You might not recognize McKenzii Webster ’13, whose hangout of choice is behind the DJ booth, but you might owe her some of your best Wesleyan memories. Webster, a Memphis-raised government major, believes the right song can set the tone for a whole night. Plugged into the underground hip-hop scene and always on the lookout for new acts, she’s determined to find your perfect track. At an outdoor table on a sunny afternoon, Webster sat down with The Argus to discuss her evolution as a DJ, her plans for her year off, and her hopes of landing a career in entertainment law.
The Argus: What makes you a WesCeleb?
McKenzii Webster: I guess what makes me a WesCeleb is [that] I DJ quite a bit on campus, mostly house parties. I’m involved with Ujamaa [Wesleyan’s Student of Color organization]; I’m on the board. I also work with Waves Magazine, which is one of Wesleyan’s first music publications. So I guess that makes me a WesCeleb. I try to get around to everything and put my hands [in everything] and get involved in a lot of stuff.
A: How did you get involved in the music scene at Wesleyan?
MW: I have to give a shout out to my friends Heather [King ’13] and Kyle [Somersall ’13]. Sophomore year, their birthday party was at La Casa, and they were looking for someone to play music and be their DJ for the night. Kyle knows that I’m really into music, or at least [into] listening to a lot of different stuff. He’s like, “Yo, you wanna DJ for the first hour and 30 minutes?” And I was like, “Yeah!” That kind of progressed, and I really liked it. Junior year, I got a lot better and a lot more comfortable. After that, it kind of progressed.
Also, Ujamaa has an annual concert, which started my sophomore year, and I have helped to spearhead it. The first year we brought back L.A.[Latasha Alcindor ’10], the next we brought Phil Ade, and this year we [brought] Flatbush Zombies. I also organized the Joey Bada$$ concert that took place this past November.
Wesleyan is weird, where even if you’re just really a big fan of music and you don’t necessarily play an instrument, you can always find your way to produce or DJ and find your little niche. So I guess I found my little niche sophomore year.
A: You’re senior editor of Waves Magazine. What’s that like?
MW: Waves came about from Kyle, who’s one of my good friends here. He hit me up this summer, and he was like, “Yo, I’m interested in starting a publication focusing on Wesleyan’s music scene.” I was pretty much just like, “Yeah, I’m down for anything.” I [had previously] started my own personal music blog, so I thought it was an awesome idea. In September, we really just hit the ground running.
It was crazy how people gravitated toward it and were like, “Yeah, I’m ready to write. I’m ready to do anything.” Our blog started up, and then our first issue received a lot of good responses. Our second issue is coming out in a couple of weeks. It just kind of worked out. I’m really happy it did because I definitely see it taking off and progressing a lot more in years to come. This is its first year, and it’s been doing pretty well.
A: I wanted to ask you about Music In Your Ear. Is that your blog?
MW: Yes. I started Music In Your Ear in the spring of my freshman year. I’m pretty much always into trying to find music before it drops, legally or illegally so to speak. But I started off putting up music that I was listening to. It progressed to [my posting about] friends who were just up-and-comers and underground—mostly hip-hop but not limited to [one genre]. And then I started doing interviews with people. It’s pretty much just me expressing my love for music and the music I really like.
A: Do you make any music?
MW: Not really. I used to in high school. Growing up, I played instruments. I played guitar and piano and stuff. But in high school, I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna be the next big female producer.” I would dabble in free loops and stuff. Other than that, every so often, I would try to make mixes and things, which is the main thing I do [when I’m making music]. But nothing serious.
A: Now you’re interested in a career as an entertainment lawyer. How’d you decide on that?
MW: It’s crazy. I initially wanted to [do] medical malpractice law, but I connected with a Wesleyan alumna who actually just passed the bar in New York. She kind of took me under her wing and showed me a lot of different avenues I could take. I knew I wanted to do law, and I wanted to find a way to couple it with music. She was like, “You should look at intellectual property stuff or contract stuff.”
A: What are your plans for this summer?
MW: I’m waiting to hear back from internships at NPR, PBS, and an entertainment firm in DC. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll probably go back home to Memphis, Tennessee and do a lot of freelance stuff. I’m actually just starting to do a lot of freelance writing for music blogs like Consequence of Sound. I also just linked up with one of my friends who’s writing for Rolling Stone, and [I’m] trying to see if I can do some freelance stuff for them.
It’s kind of up in the air. I know I’m taking a year off before law school, so I’m trying to see where I can find my way into doing things. Other than that, I’m soaking up all of my Wesleyan memories until then.
A: What are you planning to do during your year off?
MW: I’ll probably work. I might even do a little DJing on the side at a couple clubs and stuff, but mostly I’ll just be enjoying my time off. Just going from middle school to high school and straight into college, it’ll be nice to have a bit of a brain break. But hopefully I’ll get to DJ a little bit and just enjoy music and hopefully continue to follow that path.