OCEANSIDE — On a hot Saturday afternoon at the Oceanside Pier, seven women faced off in the Supergirl Pro Sound Session, the DJ competition of 2018 Paul Mitchell Supergirl Surf Pro.
This year’s grand prize winner was DJ INSP!RE, a 24-year-old Oceanside native with an infectious energy, who took home an endorsement deal with JLab Audio. Her performance had the whole crowd dancing — including Allissa Ferguson, 19, who came down from Mission Viejo early to catch a concert later that night.
“You could tell she was really enjoying herself,” Ferguson said. “She played music everybody knows and likes and got people on their feet.”
The judges also noticed INSP!RE’s energy. DJ Dopamine was the first ever Sound Session Pro winner three years ago, and has judged the competition for the past two years. INSP!RE was the runner up in 2017, and DJ Dopamine said she’s improved since then.
“She had it last year, but she didn’t have the confidence,” DJ Dopamine explained. “It’s really cool for me to see female DJs like this come out here and grow.”
For INSP!RE, the win was especially significant, since she was representing her home city of Oceanside. As for her stage presence — she said that’s just a reflection of her personality.
“I’m the loud one in the family for sure,” INSP!RE explained. “I bring all of these different qualities about me to the stage.”
Taking second place was 17-year-old DJ Poizen BERRY, a small, soft-spoken girl from Riverside County, with edgy style, upbeat mixes and a positive vibe.
“Everyone did a beautiful job,” she told the crowd after her final set. “It’s all about having fun.”
Sound Session Pro featured DJs from all over the country, with contestants from Texas, Chicago and California. There were three rounds total. In each round, two DJs had a couple of minutes to play their mixes for the crowd. The three industry judges, DJ Diamond, DJ Dopamine and Antonio Aguilera, then selected a winner based on technique and stage presence. The winner of each face-off advanced to the next round, until it was down to the final two. DJ INSP!RE started her final round by bumping DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win” — a choice that the judges and the crowd loved.
“It’s a universal song — little kids to women were throwing their hands up,” INSP!RE said. “I feel like it was a crowd pleasing song.”
Overall, the purpose of the contest was to give women who DJ a platform to perform in an industry where 76 percent of the players are men. DJ Dopamine said that visibility is critical.
“We’re going to take over the stages and the festivals,” she said. “It will happen. The talent is there.”
With the endorsement deal, DJ INSP!RE plans to get JLab merchandise to package with giveaways to her fans. She said she’s grateful for the strong turnout and positive energy from the July 28 crowd.
“There were family, friends, loved ones, randoms, and I mean everyone just vibed,” INSP!RE said. “Couldn’t have really asked for a better crowd.”
DJ INSP!RE’s work can be found on SoundCloud and her social media.