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DJS REVEALED: DJ POIZON IVY: HERE TO STAY


First things first, why the name Poison IVY and whats your real names?
My real name is Ivy Awino. And those are my only two given birth names. I chose the name Poizon Ivy because when I was younger, kids would always make fun of me and call me poison ivy, as in the plant. You know the one that makes you itch. Obviously this would make me sad and I would cry but as I grew up I started to embrace the name because poison ivy is actually also a comic book character, one of the only female characters in Batman. And so I embraced it and I replace the S with the Z, just to make it different and also because I'm a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. 

Tell us a little bit about your back ground?
I was born and raised in Langata in Nairobi, Kenya. I moved to Dallas, Texas at the age of nine. I lived in Dallas for my entire childhood before going to college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I went to Marquette University, same university that Dwayne Wade went to and a slew of other basketball players. It's a great academic institution that also has a storied basketball program. I recently moved back to Dallas about two years ago.  


You attended Marquette University where you played at WMUR, the student-run radio station what did you major in?
I majored in corporate communication with a minor in advertising.


How did you end up being a dj and why did you decide that djing it is and how long have you been a pro dj?
I've been a pro D.J. for about five to six years. I've been into music my whole life. I played piano for about twelve- thirteen years. My grandmother bought me a baby grand piano when I was five years old and ever since then  I took to the instrument side of things. I played cello in middle school orchestra. I used to want to be a pop singer. I still do sometimes but when I was in college my fraternity brothers were some of the biggest deejays in the city and I was just intrigued at how they played music. I had been exposed to DJing before but not that close. I remember really enjoying how they made music sound and the power that they had to really move crowds through playing music was intriguing  so one day I asked my frat brother D.J. Adamocity to teach me how to D.J. and he just dropped off the turntables to my house that very next day and told me to figure it out. Of course he helped me along the way but he truly helped me learn by letting me learn on my own. I started DJing on my radio show and then word got out and you know Josh (Adamocity) would let me go with him to college parties and he let me set up the equipment and then he let me rock ten minutes then he let me rock twenty then he let me run thirty up until like I could rock half a party and then you know he would do the rest and then I would host it....  that's kind of how I gained my hosting skills. And then from college I started getting other shows around the city and before you know it, I was doing some pretty major stages. So honestly I think deejaying chose me to be real.


You have shared stage with the likes of Nas, Wiz Khalifa, Lupe Fiasco, B.o.B, J. Cole, Juicy J and more, what just makes you tick considering the fact that you in a "foreign" land and in a market flooded by men?
I've been very blessed to share the stage with the likes of Nas, Wiz Khalifa Lupe Fiasco, B.O.B, J Cole, Juicy J …… the list goes on and on. I don't really think about being in an industry dominated by guys and I don't think about  the fact that I was born in a foreign country and I'm here now with the people who are really  doing it. I just kind of wake up every morning and chase after my dream.  I mean its crazy. To touch the stage and then right after Nas goes on the stage. It was like wow! You know these are things that sometimes you don't think can come true. So for me. I just use all of it as motivation to know that if certain things have come true, I definitely can achieve just about whatever it is that I want. All I ever ask is to be treated with respect. But I think that is just a characteristic of good human beings. I don't think it's gender driven or anything like that. I just think that overall go into situations expecting to be treated with respect. So that's that. 


I see you into basketball too? tell us more about that.
Yes I've loved basketball my whole life. I grew up around my uncles who were huge basketball fans and players and  that was circa Jordan era and they were huge Jordan fans. I've grown up around the sport my whole life for sure not only as as a fan but also as a player. I played by basketball  in middle school and high school. Obviously it got to the point where I realized that I was probably not going to be what the next level. And at that point, I transitioned to doing other things but you know it's a sport that I just know quite alot about by virtue of being around it for so long and I love it. I truly truly love it. 


What challenges did you go through, or are you still going through as a dj?
As a D.J. honestly I would say like anything else it has its challenges of course and you know you have a lot of people who are not as open or don't embrace new technology as much as us millennials. So you have this great divide between the old school and new school D.Js. I also like to play everything. I play all types of music so im the kind of D.J. that almost forces music down your throat. I've refused to be put in a box or limited by certain expectations. I just kind of want to be me and do me and sometimes that is a challenge because not everybody understands that. However I see it as a challenge that I'm willing to take on and that I embrace so just more so growth and branding yourself and and giving people the time to accept you as you are, because as a D.J. obviously and as a public figure entertainer or whatever you're trying to gain a fan base. But I want them to like me for who I am and not for what somebody or something has forced me to be.


