MSG's in-house DJ Tiff McFierce gets the crowds moving at New York Liberty games
Picture it: Madison Square Garden, "the world's most famous arena," is packed with die-hard New York Liberty fans, and you're tasked with creating the soundtrack for the night. You must set the mood as Shavonte Zellous, Kiah Stokes and Tina Charles take to the court.
DJ Tiff McFierce née Tiffany McPherson rules over the wheels of steel and curates the night from five stories above the arena floor. Songs such as "Wild Thoughts" by DJ Khaled, featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller bring discerning fans to their feet.
As the first woman to assist with the musical direction and act as an in-house DJ at Madison Square Garden, McFierce knows there's a lot riding on her skills each time she steps into the music booth.
"Being born and bred in the Bronx, you always know MSG. This is 'The Mecca.' It's an honor to work here," McFierce said.
The dancer-turned-DJ met with espnW to discuss her preparation for a big game and the songs that get the crowds at MSG moving.
espnW: When you walk into MSG, ahead of a game, what goes through your head?
TM: I'm just ready to rock the crowd. I'm amped, hyped and grateful. I'm very thankful that I can call this place a residency. I'm super-humbled by all of it.
espnW: As the first woman to assist with the musical direction and act as an in-house DJ at MSG, you're a pioneer. What does that feel like?
TM: It's all very humbling. On my ride here today, I thought to myself: "What does it mean to sit down with espnW and be in the Garden as a pioneering DJ?" It just puts things into perspective. It's so much bigger than me. It's about forward thinking in sports and music. It's an amazing experience and I'm up for the challenge.
espnW: How did you get here? What's the backstory?
TM: I've been DJing for seven years now, but I've wanted to do this since I was a child. I grew up listening to and observing the greats, like Red Alert, Kid Capri and, of course, DJ Cocoa Chanelle is one of my favorites.
However, it happened randomly, as I was previously a professional dancer. I'm trained in jazz, tap and modern. Then, one day I thought, I have this [other passion] and I can't keep putting it off. I had to learn how to DJ.
I started on other people's equipment. I didn't have anything and I didn't know anything. I began practicing on vinyl with no Serato [digital DJing software]. The first song I ever mixed was Nas' "Nas is Like." I ran that song into the ground!
espnW: What makes MSG so magical?
TM: Being born and bred in the Bronx, you always know MSG. This is "The Mecca." Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones have performed in this space. It's an honor to work here. I get chills [thinking about it]. It's the world's most famous arena.
espnW: What has been your favorite MSG moment thus far?
TM: The first time I ever stepped onto the court.
I've always dreamed of playing here. I thought it would be maybe dancing behind someone or choreographing. About two years ago, I got to play the Garden for the first time as a guest DJ for the New York Liberty. I got to see my name on the JumboTron. It was definitely an experience.
Another time, I was working a Liberty game and I dropped a song. Then everyone in the crowd started singing along. I love connecting with people. Overall, just being here, and knowing this is a residency for me, is a moment.
espnW: What song gets the New York Liberty crowd moving?
TM: Lots of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, KISS, and even some of Migos' stuff. AC/DC's "Back in Black" is also a great song to drop; it's all about the guitar riff and bass.
espnW: This is a tough one. Who is your favorite New York Liberty player?
TM: I have so much respect for Tina Charles. Yes, she's an amazing player, but she's also a philanthropist. The fact that she dedicates [half] of her salary to charities proves her selflessness.
This interview has been edited for length.