I know I often used to start these things with my regret about not updating the blog enough, so this time I’ve decided to not go that route. What I will say though, is that I’ve missed this outlet, and it feels good to be back. It also feels good to be back in Atlanta chillin’ at my favorite coffee shop on a Friday off from work. I have the next 3 days free from my day job, as well as the weekend off from DJing, so I definitely plan to take this free time to focus on self care while also staying productive, as there’s always work to be done.
This past weekend I had to pleasure to complete my third Europe tour. Being that my schedule is somewhat limited due to my day job, this trip only consisted of two gigs. The first gig in Foligno, Italy was initially booked at the infamous Serendipity Club, a club that has hosted the likes of Jeff Mills and Little Louie Vega. As with the climate of today’s club culture, the venue unfortunately is having permit issues which I was told is in the works of being resolved. That being said, the promoters were able to find another venue and promoter to join forces with so that the event could still take place, and for that I was very gracious.
It was my first time going to Italy, and it really was a shame that my time there was so limited. That’s one of the crazy aspects of DJing- you travel the world yet sometimes there’s only enough time for dinner and the gig. It is definitely a blessing when you get those opportunities to have an extra day or two to be a tourist or whatever…that’s also when you start blowing your gig money though, so sometimes its best to simply get in and get out. DJ tours are nothing but business trips. People from the outside may look at it as a party or vacation, which I guess can sometimes be true, but for the most part you are working. You are working with your booking agency, different promoters, drivers, assistants, you are following itineraries, etc…it’s not rocket science, but you do need to be responsible to make sure you are on point and not missing flights or being late for pick-ups, dinner’s and what not.
Although Italy was mostly work I did get to experience an amazing homemade Italian dinner at DJ Ralph’s home made by his mother. I won’t lie, I don’t remember the name of half the things we ate lol, but it truly was a lovely spread. Different types of pastas, beefs, vegetables and breads, paired with a crisp white wine. As we all sat at the table dining I couldn’t help but to just smile. To myself I’m thinking “like damn, my ass is really out here in Italy”! It felt great, and honestly a vision that I had always had of my life. Me off in some distant land or country exploring, growing culturally, and living my best damn life…and here I was doing it…doing it again for that matter as I’ve been to Europe a few times now. I hate that I never shared my first experiences in Europe, but I always get the feeling that people are drawn to me over there because they can feel just how happy and excited I am to be there…it’s somewhat of a “soul glow”, if you will.
I had two DJ appearances in Italy, one at cafe/record shop called BPMdischi, and the other at a club called Cantiere 21. The cafe appearance was first and was really fun, I had a great time playing records with DJ Soch, a local hero in Foligno. This was the first tour I decided to pack records along with me on, and I am so glad that I did. I’m not really one to partake in the vinyl vs. digital debate, but I will say that I do feel a bit more accomplished now that I’m more comfortable playing records out and about. I am still majority a digital DJ, but I made the commitment early this year to start playing and buying more vinyl, and I have successfully acted upon it. I think it’s important to keep growing as an artist or creative, and I love being able to bring something new to the table. I get asked about production a lot, which I’m sure I’ll dive into at some point, but for right now I’m simply focused on being the dopest DJ I can be, and of course on continuing to grow this phenomenon called “Underground & Black”.
After completing two gigs on basically no sleep in Italy, it was time to head to London for SecretSundaze. The journey from Foligno to the airport in Rome was two hours that I took full advantage of for sleep. I literally felt like I closed my eyes, opened them and was suddenly at the airport lol. Those early airport trips after a gig are seriously brutal. That’s the behind the scenes shit y’all don’t see about the “glamorous DJ life” lol. Luckily when working with good promoters and agencies you get great seats on flights as well as priority boarding. I sat my black ass in 2A and dozed off for another couple of hours then woke up in one of my favorite cities, London!
