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Kiwi DJ Messie Was Asked to Support Fred again… Now She’s Going on Her Own National Tour

Recapping the crazy past few months of one of Aotearoa's most exciting up-and-coming DJs

Wellington-based DJ Messie, aka Tessa Hills, is still trying to wrap her head around the whirlwind experience of opening for Fred again.. on his recent Australia and New Zealand tour. “Mentally I still can’t even process the fact that Fred knows who I am, it’s pretty crazy,” she admits.

It all started when Hills, deeply embedded in Wellington’s indie and DJ scene, caught the ear of the hugely popular English producer. Their fast friendship then led Fred to invite her to open for his mammoth show in Perth, in front of a crowd of 35,000 people; he even helped her secure an urgent last-minute passport grant to make it happen.

But Messie’s success isn’t about luck – it’s about being ready for opportunities. A recent graduate from Wellington’s Massey University with a degree in music technology, Hills has spent countless nights honing her skills over her decks in university halls and local clubs like San Fran and B.Space

“I’ll never forget the moment I found out. I was just in a kebab shop, and then he started following me, and I freaked out,” she recalls. “But it felt like every moment of my life had been leading up to this in a way.”

Fuelled by this momentum, Hills is now on a national tour, bringing her energetic sets (featuring an unreleased Fred again.. track) to fans across Aotearoa. And with her social media following jumping from 2.5K to 17.6K (and counting), her rise in the DJ scene is just getting started.

“I wake up sometimes, and I’m like, Oh my God, my digital footprint and how I’m being perceived and all that stuff. But then I remember all I have to do is be myself. If people are there for it, then they’re there for it, and if they’re not, then that’s okay too.” 

Read more about Hills’ journey and her plans for the future, including releasing her own music, below.

DJ Messie’s New Zealand tour stops in Wellington on May 18th, Auckland on June 1st, and Hamilton on June 29th. Tickets are available via

DJ Messie

Fred again.. and DJ Messie perform to Perth’s 35,000-strong crowd. Credit: Gina Isabel

Rolling Stone AU/NZ: Hey Tessa, congratulations on all the incredible things that have been happening for you! Is it still surreal? 

Messie: It’s honestly still the only thing that I’m thinking about. Like, everything that’s happened since the Australian show – it’s been so sick. The tour, and the fact the shows are all selling out—but mentally, I’m still struggling to process it. I mean, the fact that Fred knows who I am—it’s pretty crazy. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all.

Take us back – how did it all happen with Fred again..? 

Fred had a show in Wellington on the 22nd, but I missed out on tickets. Since I was playing at B.Space after his show, I messaged Fred and Joy Anonymous, who was opening for him, inviting them to come down. Joy Anonymous showed up, and we had a big back-to-back. Then, on Sunday, Fred put out a call for local DJs. I responded with a mix, and when mixes got narrowed down, his team mentioned that we played together on Friday, which I think helped my chances. I’ll never forget the moment I found out. I was just in a kebab shop, and then he started following me, and I freaked out. Then I ran over to my friend’s house, and there were ten of us there, and we all celebrated. 

Did you even have time to prepare for your Coroglen Tavern set? 

I treated my set at like a headline gig, so luckily, I had a crazy set ready to go. I even tried out this new intro, where North West says, “It’s gonna get messy,” and then everyone repeats it. I think that caught Fred’s attention. He ended up staying for about half of my set and seemed to enjoy it. But there was no time to prepare. I found out at 10pm the night before, and then I had to fly out the next morning. So I was grateful I had something prepared at that moment.

DJ Messie

DJ Messie at The Coroglen Tavern. Credit: Cameron Marwick

How did you end up playing the Perth show?

He gave me a big hug as I was leaving the stage and said, “This won’t be the last time you’ll be playing.” I was just like, “Oh my god.” I tried not to get my hopes up and brushed it off. But after the show, he came up to me and congratulated my performance. He mentioned this massive upcoming show with 35,000 people, the biggest he’s played, and asked if I wanted to join. I just said “yes” immediately. It became very real the next morning when I realised I didn’t have a passport.

I remember it really blowing up when he put that call out… 

We immediately applied for the urgent passport application, and it was quite stressful. But a friend reassured me, saying, “You’ll be fine. I know people who’ve sorted their passports within one or two days with the urgent option.” Her words calmed me, and I trusted it. I just knew it had to happen.

Then Fred posted that story, and it just kind of went crazy. Suddenly, lots of people had my contact details, calling and emailing me. But miraculously, it got sorted within a few hours. I went to pick it up the next day.

The Perth crowd, 35,000 strong, was mind-blowing.

It was the biggest electronic music show in Australasian history, which is insane.

That field location looked massive. How did you feel right before your set? 

