Now was her chance and she might never get another chance like it again.
The electric blue maned filly crawled through the hallway, peeking around every door frame for any sign that some pony was on to her. It was a silly thing to do considering the only other ponies in the house were her daddy and her uncle, and she knew exactly where they were. However paranoia has a way of seeping itself into your mind when you're about to do something you know is wrong. Nevertheless Vinyl Scratch continued throughout the house, making her way to the stairs that lead into the basement where her prize lay hidden.
The basement door was at the end of the hall and between her and that door was an open room. Vinyl Scratch pulled out a makeup mirror, which she had liberated from mommy's side of her parent's bathroom, out of her saddlebag. Vinyl flipped it open and looked around the corner to see the two grown stallions screaming at ponies who were playing hoofball in another city. Her uncle was technically her mom's brother but her dad and her uncle acted like brothers a lot. Vinyl Scratch didn't understand the game they liked so much but if it kept the two distracted she didn't much care.
There was the sound of a whistle that came from the TV and both stallions groaned and covered their eyes. Her uncle asked the TV, "again?" Vinyl Scratch did not miss this opportunity, she crept down the hall as quickly as she could without making a lot of noise. She made it to the other side without being noticed.
The doorknob was still too high for poor little Vinyl Scratch but she had been practicing extra hard with her magic specifically for this. After a moment of struggle the doorknob turned and the basement door slid open. Vinyl Scratch got to the other side of it and quietly closed it again. She was in the clear now and she new it. Vinyl took a moment to giggle to herself before trotting down the steps into the darkness.
It took her a moment to find the light but when the room was properly illuminated Vinyl was presented with one of the most beautiful sights she had ever seen. Vinyl Scratch came from a family of musically inclined ponies. Her father played swing music on his piano and would occasionally play with a jazz band bar to bar for a living, and her mother was the second chair violinist for the Canterlot Philharmonic Orchestra. Her uncle's instrument of choice was a turn table. Daddy would often joke with her uncle about it not being a real instrument and maybe that was true. All Vinyl knew for sure was that pretty sounds came out of it and that was enough for her. She loved getting to play with her fathers piano, and every now and again her mother would sit down with her and teach her about the violin, but Vinyl never got to play with the turn table. It was always too big for her and her parents were always dismissive about it, telling her things like "you can play with it when you're older." Which, of course, only increased the desire Vinyl had until it overflowed and she just had to do something about it.
Vinyl looked around her uncles studio. Records hung on the wall with posters covering the parts of the walls that the records missed. It's not a room she'd find in her house and that made it exotic. Vinyl Scratch ran over behind the turn table and started to fiddle with the many sliders and knobs. After a moment she heard a hum as the turn table kicked to life and Vinyl started playing.
Admittedly, she wasn't very good. For somepony who had never touched a turn table she was hardly average. But Vinyl Scratch didn't care. She loved music and was lost in her enthusiasm, preforming for a crowd of ponies that only she could see. And she loved it.
The illusion was broken by the sound of the basement door opening. The two stallions walked down the steps and met the filly face to face.
"Having fun?" Her uncle asked behind his signature purple shades, trying to hide his amusement behind a thin veil of disapproval and failing at it.
"Yes," Vinyl Scratch answered as she turned her attention back to the records on the turn table.
"Come on down from there sweetheart," Vinyl's daddy told her. After a few more moments of fiddling with the turn table Vinyl Scratch jumped down and walked up to her father, who immediately grabbed vinyl in an embrace.
"Vinyl, you got your cutie mark!" He exclaimed.
"I did?" Vinyl asked, trying to crane her neck around her father's grasp to see for herself.
Her daddy was right, Vinyl had indeed received her cutie mark. It was a mirror image of two bridged eighth notes. Vinyl didn't know that's what it was called though, she didn't understand music that well yet.
"You probably should have asked your uncle first though," Vinyl's father said, having gotten over his happiness for his daughter and went back to the matter at hoof.
"I know," Vinyl answered, not really sounding remorseful. "But he was probably going to say no and then I remembered what you told mommy about how it's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission."
Both adults laughed. Vinyl's uncle turned to her daddy and said, "Well at least we know she's definitely your kid."
