Making Moves In The City…

I know I haven’t done anything remotely close to what I want to achieve in the end, yet everyday I feel as though I’m one step closer.

Back in Atlanta, and finally finished with US “mini-tour”, as myself and a couple friends have called it. (lol.) Let me first and foremost say, I commend all of you full-time traveling DJ’s, because the car, bus, plane, train life can be pretty exhausting. Without question, traveling is exciting, but I won’t lie, I’m pretty glad that I don’t deal with an airport this weekend. That being said, New York was amazing, and of course, the highlight of my weekend was my set at Bossa Nova Civic Club at UmFang’s Technofeminism party.

I arrived into New York bright and early Friday morning, and bus/trained over to my God Sister’s crib in Bedstuy, where I was staying for the weekend. It was my first time in Bedstuy, and I immediately fell in love; the multiple African braiding shops, the guys on the stoops and corners chopping it up with one another, the old folks chillin outside observing and giving the “black nod of acknowledgment to those that pass by. Hell, I even got a kick out the guy who attempted to hustle me into buying some baby clothes for my so-called “baby girl” (whom clearly doesn’t exist.) LMAO. In all honesty, prior to this past weekend, the only thing I really knew about Bedstuy was that Biggie Smalls was from there, and that it was currently going thru the inevitable and unfortunate gentrification process that we’re seeing so much of today.

I’m not sure what Bedstuy used to be (pre-gentrification), but the section I was staying in was predominately Black, and (imo) still had an energy that felt authentic. I got the opportunity to support a local Black owned business called Bee’s and Coco’s which had food to DIE for. The place had modern decor, yet still felt very “mom-and-pop”, (especially by the quality of the food.) The staff was young and friendly, and I’m not sure if it was the head chef or the owner, but there was a lady working there that was extremely personable and accommodating. She even gave us free mimosa’s while we waited on our carry out. Yes, please! While I’m positive Bedstuy, as well as many other Black neighborhoods in America are seeing changes…some for the good, and some for the bad, there are still those random streets, blocks, businesses, or experiences that can give you a true sense of the spirit of that particular neighborhood. I sensed the sprit of Bedstuy as I aimlessly walked down Howard Street taking in the sights and sounds. I sensed the spirit of Bedstuy as I observed the stunning brownstones on Decatur Street. I sensed the spirit of Bedstuy as I walked down Malcolm X Blvd. and stumbled into an African shop to get my hair braided. I sensed the spirit of Bedstuy as I walked past the Bedstuy Community Garden where some elder Black folks gave me some of the warmest and most welcoming smiles. I even sensed the spirit of Bedstuy when my God Sisters neighbor blasted classic old school music from his motorcycle outside of her window for what seemed to be 2 hours. HA! But in all seriousness, it is ESSENTIAL that the spirit of these predominately Black neighborhoods is preserved, it is what truly makes them what they are. I can only hope that the next time I return to Bedstuy, whats left of that spirit remains.

While there were a few different highlights to this trip, the main one, as I mentioned before, was my set at Bossa. Although the night somewhat feels like a bit of a blur, there’s no denying or blurring of how amazing I felt and played that night. From the first track I dropped I legit felt like I was on a soaring on a spaceship. I wore heels that night, so the platform under the DJ booth for short people (who can’t reach the decks…lol) actually made me too tall, yet I was still not tall enough with my heels on to not use it…I said fuck it; still used the platform, took my damn shoes off. Yes I DJ’d barefoot at Bossa for 3 hours, which included an emergency bathroom break where I ran off the decks, through the crowd, into one of the single bathrooms where a guy (who unfortunately didn’t lock the door) was peeing. “I’m the DJ, I gotta pee, hurry up, I yelled!!!” HAHAHA. The guy looked equally shocked and entertained by all of this, it was classic. Olive T. was in the building, Kfeelz was in the building, SHYBOI was in the building, my boy Pablo Louis was in the building! It felt good to have some of the NYC Black Techno crew there to support me. My girl Jen from ATL was also there, as well as a few other familiar faces, the night felt like family. I was, and still am, on a high. Thank you to Emma, Frankie, and Christine of Discwoman for being so friendly, awesome and professional. These ladies are cool af, and have been willing to assist in getting a few things in line for me, which they really don’t have to do. I admire them, and it feels good to get love from the female community.

