DJ who once felt 'trapped in the suburbs' is making it big in Toronto
Young Teesh, a Toronto-based DJ, has become a household name in the DJ scene. With eight years of spinning in the city, her genre-bending sounds has made her an icon in the club and rave scene.
She has performed at Electric Island and Boiler Room in Toronto as well as made appearances in New York City at Papi Juice and Nowadays.
You may have also seen her face alongside DJ Nino Brown at the Yonge and Dundas Eaton Centre billboard in summer 2022.
Teesh is everywhere.
Behind the set, Teesh's stage presence is energetic and mysterious, every track she spins turns to gold.
I met Teesh at her Queen St. studio where we chatted about her career, the scene's growth and her style evolution.
RS: How'd you describe your sound?
YT: I'd like to say in a global club sound. I feel like being Black kind of informs so many genres of music already, so I think it just shapes my tastes, and I just play what I like.
RS: What got you into DJing in the first place?
YT: When I first started coming downtown, I was attending a lot of house parties and I had just wanted to DJ for so long. So when I’d go to these parties and DJ off YouTube, I felt like it was an early way to tell that I could choose song after song — I felt like I knew what song was next on a spiritual level.
So, then my friend Prince Josh taught me how how to actually mix songs together and my first set ever was at The Beaver.
RS: Rest in peace The Beaver, how was that first time spinning?
YT: This was in 2015 — I was so nervous because I didn’t have gear, my friend had taught me but I hadn’t practiced since and then a few months later I’m here at this space. But it worked out and the rest is a blur.
RS: Did you always dream of being a DJ?
YT: I’d hoped to be DJing somewhere, I just wasn’t sure where or how it would happen. I grew up in the suburbs and felt so trapped there. I kept thinking “this cannot be it for me.” You know, the first DJs I saw were girls or people close to my age, then I saw that DJing could actually be a reality here [Downtown Toronto].
RS: I know you spin a lot at Soho House, what’s your relationship with the space?
YT: I feel like the gigs I play there [Soho House] have allowed me to be experimental.
Sometimes it’s a dinner service and people are really just listening, the music is a rhetorical presentation so I can really practise and try new things…it's one of my favourite places to play.
RS: What’s the weirdest thing that's happened to you while DJing?
YT: Having my USB ripped out during my set by a straight guy for sure.
RS: I feel like you’ve spun almost everywhere in the city. What has been your favourite memory here?
YT: The Green Velvet gig at Electric Island two years ago. Because I was super nervous that day. I wasn't sure if was gonna play well, I was just doubting everything but it happened to be one of the best sets of my life.
And DJing Nelly Furtado’s birthday! I remember writing lyrics of hers in a notebook when I was younger so it felt like real full circle moment.
RS: Who are you the most inspired by when it comes to DJing?
YT: Nino Brown, Bambii and Chippy Nonstop are some of my personal faves for sure, and a couple other people that made me think it was possible for women to be amazing DJs. I also feel that they are influential people that are always working within and for the community.
I just think it's a queer thing, because we are so reliant on community so that those values are just so common here.
RS: Last question, what's the future for Young Teesh?
YT: I’m excited for summer and for Pride, last Pride was so nice that it literally had me crying. It was so nice to see everyone outside. In the streets, in the scaffolding, it was making me literally emotional.
I’m also spinning at Common Froot and Bully Magazine’s Precious Cargo Black Future on Feb. 25.
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