Turning the tables
For decades now, people have been asking the deejay to turn it up or put a record on.
And while we may be entering a time when music aficionados no longer know what an actual record is, the deejay is still alive and kicking.
One of those deejays is Los Lunas High School graduate Lorraine Davis. Although she makes her home in Albuquerque now, and goes by the moniker of Laladee, Davis is still known in her home town.
Recently, she spent the day with a class at Valencia Middle School, talking about her love of music, the deejay business and how it’s changed.
“It’s a lot easier to be a deejay these days. You don’t need turntables and 50 pounds of records,” Davis said. “I do a lot of my work from my iPad. There are programs that literally have a ‘sync’ button.”
Even though she says it’s easier and the “art of the deejay” is somewhat endangered, Davis is confident there is still a place for people with a certain skill set.
“You still have to be able to listen to the music, match the tempos and beats. You can’t just throw just any songs together,” she said. “And you have to be able to read a crowd.”
The primary goal of a deejay is to provide a continuous stream of music for the crowd, Davis said. That means listening to the song that’s playing, while simultaneously listening to the next one over a set of headphones, matching it up to flow seamlessly into the one the audience is hearing.
“So that’s what we’re doing up there. We’re not just standing there looking cute,” Davis said with a laugh.
Knowing what songs will transition well, as well as knowing what not to mix, is all part of what a deejay brings to a concert or club. You just can’t segue from a house techno number into an ’80s power ballad.
“Well, you could, but . . . .” Davis shakes her head.
After graduating from high school, Davis began her musical journey. Always someone with a creative energy, Davis directed her love of creating into the medium of turntables.
“It was the first time I ever just locked myself in my room and learned it,” she said.
For the following three years, she began playing raves and clubs in Albuquerque. Her style of music developed into a menagerie of hard and soulful techno.
In 1999, she became the co-founder of Urban Tek Productions. As part of the tag team, Beauty and the East, Davis began getting hired in places such as El Paso, Rockford, Ill., and Green Bay, Wis.
On her own, she was playing with the likes of Frankie Bones, Joey Beltram, Juan Atkins, T-1000 and her favorite dejay, Heather Heart, to name a few.
Though things seemed to be heading in the right direction, Davis says she felt a deep seeded need to please God in her life.
In 2001, she was with her very own live mix show on the statewide radio station, 88.3 Massive Radio. The show was called “The Vibe,” and for an hour every Friday night, she pumped the airwaves with the best inspirational tracks around.
Just 25 years old in 2002, Davis experienced a lot of firsts — with the help of producer/singer/songwriter, Joey Belville, a Belen High School graduate, from the band, The Echoing Green, she produced her first track “Givin It Back.”
After sending out a demo CD to deejay/producer Scott Blackwell, she got booked to play at the week long festival, Cornerstone, in 2002 and in 2003, becoming the first female deejay ever to perform at Cornerstone.
Davis was also to become the first female deejay on Blackwell’s label MYX Records.
From 2002 to 2005, Davis was the promoter and resident deejay of The Light Club, a non-alcoholic night club that brought in deejays and bands of all genres of music.
In 2006, Davis slowed things down a bit after giving birth to her daughter and began to shift her focus to producing. Since 2007, she has been under the wing of rapper/producer David Lucero, better known as “Madik,” of The Alumni.
After several years of mastering her skills, Davis is beginning her new direction with a new name, Laladee, and her first project as a Pro Legend producer. In 2010, Davis completed four remixes on The Alumni’s limited edition LP “Reinvented.”
Two years ago, 2011, was another year of firsts for Davis. She joined Pro Legend artists The Alumni, singing back-up vocals and some features on their album “Perfect Man.” This allowed her to perform on stage with a live band, which she had never done before. The release of “Love” from that album put Davis on the airwaves for the first time.
All of these accomplishments have culminated in the creation of Davis’ first solo album set to drop soon.
“I can look back at all of the events that have led me here and see God’s hand guiding me to this point. He has placed so many amazing and talented people around me who have been so supportive and inspiring,” she said. “I’m pouring all my heart into an album that I pray touches people’s lives, and I can’t help but let the deejay in me take people on a musical journey from beginning to end.”
And Davis is also using her music to tell the story of her own journey.
Her new single, “Eve in Me,” has a lush sound to it that is modern yet manages to infuse a ’50s, almost big-band sound.
The story of the song is her own.
When she ended up pregnant her senior year of high school at 17, Davis said she and her boyfriend kind of looked at each other and said, “‘Well, I guess we get married now.’ Neither of us really knew what we were doing. We were selfish, both of us, and didn’t do it right. It was 3 1/2 years of craziness, just a mess.”
They ended up getting divorced and remarrying — each other.
“I give all the credit to God for waking both of us up and that was more than 11 years ago,” Davis said. “The message behind ‘Eve in Me’ is that Eve thought there was something better out there in the world. I thought there was something better out there, when it was right in front of me.”
With all her accomplishments, Davis is looking at the future of her career and hoping to “take it to the next level.” But that next step, while exciting, is also a little scary.
“I’ve made a lot of contacts in the Christian music industry, I know the right people,” she said. “I am right on the cusp, which is kind of scary. If I succeed, it’s a big lifestyle change.”
And she’s not the only one about to see major changes in life. Her son is in his senior year of high school and feeling his way out into the world. Davis says he has a great deal of musical talent.
“He’s one of those people who can pick up anything and play it. Me, I can’t actually play an instrument,” she says with a laugh. “I told him, if he and four other guys want to drive around the country in a van and play music, great. But first take advantage of the fact that your parents can afford to send you to college.”
Davis is blunt when speaking about “making it” in the music industry.
“I can’t actually recommend being a deejay. It’s not great hours, not great pay. If you have a child who shows an interest in music, put them in lessons and make sure they know what their responsibilities are and priorities should be,” she said. “In this economy, even with a degree, the pickings are slim. You can’t put all your eggs in that one basket, and you have to have options. I mean, there are so many incredibly talented people out there. But how many rock stars are there though?”
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