I got the chance to hang in the city before & after my gig, and I had fun, although parties in NYC are sometimes quite expensive. A place that really resonated with me was The Lot Radio. It was my first time there, and I really had no idea of how dope such a simple place could be. Its literally a radio station and coffee shop built inside a shipping container (with a very spacious outdoor sitting area) broadcasting from middle of Brooklyn. I’m not sure who runs the place, but I want to commend you on putting together something so simple, yet so complex, that brings people together in the name of music. Radio is something that I’ve been interested/involved in, so it was fun to be apart of that. I’m not sure why I was so nervous before my set there, but it can be a bit intimidating knowing that your entire DJ set is being filmed live, while people tune in and chat/message you in the studio in real time. I opened up after a couple glasses of wine (per the usual), and it ended up being great. A couple friends stopped by also, which made the gathering even more cute. After Lot Radio Jen, her friend, myself, and Turtle all went out for food. As we’re walking down some random street in Brooklyn we run into some locals that Turtle knows…he introduces me and tells them I’m playing at Bossa later that night. The guy responds “Oh yeah, Ash Lauryn, I was actually listening to some of your mixes earlier today”. I smiled and played it off cool, yet in my mind felt cool af… like damn, this cool person in NYC knows who TF I am?! I also ran into Galcher Lustwerk at The Level Party at the Knockdown Center, who also mentioned that he had just read the blog, really enjoyed it, and related to some it. This type of shit is crazy to me because I guess I didn’t expect so many people to read, or even care for that matter. I know that humans can be fickle, fake, and disinterested, so I’m always equally surprised and shocked when people reach out to me about my mixes or blog.

My goal through all of this is to keep getting better while remaining as humble as possible. I know I haven’t done anything remotely close to what I want to achieve in the end, yet everyday I feel as though I’m one step closer….that simple fact keeps me inspired. NYC was great, and surprisingly made me appreciate my local music scene here in Atlanta as well. Atlanta’s scene may not be quite as large or “trendy”, but it’s intimate, quality, and colorful, which is important to me. That was actually the exact vibe I got from Bossa on Friday, and honestly can’t wait for the opportunity to go back.

This weekend will be my first local gig in about a month, and I’m really looking forward it. Crazy to think that it’s still a bit shy of a year since my first public DJ gig. A lot has happened, and a lot is happening. As I’ve said before, THANK YOU for being apart of this journey with me. Thank you for caring. Thank you for listening. I’m still working as my own agent rn, (which hasn’t been too bad), so I’m hoping to get some more out-of-town gigs lined up in the near future. So yeah, in closing, shout out to all my NYC people, you know who you are. Special shout out goes to the homie Turtle for kicking it this weekend and having those long ass musical/political conversations with me….much appreciated.

Until Next Time……

-ASH ❤

Californian Epiphanies.

Every gig is different, every crew is different, and every vibe is different; best believe you better be able to adjust.

Heyyy yall! So its been a while, and I’m glad to be back sharing my opinions, experiences, and whatever else in between. I’m currently on a flight headed back to ATL from San Francisco, where I was for the weekend for a gig at club F8 with the Polyglamorous crew. This was my first real “out-of-town” gig, and I must admit, the DJ life seems that much more appealing now. I mean, that fact in itself that people are willing to fly you out, give you a place to stay, pay you, and buy you dinner is pretty dope if you ask me. I’m still new to the DJ game, so this type of shit still kinda amazes me, humbled and grateful would be an understatement. On the plane ride arriving into San Francisco I sat there looking down at the mountains in sheer amazement, wow….mountains! You don’t see those much where I’m from, I felt like a big ass kid; amazed by the beauty of the world, and equally amazed to be experiencing it first hand.

This gig helped me learn and recognize the importance of being able to be a chameleon while in the DJ world.  Every gig is different, every crew is different, and every vibe is different; best believe you better be able to adjust. In the past and coming weeks I’ll have gone from playing Beautiful Sunday in Detroit, a super soulful/black/old school crowd, to playing Polyglamorous, a super gay/white/male crowd, to next weekend playing TechnoFeminism, which I’ll assume is a super femme, weird, and techno crowd. I used to question DJ’s whom “play to the crowd”, but I actually kind of get it now. Of course, stay true to yourself and your sound, yet you also gotta give the people want they want, and what they like. I’m all for “educating a crowd” musically, but certain shit just doesn’t feel appropriate for certain crowds/venues, so why even bother?

After this gig I also realized just how much more music I need to acquire, and that I’m still pretty far from mastering the art of  reading a crowd. I do my best, but it hit me this weekend that these out of town gigs aren’t always the most simple. In a lot of instances you’ve never been the venue your playing at, nor am familiar with the sound, set-up, or crowd. This is something that has to be assessed in the hour or less time you have at the venue before your set. I guess “big time” DJ’s can do shit like show up right for their set and leave right after, but in the words of an epic Josey Rebelle tweet: “raver first, DJ second”. The reason I think I’m even remotely a “good DJ” is simply because I’m first and foremost, a die-hard fan of the music and the culture. I like to get to the the party early for one, to scope out the scene/try to catch the vibe, and to secondly, legit have a little time to party and dance. If I ever do “blow up” I’ll be that DJ you see at the bar or on the dance floor chopping it up with the people and supporting the other acts. I get that sometimes there may not be enough time to “hang or socialize” before a gig but if time permits, I don’t see the harm in doing so.

The first day of this trip I was ecstatic, and I’m not sure if it was my own insecurities or that strong ass California weed that brought upon my “over-thinking” on day #2, but I think its safe to assume it was a combination of the two. I sat there gazing down upon the beautifully designed flyer with my name and photo on it and all of a sudden became eerily fearful and self conscious. Am I good enough for all of this? Do I deserve this? Am I really as good as people claim? Did I let the promoters down? I felt like crying in that moment. Some of the shit that has happened/is happening to me is still pretty surreal, and believe it or not, its not always joy that comes from huge things happening in your life. Honestly, it can be scary. Scary (to me) because unfortunately, I often worry about letting people down. And yeah, people are quick to say you can’t “let the people down”, you can only “let yourself down”, but thats bullshit. I want to entertain the people, I want to make them dance, I want to make them smile, I want to make them cry, I want to inspire them…that’s a lot to deal with sometimes, and its not a simple task. DJing isn’t just about you, its about the people. I’m not DJing to simply entertain myself, I can do that at home. I’m DJing to entertain the people while sharing the music that I love… thats not a job that should be taken lightly, or for granted.

My insecurities also stem from the hellish place called the INTERNET where I’ve been seeing a lot of talk lately about disadvantaged groups of people getting illegitimate shine in the industry simply because they come from disadvantaged demographics, and aren’t truly deserving of their current success based skills. These posts, tweets, etc. always make me feel a bit uncomfortable because I wonder if thats how people feel about me and my current success. I’ve had a nice little ride in the past year of me playing out, and I hope that people don’t think I’m only getting booked simply because I’m a woman, or because I’m black. This whole shit kinda feels like the affirmative action debate to me. Sorta like being the only black girl at the University and wondering if your white classmates resent you because you had a lower GPA than their best friends who didn’t get accepted because the school needed a more diverse student body. I mean, I know my tracks are good, ain’t no doubting that. I also know that my mixing isn’t bad, and that I’m capable of doing shit like pulling off a set after people like Omar S. and Kyle Hall. Am I on their level in terms of skill and selections? Hell no. Am I capable and brave enough to get on the decks after them and still make people dance….YES. So to anyone who feels that some of us are not worthy of the gigs or attention we receive, the only thing I can really say is “don’t hate the player, hate the game”. As a player, most of us are taking up on any opportunity thats presented to us, and would be a fool not to. I remember when someone told me I should turn down a gig, or ask to play first instead of headline because I was nervous and still new. Mannn, If I had listened and started out turning gigs down because I was nervous or new, I’d still prolly only have one or two local gigs under my belt. Which why I realized its not always good to entertain people and their antics/opinions.

Where I’m at with things now is that I’m simply going to worry about myself, and not about what anyone else is and saying, doing, or thinking. People aren’t always going to like what your doing….I’m coming to terms with that…all I can do and move forward and do ME. I watched a  documentary last week where Jimmy Iovine of Interscope, in a clip  speaks about why race horses race with blindfolds on. They race blindfolded because if they took the time to look on either side or behind them they’d lose sight of the race and lose. This can applied to humans as well; when we take the time to look everywhere but ahead, we get distracted, and in return, fall behind. I don’t know about yall, but I’m striving to be the horse with the blindfold on. I’m done looking around, I’m looking to the future, and I hope to see you there.

 

-ASH ❤

Underground and BLACK Guest Mix 001: JAY SIMON

What better way to celebrate 4th of July than with this live awesome mix by label boss of Must Have Records and DJ, Jay Simon. Jay also lives in Atlanta, has been a friend of mine for the past few years, and one thing that has always been undeniable is his genuine love for the music. He’s the type of cat who’ll play you obscure records at his house accompanied by a full history of the artist, record, and how it came into his possession. This happened to me at his place yesterday actually, LOL. Aside from playing shows stateside and abroad he has a bi-monthly party here in Atlanta called “De Ja Vu”, where you catch him playing everything from Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz, to Techno. He also was one of the people that was kind enough to help me learn how to DJ, and for that, of course, I am forever grateful. If you know Jay, you know he’s always got something to say, so in preparation for this mix Jay answered a few questions for us, thanks again Jay!

