Interview with DJ Tess
Photo by Kristie Kahns. Shown: Chic Bra - Mermaid with High Rise Capri - Black
In 2009, DJ Tess, originally a visual artist from Baton Rouge, obtained a set of turntables after being turned on to exploring vinyl and sound as a new art medium. Now living in Chicago, Tess is widely known for her nostalgic R&B sound along with her vibrant, performative energy on stage and her ability to mix old school into contemporary music. Tess not only wears Onzie apparel for yoga and working out, but also for performing. We caught up with her ask her more about her practice.
Onzie: What is your approach when it comes to DJing?
Tess: There are really three main things that come to mind when I think about my craft: focus, skill and style. I’m trying to be intentional about every action that I take towards developing my practice. I’m not the kind of DJ who just stands there—I like to get into my music and use the beat to put my body and mind in a rhythm . . . You really do have to let the music take control!
O: How do you see music affecting yoga and body movement?
T: We’re all connected through music; it’s a universal language that puts us in touch with our own bodies’ rhythms. I think music gives us the opportunity to really explore our inner-spirit, so inside of a practice–like yoga or dance—we can further let our inhibitions down and trust our bodies even more. Both music and dance are important therapeutic releases for a lot of people and can be very healing. It’s a way of expressing yourself with emotion and without the need for your own words.
O: When you DJ a yoga class, what do you usually play?
T: Lately, I’ve been DJing Yoga Sculpt classes and those are typically set at a higher tempo than a traditional class. I’m finding that people want to focus while in session, but also want to have fun and stay motivated! Nostalgic songs with fun inspirational lyrics are always a hit. “Go with It” (feat. Vic Mensa) by The Internet and “One, Two Step” by Ciara are two examples of songs I have recently played in class.
O: Outside of the yoga studio, how do you get the floor moving?
T: Body language is the #1 way that I read a crowd. Reading the collective energy of the room—are people nodding their heads, moving their hips, laughing . . . are people engaged in each other? Because my style isn’t genre-specific, I sometimes have to really mix it up to find what works for the particular climate of a room. I also have to take risks with new music and new techniques. I can practice, practice, practice, but in the end, I just have to go for it in the moment. The higher the risk, the higher the reward. And when the people feel it, their body language lets you know.
DJ Tess Playlist to get you movin'
1. Touch - Toro y Moi
2. Superego - Disclosure (feat. Nao)
3. B4 the Night is Thru - Jesse Boykins III
4. Long Way 2 Go - Cassie
5. One Dance - Drake (feat. Wiz Kid & Kyla)
6. Pull Up to the Bumper - Grace Jones
7. Forever - Dam-Funk
8. Give Me the Night - George Benson
9. ONE TOO MANY - KAYTRANADA (feat. Phonte)
10. U Don’t Have to Call - Erykah Badu
11. Am I Wrong - Anderson Paak (feat. ScHoolboy Q)
12. This City - Snoop Dogg
13. Work It to the Top - The Foreign Exchange
14. In Common - Alicia Keys
15. Wildfire - SBTRKT (feat. Little Dragon)
16. Love Like This - Wild Belle