 100 DJ’s before I start playing prime-time, then that’s what I have to do. Usually I’ll come and play with somebody that I haven’t played with before and they’re looking at me like “Oh God, this girl, what’s she about?” and I end up playing and at the end of the night they’re like “Oh my God you’re wicked” and that’s really what it is, it’s gaining the respect of my peers and having that respect and not being known for anything else other than being a good DJ.
HipHopWired: You’re definitely out in the club scene, but are you looking to maybe one day transition into something different, maybe like radio?
DJ Lissa Monet: I’ve talked to a friend about that and I’d love to do radio, but I’d like to do more like talk radio which is ironic because I’m a DJ, but I’m also really passionate about music. If I were to transition into radio, I’d like to be more like a radio host for a specific show and just talk about all the cool new music that I come across. I do it through my blog and I do it through Twitter, but radio is such a powerful medium of communication and that would be amazing to me.
HipHopWired: Let’s talk about mixtapes, I know you said you did the Love Letters and Broken Hearts and you got a lot of praise for that Keri Hilson Miss Perfection mixtape, so what was the most recent mixtape you put out and what’s the next one you have coming up?
DJ Lissa Monet: It’s sad to say but I’m kind of too busy to do mixtapes right now, being in the club kind of pulls you away from being at home and putting music together for a mixtape. The last mixtape I did was the Tape Files for a website called iLuvLola.net and I just basically put together a mini-mixtape of songs from artists that were hot in the city right now. She’s doing something called the Tape Files and I was the first person to do it with her.
HipHopWired: Yeah, so it’s just hard to fit it into your busy schedule.
DJ Lissa Monet: Yeah, too busy. It’s weird because I started out doing mixtapes and when I wasn’t in the club I was at home making mixtapes and pretty much releasing mixtapes every 2 weeks for like a month and that’s how I got the word out there for me being a DJ and stuff like that. Now that I’m in the clubs and doing parties it’s so much harder to do the mixtapes.
HipHopWired: What’s next for you this year? Where can we find you next? Are you still going to be out in the clubs?
DJ Lissa Monet: For sure, definitely. I’m trying to do a lot more traveling, so I’d love to DJ parties in Miami and New York. I’m going to actually be DJing in the UK this summer. It’s really weird, I’m DJ-ing a wedding in Scotland and then I’m off to London to do a couple of gigs. (Laughs) Yeah, I’m just trying to travel and DJ and see the world. I was in Africa last year Ding, so I’m trying to let this whole DJ thing take me wherever it wants to take me.
HipHopWired: Do you have any last words or shoutouts?
DJ Lissa Monet: I just want to shout out Toronto, I’m really proud of the city. Right now the spotlight’s on us and I feel like a lot of people shouldn’t sleep on what the city has to offer because I personally feel like we have a lot of good talent and we have like the best DJ’s in the city here.
HipHopWired: If anyone wants to get in contact with you, what’s the best way to do it?
DJ Lissa Monet: My twitter is @djlissamonet, I’m on Facebook- Lissa Monet, I have a blog at lissamonet.com/blog.
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