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your influences:  

My name is Jay Simon, I live in Atlanta, I DJ and run a record label called Must Have Records, and also produce a little bit. Influences could go on forever, I like to say I’m into and play soulful dance music, but I love hip-hop, jazz, reggae, new wave etc as well, anything that makes me feel something will influence me.

2. What is your view of the current state of underground dance music?

Depends on what you mean by underground, you don’t tend to hear about the real “underground” acts because they usually don’t pay for PR, or have powerful booking agencies behind them. When your name is all over all of the publications that cove “underground” dance music, and you’re touring internationally regularly, I’m not so sure how “underground” it is anymore. That being said, the nebulous “scene” isn’t in a great spot now. Great music and artists are still constantly being overlooked, and the popular cool thing to like isn’t actually good. There’s still good experiences to be had and music to listen to, if you know how to look, but most people don’t, and that’s a big issue.

3. How do you feel about Black representation in dance music?

Black people have been underrepresented given their creation of the art post rave days. As soon as it became popular and profitable in Europe, everything changed. The only people who seem to actually know house/techno are black forms of music that didn’t read a wikipedia article were the people who lived in the cities and eras where it was unquestionably a black thing. That being said, as long as white people control the money in dance music, e.g. the press, the venues, the booking agencies, the promoters etc, black people will always be underrepresented. New black/Latin kids into dance music tend not to be very interested in actually playing any older music at all, with few exceptions, leading white hipsters to dominate the impression of older black music on the new generation as well
4. What are you dreams, goals, aspirations for the future? 
Put out more records, play more gigs. Get in touch, I want to play your party.

 

Where does one go from here?

Everything was all well and fine when I was simply the “techno cheerleader”; the girl in the front row of every show screaming and cheering for you, but now that I’m out here doing more than just being the cute black girl at the party folks acting uncomfortable.

Leaving Detroit feeling equally inspired, accomplished and frustrated. I initially planned on chronicling my weekend experiences at the festival, as well as the parties, (and I still plan it, kinda) yet have decided to focus this post on the successes and struggles I faced this past weekend being a DJ for the first time in my hometown Detroit. Coming into this I was beyond excited, I mean, it was going to be my first time really DJing in Detroit. As expected, the highlights for me were playing the Discwoman party, as well as the Day/Night Party with Omar S. and DJ Stingray…these were magical moments that I will cherish forever. Yes, I was nervous, yes, I survived, and yes, I was happy with both of my sets. It felt good to make people dance, and I had lots of people approach me with kind words after my sets.

First and foremost, I want to say thank you. I want to say thank you to every single person who gave me words of encouragement this weekend. I want to say thank you to those who came to support my sets. I want to say thank you to everyone who said they’ve listened to my mixes and enjoyed them. I want to say thank you to everyone who said they’ve read my blog. I want to say thank you to everyone who believed in me enough to book me. I want to say thank you to everyone who said they like what I’m doing and want to see more. I even want to to say thank you to the non-believers because you inspire me the most at times.

I know I’m new to this shit, and I realize that there’s people out there who don’t think I deserve success, people who think I’m not good enough, people who think I haven’t worked hard enough, people who think I haven’t been doing it long enough, etc. They may not say it to my face but I can feel it, and their lack of words and acknowledgment say it all. Men in the industry claim they want to see more female representation, but I’m starting to feel like thats all bullshit. Everything was all well and fine when I was simply the “techno cheerleader”; the girl in the front row of every show screaming and cheering for you, but now that I’m out here doing more than just being the cute black girl at the party folks acting uncomfortable. How dare a new DJ and Black woman play cooler parties than them and get legitimate praise…right?

DJ Stingray recently asked the question of is Black women’s current successes due to “nature or nurture”, in response to a FB post of mine and I never got the chance to respond. When I ran into him at El Club before my set we sat down to chat and he asked me again, …”nature or nurture”? I told him I couldn’t  speak for all of us, but in terms of myself, I can attribute my successes to both nature and nurture. Nature because by nature I know good music, by nature I’m intelligent, by nature I’m capable to achieving anything I put my mind to, by nature I’m strong, by nature I’m from Detroit, by nature because I come from a history and family of successful black people. I can also attribute nurture, because yes, I admit, without my relationships and connections in the industry I most definitely wouldn’t be where I am today. That being said, nature definitely outweighs nurture, so don’t get it twisted, anything I’ve ever achieved in life is because I was more than capable.

