Legacy Lost?

“I think it’s a pretty bold act to move to a city as monumental as Detroit to pursue a career in electronic music with Detroit Techno as a slogan but fail to play, produce, or represent the genre.”

My name is Ann-Marie Teasley, and some of you may know me as ‘The AM.’  I am a Detroit-based DJ/producer and organizer of Underground and Black Detroit. If you don’t already know, this blog is a platform that will always advocate for what is real and what is BLACK! That said, there are many topics I would like to dive into for this piece about Detroit Techno and its culture. As of lately, there have been many misinterpretations about the genre, what it means, and where it is going. In an effort to offer some insight to those who have discovered the music in more recent years, I had the pleasure of documenting my conversations with a few crucial musical figures from Detroit.

I must admit I was hesitant to write this blog post until I happened to see Kevin Saunderson speak on a video clip as I scrolled through social media. What stood out to me most was when he stated:

 “…Oh, definitely a generation that doesn’t understand the roots. It’s up to promoters, people in positions of power, managers, artists, all of us to make sure they don’t get lost.” 

Right then and there, it became evident to me that others were seeing the same thing that I was seeing, so I might as well speak on it.

As a native Detroiter, I came onto the rave scene in 1996, the first woman I ever saw DJ was Queen Minx, and the hottest after-hours was called Better Days. I do admit I wore fat pants, but I got an opportunity to experience the Detroit rave scene in its prime and spent around 15 years on the dancefloor before I ever touched a mixer. I had no idea at the time, but I was receiving an education in the music that you can’t get anywhere else. It became the most significant part of me and who I am.  

Fast forward to current times, I have finally become somewhat of a DJ, but what I rarely hear at a “techno party” in Detroit is any Detroit Techno at all; the influence isn’t there, nor is the sound. Yet many people playing these parties have the name “Detroit Techno” [or next generation of, or other forms of Detroit monikers] plastered on their bios and social media handles as if it’s some slogan. This is where the roots become lost, and the work is not being done to preserve them. The promoters that entertain this behavior by booking more and more of these types have an agenda or simply do not know shit about this music.  

Going back to the first Detroit Techno that I heard, it would have to be Cybotron. Cybotron was formed in 1980 by Juan Atkins and Richard Davis, who are both talented and educated Black men- this is probably why you often hear people who have been listening to techno for 30 years refer to it as Black Music. Techno was one of the first forms of electronic music that we heard in our city, that was created in our city; it was [and still is] our reference to what techno is. Yes, I am aware of the significance of Kraftwerk, but I am only speaking about what was created in Detroit for this piece.

James Pennington, aka Suburban Knight, Pioneer of Detroit Techno and original member of Underground Resistance, was kind enough to speak with me about his biggest influence, who happens to be Juan Atkins.

 The first time I saw Juan Atkins play it was at that club on Broadway…you know the one? Yeah, at the Music Institute back in the eighties. I saw him, and it made me feel like I just knew I wanted to be a DJ.” 

The Music Institute was the first techno club in the city and one of the first in the world, established in 1988 at 1315 Broadway in Detroit, Michigan. Since James’ first release was Big Fun with Kevin Saunderson, who also played at the Music Institute, I wanted to dive a bit deeper into the conversation. I took a chance and asked if he was following the work of any new artists on the scene, and the answer was an emphatic “No”. Of course, I had to ask him why? He continued: 

Overall, there is a lack of representation in the music, it’s not the same feeling, and over time, people just started coming around to attach or get records- the homage was gone.” 

I agree that there is now a certain “feeling” missing, and when looking at 90% of rosters, it appears that the entire culture is currently facing erasure. Black artists’ names and faces have become very few and far between on lineups in the very city where the first techno club in the world housed predominately Black DJs. When it came to the topic of the music and its culture, I decided to speak with one of the major players in Electro, DJ Maaco of Detroit In Effect

“Detroit Techno has always been bigger than just a music genre to me. It’s our good times, bad times, heartaches, struggles, and come-ups! The music has kept a lot of us off the streets, out of the pen, and from going off the deep end. This music got some of us through our roughest times. I recall when I was 16 deejaying at a house party back in the ’80s and had guns pulled out on me because folk didn’t want me to leave. So instead of risking getting shot, I ‘tired’ them all out with some electro and techno music. All the ‘gangstas’ danced until they fell out, hahaha! And that’s not saying that you have to experience some type of hardship to understand, but try to learn the culture. I think once you understand the culture from which this music was born, you will have a deeper appreciation for it.”

