Last night, Power 105.1’s Nyla Symone had a sit-in interview with Tidal playlist manager Romel Lherisson, Sanchay “Dharmic” Jain from Alamo Records, and Azia from BET’s Hustle in BK. During the night’s festivities, I was able to catch a 1-on-1 interview with Symone to discuss her role at one of New York City’s biggest stations, as well as being the youngest black female DJ for 105.1.
1. Talk a little bit about your journey and what inspired you to become a DJ. Did you fall into it or this job is something you always knew you were meant for?
This was always a dream job, but I didn’t think I could do it if that makes sense. When I went to St. John’s, I went to school for computer science because I wanted to make money to be honest, but I was also DJing on the side for fun. I was always interested in music. I did an internet radio internship in high school. I was always involved in it, but never knew I could do that like I could actually do it. So, when I met Angie Martinez she came to St. John’s to promote her book “My Voice”. J. Cole wrote the foreword *excitedly* lowkey reason why I went to St. John’s because I’m like J. Cole’s biggest fan no one can out see me in any kind of Cole trivia but that’s another topic. She met me and Gabe and we got to interview her she vibed with us and we vibed back then we landed an internship some how. I interned two semesters then graduated but when you graduate you can no longer intern there but I just kept coming like they would tell me Nyla your not suppose to be in the building but I’d be like Oh no Im just here to bring Angie some coffee I know she likes this. I would just keep coming like a nat they could not swot. They could not get rid of me to the point they had to find a job for me. So I worked for free for a year then after a year I was living off of refund checks and DJing on the side so I was living aight. Then, Angie hired me as her personal assistant because she had a lot going on and she needed help. Because I was always around it was mad convenient. From there I did that for 8 months to a year, but then at the end we realized best that I am no longer her personal assistant because I was just not a great personal assistant. Like I am more of a peoples person like I can do physical tasks, but not like a management type person if that makes sense. I was jobless again applying to everything Atlanta, LA, DC like I had to make a move had to get out of here. But then there was an opening for a position for another assistant position in our building and I was going to take it since I wanted to stay around but it was for Thea Mitchem she was head in charge. So I was trying to be my best for this. Saying I’d be a great assistant but she already knew I wasn’t going to be a good assistant because she went and ask Angie. Then she asked me what did I like to do to help me figure out a career, so I said I DJ sometimes for fun then Miss Mitchem said you DJ *astonished* you know we have a DJ opening at power, were looking for a female DJ. Then I said is this a joke *astonished* then got hired to be the first female DJ, first black female DJ, youngest DJ. I got a lot of backlash you know the DJ world is real since New York is the home of Hip Hop. I persevered from sexism, ageism, and colorism whatever the case may be. I had power so I would network and pull up to peoples hoods and do interviews like Bandhunta Izzy pulled up to his hood in Baltimore so he said alright, dont stand ova here because people might come around and shoot at us, stand here. I told myself God I just need this interview. Quickest interview I ever did. I just kept building content until, Power 105.1 gave me the space so I started bringing artist then they gave me the overnight position to build my DJ skills and thats how I got here.
2. As a DJ spinning records are you impressed by the increase of female rappers and have you personally seen a shift?
I feel like there are a lot of female DJs now and a lot of female rappers which is dope. I think we’re in an era now where we are accepted like were shifting the power. We are beginning to have the power which is fire and honestly I think the female rappers are better then the male rappers that are out right now honestly like Meg is on fire, Melli, Tierra Whack going crazy. I think it is a good era to be a woman for real for real, we have the power. They always said we had the power, but we really didn’t you know and even than to be promoted you still go through a lot from men and their egos and of course men run the industry. Stuff change and I love it.
3. What are your thoughts on social media and people feeling the need to post for competition or clout?
We definitely live in a clout chasing world like that just depends on the type of person you want to be in this life. You know what i’m saying, I like authentic genuine stuff. Clout is important, but it is not my M.O. I never been an opportunistic person like I am just doing it for the look like I move from the heart. I do it cause I like it and that is the difference between people so as far as social media and instagram. That is why I am not pressed to go get makeovers for interviews. I remember doing an interview with Tk Kravitz after I just had an allergic reaction I had a rash on my face. It was the best time to do it he was in town he just did a concert let me just do it. It is more about just being a person. Instagram is important so I can’t knock anyone’s hustle so if that clout stuff working for you do what you do, but for my legacy that is not important to me
4. There a lot of underground DMV artist sharing the spotlight with other mainstream artists, what are your thoughts on the gained traction?
I think for a long time New York was hot then Atlanta was hot and you know LA was hot, but now I think not just the DMV is hot. Detroit is hot, Chicago is hot. All the popular cities is having their moment and I think that is dope. Not just the DMV, but I think it is dope for people to see our culture you know what Im saying we have many sounds. We got Wale, we got Goldlink, you know one is poetic and one is more artsy. We got Chaz french the singer, we got Q da Fool gangsta. I just like to see us win. Well I like to see everyone win as long as you work for it.
5. Top 5 artists you feel are crushing it in ‘19. Both mainstream and underground?
*happily excited* I like this question ! Definitely Meg automatic off top, uhm Tierra Whack got to put her, Imma put Smino he probably had the best live show in years if you get a chance go to a Smino show it was crazy, *Pause as she scrolls through her music* this is very important. Oh! Boogie from Oakland, My last one Duh Delly from Harlem he is fire
6. Can you see yourself in any other career field? If so, where?
If I do anything else you know I wanna do like TV . You know like a 106 & Park type situation interview people on the couch talk and play music videos. Thats my vibe right there when I was a kid to be free. On the lowest of keys I would want to be a professor or teacher. I like talking to people and I like kids. Just showing people the right way of doing things like not everybofy has lived a life where they can see the bigger picture, being an army brat traveling the world and stuff I see the bigger picture. Settling is not an option should not be an option for nobody. So I would like to give people that energy. So I’d like to be a teacher too. I was a junior counselor for a few summers it was fun.
8. In honor of black music month. What records would you spin if you were at the station right now?
*Dances* I like this question. Off the top Queen Latifah U.N.I.T.Y, which was like my favorite song when I was a little kid. I love Queen Latifah for that song. Probably Outkast Jazzy Belle but the remix though. OU OU Goodie Mob Beautiful Skin, Number 4 Lauryn Hill That Thing, And uhmm umm by a group called Black Knowledge called civilized and they got another one called the sun thats fire.
Five takeaways from the live interview
1. You’re going to struggle but trust the process.
2. Be the right kind of annoying.
3. If you’re in college stop by the radio station and see what you can add to it.
4. If you do not know what you want to do, try everything. Do as much as you can and you will figure out what you like.
5. Treat your business relationships like your boyfriend or girlfriend.