This year has been super crazy. I don't know about you - but us shop babes have a lot of new happenings, oh shit moments and phew I'm glad that's overs. So, for this Mix-Tape we wanted it to be super special, because hey - we're lookin' up baby, and 2017 is our year! That's why we asked super cool New York babe, Anna Stephens aka DJ Anna Collecta (@anna_collecta) to answer some of our questions about how she fell in love with music, her life and of course her style. Oh and to mix us up something real good to get us excited about 2017. Enjoy!
Music has always been at the center of my life. My dad being multi-instrumentalist and my mother singing in choirs. Both grandparents were also professional singers. My Grandfather Gerald Darrow, taught chorus for over 30 years at the University of Platteville in Wisconsin. He spent earlier days in his career traveling to places such as Puerto Rico to perform for officers and was on the Ed Sullivan show in 1956.
Needless to say growing up I was always surrounded by music. I learned piano among other things from both my dad and mom. My dad in particular who also played trumpet, taught drumming and still is a talented jazz pianist. One of my fondest memories was him bringing me to a jam session at our neighbor’s house, I was about 7 years old. He insisted on bringing me that day because he was drumming with Clyde Stubblefield- James Brown’s drummer who so famously created the beat for Funky Drummer, among other incredible staples in funk history. I have many similar memories that have ingrained my appreciation for live musicianship.
Years later my dad gifted me my first vinyl record a copy of Thriller on 12” and there was no turning back. I spent a lot of time traveling the country collecting, crate digging and obsessively searching for my physical copy of anything rare and funky. I wasn’t thinking about becoming a DJ, I just collected what I loved.
It wasn’t until college when I started surrounding myself with other professional DJs. Once I found the circle of people that were just as passionate about music as me, that was it! I think that’s a major moment for any person when you really find your tribe. Especially as an artist. It's beautiful to find others that speak the same language. What amazed me most about that scene was their passion for sharing funk music, not just from America but from all over the world.
It’s interesting to speak with people about where I’m from because most people seem amazed that I listen to much old school Hip-hop, funk, and soul. I think that’s the biggest misconception about the Midwest because so many of the greats are from here. Prince, Miles Davis, J Dilla and Kanye West just to name a few. Not to mention how those artists have directly influenced the evolution of major hip-hop groups on the east and west coast.
When I moved to New York almost four years ago the first thing I did was buy turntables. For the first time, I started meeting tons female DJs who were killing the scene and I saw myself in what they were doing. I found mentors, continued to build my library and also studied at Scratch Academy -founded by Run DMC. I also got involved working with Okayplayer, Turntable Lab and really made my passion my job. DJing has really brought my music experience full circle and continues to challenge me. I’m a constant student working on improving my skills.
What's the vibe / feel of the mix, why did you pick it?
2016 has been a roller coaster of a year for music. We’ve lost some giants musically yet a new influx of artists are on the scene. I chose some songs from people that passed including David Bowie, and A Tribe called Quest song with one of my favorite verses from Phife Dawg (RIP). I also included one of my favorite Earth wind and Fire songs, written by Maurice White who passed earlier this year.
I featured tracks by Anderson Paak and Childish Gambino who have both put out extremely impressive new funk-revival music this year. Everything else I included are feel good songs I love to dance to. The only artist I couldn’t include due to copyrights on Spotify is Prince, but he has to be mentioned in this mix!
I’m usually bartending when I’m not DJing (yes, I’m a night owl). It keeps me submersed in the nightlife scene. Any free time I have left over I’m usually running to my friends' gigs.
What style of clothing are you feeling right now?
My personal style is dependant on my mood and also what kind of gig I’m playing. I’m really into everything 1960s right now including wide leg pants, scarves and low heel ankle boots. You can usually spot me pairing this look with a nameplate necklace and large earrings.