What is your take on the Kenyan djing industry, do you see any growth?
Kenya has some of the greatest D.J.'s hands down. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Every single time I am in Kenya, I'm amazed at the creativity, the musical knowledge, the talent that exists….. I just wish that the industry was designed in a way to make sure that everybody profits.  I don't want to see the industry being monopolized or anything like that but I'm very happy to see D.J. schools and the rise of female deejays in Kenya and the incredible talent. I would of course just encourage anybody who is in that field to be in it for the right reasons, to respect the culture and to just strive to be the best D.J. that they can be and whatever that their goal is to strive for it and not to forget to reach back and help somebody along the way. Of course, we as deejays, should also create more opportunities for ourselves. You know there are only so many clubs in the city there are only so many radio stations in the city and there are only so many people who are going to have those jobs at any particular given time so I just challenge the powers that be to create opportunities for those who choose to pursue djing as a career to flourish .


What is the djing market in the US like?
The D.J. market in the U.S. is very very diverse. From being a turntablist to people that play pre recorded sets, you have those that are mobile deejays you, have radio deejays. It's pretty similar. I would just say that right now there is a rise of deejays, you have personalities adding that little ability to their repertoire so you have celebrities  like Snoop Dog, Wiz Khalifa and a few others that are now taking up deejaying. So the djing  market is crazy out here, you know, but it also is very lucrative and I like it. I don't have any negative critiques or anything. Definitely trying to just create my own niche


What was your first major "break through" gig and how did you handle the pressure and tension?
Well in 2011 the very first big stage that I played was at a music festival held in Milwaukee Wisconsin called Summerfest and I opened for Wiz Khalifa and that was the largest turnout that they had had for free stage so I think it was about 25,000 people and I remember I was so nervous that I just was like "you know maybe today is not a good day for me to perform" but obviously I knew that was not an option and so I just sat myself down took a few deep breaths and told myself that God doesn't give you anything that you're not prepared for and I had a set that I had properly prepared and I just went out there and I gave it my all. I never have forgotten that feeling. It's the same feeling that I channel every time I need motivation or anything like that. So I'd consider that as my major breakthrough gig


So what has been your highest moment as a dj and lowest moment?
My highest moment as a D.J. obviously being named the official team D.J. for my favorite team, my hometown team the Dallas Mavericks. And coincidentally the lowest moment would be in 2012, I  auditioned to be a D.J. for the Milwaukee Bucks. I was one of five people who was invited and of course the only girl and what happened was after series of auditions and things of that nature, they ended up offering me the job but then rescinded it shortly thereafter for reasons still unknown to me and I would say that I would be my lowest point.


What inspires you?
Everything inspires me. Life is inspiring to me I think that any day that you get to live another day, It means that God is not done with you and you have not completely fulfilled and carried out his will for your life and so that's what inspires me. My daughter inspires me. I have someone who looks up to me to provide for her, to guide her, to raise her to be the best version of me for her and so my daughter is definitely my greatest inspiration.  My mother and my grandmother,  I would also say are my biggest inspirations. They have sacrificed so much for me and so whenever I feel like I'm a little unmotivated or feeling like not on the course, I think about everything that they've done for me and I think about my daughter and the fact that I have to do the same for her and I think about the fact that I'm alive. 


Had you not been a dj, what would you have ventured in?
I wanted to become the first female commissioner of the N.B.A. So my plan was to go to business school, go to law school get my dual degree MBA, J D. And then become a sports agent, practicing lawyer or something like that. In the end work for the N.B.A. and hopefully work my way to become the league commissioner. Obviously I was destined to work in sports entertainment and eventually I think that something in the entrepreneurship realm. My end goal is probably in politics and philanthropy. I think all those things are in my destiny someway somehow so it's just interesting to live every day and see how they manifest. 



