How long have you been a DJ and how did you become interested in it?
I started DJ'ing pretty late, I started full out DJ'ing when I moved to Jamaica in 2006, but I originally dabbled around with it in early 2000, just blending rhythms at WESU right here in Connecticut.
What are some of the obstacles you have faced being a female DJ?
The biggest obstacle is being taken seriously. It is sometimes difficult to get my point across in a male-dominated industry because oftentimes I see things differently and want to approach things in ways that are outside the box, which is cool because I believe that change is good. It's more of a hurdle than an obstacle though.
How did you become one of Jamaica’s most popular radio personalities?
I became a DJ in Jamaica when I was hired in 2006 on Zip FM. I was unaware at the time I would be required to DJ my own program. I became the most popular I believe because I was honest with the people, my listeners. I stuck to presenting them with quality music and the most up to date news told in my own way. If you add that to my unpredictability in the streets, well the rest is history still in the making.
How did you get involved with modeling for the Dancehall 101 CD covers and how many covers were you on?
A dear friend of mine James Goring, who worked at [VP Records] at the time, called me in for it, I never really aimed to be a model. James saw what he saw and put me on the cover of Dancehall 101 Volume 3 and 4. That was a fun shoot: We shot it inside a Catholic school ... so I had to cover up quick when officials came around. Those were good times.
How did you become one of the hosts of Sting in Jamaica?
I have actually hosted Sting before, but it was never an official booking. It was always, “I'm here, why not?” Sting creator Isiah Laing talked to me last year about being on board this year, but it was Downsound Records CEO Josef Bogdonavich who called me a few months ago and praised my works in the industry. He gave me the honor of officially coming on board as not just a host but as an ambassador for the “Bring The Sting” brand. Sting is a staple in the dancehall music and culture arena and as such it's where DNZ [Diva Nikki Z] needs to be because I am so passionate about expanding our culture and transcending barriers to bring us to the forefront of what this industry has to offer.
Explain what Sting is to those who do not know?
Sting is the ultimate musical war ground, It's a place where the real true heart and grit of dancehall lives. Sting is the show that sets the standard for the following year. Can you survive Sting? As an artist if you do, you know you are guaranteed career wise your New Year will be off to a good start. If you fail, you know you are going to have a rough road ahead. Sting is a concert of dancehall warriors. It's the action movie of all stage shows. You never know what’s going to happen next.
You have had many different hair styles, from blond locs to multi-colored locs, burgundy hair, short hair, etc. etc. Is your ever changing styles representative of your personality or is it something you do to separate yourself from other media personalities?
I changed hairstyle often because they never fully felt right, almost never. I am definitely not the most girlie girl. When you saw the weaves I was trying to do what the Romans do. Wasn't me, couldn't get it to be me. I went back to my locs because they always made me feel free to be me. There is power in hair: A wrong 'do' can change someone’s demeanor completely and vice versa. The goal is to find the 'do' that does it for you.
Tell us about your YouTube interviews?
The interviews currently on YouTube with artists like Ninja Man, Lady Saw, Tommy Lee and more were all filmed on my recent trip to Jamaica. I want music lovers to start really seeing their favorite artist as they are no hype, nothing extra, just a conversation. Each interview can also be heard on my syndicated Caribbean Countdown show which broadcasts across the Caribbean as well as multiple stations in Africa. We plan to expand on this in the New Year so please subscribe Nikki Z to get the updates first.
What do you love and hate about being a media personality?
I love having the ability to affect change, I enjoy knowing what I play, what I say can turn a listener’s mode around. I love the stage. There is no better rush than to look at so many faces uniting in music. What I hate? Nothing. But I do miss my privacy, it would be ungrateful to hate, I believe everything amazing comes at a price.
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