All I ask is that you give people a chance, give me a chance. Don’t write off what I’m doing if you haven’t even taken the time to listen to one of my sets or mixes, or gotten to know my history in this music; my meaning, my purpose. This shit is so much bigger to me than “being a DJ” . This is a movement and I need people to realize that and start taking it seriously.  I’m not out here to get attention or to be cute… I’m here to represent my culture on a scene thats seeing less and less of us. I’m here to keep black faces relevant in dance music, I’m here to prove to other women that we can play with best of male DJ’s. How many other young black women you see perform this weekend? I’ll wait……………Oh, and men, please stop standing behind me or close to the booth when I first hit the decks thinking I’m gonna need your help with something. I know what I’m doing…step aside.

If I didn’t know what I was doing I wouldn’t be doing it, if I didn’t deserve the gigs I got I wouldn’t have gotten them, and if I sucked the people who booked me wouldn’t have done so, so stop being ignorant and realize that I’m out here, and that I’m not going anywhere, and I don’t care how many men that makes feel uncomfortable in the process. I got enough people on my team to know theres no way I can’t or won’t succeed. Shout out to Delano Smith, Keith Worthy, Raybone Jones, Patrice Scott, Dwayne Jensen, Scott Ashley, Bruce Bailey, Rick Wilhite, and the many other people who reached out to me over the weekend with words of belief and encouragement, it means a lot, and truly keeps me going. Also, thank you to Frankie, Joey, and Bruce for making things happen for me this weekend, I am humbled and grateful that you saw through the stereotypes and saw me for me, and what I do.

I felt really comfortable at the Discwoman party, and really loved that people danced my entire set. Something about being apart of an event put on by such strong and inspirational women really put me in a great mind frame. When I walked into that dark ass room upstairs I knew it was time to drop the Techno…deep house wan’t about to fly in that mf! Oh, and RIP Grenadier Club….(again). El Club on the other hand….I was nervous as hell when I walked into that packed ass room and saw Omar S. killing it! I literally had to go in the bathroom and give myself a pep talk in the mirror because ya girl was about faint. That being said, Omar S. is a real ass dude, and I had met him a few times that weekend prior to my set to get aquatinted and he really made me feel comfortable…I mean, we hype up these DJ’s up so much, but at the end of the day, they’re humans just like you and me. It was actually cool to see him fuck up a couple times and look at me and laugh….we’re all human people, and no DJ in the world has a perfect set/mix every single time…thats the beauty of this shit. Nonetheless he killed it, and chopped it up with me a bit before I went on…super classy/playa type dude…make me miss being home, Detroit men really are a species of their own….LOL.

Fast forward to today, I’m back in Atlanta feeling accomplished yet artistically frustrated. Where does one go from here? I have zero gigs lined up, I can’t get an email back from the venue owner, and I’m back to my 9-5 tomorrow. This is real life shit. The post Detroit depression is real and I’m really just trying figure things out. I wanna keep throwing parties, I wanna keep DJing, and I really want to start focusing on playing records, yet sometimes I still feel like why am doing this? I mean, I know why, but sometimes I feel like I wanna give up. Its not easy having to constantly prove yourself, its not easy trying to get people to understand and appreciate your art, its not easy to come so far but have so long to go.  In the end I know I’ll be alright, this is pretty much the type of shit you run into when your trying to achieve success. I’m just gonna keep working on my craft and I hope that you continue to pay attention. I’m also going to keep being vocal about black representation in dance music because as I mentioned before I (we) aren’t going anywhere…

Oh, and wisdom to the wise, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there…I don’t have an agent, I personally reach out to promoters to let them know I’m going to be in town and available. The worst they could do is say no, and the best they could do it say yes, and there you are playing some of the dopest parties of the entire weekend in Detroit! #epic

P.S.

Yes I got paid for ALL my gigs in Detroit since people acting like they wanna know or whateva. I don’t care how new you are to the game, that free shit is for the birds. Get paid for the services you provide!

Best Moments:

Meeting Kerri Chandler outside my hotel and him telling me “he swear he knew me from somewhere”.

My friend racing Omar S. in his corvette on Davison after the Theo Parrish party.

My parents coming to my set at Mix.

Stingray giving me a pep talk before my set.

Playing an all Techno Set at Discwoman

The numerous Uber drivers who all were playing House and spitting game on Detroit history.

Leaving Texture party at Marble Bar at 11am.

My friends staying at EL Club for 6+ hours to catch my set

Kids from London running up to me after my set telling me my set was so good made them cry. ❤

Kai’s BBQ and his Mom’s food.

Best Party:

Music Gallery w/Theo Parrish- The DJ booth was literally a 10 foot wall all around so you couldn’t see the DJ, it was all about the music, the people, the dancing…there had to have been at least 200 people there when it got shut down. Was epic while it lasted……

The festival:

Was bored most of the time, overhead a chick in the bathroom say “the only people I know on the line-up are Juicy Jay, and Deadmua5 …….Yeah, prolly won’t be doing the festival next year…way to many dope parties out there now anyways.

