Thriving Through…

It’s an odd balance these days, trying to live life and be happy, all the while people are dying, and the world is falling apart around you. Remember to take time to step away from the madness and focus on what brings you joy, whatever that may be.

I sometimes wonder why this thing (blog) still exists, as it has pretty much been stagnant for the past year or so. I cannot say that I have much explanation for the lack of written content outside of life. I have also been pretty focused on touring, so that’s where 100% of time and attention is placed these days. That said, I’m still always self-loathing about my lack of consistency with this whole writing thing, but hey, here we are. Christmas is creeping, and as usual, I am ready for this shit to be over. I’ve never been a holiday season type of gal, so my focus right now is to make it to 2022. Happy holidaze, nonetheless. 

2021 was a stellar year for me; there is no denying it. What I’m most proud of is not only my career surviving the pandemic but also thriving through it. Many people struggled, some even forgotten about, yet here I am. The blessings never go unacknowledged. From playing Panorama Bar twice in the same day to releasing my debut solo EP to curating a stage at Boiler Room Festival New York, it is safe to say that I killed it. I say that humbly, of course. The success hasn’t gone to my head or whatever, but best believe I always take time to reflect upon my accomplishments and how far I’ve come since this journey’s inception. Just five years ago, I was playing my first gig and still deejaying in my living room dreaming of rocking dance floors across the globe- I’m doing it now. The first mix I ever posted on Soundcloud was titled Getting There, and I think I have finally arrived. 

Photo by Alex Hodor- Lee

As with every new year, some people get left in the previous one. This year I made it a point to weed out any negative or fake people in my space. I’ve mentioned this before, but as you become successful or “booked and busy” as they call it, there will be people who will try you, people who will talk about you, and some who will even lie on you. And while I’ve had to learn to not let it get to me so much, there is no room for forgiveness from me for some of y’all. As I like to say, “see you at the top!” I will also add that it is downright hurtful for people to come at you sideways publicly on some bullshit after claiming to be your friend. Enough of that though, we move forward with love and positivity. I suggest some of you try it- that is one of the components that has gotten me to where I am today. 

I was lucky enough to make it to Europe in late November for one tour by the skin of my teeth, so the vast majority of my touring this year was in North America. El Paso, Seattle, Miami, Chicago, New York, you name it- I went. As fucked up as America is, it is also a beautiful and captivating place. I enjoyed visiting some cities I honestly never really thought about going to prior. Let us not forget that this is the country where house and techno music started; it’s cool to see it thriving in unassuming cities like El Paso. And while we are on the topic of American cities, Seattle blew my mind. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but they BROUGHT IT! The sheer energy and participation from the crowd got me into a groove instantly. I could also tell that they were genuinely excited to see me play and knew just who I was- it was a special feeling. They also won the award for the most masked indoor event I played all year. Go on with yo bad self, Seattle!

In other news, I know this isn’t anything new, but more and more, I’m starting to notice a lack of standards when it comes to music and track selection from DJs these days. It’s as if everyone is slipping into this wormhole of commercial, white-washed ass tech-house and EDM. Even some of the OG’s are doing it now, and the shit breaks my heart for real. One thing about me, is yeah, I may have done a collab with Boiler Room or did some interviews for RA, but when it comes down to this music, I never sold out, and I never will. Honestly, I feel like I’m carrying the torch for real music amongst my generation. I, of course, am not the only one, but I do recognize the importance of the role I play and what I represent as a black woman from Detroit out here doing my thang. That said, I will continue to do my thing while also advocating for what is real and for what is black. 

As we proceed in this seemingly neverending pandemic, I hope our clubs can survive because as much as the festival circuit has taken a liking to me, nothing compares to a dark room. A space equipped with proper sound where I can DJ ground level. And preferably a dance floor with no cameras. Gigs these days are starting to look and feel like nothing but lights, camera, action, and although I am adjusting, unbeknownst to some, that’s not why I got into this business. And I know there’s a lot of hype around clubs like Berghain/Panorama Bar, but I must admit, that was indeed my favorite gig of the year. Everyone’s ego is checked at the door, and there is an almost instant sense of freedom hovering in the air that’s kind of hard to describe unless you have experienced it first hand. It’s also the perfect environment for an extended set- something that I love to do. Ninety minutes is cute, I guess, but give me 4 hours, no gimmicks, and we can really get down. I’m grateful for every gig and opportunity to do what I do, but our clubs are vital; they are the foundation, and we must patronize and preserve the ones that are still standing. 

Panorama Bar Berlin: Misson Accomplished

Now that the end of the year is here, it’s that time of year again when music publications start to drop their Best of 2021 lists. Accolades and recognition from magazines and websites are nice, yes, but also, let us not use those accolades to define if we did a good job or not. Now that I consider myself an artist, more than ever before, I realize that no twenty-something (usually white) writer has the authority to dictate if my music was “the best” of the year or not. As I said, accolades are great, and I embrace them, but that said, even if I don’t receive any, I am content. For example, the numbers my EP “Truth” has done thus far tell me everything I need to know. To add, the sheer amount of feedback received from my heroes and contemporaries alike affirms that I did a good job. My point is, fuck a list, you know if you did a good job or not this year, and for those that did, I SEE YOU! 

Truth EP is out now on FWM Entertainment via Bandcamp! Vinyl coming soon. ✨

While 2021 was a good year for me, I do realize that on a global scale, things were pretty shitty, just like the year before. We are also continuously losing way too many good people far too soon. It’s an odd balance these days, trying to live life and be happy, all the while people are dying, and the world is falling apart around you. Remember to take time to step away from the madness and focus on what brings you joy, whatever that may be. Lately, music truly feels like the only thing that keeps me sane. It keeps me smiling, it keeps me dancing, it keeps me inspired, and it keeps me connected to something real.

Well, I think that’s it for me for now, but as always, I’d like to send out an incredibly huge thank you to all of my supporters, listeners, and readers! Your support means everything, and I’m grateful for it all. 

Below you can find links to some of my fav projects from 2021…

 See you in 2022! ✨

Interview with Virgil Abloh
Vinyl Factory Live
Boiler Room Festival New York
Shaker Mountain Live DJ Set
Apron Records NTS Show Guest Mix

Author: Ash Lauryn

Ash Lauryn is a DJ, Writer, and Radio Host from Detroit, currently based in Atlanta.

5 thoughts on “Thriving Through…”

  1. Hi I found you via nts and love your vibe.
    If you want to travel nz would love to see you.
    They call our place godszone and in our summer it is.
    Check out 95bfm our student radio station in Auckland they rock.
    Hopefully when we open up to overseas again you might like to do one of our summer festivals.

    Thanks for reading this.

    Cheers rob

    Like

  2. “…nothing compares to a dark room. A space equipped with proper sound where I can DJ ground level. And preferably a dance floor with no cameras.” 100% with you there.

    As much as I love dancing in the sun, (see you this summer, Dekmantel!) I feel most at home in a club, equipped with a nice chill-out room. God knows I’d love to get down to P-Bar: house music all life long.

    Just found your blog on my feed – think I subscribed in 2019. Nice to read you had a banging ’21.

    Keep on keeping on. I trust your musical journey will continue taking you to beautiful places, lead to golden memories, and connect you with people who want the best for you.

    I used to be a dance music vlogger not long ago, covering the global underground electronic music community. I’ve subdued that part of me, but really miss the scene. If you’d like to read, here’s the link:

    https://lifecamerakaran.wordpress.com/2022/03/09/unravelling-the-curious-case-of-karangoesdancing/

    Hope to catch you spinning sometime, Ash! Take care.

    Like

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