the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

Tiny Humanz spins records with DJ-ing

Turntablists senior Tylee Chan, junior Jakobi Chan and freshman Ariana Fuentes share their experiences DJ-ing and how their mutual love for the art brought them together.
Photo by Stephanie Cheng
From left to right, freshman Ariana Fuentes, senior Tylee Chan and junior Jakobi Chan share their original impressions of each other after getting to know one another.

As the turntable whirs to life, senior Tylee Chan, junior Jakobi Chan and freshman Ariana Fuentes take the stage. Under deft hands, a myriad of notes and vocals combine, creating a beat that sweeps across the venue.

Turntablism is the performance aspect of DJ-ing. It involves using different techniques to mix tracks together and create new types of music while keeping the audience visually entertained. Tylee, Jakobi and Fuentes are part of a six-member DJ group called Tiny Humanz, and they perform at various events, such as the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show and Walnut High’s Mustang Corral. 

“I want to do things with turntablism that no one has ever done before. Everyone knows what a DJ is, but there are so many ways you could go with DJ-ing. I want to at least put turntablism out there,” Tylee said. “What I want to do is to perform places no one’s ever performed. I want to invent new ways to manipulate music.” 

Performing both separately and as a group, Tiny Humanz uses a set of turntables and a mixer in their performance. When working together, they take turns on the two turntables, coordinating with each other and alternating spots as the music plays. 

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“You can prepare beforehand, but you can never be sure how it will end up. There’s so many of us, and it has to be all on time,” Tylee said. “So it’s not just you taking care of your part, it’s also making sure that the next person who comes up comes in on time and leaves. It’s all about timing.”

“There are multiple different scratches throughout the entire arsenal. The most basic one is the baby scratch, and you have to be really precise with that to make it sound good. Even faster, you would call that a scribble,” Jakobi explained, gesturing animatedly. 

Tiny Humanz typically performs at least once a month, and they learn about their events through either their DJ school, the Beat Junkie Institute of Sound in Glendale, or event directors. 

I want to do things with turntablism that no one has done before.

— Tylee Chan

“As a DJ, you have to think on the spot. Everything has to come naturally,” Jakobi said. “If it doesn’t, you end up screwing something up. You have to learn how to play off of that.” 



“A lot of my friends say I’m good at mixing, but they’ve never actually seen me do a performance and put effort into interacting with the crowd,” Fuentes added.

As turntablists, they do their best to remain versatile with their song choices and engage the crowd, changing playlists depending on the event’s theme and the audience’s mood.

“One of the most important things is making connections with your audience. You want your audience to feel good with your music,” Jakobi said. “You want to make sure you know what kind of audience you’re playing for and what kind of music you have prepared for them.” 

The three have known each other since 2018, but Fuentes only started getting closer to Tylee and Jakobi two years ago, after the siblings transferred to the same school. 

“I wanted to be [Ariana’s] friend, but it wasn’t until last year that we actually started talking because we were so shy and awkward,” Tylee said. “Then, we started doing bigger events with bigger people. We’re around the same age, so it was easier to talk to her as we got older.” 

“Ari had a lot of energy, and that is what I’ve been trying to achieve in my crowd. She’s responsible for the reason that I started expressing myself,” Jakobi said. 

The trio met by chance at the Beat Junkie Institute of Sound when they were placed into the same class six years ago. At the time, they were all beginners who had no particular experience or interest in DJ-ing. 

“If you told me 10 years ago that I would be a DJ as big as I am right now, I wouldn’t believe it at all,” Tylee said. “I joined because of my brother. To be honest, it came as a surprise.”

One of the most important things is making connections with your audience.

— Jakobi Chan

Jakobi had been trying to come up with ideas for his upcoming talent show when his father recommended he try DJ-ing, and a worker at the Guitar Center told them about the Beat Junkie Institute of Sound. Tylee attended the first class with him, and DJ-ing has been an integral part of both of their lives ever since. 


“If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have been a DJ. I wouldn’t have been who I am right now. I wouldn’t ever have found myself,” Tylee said.

Encouraged by her family to attend the academy, Fuentes was also reluctant to start DJ-ing in the beginning.

“I didn’t think I would like it at first, so I was like, ‘Oh, that’s it.’ But when my dad put me in [the class], I grew to love it more and more. I was like, ‘I want to keep doing this. I have fun doing this.’” Fuentes said. 

Now, DJ-ing has become an important part of their lives, shaping their personality and actions. 

“Before DJ-ing, I was super shy. I hated big crowds. But when I went up there that day, it was just me and the turntables. It’s like I have a special connection with them; as soon as I’m up there, it doesn’t matter what’s happening around me. It’s just me and a turntable, so I do my own thing,” Tylee said. 

“Everyone has different personalities, and it’s really amazing to see that. I think DJ-ing has changed my perception on life in itself,” Jakobi said. “Even sitting in this room right now, it’s kind of hard for me, but that’s just in the moment. Before you do anything, it’s scary all the time, but then you realize that in the moment it’s just amazing.”

All three hope to continue DJ-ing, though Jakobi plans to keep DJ-ing on the side. Meanwhile, Fuentes will focus on growing her following and improving her skills. 

“I love [DJ-ing]. It’s my favorite thing to do,” Fuentes said. “It’s kind of nerve-wracking, but at the same time, it’s really exciting.” 

Regardless of their goals for the future, their love of DJ-ing is something they all share. 

“You’re manipulating songs in ways that no one could have ever imagined. You’re basically messing with time,” Tylee said. “In art, you’re decorating space, music you’re decorating time. You’re tweaking it in ways people would have never thought of.”

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About the Contributor
Elise Chen
Elise Chen, Feature editor
Hi, my name is Elise Chen, I'm in the 10th grade, and I'm the Feature editor for The Hoofprint. Besides writing for The Hoofprint, I am also on the Science Olympiad team. I enjoy playing chess and reading.
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    KatherineNov 6, 2023 at 7:50 pm

    What’s my granddaughter girl from the baby till now into a woman, the president believe I never seen a girl work any harder than her morning noon and night practicing to be the best you could be at DJ ing. I’m very proud of her she has worked very hard and she is very good at what she does he has played at many events and weddings over them I have never been more proud of her than I am to in this day I love her uncle bunches play on Ariana Nicole you rock