AU Excellence: DJ Calkie Fisseha
BY: JENNA CALDWELL
Meet Calkie Fisseha, or better known as Calkie $wag Di$trict. Calkie is a junior majoring in film and media arts in the School of Communication and is the host of “Pass me the Aux,” her WVAU radio show available on Monday nights from 9-10 p.m. Self-described (and co-signed by The Blackprint) as “the best person you've ever met,” Calkie not only provides us a “Sunday Service” through her radio show, but is in also charge of planning WVAU’s events. We got the chance to sit down with the Virginia native to learn how she navigates being a Black female DJ, her favorite artists and what she looks forward to in the future. Keep reading and who knows? Maybe some of her $wag will rub off on you too.
Jenna Caldwell: So, what makes your radio show stand out?
Calkie Fisseha: I don’t like to box myself into a genre because I realized if I do that, I miss out on such good music, so I’m like ‘Hey, if I like i’ll play it.’ I could go from Shania Twain to Biggie - it has to have range to be well-rounded.
JC: Where did your interest in music begin?
CF: When I was in my sophomore year of high school I had a couple of friends that really liked to go to concerts, but I had never been. They’re super into indie alternative music and I was ‘Yeah, this is cool.’ Everyone had that one phase where they were like ‘I love The Neighborhood, I love 1975,’ and I still like them, but not to the same extent. That started my interest because there’s so much to do here. You don’t just have to be a singer or something to be involved in the music industry, there’s a lot of ways to be involved.
JC: What are some of your favorite artists?
CF: Of course people like Beyoncé, Solange and stuff, but I’ve been going through a phase where I listen to a lot of ‘90s music, so right now I’m really into Lauryn Hill, but I guess Lauryn Hill counts as ‘90s and early 2000s, so early 2000s too because you have Ashanti, Mya and all of this stuff I’m really into. They were so popular because a lot of Black teenagers back then were feeling it and we're not teenagers, but young adults, so it’s like wow. Yesterday, I was listening to Keyshia Cole and I was like ‘I just love this lady,’ past “Love & Hip Hop” and everything, “Love” is a wonderful song.
JC: What is your favorite era of music?
CF: I would say ‘90s to early 2000s because I’m going through a Bad Boy thing right now and all I can listen to is Mase. I just said all I can listen to is Ashanti, but all of that combines and I really like that era of music. And of course there's good stuff now.
JC: Do you find being a Black woman and a DJ to be difficult?
CF: At first it was kind of hard to navigate because I was one of the very few Black women who were DJs and, just in general, in the music industry [it] is very heavily male and very heavily white male so you have to make your own space. It’s something that’s hard, but I found that there’s other people on [WVAU's] e-board like Skylar Tucker and Tyler Perry. You have to make your own space. I really want to recruit female Black DJs and I’ve seen a sharp increase. I really like them because you have to have your people [around].
JC: If you could have anyone on your show, who would it be?
CF: Probably Andre 3000. If I could just have the opportunity to be within 300 feet of him, that’s a blessing, so being able to talk to him would be out of this world.
JC: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
CF: 10 years from now, I see myself…
JC: You’re going to be thirty.
CF: Aw man that’s old, but I see myself probably in the music industry, maybe in TV, or something like that. I really want to make my own space in entertainment. Especially now with like “Insecure,” “Atlanta” and “Chewing Gum,” people are realizing that - and I know it’s horrible that it took so much for them to realize - Black people are a huge demographic, that we’re not being catered to and there’s money there and there’s views there.
I just want to have a space for people. With “Girl’s Trip,” I think it was the most successful comedy of 2017, so it’s like ya’ll are dumb. Why did you not do this earlier?
JC: What advice would you give to freshmen that really want to pursue a career in the music industry or DJing?
CF: If you like something, no matter if it’s ‘Oh, I don’t know how I feel about this,’ if you have a slight interest in something, go for it because the only person stopping you at the end of the day is yourself. You have to break into it, because I remember the first time I went to the WVAU interest meeting, i was like ‘Oh, I don’t know, I don’t think I want to go, no one else is going to be there,’ but you have to make your own crowd. You have to do your own thing because no one else is going to help you, you have to help yourself first. I feel like that’s a Jay Z quote somewhere, but I’ll just make it my quote right now.