Tessa Young, Founder of Prism DJs, will not only will get you up on the dance floor (hello, “Uptown Funk”) she will change the way you think about DJs. Tessa founded her own company, Prism DJs, and has since upended the male-dominated world of DJing. Her California-based agency empowers other women in the industry and is attracting some big-time names (she’s the go-to for A-list movie premieres). Guest editor Christy Wright chats with Tessa for the scoop on summer’s hottest track, her Cougar picks and an insider’s secret about DJs and shoes…
Why DJ-ing and how did you start?
I’ve always loved music and have been collecting tapes, CDs, classic vinyl and MP3s since early childhood. In 2003, I bought a pair of turntables and played my thrift-store records as a hobby, not realizing I could actually make a career out of it. In 2009, I downloaded Serato Scratch Live so that I could play MP3s through their software and control vinyl. That same year, I had an opportunity to get paid for my hobby and never looked back.
It seems the majority of DJs are men – why is that and how is it changing?
The art of DJing started with men, and men naturally prioritize supporting other men. I think this is helpful to understanding why there are so many men in the field. DJing can also be technically challenging and labor-intensive. Women today are up for the challenge more than ever and now have better support networks. For instance, at my company Prism DJs, we support each other by sharing ideas, advice and paid gigs. The more support women have from other women, and our male counterparts, the closer we will get to parity.
DJ Tessa Young loves fashion and dressing up for work
How do you dress for work?
Each of the events that I DJ is unique and has its own attire instruction. For the Olivia Rodrigo premiere, they requested a purple jumpsuit to match the brand’s colours and movie theme. For the Sonic 2 premiere, they requested stylish attire in royal-blue to match the character theme. For high-end real estate company Douglas Elliman and United Nations Global Compact conferences, I wore an all-white suit. Attire is different for every event and is usually based on the client’s theme or brand colours.
Pre-event behind the scenes with @dj_tessa cozy in her Julep Metallic Leather Sandals
Will you wear your Pratos to DJ?
I’ll let you in on a little secret for most women DJs: we wear our heels into the event, but we change into our comfy shoes once we start performing. So, yes, I love slipping into my Cougar Pratos behind the booth!
How will you style your Cougars this summer?
I’ll pair my Cougars with casual looks like T-shirts and distressed denim. All my Cougar shoes will match with this pairing.
@djtessa in Sedona enjoying some downtime in her Pepa Suede Sandals in Cognac
Favourite song for Summer 2022?
My personal favourite song this summer is Vince Staples featuring Ty Dolla $ign’s “Lemonade” from the Ramona Park Broke My Heart album. I live in Long Beach, California, and Vince is our hometown hero.
The one song guaranteed to start the dance floor?
Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” is still a classic that appeals to all generations.
@djtessa in her element
Music artist you’d love to meet?
Björk. She is so interesting!
Favourite Canadian musicians?
For the electronic R&B vibes, I like Haitian-Canadian record producer, Kaytranada. For indie tunes, Arcade Fire.
Who is your style icon?
Jeans or miniskirt?
It’s your day off, what shoes will you wear?
My Cougar Julep Metallic Leather Sandal, all day.
@dj_tessa wearing the Julep Leather Sandal in Platino
Toronto or Montreal?
I’ve never visited either, but when I book my first trip to the eastern part of Canada, it will be Toronto!
What song best describes Cougar and why?
“Chunky” by Bruno Mars! Cougar shoes are playfully “chunky.” When Bruno sings, “Slide with your boy to the bar, Slide with your boy to the car,” it reminds me of all my Cougar slide sandals.