The charcoal mare put the now empty coffee cup down.
"... And that's basically it," Vinyl Scratch told her friend. "I got my cutie mark and my parents started being more lenient with me when it came to instruments. Now that they knew I was destined for music they didn't mind me poking my head in on their practice as much."
"Well," Vinyl's friend said. "It's certainly different than how I got my cutie mark."
"And how was that?" Vinyl asked.
"It was just after I finished my first solo for my school orchestra."
"Well that's kinda boring way of saying it 'Tavi," Vinyl Scratch said. "Couldn't ya, I dunno, spice up the story a bit. Make it interesting. Were you nervousness before you started or excited or what?"
Octavia scoffed. "Me, nervous? Ha." Vinyl Scratch laughed at her friend.
Vinyl Scratch and Octavia Melody had met during a Canterlot Philharmonic Orchestra practice. An elite group of classical music players that both their moms happened to be a part of. They hit it off immediately and had grown to be the best of friends. Vinyl had made it to Octavia's first major recital and now Octavia was sitting across from Vinyl Scratch in this coffee shop, waiting for her friend to go up and make her big debut.
"What about you," Octavia asked. "This is a big deal for you, right?"
"Kind of," Vinyl said un-enthusiastically. "Honestly, it wasn't that hard to get into a place like this. If worse comes to worse I can just find another coffee shop, no big deal." Vinyl shrugged. She was lying, of course. She had to beg to get to play her turn table here and the butterflies in her tummy were demanding attention. In truth, Vinyl just wanted to look calm and collected in front of her friend.
Octavia turned to face the makeshift stage that had been set up. The four stallions had finished playing their rock-and-roll-love-song-thing they had and were being ushered off the stage as the owner of the coffee shop took their place.
"Well that was quite the performance. Up next we have somepony called," the coffee coated mare stopped to look down at a note card being held in place by her cream colored aura. "DJ Pon-three. Lets hear it everypony." The coffee shop patrons cheered as directed.
Vinyl Scratch's head sunk into her hooves as she said to herself "It's spoken 'pony.' How is that hard to get?"
Octavia chuckled and said, "They're waiting for you miss pon-three." Vinyl Scratch shot Octavia a glare but got up anyway.
It didn't take long for Octavia to get settled in front of her turn table and when she did there were a few audible groans from the audience. Vinyl was going to show them there was more to a turn table than they give it credit for.
Vinyl let the first record play. It was a smoothed out jazz composition that she recorded from one of her father's shows. The ponies seemed to relax at that realization but Vinyl wasn't done, not yet. After the chilled out groove had been playing for half a minute she let the next record come in. The second record was a recording of just the string section of Canterlot's orchestra playing a particularly quick song. The two songs came together and formed a Jazz Orchestra that no pony, not even Octavia, expected.
The two tracks weaved in and out of each other in a dual for the center stage. The smooth Jazz laying a rhythm that refused to be hidden for any length of time and the fine wooden string instruments thundering it's complexity across the Jazz. Every mare, stallion, and foal there loved it.
When Vinyl Scratch had finished she got asked to stay around until they closed, which she happily did. After the chairs had been stacked on the tables the owner told Vinyl that she wanted her to start playing regularly. She had been picked up on trial and while that usually last for a few weeks her first night went over so much better than she could have ever hoped.
Vinyl did everything she could not to hug her new employer right there but Vinyl Scratch is, after all, just a pony. The mare hugged Vinyl back.
Vinyl then leaned out of the hug and informed the mare that, "it's pronounced DJ pony."
"That is a problem then," the light grey stallion told Vinyl.
"I know Neon," Vinyl Scratch said into her hoofs.
"Well how were you supposed to know," the stallion comforted. "And how were they for that matter? They saw you moving a turn table and made the assumption any pony would make. I mean it seems like that's the assumption those ponies in the coffee shop made when you got on the stage, right?"
"Well, yeah," Vinyl Scratch admitted. "But this is different, here I can't be what they are expecting me to be. What's worse is that I can't back out."
"Why not?" Neon asked.
"They want this thing to be closed so they had me sign a few forms right away. The only thing they asked was 'hey, you know how to use that thing?' I didn't even know what sort of venue I'd be playing but now I'm bound by contract to go and make a fool of myself," Vinyl complained.