As I approached arrivals there stood the well dressed driver holding the “Ash Lauryn” sign. I so wanted to take a pic but had to act natural so I opted not to put him on blast lol. He grabs my bag and escorts me to a Mercedes Van equipped with lots of extra space for me to sprawl out on. It was another almost two hour journey from London Gatwick Airport to London, so this was another opportunity to sneak in some rest. Working with legendary people/promoters like SecrectSundaze I knew I would be well taken care of, and realized this even more as we arrived at the posh hotel I’d be staying in. I check in, get my keys and head to my room. When I arrived at the door(s) to the room, I thought it was a mistake, as I’m thinking this wasn’t a hotel room, yet a small event space. To my surprise the key worked, and I walk in to what appears to be a small apartment. The room was so lovely, I really was in awe! This was definitely not your typical Euro tiny ass hotel room lol, but a suite. After all the traveling it felt so amazing to have this space to myself for a bit. Staying true to DJ fashion though, I only had 2 1/2 hours till my DJ set.
I arrived at Oval Space a few minutes after 5pm as I’m wrapping up my conversation with the taxi driver who knew all about SecretSudanze and house music…lol typical London stuff! As I walk into the DJ booth I instantly feel as if I’m inside of some sort of spaceship…all I saw was gear upon gear and knobs upon knobs. At that point I felt kinda glad to be playing first inside as I truly needed a moment to get my bearings with it all. People forget that I’ve only been doing this DJ stuff on a professional level for a little under 3 years now, so I definitely don’t know how to do it all! After about the first 30 minutes it felt like smooth sailing, and lot’s of people from outside started to come inside to vibe with me. I also made a new friend with a fellow DJ called Helena Star who came out to support me and it made me feel so good to have a woman there supporting me though it all. Giles and James of SecretSundzae are honestly some the kindest souls, and I was very drawn to their warm energy. I recall telling Giles just how happy and in shock I was to be up there playing music at their legendary gathering. I never imagined some of these things happening to me actually happening, and I swear sometimes I just have to pinch myself to make sure its all real.
I got some serious partying and dancing on after my set, and had lot’s of people approach with kind words, which also turned into emails and dm’s the following day thanking me for the music. I do not say this to boast or brag, but simply to explain how lovely it feels to connect with people through music. Music is the single most important thing in my life, and to know that I’m doing it right, and in a way that touches people’s hearts and souls gives me purpose. While I was playing a woman handed me a note that read I’m her inspiration, and this too gives me purpose. I often have friends or peers tell me that I inspire them, and it so powerful, as hearing those words in return inspires me. I too have those that I look up to and admire and if we all can continue to be positive and uplift one another I think this music stuff can be great.
SecretSundaze was by far one of the biggest/best parties I’ve ever played, and I was in love with the diversity and energy of the crowd. At one point there had to have been at least 10 black women all in the DJ booth dancing to Marcellus then Joe- it was so beautiful! Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the SecretSundaze crew for giving me the opportunity to share the music I love, while also sharing a bill with legendary act’s like Joe Claussell and Marcellus Pittman-both of whom I got meet and chat briefly with. Completing this gig was truly an accomplishment of my career, and I have no doubt that things will only be up from here.
I’m back in the states now gearing up for Detroit where I’ll be hosting my very first Movement Festival Weekend event. The event came together seamlessly and with every passing day I get a little more excited and equally nervous. I do know that it is going to be something special, and it is my hope that this will turn into an annual thing, so please come out, and please support black music! Since I started this blog a couple years ago I have become familiar and acquainted with so many young black people involved in the realm of underground dance music, and that mere fact gives me hope. When I started Underground & Black, I was fearful that the culture of this music was slipping away from us, but as of late I do feel like there is some serious reclamation going on, and to that I can only smile. There is still lots of work to be done, and of course the usual bullshit white washed politics of this music, but I think we’re up to something good. Even with this platform and U&B Radio show, I feel like I’ve gotten people’s attention, and that was one of my purposes. I want/ed people to know that I’m a black woman involved in dance music who is proud of our cultures contributions, roots and sound, and will stop at nothing to preserve it. I now know that I’m not alone on this, and plan to keep pushing as will all of us!
Forever doing it for the culture!
See you in Detroit.