Interview: AGENT 137 (NYC)
Interview: AGENT 137 (NYC)
Interview: AGENT 137 (NYC)

Interview: AGENT 137 (NYC)

I am so thrilled to kick off 2024 with a feature interview from one of my favorite East Coast DJ’s! It’s Driven AM’s Kelly Ross! Otherwise known as the amazing Agent 137 from the NYC. I got a chance to go chill and throw down a set with the Driven AM crew last year, and it was super fun. Kelly has such a vibe! I’ve known her for many years and it is always a good time when she’s on the decks. Her sets are vibrant, and you can feel her upbeat attitude in the music she selects. Big love to Kelly for answering a few questions for us. She also gave us an exclusive guest mix for Saturday’s Frequency radio show on 97.3 FM WRIR! Tune in as myself and Kelly take over the airwaves from 9-11 PM ET on January 27th with those drum and bass sounds you love. #girlsrule

Words: Joanna Oremland

JOANNA: How long have you been mixing, and how and when did you get started?

KELLY: I grew up in the North Carolina and Atlanta rave scenes in the late 1990’s and 2000’s. I’ve always loved and listened to music. Around 2011 was when I made the decision to learn to DJ. I felt like I could move people like I was moved by the music.  I was older, so some people tried to talk me out of it. They called me nuts – but I did it anyway. This is my happy place and I think it fits my lifestyle and personality quite well.  Now I live in NYC where I am part of the Driven AM crew working as an Event Coordinator. I am also a resident DJ for Driven NYC and Driven 215 Philadelphia. It’s a far leap from my beginnings, and it’s been hard work to get here, but it’s been great fun. I’ve had a lot of opportunities and am pretty fortunate to still be doing what I am doing – I love it. 

JOANNA: Who are a few of your current favorite artists and labels?

KELLY: There is so much great Drum and Bass out there, and the production levels have just gotten better and better. I love everything from funky, fun and jump-y, to dark, dirty and murky sounds. It all has a time and place. I have a lot of favorite artists and this only touches the surface- DJ Hybrid, Flava D, Conrad Subs, Sweetpea, Jaybee, L-Side, Acuna, Lens, Alibi, DJ Gaw, Reid Speed, S.P.Y., Amplify, Upgrade, T.R.A.C., Nia Archives, Shy FX, Basstripper, Zero T, Document One, Drumsound Bassline Smith. For labels I play a lot of – V Recordings, Liondub International, Deep in the Jungle. JungleCakes, Invicta, Shogun, 1985, DARKMTTR, Critical, Delta9. Sofa Sound, Hospital, and of course – Driven AM!

JOANNA: What equipment do you mix with now?

KELLY: I live and work from a houseboat, so space is very limited.  I mix on a Pioneer DDJ – RR at home. When I need to record mixes or practice for events on three decks, I head over to Pirate Studios where I can flex the volume on the CDJ-2000’s or CDJ-3000’s. My preference is to use three decks live, and I aspire to use four this year with more samples and on the fly sample mixing. 

JOANNA: Tell me about your best gig ever.  
KELLY: I think some of my best gigs ever were at Burning Man. I was asked to do a breakbeat set at a camp called SlutGarden. At the time I was working with Juice Recordings and I was REALLY on top of breakbeats. I had a lot of dubs and was just super pumped for that set. Slutgarden is known for having some of the best breakbeat nights at the burn and I had danced there many times before. The women from my camp gathered together and “marched” me from camp to my set and shouted affirmations at me to hype me up the whole walk there. Dark had just fallen, and it’s such a magical time to go from dusk to dark at the burn. The desert goes from this barren dusty sight, to a magical wonderland that is lit up with fire and LED lights everywhere. I started playing and got really into it. I had a lot of tunes that said “fire” in them (it was Burning Man).  The engineer ran up to me, gave me a high five, and showed me a button and said – hit that button with reckless abandon -dooooo it! So I would build, and build, and build, and right as the tune dropped – I would smash that button.. and a great big ball of fire on either side of me would SHOOT OUT EVERYWHERE!  It was so loud, bright, and fantastic that it lit up the whole space. I could see my whole camp out there with the rest of the crowd. Everyone was dancing with great big smiles. It was so exhilarating and special, and I will never forget it. Thanks to Dot Diggler for booking me that year – Big love! Another memorable time at Burning Man, DJ Rap and I were resident Drum and Bass DJ’s at our camp – shout out to the Ice Pyrates!

JOANNA: Can I get a tip or word of advice for the younger dj’s in the scene?  

KELLY: Where one door shuts look for another window, door, cavern, black hole, or whatever to show up in front of instead. If I had spent my time getting upset or taking it personal because someone did not think of me,  or wanted me to play their show- I honestly would not have gotten very far. Instead, I sought different opportunities and also worked pretty hard to bring something to the table. I think it’s important to remember that no one is entitled to anything and it’s best to treat people with positivity and respect.

Find out more about: Agent 137

Download AGENT 137’s Frequency Guest Mix

Tune in Saturday night January 27th at 9 PM ET for Episode #995 of Frequency featuring Joanna O. & Agent 137 on 97.3 FM WRIR, simulcast at WRIR.ORG. Archives and tracklists available here after: