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'I took a chance' | How this DJ carved a brand for herself in Atlanta

DJ Sed the Saint is often powering the music behind marches, hangouts and the occasional night at Putt Shack.
Credit: Provided

ATLANTA — The rhythm of Atlanta is often set by the person behind the turntable and there's one DJ who is breaking barriers while breaking down the beat.

DJ Sed the Saint is often powering the music behind marches, hangouts and the occasional night at Putt Shack. The open-format DJ prides herself in her ability to mix tracks that "creates a beautiful combination that sounds and feels like a hot bowl of spicy gumbo."

In a world where only 32% of DJs are women, Sed said Atlanta is a special place to build a brand and expand her creativity. 

"We're everywhere here. It feels like we're like the majority here," she said about female DJs of color in Atlanta. "I don't know if that's the same for any other places like New York or Vegas or anywhere else where you typically see a man behind the turntables."

She's been carving out her own space with her own style for more than a decade and has been intentional about the music she brings to spaces where she's welcomed.

"I think my brand is I want to be full of joy and just spark joy for everyone," she said. 

It was a feeling she became familiar with since her first DJing gig. 

While studying anthropology at Agnes Scott College, she became known for her mixed CDs and carefully curated playlists. She was asked to DJ a fashion show for the school -- and the rest is history.

"I used to say I'm majoring in common sense. I just felt like it was common sense to me," Sed said about studying anthropology and easing into her craft. "And it's funny because anthropology is the study of culture, so I'm still working in anthropology technically."

It's clear that DJ Sed the Saint loves people and enjoys creating a supportive culture for people to feel comfortable. It's what has helped her land mission-driven gigs like AIDS Walk Atlanta, March For Our Lives Atlanta, and The Teal Walk: Walk Against Sex Abuse.

She said these are some of her favorite gigs to book.

"I'm doing something that I love and I'm doing it for a purpose and I'm helping change people's lives and helping bring about awareness around certain things or helping bring attention to something," she said.

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Music is in her blood

DJ Sed the Saint was born with music in her blood.

She comes from a family of musicians and often credits her grandfather Waldren 'Frog' Joseph for kickstarting the musical gene.

Joseph was a pioneering jazz musician in New Orleans, playing trombone alongside other artists such as Smiley Lewis, Sidney Desvigne and Lee Allen. He's also featured in the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

"He was an amazing guy," Sed said. "He was a pioneer."

She didn't have too much time to get to know her grandfather as he died early in her teenage years. 

"He had seven kids, you know, and raised them on a musician's salary back during segregation times," she explained. "I would really love to learn more about how he was able to maneuver and make a living for himself, his family."

Sed shared that all Joseph's children know how to play instruments, including her father, Charles Joseph. They both picked up horn instruments, following in their father's footsteps.

"And they both travel and play music still," she said. "I'm very myself ingrained in that."

Beyond the turntable

Though DJ Sed the Saint is known for bringing the best vibes to any event, she's also an entrepreneur and active member of her community.

She's notably a co-founder of Stage Wing, an equipment-sharing community for other DJs and any professional in need of production equipment.

"Stage Wing came out of a selfish situation that happened," she said. 

She explained that she was hired to DJ a wedding out of state. When she made it to her destination, her equipment had been damaged. She had to rely on her network and scramble to make sure she didn't disappoint the couple on their big day.

"I created Stage Wing out of that problem that I saw in terms of not having a community that you can call on when you're a DJ or when you're a traveling musician," she said. "We're like the Door Dash of DJ gear, sound and lighting equipment."

DJ Sed the Saint is also part of Blended Vibe, a DJ group that isn't as active anymore but where she credits much of her growth as a DJ.

"That will forever be my heart in terms of like where I got my start," she said.

Though the coalition of four DJs are now doing their own gigs, she keeps the group close to her heart.

"That is still like my original group and I will forever rock with them for as long as they want to rock," she said.

In between gigs, DJ Sed the Saint is mentoring the next generation of DJs and pursuing new projects. She is currently working with an artist that does affirmation music, giving Sed the opportunity to grow in a new way creatively.

When asked how she paved the career that she has in front of her, she said ultimately it boiled down to one past decision.

"I took a chance," she said. "I took a chance on myself and I decided to do something with it because I had so much love for it."

To hear some of DJ Sed the Saint's work, or to book her, visit her website.

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