 Yup, that’s right guys, this music was born from the struggles and the good times of black people. Although it has taken on many different forms, the fundamentals will always remain the same.

One of the more interesting stories I’ve heard is the story of Tommy Hamilton and BJ Smyth, also known as “AUX 88”. Aux 88 built their sound, fan base, and look, all from the ground up, with a collage of influences introduced by The Electrifying Mojo‘s radio mixes. I asked BJ to tell me about their first gig back in the early ’90s, and how they got started. 

“Well, our first gig was actually at this flower shop/cafe. The owner had heard of us and wanted us to play. We had created “AUX Mind,” but it wasn’t on the radio yet, and no one even understood it. We broke down our entire studio with all the gear, chords, and cables, and we walked into this place, and there were three people inside. One of which was a waitress. So, we did our entire show: AUX Mind, Let It Ride, Direct Drive. The guy loved it, and he gave us free food. It was rough; we lived in cars, played at backyard BBQs, cabarets’, and skating rings. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were getting good at assembling and breaking down all that gear, and we were creating a grassroots following. We couldn’t say that we were the next anything, the people had to decide that. Your work and your contributions over some time will determine what you are to the genre.”


That last sentence resonated with me because there are so many who are looking for overnight success yet are not ready for what they are trying to obtain.

I think it’s a pretty bold act to move to a city as monumental as Detroit to pursue a career in electronic music with Detroit Techno as a slogan but fail to play, produce, or represent the genre. [Which is most likely because there is no relationship to it.] How does an artist play European EDM/tech-house sets yet call themselves a Detroit Techno DJ? Are they just trying to have fun, live their dreams, and do not know any better? 

When I was in the very beginning stages of DJ’ing, I was probably one of the worst you’d ever seen, and you could probably see my heart beating through my chest during my sets if you looked up close. That said, I was lucky enough to get some openings for Mike Clark, who gave me some pointers about getting my shit together not just technically, but also mentally. One of the things he told me was to “Understand and learn your history in order to properly lead the future.” Indeed, you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been, and it took me a minute to understand a lot of Mike’s teachings because I was so new and blind. I wanted to drink a bunch of drinks and play at whatever bar would have me. I too was just trying to have fun and live out my dreams- I couldn’t see his advice clearly until I did more work and got deeper into the game.

My sister Ash Lauryn, creator of this blog and successful touring DJ, has also played a vital role in being an advisor to myself and many others on obtaining goals as an artist. I took some of the more appropriate quotes from one of our sit-downs [because y’all know how we get] to shed some light on entering the industry.

People forget that you have to pay dues to get respect. Simply moving to Detroit and deejaying electronic music doesn’t make you the next generation of Detroit Techno, and it also doesn’t necessarily mean that you are upholding the legacy. It’s all about instant gratification and clout these days, which is why some are quick to label themselves something they are not. People need to study the music and culture before attaching themselves to something they don’t know enough about.”

My advice for newer artists is to carve out your own lane- find something that makes you different and hone in on that. Also, be patient; success doesn’t happen overnight. Be willing to commit for the long haul if you really want it.”  

I saved one of my favorite quotes for last because I think we all can use some inspiration from time to time, especially when we are experiencing the highs and lows of the industry. 