Best Club:

EL Club hands down, lovely music venue with awesome decor, patio, sound, and lighting…really hope I can play there again!

Excuse this sporadic post, but this is how it all came out. I thank you again for reading, and I hope you continue to follow my journey in this thing called music.

-ASH ❤

#Expressyoself

Being a woman in a role that is basically solely associated with men is not an easy task, yet I find it empowering, and theres nothing I love more than being up there expressing myself.

So Friday night was Expressions, and as expected, it was a pretty great turn out. For those who don’t know, Expressions is a party featuring myself and Stefan pretty much playing our favourite music all night. Stefan opened up with some funky shit, I went on at 12, then we pretty much went back to back from there on out and I had the luxury of being able to close out the night with one my favourite Aakmael tracks. Being that I’m still pretty new to the DJ world, most parties I’m booked for have me scheduled as the opener, and everyones always telling me how great and how big of a responsibility it is because your “setting the tone of the night”, but I’m honestly still more of a get ahold of the crowd once the momentum is built so I can really get down type of gal. Which is one of the great things about being able to host my own events, I have complete control creatively; essentially, I can play what I want, when I want.

It’s not always easy being able to find an open weekend night at these popular venues to host your events, but I quickly learned that you’ve really gotta be persistent, keep asking, emailing, and inquiring until you get a response, or the response you want, that is. The number of venues hosting Electronic music events in Atlanta is pretty limited, so you really gotta “get in where you fit in”, and make those connections. Overall it was a successful night, and I really can’t explain how awesome it felt to be up there with my favourite people, playing my favourite music. I played everything from Alan Oldham to Larry Heard, to Antwon Faulkner to classic Ron Trent.  Being a Black woman, playing music by Black artists who come from the same place as me really is a joy that more so can be felt than explained. One of the main reasons I wanted to start DJing in Atlanta was simply because I wasn’t hearing enough of the music I liked when I was out. Too many times I felt like I was forcing myself to dance, knowing in my heart that I had better music (IMO) at home on my damn Youtube playlists. Not to take away from anyone else, but I wasn’t hearing what I wanted to hear so I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Being a woman, and being a DJ, has pretty much been a great experience for me thus far, and I am truly grateful that I’ve yet to experience some of those hardships I often hear women in the industry must face, especially just starting out. Trust, I’m positive at some point I’ll be faced with the bullshit, but best believe I’ve got my game face on. One thing I can attribute my recent success in DJing to is the fact that I’ve been a staple on the scene in Atlanta for some years now, and have spent countless nights (and dollars) on attending/supporting other people’s events. From Tambor Party, to Sunday School, to Distinctive, to Alley Cat, to Cardio to Project B, to Wiggle Factor etc. I’ve BEEN out here. Also, my ties in my hometown Detroit, still run very deep, and never will I forget where I came from, or the city/people who taught about this music. These connections/relationships have made the transition from “dancer to DJ” a smooth one, and I want to thank everyone that has believed in me enough to book me for their event, it really means a lot!
While I can’t support everyones events as much as I’d like these days, I’ve definitely made my presence known, and will continue to do so, but as of right now, I’m pretty much focused on supporting myself and my own goals & visions. I’m working on my technical skills, my blog, and acquiring as much quality music as possible to keep the people dancing. Being a woman in a role that is basically solely associated with men is not an easy task, yet I find it empowering, and theres nothing I love more than being up there expressing myself. Its a time to prove to all the non believers that I am capable, that WOMEN are capable, and that we are HERE and aren’t going anywhere….so please step aside and make way for MYSELF, and the many other women coming up in the game right now; we’re talented, deserving, and bringing a much needed aesthetic to the current bland and overly masculine state of dance music.
#staywoke
-ASH ❤

When You’re The Only Black Kids At The Party…

The music is always the main concern when attending “UDM” events, yet its also not too difficult to quickly realize that no one there looks like you.

