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Hip hop gem shines

Montreal-based DJ Killa Jewel teams up with local DJ Praiz to wow Whistler



Who: DJ Killa Jewel and DJ Praiz

When: Thursday, March 27, 9 p.m.

Where: Moe Joe’s

Tickets: $5

Julie Fainer has the element of surprise on her side when she steps up to the turntables. The pert young woman may not look like your typical DJ, but she has some serious experience under her belt, and she loves to battle.

Fainer is a 28-year-old DJ from Montreal, though she’s better known in the hip hop community as DJ Killa Jewel.

Her stage name stems from a number of meanings. The first part, Killa, represents her competitive side and her love for battling other DJs, while Jewel is simply short for Julie. Together, Killa Jewel, is a play on words.

“A kilojoule is a measurement of energy,” Jewel explained. “So I kind of associate myself as being a very energetic, entertaining kind of person when I’m DJing.”

High-energy or not, being a female DJ definitely has its pros and cons.

“People do have preconceived ideas of who you are or what you’re like,” she said with a slight hesitation. “… I enjoy surprising people and I enjoy when I get up there, completely blowing them away because they’re not expecting the kind of skill level or the kind of taste in music that I might be using.”

Jewel began studying classical piano at the age of seven, and studied it for 10 years, which helped her learn about rhythm and melody, train her ear and develop her dexterity.

“That, for me, was a really great backbone and it really helped me understand DJing a lot quicker, I think, than if I hadn’t ever had that training,” said Jewel.

She was first introduced to electronic music when she was 17, and saw DJing as a new challenge and outlet.

She threw herself into her new hobby, practising for about five hours each day. It eventually occurred to her to try and make a career out of it.

Over the years, her musical influences have changed significantly, though she still incorporates the piano into the sampling of her hip hop, as a way of keeping it fresh and original.

“I started out playing techno, house, drum and bass and breakbeats and I was playing a lot at friends’ house parties and really wherever I could set up my turntables,” Jewel explained.

After a few years, she started jamming with other local DJs and discovered scratching, turntablism, and subsequently hip hop. The connection was instantaneous — she was hooked.

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