Behind a steady string of high-profile gigs, a handful of original vinyl singles and a hot-selling 1999 mix CD, Orlando funky-breaks DJ Baby Anne has become one of the most sought-after jocks in the Southeast and a rising star on the national dance-club circuit. To many she's known as "The Bass Queen," a tag she picked-up back when she worked lots of boomy Miami-bass into her mixes (and blared the stuff from a car decked-out in "ridiculous bass," she says). Her www.bassqueen.com web address recalls those days, but the moniker doesn't reflect the current breaks on her set list. Still, "The Break Queen" just doesn't work, does it?
It was by accident nearly eight years ago that the then 19-year-old Marianne discovered her knack for beat-mixing. "I had a lot of guy friends that were learning how to spin and since I was really familiar with the music, they'd always make me listen to the tapes they would make. By listening to their mistakes -- just by ear -- I kind of learned. So when I tried it, I just picked it up naturally. To me it felt natural but surprised everyone else."
One surprised party was Orlando electronic veteran DJ Icey, who's now largely considered to be the best breaks DJ in the world.
"I went over to Icey's house one night," reflects the Queen. "He was doing paperwork or something at his desk, and he put on a couple of records and I mixed them. He looked up at me and was like, 'Oh that must have been a fluke.' And then I played two more and he's like, 'You're freaking me out, I can't believe you did this.'
"He thought it was cute. That's right about the time `Icey and crew` did the first Edge rave ... so he put me on the flier. I thought he was kidding. He actually let me open." She began to regularly spin the music that's now considered "old-school house," becoming a crowd favorite for her tight sets bursting with bass and energy.
The pair continued to work together and, with Icey acting as engineer, headed into the studio to craft Anne's first original single, "Abercrombie," which was released in 1995 on Icey's Zone Records. She returned to the vinyl frontier four more times with "Trippin on the Bass," "Bass-queen" and "Freaks Groove on Zone," and 1999's "Beat" on Phattraxx Records. But somewhere in between, around 1997, a burned-out Anne quit DJing for a year in search of a more stable vocation.
It wasn't long before the bug was back and Anne was graduated into unexpected full-time jock status, with a schedule crammed with dates in the Southeast and beyond, as well as a regular Tuesday gig at Icon. On New Year's Eve alone, she played three parties, in Orlando, Jacksonville and Daytona -- not bad for someone who didn't see vinyl in her future. But Icey always did, she says, and, "He's the one that changed my mind about it."
Like Icey, Anne specializes in nonmainstream funky breaks -- dance music with a funky undertone rooted in free-style and booty music. Her game plan: Have fun. "I try to play really high-energy stuff and it has to be breaks. And I have more fun in Florida ... the crowds respond to it better."
That fun is captured on Baby Anne's debut mix CD, "The Bass Queen," released in July 1999 on Miami-based label Street Beat/ Pandisc and sold around the world. The disc is a slammin' representation of Anne's funkier-than-thou sets and includes some of her original output. She plans a follow-up CD in April or May.
Even though Anne recognizes that the Orlando DJ scene has become fragmented by wannabes and greedy schemes, she couldn't be happier for Orlando's original crop of world-class DJs (Icey, Kimball Collins, Q-Burns Abstract Message) who are packing nightclubs around the globe.
As for the talk about an Edge reunion for the early scenesters who continue to lament the loss, she offers one prediction. "I don't think it is ever going to happen in that 8 Seconds building `that housed the Edge`. They would trash it."