Ms. Magazine presents: The Women Artist News Column.
An exclusive with Beca Mitchell AKA DJ Titanium.
By Gail Abernathy-McKadden-Feinberg
Walking into the cafe down the street feels like stepping back to a year ago when the world first heard the name DJ Titanium. It’s Beca Mitchell’s favorite local place where they set up a back room for her. It’s almost like taking a step back in time to the days when she did a capella in college. Of course, some things have changed. When I walked in, Mitchell hadn’t managed to get to the back room without being stopped by fans asking for an autograph. She waves and I notice that her outfit doesn’t say DJ Titanium. It’s a stripped fall-colored t-shirt and jeans. Simple and fits her bite-size. When she manages to get away, we adjourn to the back room and I’m surprised she remembers my coffee order. Sure, we’ve been on this Mary-go-round before, but I’m always impressed by Mitchell’s attention to the smallest details.
Mitchell sips her latte as we catch up on details she specifies are off the record. The first question once the recorder starts is the question that the tabloids have been circling for over a week. “It’s so good to get to talk to you again, Beca, but you know I have to ask. Are the rumors true? Why have you been going to a cancer center?”
The award-winning artist takes a breath I don’t expect before answering the question. It’s like she’s working up the strength. “The rumors are true. I have stage three Chronic Leukemia. I am being treated at that Cancer Center.” She fiddles with the straw wrapper for her latte. “I wanted to talk to you about it and get in front of it. Looking at it now, I’m kind of glad that it came out in the tabloids. I Uh,” she paused and looked down into her latte. “I think your readers and my fan will be surprised to know I’ve been battling leukemia for about a year and a half now.”
“Really? A year and a half? That’s impressive for the media coverage all over you.” I tell her.
The artist nods. “I think it took me a long time to come to terms with the diagnosis myself, even though I was going through treatment.”
She readjusts and straightens up. “Is that why you’re back in New York?” I ask her.
She scratches her neck. “Visiting college friends, actually.” She smiles and even though she’s been smiling the entire time, this one is most obviously genuine.
“Any who are more than just friends?” I ask. We both knew it was coming. Everyone asks her every interview. Everyone wants to know about her relationships or the fact that she sings about love without ever being seen with anyone in public. That won her the number two spot on the list of most promiscuous artists.
She smiles, coyly. “I have a support system.” She says.
The petite musician and Titanium Studio owner and producer has been seen a few times with two college friends in particular. The first is Aubrey Posen, a blonde beauty who graduated after Beca’s freshmen year. Aubrey Posen was a former head of the now-infamous Barden Bellas. The other was Chloe Beale, another older Bella and red-headed beauty in her own right. The artist hasn’t been seen by the media with anyone else, which only furthers the rumors that she is in fact bisexual. Speculations about her sexuality date back to her years in College when she dated now-infamous film soundtrack artist Jesse Swanson. She has since written songs on her college days album about women, using she/her pronouns. She has yet to verify any rumors about her sexuality and often evades the question if asked. She seems to enjoy the ambiguity surrounding her relationships. Though, she had made it abundantly clear that she supports and regularly donates to Black Lives Matter and Love is Love organizations.
“The Bellas?” I ask her so we can change the subject. I know I won’t get anywhere with her, but I’ll circle back later.
Beca nods. “It’s been really good to have them all back in my life, especially going through a more rigorous treatment program.”
“How is treatment going? If you don’t mind me asking.” I put my hand over the recorder to turn it off, but she pushes my hand away.
“No, I want to. I’m on a really strict, really hard treatment. It takes a real toll out of me and I don’t know how anyone in the world can go through it without my girls.” She tells me. “I couldn’t get through this without them. And I didn’t mean to keep this from my fans or the media. Which is why I wanted to talk to you. I don’t want to disappear without doing this.”
“Does that mean you plan on disappearing?” I ask her immediately.
“Just a pause, really.” She clarifies. “I need to focus on my health, mentally and physically. Not to mention some personal... things.”
“Personal things?” I ask.
The award-winning artist gives me that same coy smile. “When I’m ready to say it, you’ll be the first to know.”
“Is that a promise?” I ask her.
“It’s as close as I can give you.” She finished her latte and got up from her chair, keeping that genuinely real smile, and tells me she has to go.
Stay tuned in for more because as DJ Titanium told me, when she’s ready to talk about that personal stuff, I’ll be the first to know.