Give the Po' Girl a Break(beat)
Watching DJ Shynepne spin a set at Fullerton's Continental Room can seem anachronistic. Ensconced among Orange County's oldest drinking establishment's opulent, textured wallpaper, heavy stage curtains and über-loungey atmosphere, you'd more likely expect to see Ella Fitzgerald take the stage than to witness the likes of DJ Shynepne working the decks.
As she dons large earphones over her funky hairdo and keeps her eyes trained on the turntables, Shynepne flaunts a super-edgy style, befitting of her hairstylist alter ego—Penelope Ford—that only adds to the futuristic feel of her ultra-modern, eclectic sets.
"My all-time favorite music is breakbeats, the old classic 808 beats, but I love all genres," she says. "So I don't want to limit myself to one. I love house, drum and bass, electro, old school, hip-hop, funk; I just like to fuse it all together."
Whether spinning Peaches, current media darling M.I.A., Calvin Harris, or the ever-popular Justice, Shynepne makes sure to mix it up with a selection of beats and samples that aren't as familiar.
"A standard Shynepne set provides a variety of experiences," says Ford. "I'll go from something that you typically wouldn't hear—but it'll offer a beat that you can nod your head to—to something familiar that you'll want to get up and dance to. Playing the underground stuff mixed with the familiar is kind of a must. It's fun. [I'm just trying] to keep people interested."
Ford grew up in Whittier, where she attended many late-'80s backyard parties featuring DJs and turntables, which led to her early fascination with taking two pieces of vinyl and matching the beats to create an entirely new feel.
"I first gained an interest by messing around with my friend Dennis' [a.k.a. DJ DTM] tables," she recalls. "But it wasn't until 2001, when I was pretending to scratch on another friend's tables, when he said that I had some natural talent and should purchase some of my own tables."
Whether her friend was trying to protect his vinyl, or he really thought Ford had something to offer the OC DJ scene, DJ Shynepne's current sets—lots of drum and bass, no scratching—amply demonstrate her skills.
While it's on the rise, OC DJ talent has been relatively scarce, prompting many discerning club-goers to make the drive to LA or to hop a plane to New York or Europe. This is especially the case when it comes to skilled female DJs.
"I think that as far as producers go, and them booking me, they kind of look at the fact that I'm a girl DJ and figure it's novel. So I get booked," says Ford, who doesn't seem bothered by the preferential treatment. "I'm basically out there to have fun, and I don't want it to be too business. The scene is very mellow in Orange County. It's fun to get to play in LA because I can play all of the underground stuff. Where, when playing in OC, I kind of have to bring it and shove it in people's faces."
No one at the recent Continental Room gig seems to be complaining. Whether it's the local hipster soaking up the atmosphere with a highball glass in hand, or the Shynepne follower flowing her every transition, almost everyone present hits the floor when her set peaks.
"The best response I could ask for is a packed dance floor, with people waving their hands at me," she smiles, demonstrating with her arms in the air. "And it happens. It better happen!"
DJ Shynepne and Efrem spin at the Continental Room, 115 W. Santa Fe Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-4529; www.myspace.com/thecontinentalroom. Every other Mon., 10 p.m. (The next show is Feb. 4.) Free; also at Houston Street Lounge (formerly 2J's Cocktail Lounge), 120 W. Houston Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-9665. Every Second Sat., 10 p.m. (The next show is Feb. 9.) Free.
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