Any dj in Kenya you give props ?
Oh my goodness. There are so many but I have an absolute favorite, DJ Kym Nick Dee….Oh my gosh! Without any shadow of a doubt. I totally think he might be my favorite deejays and it's funny because he has that one drop that's like "your favorite deejays favorite D.J." Absolutely I am so not ashamed. He's awesome. I'm great  friends with a lot of other guys though. I'm very good friends with D.J. Andie and D.J. Bash. They've been so welcoming to me every time I'm in Kenya. Of course at HBR… I always steal one of Bash's slots. He shares them with me should I say. Andie is a great great great personal friend of mine, one of my best friends.  Man there are so many talented deejays in Kenya Obviously I can't forget the great Pinye. Kenya is filled with so many deejays of course you know D.J. John, DJ Adrian, Joe Mfalme. I actually train with DJ E and the guys from The Itch Tour while I'm at home. There's so much incredible talent but those I think will be like my notable mentions but I'm not forgetting anybody. It's not out of ill will. It's just there are so many of you that are amazing. This list could go on and on and on .


Which track do you always kill the crowd with?
It depends on what crowd I'm playing for, but the thing is I play for so many different  types of people that list could be very lengthy. Of course if playing for Afro crowd anything Wiz Kid obviously, If you're playing in Kenya. It really just depends if you're going old school, if you're going new school if you're going to old school of course any of ESIR (RIP), likes of Nameless, the whole of Ogopa stash, Longombas…Any of that stuff. When it comes to the Newer Kenyan stuff  anything Khaligraph Jones…mi casa sucasa. Of course you have Gudi Gudi…Big big shout out to Rap Damu, Naiboi and the whole entire Pacho family. Madtraxx and the Kansoul have amazing having party jams. Kid Kora and also Musyoka may be some of my all time favorite producers so anything they touch is great. That's for the Kenyan crowds. Then you have like the hip hop side of things, you know right now anything Future and Drake is killing. I'm from the south. So I listen to a lot of the Southern rap.  But music is crazy because it just so many different categories and people that I could play for. In the arena, I have my arena classics. I listen to a lot of rock and metal and stuff like that. Right now I'm really digging Bruno Mars, anything Bruno Mars and of course Beyonce. The list goes on and on and on and on for sure. 


Tell us about your current DJ setup? What Hardware /Software do you use?
So right now at the house I have a pair of Technic 1200 turntables, a Pioneer S9, but then I also have pioneer DDJ SX2. I run both at home just depending on what I'm doing. If I'm practicing I usually try to run the twelve's. When I move around my mobile set up is my Pioneer.  I have a pair of Rockit 5" studio monitors that I run at the house. I run Serato of course. But that's my basic set up. My favorite headphones right now are my Koss Pro DJ-200s. They are a company out of Milwaukee. They used to make like the Walkmans and stuff like that. I have a pair of JBLs too. I'm always open to trying new things but that's my current set up 


Whats your ideal dj set up?
You already know. Technic 1200s. I'm actually in the process of getting mine customized. Right now, I'm in love with this Pioneer S9. I also love great sound.  I'm a huge fan of J.B.L's, QSCs. I just love loud music so anything that projects quality sound.


Turntables Vs. Cdjs, whats your take?
I guess it depends on what you're doing. I'f im at home in a controlled setting obviously turntables if in a club or outside where the setting isn't controlled of course CDJs are easier to use but I'm fluent in both. I'm not really picky, I'm easy.


Any gigs you've done in Kenya and where have you played in US and which other notable venues have you done gigs at?
Yeah actually when I was there last summer I played with G. Money in Machakos. . I've played at different places in Kenya. 1824 and Carnivore, Homeboys, Nation. I move around. But I'm always open to doing more things. I think I'm planning a trip there in the next few months. I'll hopefully  know soon. In the US I've played everywhere. I travel a lot. I'm constantly on the road New York, L.A., Miami Texas Atlanta,Minnesota, D.C……… I stay on the road but I'm hoping to add to my global repertoire in this next year so I'm hoping to go to Europe and you know the Dubais, Dohas…I'm just a traveler. I love to travel so  I'm hoping that my gift can definitely help me see the world. Notable venues are that I've played...I've played at several different arenas around the US. different clubs several different radio stations. But I would really love to play at the 02 arena in London


Which was your best gig ever and which is the worst?
I have a lot of great gigs. I've gotten paid a lot of money to play for one hour, one hour only. It was a gig that I did for one of my favorite clothing/shoe brands LOL. It was my first four figure check for the amount of time I played.  I would probably say it was the day I opened for Nas, I mean that’s Nas man. That was a dream come true. That was great.  I wouldn't say that I've had a worst gig but  again you have the days where equipment fails and attendance is low but I don't ever look at it like that. I look at everything as a learning opportunity.


