Mayra E. on Hip-Hop's Bias Against Female DJs and Giving Crowds What They Want to Hear
When Mayra Sias got into the DJ game about five years ago, she probably couldn't have asked for a better instructor -- namely, her husband Les, who's renowned around the Valley hip-hop scene as turntablism guru LES735.
facebook.com/msias Mayra Sias (a.k.a. DJ Mayra E.) in the spin of things at the Diamond Lounge.
Getting schooled on the ones and twos by her better half, who placed seventh at last year's DMC nationals, certainly had both its benefits and drawbacks. For instance, Mayra says, some folks assumed that she'd be able to melt wax and scorch turntables right out the box. Not quite.
That's not to say that she doesn't have ample talents at working the wsince she can certainly get people moving during The Vent, the couple's Friday night hip-hop joint at the Diamond Lounge. Sias definitely has skills, but is the first to admit that she's "still a rookie" with a lot to learn.
As such, the 29-year-old tries to hone her craft and develop her DJ career as much as possible. Well, when she isn't busy with the responsibilities of a wife, mother, and a day job, that is. Sias juggles a lot in her life, including her and her husband's Friday night gig, which this week will serve as the after-party for tonight's screening of Mega-Ran new documentary.
She told us about her experiences juggling both responsibilities and beats during a recent interview, as well as how she believes that DJs should become adept at gauging what their crowd want to hear, the craziest thing she's seen at a gig, and why there's a bias against female turntablists in the hip-hop world.
Name: Mayra Sias
AKA: DJ Mayra E.
Preferred genres: I do a little of everything, but my main focus is the old school R&B '90s music. I drop some Top 40 in there to keep it balanced, but people really dig the older stuff.
Current gigs: The Vent Fridays at Diamond Lounge
How did you get into the DJ game?
I got into [DJing] by watching my husband Les. He inspired me to learn it because he spent a lot of time perfecting it, so I learned to embrace it and [considered] it as part of us spending time together.
What's the most important lesson you've learned as a DJ thus far?
The most important lesson is to keep practicing. Even though you feel you know it enough to give a crowd what they want you want to be able to have a good balance within all regions of music to make people like you and keep coming out to your events.
Do you think there should be more female DJs, either in Phoenix or in general?
Definitely! I think girls get intimidated -- I know I do when I'm around all the OG's. But it's good to hear them give me compliments. I think us females just have less time to focus on hobbies. I'm down to teach any girl DJ.
Is there a bias against female DJs in hip-hop?
I think there is. If you are half naked and pushing buttons, guys are all over you. If you are actually DJing and know what you are doing and covered up, there's not as much attention. If I was half naked, I think I would have a bigger fanbase, mostly dudes. But that's not my priority when I spin.
What the biggest moment of your career thus far?
Thus far, I think, was opening up for Immortal Technique a couple [of] years ago. That was a highlight. I felt proud of myself.