DJ dr.McCoy talks ’70s music and moving the crowd

Dj dr.McCoy - Photo Credit: Firm 21
Dj dr.McCoy – Photo credit: Firm 21

The craft of deejaying has been growing consistently over the past few years. With the advent of new technology, it has become more accessible. However; just like any other skill, it’s not just about the equipment. It comes down to selection, studying, variety and knowing your audience. If you have ever had the privilege of hearing Chicago-based Dj dr.McCoy during one of her sets, you would know her selection is eclectic and energizing. We spoke with her and talked about her favorite music, her craft and what inspires her.

How did you pick your DJ name?
When I started learning and practicing, the guys in my crew would call me a “beast” because of how naturally I picked up on DJ skills. What started as a flattering compliment, evolved into my DJ name. They all wanted me to use “Beast,” but I thought that was too easy, too masculine, too boastful. So I came up with a solution that perfectly fits my personality: in the X-Men graphic novels, the actual name of the Beast character is Dr. Henry (Hank) McCoy. It’s funny though because most people think I named myself after the “Star Trek” character, which is dope, too.

Please describe your style of deejaying
Borrowing from TLC, my style is  crazy, sexy, cool. It’s open format, from Bowie to Beyoncé to Busta. It’s popular good vibes eclectically mixed without the box surprises that may hip you to something different.

What is your favorite genre of music to play?
I was not alive in the ’70s, but deep down my soul is straight up disco and funk. I’m happiest when I get to play music from that era.

As a DJ, what do you bring to the tables that no one else can bring?
I definitely don’t exploit my femininity, but there is no denying that my girl power separates me from the majority of the pack. Inherently I am a creative, a scientist, a designer, a stylist, a dancer, an entertainer… since birth. Because I am a woman, because I am this specific woman with this unique background, no one else can bring what I have.

What three skill sets do you feel are critical for any professional DJ?
Vast and diverse music knowledge, reading the crowd, and beat matching… even if you scratch in or slam records 1 after another, those tempos should match up.

Finish the sentences:
Practice/research is important because … because DJ’ing is an art and a skill like anything else. If you want to be consistent and master it, then practice and research are crucial. I know 20-year veterans that still practice. You never stop building on your skills or trying new things.

The best way to move a crowd is …  for me, I move crowds the most when I am having fun and sending out my high energy. They see me grooving, singing, and sometimes coming from behind the decks to dance with them. I think feeling my passion for music allows them to open up more and have fun with me… not just me playing for them. We’re in this good time together

That odd track that I throw on to catch the crowd off guard is … I tend to throw people with a lot of my selections because of my “baby face.” So there’s usually someone yelling, “How do you know ’bout that, girl?!” in my direction! Also, I love to throw in a song from an old tv show or movie, like “The Glow” from The Last Dragon. It’s always a fun surprise, and cool to see people’s expressions as they realize what they’re hearing.

What social media platforms do you use to engage your audience the most?
I use most of them all, but Instagram is where I get the most interaction … @drMcCoy_theDJ

What are your residencies/signature events?
I had a long running monthly gig, Organic, at Lokal in Wicker Park. Now I’m doing a retro joint at M Lounge in the South Loop called New Vintage. It’s an old school vibe for a new generation. Check my schedule at for dates.

Name three DJs who have inspired you.

  • Beverly Bond – dj skills, social activism, and philanthropy.
  • Kwest_on – my teacher, my friend, my family, and huge inspiration.
  • Hesta Prynn – her musical range and career is serious motivation.

Name a track that gets you motivated.
“Can You Feel It” by the Jacksons always gets me hype. I get fired up and I get chills. The message and soul of that song is so powerful.

Check out the mix she did for the ladies below.

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