Hailing from the capital city of Manila, Katsy Lee is a household name in her home country of the Philippines. Being the first female DJ to win the Pioneer Digital DJ Battle in the Philippines, Katsy went on to be a National Finalist in the Philippine leg of the Red Bull 3Style Battle.
Not be out done by her male compatriots, Katsy Lee has also played with top acts such as The Chainsmokers, Laidback Luke, Kendrick Lamar and Steve Aoki. Releasing her own music with labels such as Tonedef Recordings and Carpe Noctem Inc, Katsy has also worked with top brands such as Ministry of Sound, Hed Kandi and Sushi Records.
We got the opportunity to ask her a few questions recently about her experience with the Pioneer Digital DJ Battle.
ADM: Could you tell us a bit about yourself before the competition and how you ended up in the competition?
KL: I wasn’t a full-time DJ before the competition. At the time, I was a news writer at a TV channel. The Pioneer Digital DJ Battle was just the stuff of legends for me, to merely join would already be a privilege. I ended up in the battle because my mentor, Mark Nicosia (AiS NiCaution), suggested I join. I was so shocked he even thought it — I was actually over-the-moon, even if I was just going to be applying!
ADM: Is there anything memorable about the competition that you remembered the most?
KL: I remember the day we applied for the battle. My friend Mia (Miaow) and I went together, and neither of us knew what to expect. It was so nerve-wracking! They even asked us interview questions after the closed-door qualifying showcase. My voice definitely sounded like it went through an arpeggiator.
ADM: So how did the competition help you in your career and what happened after the competition?
KL: I ended up turning full-time as a DJ! Coming home to Manila after the battle, I didn’t expect anything to change at all. Before I won the Philippine championship, I had already been thinking of quitting DJing.
It was early, I know! But at the time, the club where we had our residency had just closed, and I wasn’t getting many gigs at all, save for my dear friends’ promotional nights. I felt like I was soon going to disappear from the scene, and I was kind of preparing for a full-time life of journalism, until Pioneer happened. However, after the Bangkok finals, one of the top Filipino DJs, Marc Marasigan, asked me out of the blue if I wanted to be a resident at a new club they were opening called URBN. That totally knocked me out from the left-field.
How and why these people knew me, was what I was thinking at that point. I felt that the Pioneer DJ Battle was big in the Philippines, but even if I had been spinning with my friends (shoutout to Looper Beat Academy, The Wildlife, and the Fiamma crew) for some years, I honestly felt like a no-name who happened to have won.
After that, I got my first gig out of town — again, out of left-field. John Que from Iloilo took a chance on me, and I remember being slack-jawed about the awesome treatment given DJs playing out of town... I even remember taking the first flight back to Manila straight to work at the news channel; I wasn’t full-time yet.
Eventually I had to let the news channel job go as I had to be away DJing for a few weeks — a leave too long to make up for in our small family at the newsroom, and one that pushed me to follow my musical dreams full-time. I just wanted to try.
If I were not a DJ/producer, I would still be in the newsroom. I loved that place.
ADM: Do you think Pioneer should hold a competition like that again?
KL: Yes, definitely! There are so many boundaries to push, especially with all the new technology Pioneer DJ keeps pumping out!! And there’s too much talent!!
ADM: What do you think about Mix Us Happy?
KL: I think Mix Us Happy is a beautiful, friendly, egalitarian project that helps people discover passions and skills they may not have thought they had. I think what it promotes is one very beautiful essence of music — a community that isn’t afraid to share, and doesn’t hesitate to give. It’s always inspiring being around the Mix Us Happy family. There’s so much talent, and so much kindness.
ADM: Do you have anything you’d like to tell any young up and coming DJs?
KL: The road is no straight line but half the joy of journeying it is the self-discovery that leads one to uncover, and/or fortify one’s unique sound. Never Be Ordinary. Keep the Faith. ❤️
The Generation Of Change is a series that focuses on the finalists of the Pioneer Digital DJ Battle and how their lives were impacted by the competition that has led to them leading the change in grooming a new generation of DJ's