Whats your dream gig and if you could stage a rave anywhere, where would you choose?
I love playing festivals stages. My dream gig would be to tour with Beyonce which will happen in approximately three to four years I will say. Yeah, I would just love to do a world tour with a major artist and that's something that I pray God will open doors towards.


What effort do you put in your djing career? 
Every moment of my waking life. There's no moment that I'm alive that I'm not thinking about work. It's just something I work on every single day, every single day for several hours a day in one capacity or the next



Now to the big news....The Mavericks gig how did you just pull that? 
 I started with the Dallas Wings which is the W.N.B.A. team. I'm Skylar Diggins’ personal D.J. and I deejayed for her basketball camp tour. Skylar is the only female athlete signed to Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports, she also plays for the Dallas Wings. I started with the Wings last summer and halfway through the season my boss let me know that the Mavericks were looking for a  D.J. and they were interested in speaking with me. I met with them and honestly the rest was history. It was pretty fluid and thank God for the exposure and the practice that I've had over with the WNBA and how it prepared me for the Mavs.


You were also a ball kid for the Mavs, did you ever imagine that you would end up as their official dj?
No I never thought I'd be their official D.J. but I will say I always wanted to come back and work for the organization so to come back and work for the organization as their D.J. is pretty amazing. But yeah I was a ball kid for about six years from the ages of twelve to eighteen. 


How was your first gig for the Mavs?
The first day with the Mavs was interesting and very nerve wrecking and very exciting at the same time. It's funny because now I'm about five games into the season and it almost feels like second nature but I'm such a perfectionist I always want each game to be better than the last so  I'm definitely putting in so many hours to make sure that I create a unique culture for Mavs fans here at the American Airlines Center. 

You are also the official DJ of the Dallas Wings (WNBA) and Skylar Diggins’ Shoot 4 the Sky Basketball Camp Tour, tell us more about this and working with a superstar like Diggins.
Yes I'm  the official Dj for the Dallas Wings and Skylar Diggins Camp. Skylar is amazing. She's a very down to earth woman and just a hard worker and being around her is so motivating. And she's a great friend.  I'm just so grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to work with her and giving me a platform on which to build a great part of my career,  so I definitely take that as a blessing and hopefully we can bring the camp to Kenya. We're going to definitely try to make it happen. 

As part of the Dallas Mavericks entertainment crew, what does your job entail? Just djing or there is more?
On game days I'm usually at the arena about two and a half to three and a half hours prior, going in just to prepare loading in music, doing interviews if I have to pre game and I just like to take the time to be in the building before the game and get acclimated and just kind of get a feel for the energy because that some how gives me a direction of how to go. Some of the guys, the players like me there a little earlier, so I could play music for their shoot around. Then of course we go through the game and post-game, I'm only there for about thirty minutes breaking down equipment. You know, meeting fans, taking pictures stuff like that. It's a vigorous schedule. Sometimes we have up to three to four home games in a week, sometimes the team is on the road. So really just depends on the N.B.A. calendar but, yes that’s my schedule with the team. 
Actually the interesting part about it is that not only am I the dj, I’m also like the in  arena sound and musical director because I play all of the in game sounds. So all of like the defense chants; everything that you hear in the arena comes from me except for if it's coming from a video. So it's quite a responsibility. I mean I set the tone for the whole night and I think about this every single day and I'm just like wow! It's definitely a great responsibility that I'm entrusted with but I also do team events like meet and greets and other private events and player events and I'm definitely contracted way more than just in the arena. As a part of the Dallas Mavericks entertainment crew I mean just as a part of the Mavericks organization in general I'm kind of the music mind I guess you could say. But it's a blessing of course also just being part of the Mavericks family, being a part of the brand, it's very important for me to be out and active in the community as necessary. I'm more than just a D.J. I'm one of them. I'm more than just their D.J. I'm also part of the Mavericks brand, part of the Mavericks family and it's a very very tight unit. We all get along amazingly and we're all just so passionate about what we do, and represent the Mavs in the city of Dallas so it's amazing. 

