DJ Tigerbunny spins the local bar scenes in new directions
Labels and titles change all the time. “DJ” used to stand for “disc jockey,” and generally it was this really little guy with a big voice, alone in a radio studio, playing records for the insomniacs. Then in the 1980s, you’ve got your two turntables and a microphone, but there’s this other loudmouth MC guy talking over the song you were just trying to listen to. Cuttin', scratchin', re-mixin’ it up. Now, you go out to see a random DJ and it’s $5 for three hours of 20 decibels of some techno, THWUMP-THWUMP-THWUMP, and there are only five people in the bar.
DJ Tigerbunny isn’t like that.
Tigerbunny, aka Teri Barnes, 32, takes her crate of records wherever she can find a crowd of nice, decent, human beings who just want to listen to some records. Her dark clothes and Betty Page hair aren’t exactly what people expect from a DJ these days. She knows it, but she also knows what people want to hear.
“I don’t scratch or stuff like that … I just really like music—everything but New Country,” she laughs.
Her music ranges from indie pop to goth, ‘70s soft rock to ‘80s industrial, The Stooges to Devo. It’s not what traditional DJs carry around in their bag of tricks. And it’s not like Barnes is some glorified skating rink employee with a handful of cassettes. She has solid equipment she lugs around with her, whether to open for a band or to play for a friend’s birthday at a bar.
Barnes goes out and does the research for the job, too. She reads reviews, checks out dubious music she’s never heard of, talks to friends and searches the Internet to find the right music. Then she buys it all, listens through it for the really good songs. She says that she DJs mostly out of a desire “to introduce people to new music and to have fun.”
“When people come up and tell me, ‘I can’t believe you just played that in a bar!’ or ‘What is that? That’s a rad song,’ it’s so great to know that I made their day,” she says. “And I never have enough. I always feel inadequate, like I need more music to introduce.”
On the other side of the music, she is reserved and soft-spoken and laughs at herself a lot. A longtime Reno resident, Barnes is also a divorced mother of two with a fulltime job. But she has few problems keeping a day-life with a night-job on the side. She’s been spinning for two years—she began after she was encouraged by friends to give it a shot and play some records in a bar. Since then, she hasn’t been able to stop.
Barnes says, though, that she won’t play just anything. Overplayed songs or songs that have had all their passion sucked out of them by commercials won’t spin under her needle.
“Music is everything when you’re having fun. It does more than set the atmosphere; it is the atmosphere. I’ll play what people want to hear, but I have boundaries. I have so many boundaries that I give myself, it might be selfish.”
It might be selfish, but DJ Tigerbunny is the one with the turntable and the records we all want to hear.