"Is it really that bad?" Neon Lights asked. "I mean you said the ponies you play for in the coffee shop love your music, what if these ponies do too?"
Vinyl Scratch didn't respond. The sun had gone down several hours ago and they were waiting outside a warehouse that had been shaking with various wubs since the moon had taken the scene. Vinyl Scratch had considered just leaving, after all she mixes classical with jazz, a nightclub was no place for her. Neon Lights, a stallion she had met earlier that day and who would become one of her most trusted friends, followed her out into the night to stop her.
Vinyl Scratch sighed and silently wished her friend Octavia could have been here with her. But Octavia had a gig of her own, her chance to join the Canterlot Symphonic Orchestra had finally come and if she makes it then she'd be part of her mother's rival orchestra. Vinyl hoped Octavia was doing better than she was in this moment but Vinyl couldn't dwell on her friend for too long, at least until she figured out what she was doing here.
"If I run it might ruin any reputation with recording labels out there and I'll spend forever in that coffee shop," Vinyl said to herself.
"Again," Neon Lights said, "what if they like it? What if they like you. Come on, just give it a shot."
Vinyl Scratch didn't want to but she felt she didn't have much of a choice. Not because of the contract, rather, what Vinyl hadn't told Neon was that her uncle had come out to this Fillydelphian warehouse to support her first gig. So Vinyl Scratch reluctantly followed Neon back into the club.
On the way to the stage Vinyl was intercepted by her uncle who was wearing those silly purple shades. That wasn't surprising to her though, she couldn't remember a time when he wasn't wearing them. What was surprising to her was that he seemed to share her anxiety. Vinyl didn't know why, as far as she knew her uncle didn't know about five minutes ago she had planned to walk out.
"Are you okay," Vinyl asked, forgetting the fear momentarily.
"I was worried you got too nervous and left," her uncle admitted.
"Me? Come on why would I be nervous?" Vinyl's lie didn't fool her uncle.
"I know it's scary, but just know that no matter what you still have your family," Her uncle said. "Here, I want you to have this. It'll bring you luck."
Vinyl's eyes widened as her uncle took off his shades and presented them to her.
"I don't know what to say," Vinyl Scratch was astounded by her uncle's generous gift. He loved those glasses and now they were hers. Vinyl took the glasses and put them on. They gave her a comfort that she hadn't expected. Behind these shades she felt like she had a barrier, something to separate herself from every pony who would be angrily judging her in only a few minutes. It wasn't much but Vinyl pulled her uncle in an embrace nonetheless.
After a moment affectionate hugging her uncle let Vinyl go and said, "now go knock 'em dead."
For a brief moment Vinyl Scratch thought she might actually be able to do this. When they called for her to take the stage they got her name right and that was when Vinyl felt invincible. She swaggered up to the stage and took her spot behind the massive turn table. Looking out, Vinyl saw the crowd of ponies that had been present when she got her cutie mark and was prepared to wow them again.
Vinyl only had a few records with her though, and neither of them where what any pony there was expecting. Vinyl played anyway.
The crowd was not impressed.
Vinyl Scratch was trying to speed the records up to be more fast paced but the crowd was getting restless. The crowd had begun to jeer now and Vinyl was starting to panic. She knew this would happen.
From somewhere in the crowd a bottle flew past Vinyl's head and exploded on one of the large speakers above her, showering the equipment, and her records, in alcohol.
Vinyl Scratch was now fighting tears. She had learned long ago to never wet play a vinyl record as it could do irreversible damage to the records and these ones were important to her. Vinyl silently thanked her uncle for the glasses that allowed her to hide her wet eyes.
Vinyl wasn't thinking clearly anymore. She just wanted her records dry again so she started to try and in doing so began to scratch the records along the needle, causing sounds to come from her records that she had never heard before, sounds that gave even the venomous crowd pause.
Vinyl stopped the records and the whole room was silent for the first time that night. Then Vinyl began to scratch the records a bit more. Vinyl knew this was poor treatment of a record but she also knew it was the only way she would beat this crowd and in that moment that's all that mattered.
