Pinay 4 Lyfe: Our#PinayCrush DJ King Marie, Yr Baby Mom's Favorite DJ
"I don't eat pork, so I get a lot of shit for not being a 'real Filipino' " laughs DJ King Marie - and while the term is definitely subjective, I would say she's a Real Pinay™ if there ever was one. Even speaking with her briefly, it's immediately apparent how proud King Marie is of her Pilipina roots, and how connected. Now based in Los Angeles, Christine Marie Ventura Borda was born and raised in Chicago in a musical family - her mother was a professional singer and her two older brothers are both DJs. She recalls that as a kid, Marie made her dad write down all the lyrics to the Philippine National Anthem so she could record it to memory, and that "Dahil Mahal" by Roselle Nava was one of the first songs her mom taught her how to sing. She was the president of the Filipino Club in high school, where she learned folk dances like tinikling and binasuan. She also reps the motherland hard with not one but three Pilipinx-related tattoos; two in baybayin (indigenous pre-Pilipinx script) - her last name on her foot, and "pinsan" behind her ear (her cousin has a matching one), as well as the Philippine flag on her entire right side.
We first took notice of King Marie last year for her dope street style, a sporty/sexy combo reminiscent of a 90's Pinay T-boz. As a DJ, King Marie seamlessly mixes a diverse range of genres into her own unique and catchy sound, from reggae, dancehall and bounce to hip-hop, R&B, and funk. She's been DJ'ing seriously for a few years, but has already toured the US with Chuck Inglish (of The Cool Kids) and even headlined in Manila. She has held down residencies at legendary New York party spots like Fat Buddha, IMOK (RIP!!), and The Delancey, and at trendy LA underground parties "Age/Sex/Location" at The Lash and the Red Light Party in DTLA.
We waxed nostalgic about our mutual love for tricked-out import cars and epic mall group photos, and spoke on her past as a singer, her love for ancestors, and her go-to tracks to get the party crackin'.
Hella Pinay: We’ve been fans of yours for awhile now! I think you’re one of the very first Pinays we ever featured on our Instagram; I love your style and your mixes so much. How long have you been DJ'ing and how did you get started?
King Marie: First of all, I'M A FAN! Thank you for all your posts and for daily reminders that make me so proud to be a Pinay.
Both of my big brothers are DJs so I was taught the fundamentals at a young age. I didn't take it seriously until I moved to New York in 2012. My mentor, DJ Kevin Lim, really taught me how to mix and gave me my first residency in New York. I'm forever indebted.
Soooo while researching for this article I was digging around the internet and I found some pics of a young tender Christine Marie from back in the days when you were a singer! What got you into singing and is that something you’d still like to pursue in your career?
Oh, the internet lol. I actually was always a singer first. I put out my Neon City EP when I was 19. I moved to New York wanting to get signed and "follow my dream" like everybody else. But I had writer's block for awhile and I picked up DJ'ing to fill the void. It actually worked out for the better. I definitely still want to sing and incorporate it into my sets. New shit coming soon! You can quote me on that :)
What’s your family’s migration story from the Philippines to Chicago? Where in the Philippines does your heritage draw from?
My mother is 1 out of 13 children to make it to the United States. She started singing and performing at a very young age. She won every talent show in her province then would travel to Manila to compete and would win those too. A traveling manager scouted her to sing in a band during the war in Vietnam for off-duty army men. She was then scouted to be in a traveling band to go on tour in the United States. She was able to visit every state in the US and fell in love with Chicago. My mother is originally from Pampanga, a province an hour and a half north of Manila, and my dad is from Lucena [the capital city of Quezon Province].
What is the Pilipinx scene like in Chicago and what was it like growing up there as a Pilipina-American? I know there’s a large Pinxy community out there and it seems like the city’s been getting a lot of attention lately for its restaurants and events like the Kultura Festival, etc.
There's definitely specific suburbs and sides of the city that are heavily Filipino populated, like Skokie, Niles, Morton Grove, and Lincolnwood (where they just built a Jollibee). I grew up having so many Filipino friends. It was great being surrounded by people that could understand and relate to my upbringing, especially being 1st-generation Filipino-American. We sang and danced in each other's cotillions, we raced "souped up" cars, we doodled in each other's planners, and we took Magic photos at the mall weekly. The good ol' days.
To be honest, I'm pretty biased when it comes to Filipino food. I really only like my mom's cooking. She used to own a restaurant here in Chicago called Marilou's. Pampanga is specifically known for their cooking and to breed good chefs.
I also haven't been in Chicago for 5 years so I'm excited to try all the new restaurants and the modern takes on traditional dishes.
How did the opportunity to DJ in Manila come about? What’s the party scene like out there?
I was able to headline at The Raven with my brothers in 2014. It was our first time being on the same bill together and it was in the motherland. It was such a memorable and special night for us.
I have a friend who linked us with a friend that took care of us and treated us like royalty while we were there. The spot we played was a Hip-Hop club which I didn't even know existed. But the crowd was young, stylish and beautiful. They really were there to dance and have a good time. I can't wait to go back.
What have been your biggest challenges as a DJ and particularly as a woman of color in such a male-dominated field?
My biggest challenge as a DJ is the fight to just be a DJ. Being a woman I have to work twice as hard and defend trying to make the same amount.
Do you have any go-to songs in your arsenal that are guaranteed to get the club poppin?
Depends on the city, but if we're talking about across the board in general - Migos "Bad and Boujee" is the universal club banger right now. But listen to the Omniboi remix! Super smooth.
What artists or songs are you heavy into at the moment?
It changes weekly and depends on my mood. But I've been in the feel-good house/smooth R&B vibes lately. I love everything Kaytranada. But I've been digging new artists like Abra, Isaiah Rashaad, Wulf, Xavier Omar, 6lack.
Where can our readers see you spin in the upcoming months?
I'll be based out of Chicago but I'm always traveling and popping up in different cities. djkingmarie.com will always have my updated monthly schedule :)
Any advice to other women who want to break into the DJ game?
Practice, ask questions, and be patient. Reach out to other DJs that you admire and respect and learn as much as you can.
What makes you Hella Pinay or what does that mean to you?
Being Hella Pinay exudes how proud I am of my culture and where I come from. It makes me appreciate my ancestors and what they fought for to be free people. It states how grateful I am to be a brown female entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry.