At just 5 feet 1 inch, DJ Tina “T” Turnbull may be petite in stature, but Marquee’s newest resident Library Room resident DJ (formerly of Tao, Tao Beach and Privé) has ambitions, accomplishments and an appetite for life that is quite massive.
The Library at Marquee is laid back and eclectic, very different from the main rooms you normally play. Do you have a plan of attack?
Well, [the Library] is designed to rewind, relax; they have a fireplace, pool tables, like something you’d walk into in New York, a kinda hipster and eclectic rock vibe. It’s going to be a good challenge because it’s going to force me to not play hit, hit, hit, and really just create a vibe, which will be fun. I get to show more of my style.
You began scratching and battling at 15 in Seattle and made pretty good money DJing throughout college. But did you ever think you would DJ professionally?
I never thought I’d make a profession of it ever. I would pick up DJs from the airport when they were traveling and I always thought to myself, “Man, that would be so cool. I wish someone would pick me up from the airport.”
Your coming-to-Las-Vegas story is something of a serendipitous fairytale.
I was working at BPM magazine [in L.A.], and everyone was really supportive. They knew I was an aspiring DJ. It was on my drive to Vegas that I got an e-mail from the music director of Tao; I didn’t say anything to him. I don’t know how the timing worked out. He said, “Do you wanna come in and audition at Tao?” I was thinking I’d get there and spend like three months and have to hustle, but I got hired on the spot. From there I just did guest spots at pretty much 90 percent of the clubs out there.
What’s the secret to thriving in such a male-dominated industry?
I can be more memorable because I’m different and there are people who specifically want to hire females. I’m all about evening out the playing field. DJing is about creativity, it doesn’t take physical strength; I think one day it will even out, on skill level at least.
Any memorable nights from during your Privé residency?
[Rapper] Too $hort came into the booth with me; its funny because all night girls would come up to me, asking me to do birthday shout outs, and my excuse was, “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t have a mic,” even though I did! Then Too $hort walks in and gets on the mic! (Laughing) I was like, “The mic only appears when celebrities show up!”
Outside of work, you are known for your commitment to community involvement via Camp Spin-Off.
I started a summer camp [in Ojai, Calif.] for teens 12-17, where they come and sleep over for one week; we bring in the best teachers, and guest DJs who come talk to them. They learn about the music business, just all aspects of DJ culture together.
How has the response been from the industry?
Last year we had 30 kids from all over the country. We had sponsors like DJ Hero, Red Bull and HP, which gave away scholarships. We had DJ Spider, DJ Scene, DJ Cheapshot, DJ Morse Code, DJ Evil One, DJ Lady Sha, DJ Warrior, DJ Mike B, DJ Enrie and DJ Serafin. It was just cool that their camp counselor was a DJ [with a] minimum of six years [experience]. I think that’s what makes the camp different. Every single person at the camp that they sit next to at lunch, that they talk to, that they sleep next to is a DJ.
That is quite the accomplishment, especially because you got to bring all of your friends and supporters together.
People say that all the time, but I feel like I get so much out of it personally. Going to summer camp is the funnest thing of all time. And then, DJing is my passion, my life, and then working with youth. Most of these kids have never even been to camp, and [we’re] giving them a whole new experience. It was kind of like a dream come true, just bringing everything over the past 13 years of my career. I consider Camp Spin-Off to be the greatest accomplishment of my career.