“Believe in yourself, work on your craft and develop a sound that is you. Surely you will take bits from one artist or another, especially if they influenced you, but make it your own. If you really love what you are doing, then the payday is coming.” –Tommy Hamilton AUX88

So, there you have it, perspectives of what is happening in Black Music by Black people who created it first. Our goal is to bring awareness to those who are just joining that Detroit Techno is not a trend, slogan, or gimmick to get you booked-its a legacy that needs to be respected. Besides, we can always tell where you’re really from just by your selections. 🙂

For nostalgic and educational purposes, here are a couple of rave flyers circa 1998 and 2001 in Detroit’s heyday, so be sure to check the lineups! Back then, the community was almost like a secret society, “For those who know.”

Packard Plant 1998
UR Detroit Electronic Music Festival Event in 2001
Ash Lauryn and Myself- DEMF 2004 Heart Plaza

The AM is a DJ and Producer from Detroit, you can follow her on Instagram @i.am.amx and on Twitter @i_am_amx.

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

2020- My year in review.

I’ve finally returned from my unplanned hiatus from the blog, and through all of the ups and downs that were 2020, I must say, things have been going pretty well.

I’ve finally returned from my unplanned hiatus from the blog, and through all of the ups and downs that were 2020, I must say, things have been going pretty well. Outside of touring and in-person gigs, I continued working, and sharing my love of music. Adapting to the digital side of deejaying was an adjustment, but I haven’t minded it. I’m not a weekly or daily streamer, but I have been doing it every few weeks or so, and it’s been fun, and a much-needed release. Most things will continue to be on hold for at least another year in terms of my touring and festival schedule, so I’ve decided to rejoin the workforce. As some may recall, I left my day job in February of 2020 to embark on my grandest Europe tour to date. I was also starting a new chapter of deejaying and freelancing full-time. While I’ve enjoyed this past year to myself and was blessed enough to get commissioned for work and virtual gigs on a pretty regular basis, it still wasn’t providing me with the security I needed. That said, I got an incredible work-from-home job with a financial tech company, and the pay and benefits are my best yet.

I plan to stick with the job for about a year or so, then when things get fully back in the swing on the DJ side, I can start to put all of my attention back to it. I’m keeping a positive attitude about things, and I will still be doing my music and writing- that’s one thing that will never stop. I’m still not quite sure what the point of this post will be, but if anything, I just wanted to check back in. My goal is to get more content flowing here, as that’s always been somewhat a struggle, lol. If not here, you can catch me via NTS Radio for the monthly Underground & Black show. I’m going to share a few of my projects from over the past year, as I’ve wanted to share all of the content in one place for a while now. 2021 is well on its way, but surviving 2020 was an achievement, so shout out to everyone still grinding and trying to keep their head on straight. I’m right there with you!

One of the first projects I got commissioned for was to curate black arts and culture content for Berlin’s Club Quarantaene‘s website. This opportunity was presented to me in the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmed Aubrey, and Breonna Taylor, as were many others. With the racial reckoning that sparked after Floyd’s death, many necessary conversations came to the fore within electronic music. One of those conversations was the apparent lack of black and people of color holding behind-the-scenes industry roles, whether it’s booking agents or music journalists. Nonetheless, I remain grateful for the opportunities presented to me, as it was a time for me to educate and showcase one of the things I’m most passionate about, black culture. You can check it out here: https://undergroundblack.clubquarantaene.stream/

A couple of months prior, I participated in Club Quarantaene’s April broadcast alongside Moma Ready, Jayda G, and more. My mix was selected as one of Pitchfork’s best sets for June of 2020, and you can listen below!

The RA x Underground & Black Podcast was a project that I continued throughout 2020, with 2 of my favorites to date published. The first was with Waajeed, Dirt Tech Reck label head, and former Slum Village DJ. The second was with Detroit’s DJ Minx, one of the pioneering women of Detroit dance music and founder of Women on Wax. The podcast will continue in 2021, with Reggie Dokes up next! I also have a couple of other exciting guests in the works, so make sure to follow me for more updates! Check the two interviews below.

2020 was a year that we all found ourselves having those sometimes uncomfortable yet necessary conversations about race. In July, I got invited by Soul Clap to be a guest on their weekly live streamed show on Resort TV called “Schmoozing.” We spent most of the time discussing race, whitewashing in dance music, and the overall racial reckoning happening globally. I must say that this one of my most favorite interviews I have done so far in my career, and I didn’t hold back. We also spent some time talking about House in the Park, and the Atlanta house music scene, which was great. Check out the interview below, and thanks to Soul Clap for having me for this great conversation!