The groupies though.....How do you handle all the groupies?
I embrace all my fans. I like to meet people, I don't have any crazy stories like that. I think I'm a pretty chill person actually. I think it's funny. I think that people are often surprised at how cool I am, like when they come up to me and I know them and recorgnize them  from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or whatever and they're kind of like “Wow you know me”And I'm like of course I know you so I'm a fan of my fans. How about that? I mean I meet a lot of great people obviously being in the arena. So sometimes walking down the hallway you bump into... I don't know your favorite player you bump into a celebrity or you bump into this person and then it's kind of cool. I just take it all in stride.  


How do you spend your free time?
I don't have free time.... Im joking. Anyway with my daughter, I spend a lot of time with family and friends just because my work schedule is so demanding. Any free time that I gain, I usually devote to my family and my friends and then you know I love watching  T.V. I watch a lot of Netflix and Amazon Prime and catching up on documentaries. I'm a huge history buff.  I'm starting to get really into fashion so I'm always like researching brands and drawing designs and sketching designs and stuff like that. I love cooking, working out… I'm trying this thing trying to keep myself active thing. I love traveling and of course listening to music. Listening to music for leisure. Obviously I do it for work but in my for in my spare time I do it for leisure. 


What do you consider your main achievement as a dj and where do you see yourself in ten years time?
OK so as a D.J. I am grateful to God for the fact that I've been able to create a niche for myself and for my brand. If you know me you know what it stands for. It stands for female empowerment, for pursuing your dreams, just knowing your worth and being so sure and loving where you're from and for me that's Nairobi Kenya and using my spotlight, and my platform as a voice for so many other people beyond myself. That's what I consider my main achievement as a D.J. It has nothing to do with money, has nothing to do with fame, has nothing to do anything like that. It has everything to do with what my platform is going to do and how I can be impactful to society. That what I consider my main achievement. 

Where I see myself in ten years. Gosh. Hopefully married with kids. You know I'm a big family person. I would love to have  a family of my own, raise children and be a great wife and things of that nature, but I also want to go into politics and philanthropy especially in Kenya and Africa and other developing countries I would love to work with the government in creating and implementing policy that would allow entertainers and athletes to have successful lucrative careers in Kenya, in Africa and in other places where the industries aren't as developed as they possibly could be. I would just love to work with the government to create legislature to make this possible. These industries are lucrative billion dollar industries in so many different places around the world. You can look at the U.S. and Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood. I mean the list goes on and on and on. So yes that’s what I want to do and also philanthropy, I also want to go into just a lot of charity. The world is advancing but I think that as the world advances the gap between the haves and the have nots also widens and so we should never forget about those who are less fortunate than us and I would love to dedicate a good portion of my life to to charity work. 



You are the 2nd female to be the official dj on a NBA team in history, how does it feel?
Yes I am the second female to be an official of an N.B.A. team the in league history. 
Its such an honor and a blessing and I know that  God definitely has great plans for my life. It's never anything I thought I would do, you know and every single time I hear this question comes up it just reminds me how blessed and how fortunate I am and that also I know that there is a lot that weighs on my shoulders because I'm setting the path for a lot of women who are going to come after me and that's crazy. So crazy but I'm so excited and I'm ready and willing to step up to the plate and to the challenge  to make this happen.


What does most people don't know about you?
I am the goofiest person ever. I love to have fun. I love talking, I love meeting people, I love music. I'm a lover of  life and honestly, if you get to hang out with me you'll get to really know who I am. 
I'm actually half luo, half luhya. That's something people misconstrue. My dad is Luhya, my mom is Luo. I was an only child for sixteen years. I have 2 younger brothers. Most people don’t  know that I do have a brother in Kenya who is an aspiring actor. He had a recurring role in Tahidi High and he's working on a few other things. He's actually a senior at JKUAT.


Any advice to upcoming djs?
Don't ever be discouraged. Work hard but work smart. Just respect the craft, respect the culture and respect your self. I think when you have respect for those three things. Everything else will fall in line.


For more info you can follow Dj Poison Ivy on twitter @poiZonivytheDJ, Instagram @poizonivythedj, Like her Facebook Page Poizon Ivy the Dj

Click HERE to listen to her mixes on SoundCloud

Check out here website on www.poizonivythedj.com/


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