May, 2011 / Author:

A good DJ is the heart of a party

A good DJ is the heart of a party, sharing the music and vibe that ensures everyone has a good time. And for Shae Kusyk, sharing the music she loves in the best part. With her natural ear for music and eclectic tastes, Kusyk brings something special to the parties she plays for. Add in her quirky DJ name (DJ Two Topping) and great party outfits (bow ties are cool), she seems like an obvious choice to lend a fun-loving vibe to a party. 

But her start in spinning was sudden and unexpected. She loved music – often compiling playlists and CDs for house parties for her friends – and while she’d always thought DJing would be a cool thing to do, she never believed she’d get the chance to try it out.  “I was kind of thrown into it,” she says with a laugh. “I was at a birthday party and Stacy Clark let me use her equipment. I played around on it and I was hooked. She was super welcoming, inviting me over to her house to practise. Soon after, she asked me to DJ at a Pride party last year in front of all my friends. I was shitting my pants nervous. At the end of my set, everyone cheered.”

After her first public set, it just went bananas, She began performing regularly with a local group called Queerview that organizes parties and events. She’s played dance parties for community causes and fundraisers. She’s spun at Gio’s and at Fame. Her upcoming shows include a dance party for queer youth and a fundraiser so that she and DJ Nicole, with whom she works, can afford new equipment. Working closely with a group of other DJs, Kusyk’s love of her community shows in how she speaks about it, the gratitude she shares.

“This really has been a community effort. DJ equipment is really expensive. Then you need space to practise. I was stunned by how generous other DJs were, letting me borrow their equipment. We work together and each person brings their own flavour. We level out nights, get everyone playing on prime time. We’re all doing different things and support each other. The community is opening up – all different people cutting loose in neutral space. I feel super lucky to be a part of people coming out and having fun. We need to work together to bring people back, step up and stop complaining that there’s nothing to do. I just want people to go crazy and get sweaty, and have a great time, of course. We have to let loose.”

Besides community support and love, the essence of Kusyk’s art is her passion. Parties are about uninhibited self-expression, and Kusyk uses music to bring that out in herself and in the people who listen to her.

“I was always hearing either Top 40s or techno and I wanted to fill the space between. It’s about sharing the music. I don’t even really see the people when I’m playing. I want to dance. I want to be that different thing people want to hear. I just want to make people dance, have a super great time and have everyone have good time with me. This is all because someone gave me the chance to play a bunch of music I love.” 

– Katrina Caudle is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer.

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