Who doesn’t love a boss chick bold enough to kick in the door of an urban music scene ruled primarily my men and rule along side them? This is exactly true of Cherise Gary, a.k.a. Dj UniiQU3. Born and raised in Hillside, UniiQU3 grew up listening to the club music that is often the pulse of Northern NJ particularly Newark. This female DJ spins everything from Jersey Club, Juke, Ballroom, and Trap. She also rhymes and produces. Her Sound Cloud station boasts over 4000 followers both national and international. Three years of hard work and dedication have now paid off. UniiQU3 is now fresh off a body rockin’ set at this years Afropunk Festival. We sat down with her Pre-AfroPunk to find out a little about how she became DJ Uniiqu3, and what it really means to be a female music artist in an industry run primarily by males and manipulated by cultural thieves.
GN: What got you interested in spinning?
UniiQU3: I was always on the party scene. I used be surrounded by a whole bunch of male DJs and my boyfriend was a DJ … and I was like teach me. So he taught me. When I first started out (people wouldn’t take me seriously). Then one or two years in they started to.
GN: What was your first booking?
UniiQU3: I used to DJ basement parties and teen parties, but got bored with that and decided that I wanted more. I want(ed) to expand. That’s when I got booked for DJ Madness in Philly (through affiliation with Brick Bandits – a DJ Crew consisting of producers, DJs, Rappers, and Graphic Artists) … and realized there was a lot more than just DJing in Jersey.
GN: How did you end up at AfroPunk?
UniiQU3: I wasn’t expecting AfroPunk at all. I even RSVP’d to attend this year. I worked the festival last year as a volunteer. It was so tiring, but (I learned) to respect everything they do to make it happen. I met a lot of people and made a lot of friends … I DJ’d Ghetto Gothic in July and my boss from AfroPunk wanted to come. I put him on my guest list and he came. He said I did really well and that I should play AfroPunk this year. He went and talked to the organizers. Then they emailed me and asked me to come to the headquarters. I was really excited. Most people just think “Oh I’m gonna be a good DJ and they’ll come around and book me.” but they don’t think about the ground work they have to do. In this internet “URL” beast we live in it’s easy to believe that it could happen that way but it doesn’t really work that way. It does for some people. I believe that hard work I had to do when I volunteered paid off.
GN: It is clear just listening to your work that you have a deep respect for music and culture, how do you feel about artist like Diplo and Miley Cyrus who borrow from trends in black music for reasons that more involve profit than creativity?
UniiQU3: (Diplo) Is the Christopher Columbus of music. He puts money on the table. Some of us come from homes of poverty so it’s like if I can get money for this I can keep doing it. That’s how they get used. (The music) doesn’t stay consistent when the person takes over the whole thing. And now Miley Cyrus is twerking, but we’ve been twerking in New Orleans, we called it booty bouncing over here, they were twerking in the Bay, they were twerking in Africa. It’s sad because everyone knows it.
Despite her age, UniiQU3 definitely exhibits a maturity far beyond her years and a respect for music that we can only hope resonates among her peers. It was beyond a pleasure to sit down and talk with her, but what was even better is listening to do her thing at the AfroPunk Festival. It was phenomenal! If you missed it here’s a clip.
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