It’s lunchtime at Wurstkuche and the German eatery is packed with diners. At the bar, wearing a black and white striped dress, sits Tessa Young, one of the restaurant chain’s first in-house DJs. In fact, adding live music in 2010 was not only a first for Wurstkuche, but it was a first for Young, a nascent DJ when she started. “This was the greatest stepping stone I’ve ever had,” she says before taking a sip of her craft beer. “[Wurstkuche] took a chance on me and without [them], I never would have got my start as a DJ.”
For her first year as a DJ, Young juggled her days working at a law firm in the Wells Fargo building on Grand Avenue and her nights DJ-ing at Wurstkuche. It was a hectic schedule (“I was paying my dues,” she says) that ultimately resulted in her quitting her job as a paralegal to pursue her music career full-time.
In the years since, Young has become a wellknown DJ around town, specializing in a range of genres, but especially in indie dance and remixed classics. But as her name has grown, so, too, has her workload, which is partly why she started her own booking agency in April of this year. The boutique agency, called Prism DJs, consists solely of female DJs and, as Young says, is for “places and people who want female DJs but don’t know where to find them.”
Prism, which currently has ten DJs on its roster, including KCRW DJ Marion Hodges, stands out from other booking agencies in the city because of its heavy female focus. Her goal is for female DJs to be seen not as sexual objects that play music, but as experienced DJs who are just as skilled and capable as their male counterparts. As a female DJ herself, Young says she feels passionate about helping other females book jobs and navigate the traditionally male-dominated field. “Women make up less than ten percent of the DJ market, so males are taking 90 percent of that market,” she says. “I’m no feminist, but I think that there should be some equality here and if I can push that percentage up a little bit, I would be so happy.”