It was so long. It takes like 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other. I just can’t believe I was part of that. Before my set, there’s something about the software I use, rekordbox, that non-DJs might not get. Sometimes, the songs don’t line up perfectly to the grid. But a couple of hours before I was set to play, I found out how to fix that. It was such a game changer for me, boosting my confidence and making me feel more prepared. 

I just felt like everything in my life had led up to that moment. My friends were there to support me, doing meditation and yoga with me before the set. I wasn’t really nervous, surprisingly. It felt like any other gig, just with a different view. That’s the mindset I had going into it.

I have to ask, what’s Fred like? 

He’s just a really genuine and down to earth guy wanting to ensure that everyone is comfortable, safe, and happy. He’s so willing to educate others, but not in a way that’s condescending or anything like that. He’s so humble; he won’t even take a compliment. Like, anytime I’d be like, “Dude, thank you so much,” he’d just give me a hug or whatever, but not really say anything. He’s been the best mentor. 

DJ Messie

Fred again..’s Perth show. Credit: Theo Batterham

What’s been your biggest takeaway then from the whole experience?

I think my biggest takeaway is definitely how just a small action can literally make someone’s day, or make someone’s life, in my case. Just showing kindness and patience and being generous where you can, is such an important thing in an industry like this where who you know is kind of everything. It’s knowing that if you’ve got the best intentions some good things will happen. And honestly, just being kind to everyone that is willing to give you time at all is so important.

Can you tell us a bit about your background in music? 

I’ve played drums since I was 15 and studied music technology at uni, which I just graduated from. I also play guitar and was in a band for one and a half years with a friend, playing a lot of alternative R&B. Learning the ropes of the Wellington indie scene set me up well for this.

I was also DJing while in the band, so when we went our separate ways, I already had connections to venues and other DJs. Drumming is still something I love and adds to my DJing by understanding different rhythms. I also produce my own music, which is also such a bonus and helps transition from DJing into being an artist.

When did you decide you wanted to take DJing seriously?

Since I was studying music technology, I started going to all these gigs at a club called 121. It’s kind of a go-to spot for underground electronic music. I just ended up meeting lots of DJs there. And yeah, seeing lots of women doing it, I was like, “Yeah, like, this is just so badass. Like, I need to start DJing.” And then my friend Mikeyy taught me the basics on his decks, and when lockdown hit in September 2021, he left me with them.

I was just in the uni halls by myself and practised on my own, eventually bought my own decks. Then I hosted a house party in my lounge, it was massive, and we had this whole mosh happening, it really felt like a gig. Everyone was just so supportive of me, and the fact that it was my first time playing in front of people. It was so much fun. I just knew from there, like, I needed to start playing shows and stuff like that.

How would you describe your current set? 

It’s just very fun and high energy. It’s strong with breakbeats and different edits of singalong songs. There’s Bali funk, Jersey club, Juke, ghetto tech, techno, jungle. And then there’s a bunch of easter eggs in it. I’ve made a few edits of different things that I feel like if you’ve been following the whole journey, then you’ll know what that is or where this is coming from. At the end of my set, I play Fred’s unreleased new track “Places to Be” because he gave me permission to just play it wherever I want and send him videos of it. So I’ve made my own edit of that as well.

Fred’s a great example of DJing and then making his own music. Do you want to do the same?

Yeah, totally. I’m producing as often as I can, and I definitely want to get to a point where I’m always playing my tracks out at my shows and building my base as an artist. That’s kind of the special thing about it is that if you want to hear tracks, you can come to the show. 

DJ Messie

Credit: Gina Isabel

Who are some of your favourite Aotearoa artists and DJs? 

Honestly, everyone that I put on support for the current show. I’m such a huge fan of Lady Shaka, Half Queen, caru and Hyan, Poppa Jax, Mikeyy, and Kédu from Kédu Carlö. And then my friend swim cap, pork crackle who mentored me in the beginning,  she’s always just been there. Honestly, anyone that’s out there doing it. 

What are your goals for this year and beyond?

My main goal is to build a sustainable, long-term career in music because I’m literally living my dream right now. In the short term, it’s about selling out this tour. After that, I’m heading to London in July with a few show offers lined up. Building a fanbase from the ground up there would be super cool, and I hope to go back in the following years.

I also want to tour Australia and release my own music is huge on the bucket list, but I want to take my time and do it right. When it happens, I’ll be super proud.

One of my favourite quotes is “luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” I feel like that really sums up what you’ve achieved so far. 

I live by that quote as well! I honestly feel like I was preparing my whole life for this opportunity. My friends have always said I always end up getting things I manifest for, and this is like the craziest example of that. I’m super busy but having the most fun.

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