If your anything like me, (a Black person involved in UDM) I’m sure your familiar with those oh so many times when you look around the room and notice that your the only Black guy or girl at the party. Of course, the music is always the main concern when attending “UDM” events, yet its also not too difficult to quickly realize that no one there looks like you. By the grace of the good old lord, every once in a while, you have that defining moment when you stumble across one of your fellow brothers or sisters and begin to feel an equal sense of comfort, curiosity, and excitement.
From there a series of questions run through your mind; Should I say hello? Do they notice me too? Are they nice? Are they just as relived to see me?  To which I’m sure the answer to all is “Yes”! (Although there have been times when they didn’t seem to give damn about me being there…lol) but more often than not, I felt like they were just as aware of my presence as I was of theirs. For my non-Black readers, please don’t get the wrong idea, I love everyone, and don’t mind being the only Black chick in the crowd, its often my inevitable fate, yet I will always confidently admit that I do wish there were more Black people at some the UDM events I attend. It offers a sense of comfort in an environment where unfortunately Black peoples very presence is often questioned. You could only imagine the shit I’ve heard over the years; “Do you even know who this DJ is”? “Why are you here?”, “You actually like this kind of music”?  To which sometimes I can only respond with an eye roll. Its crazy to think people will actually question our presence in an environment we basically created. Sigh……………………………..
Over the years of having these random encounters with the Black people at UDM parties I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with some amazing human beings. Some of which who are involved through strictly being music a head, and some of who are involved through various platforms including online radio, DJing and producing. I recall meeting one of my now best friends, DJ and producer Stefan Ringer at a local Techno party here in Atlanta called “Wiggle Factor”. He calmly approached me and said “Hey, umm…I think we’re like the only Black people in here”. I laughed, and confirmed his statement, while failing to admit that I had noticed him about an hour prior, and had been peeping him every since…LOL. We chopped it up for the rest of the night and the rest is history, we’ve been close ever since, and DJ together at party we throw here in Atlanta called Expressions.
Another encounter I had was at Club Output in NYC back in 2013, when I met a nice dreaded gentlemen named Pablo under pretty much the same circumstances that Stefan and I had met; the only Black kids (or very few) at the party. We started talking, getting to know one another, and from that night on Pablo pretty much ended up being my NYC tour guide for the duration of my 4th of July weekend. We walked, talked, rode trains, rode buses, and danced the day away at parties like the infamous Warm-Up at MOMA PS1…it was lovely! I admit I haven’t seen Pablo in some years, but are still in touch, and chat often via social media platforms. It was so special to meet someone like myself who was passionate about the music, and equally happy to meet another POC who shared the same interest. We even discussed the idea of both of us DJing in the future, to which I am happy to say we both are currently doing/pursuing. Pablo is currently a DJ & Radio presenter on NYC based WAXX.FM, and was kind enough to invite me to do a guest mix for them, which is featured below! The relationships I’ve made under these circumstances may seem shallow to some, but to me are important, and prove a very important message; we sometimes feel alone and underrepresented at these events, and simply want to connect. Hey, its not always easy being #UndergroundAndBlack.
As I mentioned above, UDM is for everyone of all colors, sizes, and backgrounds, thats one of things I love about it most. Yet this doesn’t take away from the fact that the Black presence on the modern day UDM scene is scarce, and that it feels good to realize that you aren’t the only one; that theres other people out there who look you that are passionate about the same thing. Black people, next time your at a party and see that fellow Black kid, give em that “black nod of acknowledgment” we all know so well… there may not be a lot of us, but lets shout out the ones who are the current faces and reminders that Techno and House is not, nor has ever been, “white people music”. Oh, and for the non-POC’s out there, please have some respect and do your homework before you question us about why we’re here. We ALL belong here, and should never have to give an explanation for that. The reasoning is obvious: the love of the Underground Dance Music….
-ASH ❤
***Enjoy my mix for  NYC’s waxx.fm with some of favorite tracks from the likes of Fred P., Patrice Scott, and Dj Aakmael.***

Black Girl in a Material World.

Underground dance music lacks those superficial elements that are glorified in todays culture, so it must not be “cool”, right? WRONG.

I often wonder if my friends “outside of the scene” wonder what my infatuation with Underground Dance Music exactly is? I mean, how cool could it be? People smiling, dancing, laughing, expressing themselves; a diverse crowd of people of different ages, colors, and sizes, some of them speaking different dialects. A place where people look out for one another, and a place where strangers often become friends. A place where you can be your damn self…Wait, that actually does sound cool, right? Thats what one would think, but is not always the case, which is why I don’t understand why so many Black people aren’t willing to embrace these types of environments.

Rewind to last night, I’m sitting in a hip hop club in full make-up and heels, squeezed into a booth with my friends, with Migos “Bad and Bougie” as the soundtrack. Bottles of Hennessy, Patron and Champagne flow freely as we breathe in the oh so familiar scent of chicken wings and Kush that bring me back to my younger days in Atlanta. It was a close friend of mines Birthday celebration, so I agreed to attend, and as expected, my anxiety going into it wasn’t the most the pleasant experience. As I stare at myself in the mirror:  “Hmm, what will I wear, how will I do my hair, what jewelry should I wear…fuck, my nails aren’t done!?” A chick like me is used to pretty much throwing on some chucks and lip gloss and walking out the damn door. Not tonight though, thats not acceptable in the world of “Black Hollywood”…Nonetheless, I was excited to see old friends, and I figured how bad could it be? Its only 3 hours of my life, I’ll survive. (Fingers crossed.)