As the DJ continued several ponies began to find they actually enjoyed the music she gave them. In the new light of this club remix to her Jazz-Orchestra mix the crowd was becoming pacified. She wasn't the most popular DJ that night but she was one that stood out and that was arguably better.
After her set Vinyl's uncle hunted her down and congratulated her before she spent the next hour sitting in a corner trying to calm her heart before it beat out of her chest. Once Vinyl was sure she wouldn't have a heart attack she spent the night enjoying the music and the company of the ponies who had forsaken her earlier. After all, Vinyl was never one to hold a grudge.
After the show every pony who had played that night was invited to an after party hosted by Wub-A-Dub Records. Vinyl got signed into a small contract that night that rocketed her career, but perhaps more important than that, she had the most fun playing music she ever had, even if it was also the most terrifying experience of her life.
"So I guess what I'm trying to say is that if it wasn't for that random jerk I might not be where I am today." Vinyl Scratch sat in front of a microphone as she spoke. She sat in a small and cozy sound-proof room beside a cream coated mare with a rusty mane. The mare was called Ember Forest, even though her parents named her Honeycomb Sunbeam. Ember didn't feel she deserved such a fate though so she changed her name. Ember was hip and ran her own radio station out of Manehattan. A show she had finally got the ever popular DJ Pon3 to speak on.
"It's crazy how much little things like that can change our course in the world," Ember Forest commented.
"Yes, it is," Vinyl said. "But that doesn't change the fact that some pony threw a bottle at my head!"
Ember Forest laughed a little and said, "in fairness though I think that may be a compliment in Fillydelphia." Vinyl Scratched laughed too.
"But you do enjoy it right?" asked Ember Forest. "You have to, with a schedule like you have."
"Of course I do," Vinyl Scratch told her. "I don't think that I would have pushed through all the criticism if I didn't enjoy it and I think that, at least on some level, I'm grateful for the adversity."
"I've heard a lot of famous ponies say that adversity tests how much they really want something. I guess you just wanted it more than anypony else didn't want you to have it."
"Absolutely," Vinyl Scratch said. "But it was also a tremendous amount of luck and good fortune. One of these days my fame will start to fade and I'll have to get a real job despite all the fame now, so I'm enjoying the ride while I can."
"Have you ever thought about being a radio DJ? Should I be worried about me job security?" Ember jokingly asked.
"Maybe in another decade or two, but by that point you'll probably be running the entire company and will need a good, loyal DJ to help you out anyways so it's win-win," said Vinyl Scratch.
"I'll hold you too that," Ember told Vinyl.
"I don't doubt it," Vinyl shot back with a chuckle.
"Alright, well we have time for one final question," Ember told the DJ. "Why do you make music and what specifically drives you and motivates you to continue?"
“That's actually kind of an easy one for me. I've always been a huge advocate of music. When I was little I would listen to music for hours every day and I'd think about how many ponies loved those songs. And I'd think about how many ponies were helped through a lot of tough times because of those songs. And how many ponies enjoyed good times with those songs. Mostly though I thought about how much those songs really mean to ponies and to myself," Vinyl Scratch told Ember. "I remember thinking how great it would be to write one of those songs. I was sure that if I wrote one of them, I would be very proud of myself. Then I thought about why I couldn't write these songs and when I came up with no good reason that I couldn't I dove right in."
"If you could say anything to the musicians that inspired you to get here today what would you tell them?"
"I'd say," Vinyl Scratch began, deliberating on how she would phrase what she was about to say. "I would say that I hope the ponies who wrote those songs and that music are happy. I hope they feel that it's enough because they've made me happy. And if you've made even one pony happy then you've done more than enough.”
There was a slight pause before Ember extended a hoof to the mare and said, "and that's it for the time we have, thank you for stopping by Vinyl."
"It was my pleasure talking with you," Vinyl answered, giving Ember an affectionate hoof bump.
"And that, ladies and gentlecolts, was the ever talented DJ Pon3, aka Vinyl Scratch," Ember Forest said. "It's been a pleasure getting to know the mare behind the shades over the past hour but now it's time to go, look for her at the upcoming Royal Wedding. This has been Ember Forest, see you next time."