Kelly Insinna can thank Britney Spears for helping launch her DJ career.
The 36-year-old Booker High School graduate got her start spinning CDs 11 years ago while working as the manager of Camelot Music at the Westfield Sarasota Square Mall.
It was 1999 and Spears had just released her debut single, “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” which every Top 40 club DJ wanted. The album was so catchy, even Insinna had it in her car stereo.
Local DJ George Rodriguez had just dashed into the music store wanting to purchase a copy. He said he needed it for a gig, but Camelot was sold out. So Insinna let him borrow hers, and in return Rodriguez invited her to hang out with him in his DJ booth at Club Therapy off Clark Road.
“I really got into what he was doing,” says Insinna, who soon started working as Rodriguez’s light technician in exchange for $75 and a six-pack of Coors Light.
She booked her first solo gig at Therapy — Wednesday night Ladies’ Night. She lied about her experience to get the gig. The first time she deejayed, she had trouble even turning on the equipment.
It didn’t take long before Insinna had a DJ name and an image — DJ Sinna-G, a sprightly house DJ with a multi-colored mohawk and a penchant for beat-matching Top 40 dance tracks with hits from the 1970s.
“It’s what gets the most response from the crowd,” Insinna says. “I think it’s the reason I’ve gotten as far as I have, because I play music people can relate to.”
One of a handful of local DJs who still spins from CDs, Insinna says she’s hesitant to work from a laptop.
Like the diehard vinyl enthusiasts that came before her, she has a hard time parting with her CD collection.
She says she’s not ready to give up the “slippage.”
“If the beats-per-minute never deviate, you defeat the purpose of what you’re doing,” Insinna says. “Playing from CDs is a lot like playing from vinyl. You can still manipulate speed.”
A night owl with boundless energy, Insinna recently finished a five-month stint playing chill-lounge music at Pacific Rim in Sarasota’s Hillview District.
She’s now working as a project manager at the HuB, the technology incubator/warehouse hotspot responsible for organizing this week’s Vinyl Music Festival (VMF), a four-day electronic music party featuring more than 50 local and national DJs, including star headliners Scooter & Lavelle, Paul Mendez, Shawn Rudnick and Madam Malixa.
The event, only in its second year, is estimated to draw more than 5,000 club-goers to Sarasota. According to Insinna, more than half the rooms in the Hyatt Regency, Sarasota were booked by the end of June.
“It’s going to be huge,” Insinna says. “I’m getting chills just thinking about it.”
DJ SINNA-G’s TOP 3 DJs
“They’re a really funky duo.”
“Really soulful, throwback music.”
“They’ve got a great disco vibe.”
If you go
The Vinyl Music Festival runs July 15 through July 18 at club venues around Sarasota. For a complete list of DJs and events, visit www.vinylfestival.com.
Contact Heidi Kurpiela at [email protected].