My girl Shani rode with me to the festivities, and I opted not to take uber beacuse I wanted to be able to get the fuck out of there as soon as it was possible. Boy, was that a stupid decision. As we pulled up towards the Midtown Atlanta club, I see a line wrapped around the door and bunch of girls standing in the rain barely inching towards the door. I laugh. We proceed to drive around in circles looking for a parking spot until we finally come across a lot across the street from the club, score! We pull in, the attendant walks up and very nicely says “80.00$” ladies”. WHAT IN THE ENTIRE FUCK???!!! I’m literally in shock as this man really thought I was going spend $80.00 to park my car just to walk into a club! What boggled my mind even further is that people were actually parking there. Look, I don’t know about yall, but even if I had $80.00 to blow I most definitely wouldn’t spend that shit on parking my damn car! I zoom the fuck off, and we spend another 15 or so minutes looking for parking. FINALLY, we find some secure parking in a nearby high rise and the attendant charges us 25.00$, which I was still pretty annoyed about. Its not the money I was annoyed about, yet the principal that these people were choosing to rip people off because they realize parking options for the club are limited, and figure the “ballers” will pay it (which they do)…pretty disgusting if you ask me. Oh how I missed my usual (and free) Edgewood Ave parking in that moment. Sigh.

After the parking shenanigans, we finally find the rest of my crew and we walk thru the VIP entrance and are escorted to our private booth, well kinda private, we’re still squeezed in next to the some other booth purchasers who have a table next to us. For the first 30 minutes or so I felt like I was at the movies, like I was in the movie, but I was also watching the movie. Girls twerking, blunts being rolled, an uncomfortable amount of selfies being taken. Where am I? My friends boyfriend proceeds to pass me a blunt and I inhale…damn this feels good, but now I’m high, and now I’m really observing the coonery that surrounds me. I couldn’t help but to question why this type of environment is so rewarding to so many of us? Theres absolutely nothing intriguing about it, and its beyond superficial. Everyone in their “Sundays best”, which really is just a bunch of name brand bullshit they more than likely can’t afford. Oh, and of course every song thats played has to reference “thick bitches”, “red bones”, “purple drank”, and “good weed”, which in itself proves just how much of an influence certain music is having on modern day culture. It seems like everyone wants to emulate those lyrics, or what they saw on TV.

As the night went on there was a point when the DJ got on the mic and started telling the ladies to point out their “thickest friend”, and proceeds to play a song that I can only assume is called “Thick”. And we wonder why we got all these young girls out here trying to get ass shots, and breast enhancements & shit….welp. Some of the things modern day Black culture praises is absolutely mind blowing. Don’t get me wrong, I know my sisters are known for being curvy, and I don’t see anything wrong with celebrating that, but the way people are going about it is completely inappropriate, and has the potential to be detrimental. There are so many young and insecure little girls out there who have these lyrics fed to them via radio, internet, and cell phone on a daily basis. What message are we sending them? What happened to celebrating who the fuck you are? What happened to celebrating your goals and achievements? I’m sorry yall, but having a “fat ass” isn’t an achievement. Between the parking, trap music, and excess of snapchat filters I felt exhausted. It was too much; everyone trying so hard to prove or portray something. In that very club though, I realized just how much I’d grown over the years and suddenly began to feel a sense of peace. I mean, I was only in that club to celebrate my friends Birthday anyway, so thats what I decided to focus on for the duration of the night.

I guess last night just made me realize why I LOVE the fuck out of the underground dance music scene. Its not about being “seen”, its not about portraying an image, its not about “stuntin for the gram”…its about music, unity, and the celebration of life. I’m aware that different people have different definitions of celebrating life, but I’m choosing the latter. This issue also stems back to the struggle of younger Black representation in dance music; it seems as though they truly aren’t interested. Is it the lack of glitz and glamor? Is there not enough talk of cars and clothes? Are there not enough derogatory lyrics in the music? Underground dance music lacks those superficial elements that are glorified in todays culture, so it must not be “cool”, right? WRONG. Its disheartening if you ask me, but hey, what can I do? In this case, I simply can find peace in knowing that I can see through those smoke and mirrors and see who I am, what I represent, and what I’m about. I can see myself; a strong and intelligent black woman who’s priorities have nothing to do with a fat ass or the perfect selfie.

Learn to Love Yourself.

-ASH ❤