How Working At Barnes & Noble Helped Turn Quin Into A DJ

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by Nadirah Simmons

When we asked Quin what advice she would give to her younger self, she answered quickly: “Hone in on the things that you enjoy the most because it will eventually pay off and work harder at those things.” Nothing has ever been truer, and the DJ that is Quin is a testament.

Coming out of New Jersey, she’s armed with a library of musical knowledge that would rival that of the biggest music head in your corner. Now she’s settled into her role as a DJ, putting out mixes online and spinning at clubs with the hopes of one day traveling the world.

We talked to Quin about how she got her start, the questions you should stop asking DJs at events and making sure her brand is a reflection of herself.


Where are you from and who influenced your taste in music?
I’m originally from Queens, New York, but whenever I claim that people get pissed [laughs]. I’m really from Burlington, New Jersey. I would say my parents mostly influenced my taste in music. When I was young they were big tape and CD collectors, and when I got my first walkman I would always grab stuff from their collection.

It’s always good when your parents put you on. How does their influence manifest in your DJ sets?
Well due to my extensive knowledge [laughs], I try to put people on. You could hear a New Jack Swing set and there are the typical songs that everybody knows like “Poison.” But then you can throw a different song in there that has a similar vibe.

When did you actually start DJing?
At Barnes & Noble. My coworker, who would DJ on the side, would bring a mini controller to work and I would mess around with it. Then when I would hear DJs mix on the radio or at events I would say “oh that’s nice” but in my head I knew I could do better. I was talking all of this crap so I knew I had to try.

How long ago was this?
I started messing around with DJ software in high school. I started DJing fully in 2015/2016.

Is it to create your own unique style and make yourself stand out?
I’m still developing my sound since I’m fairly new. I try to observe a lot of other people as well as get creative when I do things and try to create things I haven’t heard before.

Yes! I love when I go to a party and the DJ ends up putting me on. What songs are you spinning when there’s a really chill vibe at a function?
I have to think, you put me on the spot! Definitely “Kaleidescope Dreams,” that’s a good vibey song and it had a good groove to it. I love Masego so I would definitely play something by him. I would say “After Dark” by Drake. And to get a little romantic, I want to play Sir, but also “Tadow” by Masego!

That’s a good mix of tracks. The last few parties I’ve been to, when it’s time to redirect the vibe of a party the DJs went from Sheck Wes to 6ix 9ine to “Lovers and Friends.” I’m like what the heck, this is whack. Stop playing the same thing!
You aren’t lying [laughs]!

So what are you playing to get everyone hype?
“Big Bank” gets everybody hype so I have to play that. I really like “Uh Uh” by Blac Youngsta. “Twerk” by City Girls is also really good.

Can I just say, “Big Bank” is my song. I told someone it was song of the summer and they looked at me like I was crazy.
You do sound really crazy I’m not gonna hold you.

Really?
Yes! I think there’s a lineup of songs, but for it to be song of the summer? No. Not happening, I disagree.

So what’s song of the summer?
“In My Feelings.”

See, here’s my thing. I feel like that’s song of the year [laughs]. And it’s Drake, he’s passed these titles. Everything he makes goes!
Okay, I feel you. Then there’s “Nice for What,” “FEFE” and let’s not forget Travis Scott’s album. “SICKO MODE” came out and the end of the summer.

Where do you discover most of your music and new artists?
I have a burner account where I follow people who inspire me. And when I’m constantly exposed to those kinds of things it connects the dots. It’ll be a random hipster from Chicago who will post their friend and then I’ll find out about [their music] through that. Or I’ll do the generic search through Spotify and Apple Music playlists and music hubs.

And YouTube of course! The YouTube vortex is the illest club of all time.

The internet is the goat. When it comes to branding yourself how important has social media been, and do you think it’s had a negative or positive impact on entertainers?
Social media is the kind of thing that can make you or break you, you dictate what direction you’re going to go in. Within the past few months I’ve been paying a lot of attention to my social media and focusing on how I’m coming off, the content I’m creating and the quality of my pictures. It’s what you make it so if it’s negative for you that’s a reflection of yourself.

Have you faced any challenges being Black and being a woman pursuing this path?
Definitely. People assume you don’t know what you’re doing, that you don’t know how to use certain equipment or that you don’t know what things mean. It’s hard to discern whether you’re getting a gig or attention because you’re an attractive women or because of what you bring to the table.

What are some unspoken things about DJing that you want people to know?
Don’t put drinks close to the equipment, the DJ booth area is not a coat rack or a safe haven for your purse, I don’t have a charger for you and I don’t have every song in the book.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Definitely want to accomplish more with DJing and diversify the places where I DJ. I do want to remain in the Tri-State area but I want to be able travel other places to DJ. 

I also want use my DJing to branch out into other things such as art, graphics and visuals. And I want to help communities too. Real philanthropic.

Listen to her Afrobeat mix below.