As the summer continued, the opportunities did as well. My next big commission was to hold the August Guest Editor role for Beatportal, Beatport’s editorial platform. This position put me in charge of selecting the cover story artist, the label of the month, and introducing artist. It also put me in charge of commissioning black writers to write those pieces and others. I got to submit some of my writing as well. We started the month with my “Letter From the Editor,” discussing the role and what it means to me. In the letter I wanted to reiterate that although I agreed to take on this role, I was still wary and not convinced about various platforms’ sudden commitment to inclusion. Things just felt so performative around this time, honestly. That said, the month was a success, and we featured talented black artists like Byron the Aquarius and Huey Mnemonic. We featured writers Imani Mixton, Crystal Mioner, and Mandy Alexander, to name a few. We covered South-African Yaadt music, learned the history of Detroit’s Sistrum Recordings, and about newcomers like The AM and Niks. You can find links to all of the pieces below!

In August, I released an EP with my partner Stefan Ringer, called the Expressions EP, taking its name from our former residency at the Sound Table in Atlanta. The EP features three tracks, two of which had been in the works for some time. “Let’s get the Rhythm,” the standout track on the release, was an idea I had to make a track based on one of the hand clap games I used to play when I was a kid. We had a great time writing the vocals, and the track turned into something incredibly fun. I’m honestly still surprised at just how many people said they loved it. Stefan and I are back in the studio working on some new projects for 2021, so keep an eye out for that, and if you have not purchased the Expressions EP yet, you can right now on FWM Entertainment’s Bandcamp! Thanks to the many who have supported us thus far!

I was attempting to make this post a not long-winded one, but so much happened in 2020! It’s a blessing because it was most definitely a year of loss and hardships for many, so to be able to bounce back after my canceled DJ tour and income stream was very reaffirming. Writing is something that I have always done and something that I will continue to do, even if I do have a hiatus here and there. Despite the blog not being my most active platform over the last year, my writing did grace the pages of The Face Magazine, Mixmag, Resident Advisor, and Electronic Beats. I interviewed Larry Heard, Honey Dijon, and Robert Hood, to name a few! I learned a lot and grew the most I have as a writer in what feels like ages. The Robert Hood Cover Story without-question is what I’m most proud of and is one of the most in-depth pieces I’ve written. Sometimes I suffer from imposter syndrome when it comes to labeling myself a writer because I know that there are so many who do it better than me! I’m proud of my contributions nonetheless, and to get all this writing work in months and weeks after my grandmother’s passing felt like a sign. There is no doubt that my gift with words was a gift from her, and it’s a joy to know I am making her proud. For reference, my grandmother was a writer and the former Women’s Editor of The Michigan Chronicle in Detroit for many years. Check the links to some of my best stories and interviews of 2020 below!

RA Art of DJing interview with Detroit’s Al Ester:


Honey Dijon: Dance music has been colonized interview for Mixmag:


Underground Music Academy interview with Waajeed:


2020 also seemed to be the year of the virtual panel as they were popping up everywhere. I guess it only made sense that I would eventually be apart of one, and what a lovely opportunity it was! Red Bull Arts Detroit invited me to host and assist in curating a panel on Detroit’s DIY creative culture and scene. The panel included Detroit-based creatives Waajeed, Crystal Mioner, Sophiyah E, and Cornelis Harris and was apart of the programming for Omar S’s Conant Garden’s party store exhibit. It’s my first time sharing the archive link, so please watch and enjoy!

Red Bull Arts Presents: Detroit DIY from Red Bull Arts New York on Vimeo.

And last but certainly not the least are live streams! I participated in a decent amount of them, and they kept me sane! They also kept me with some extra income, which was great. Trust and believe I get compensated for all of the work that I do. I don’t do free content, and you shouldn’t either. Know your worth, and make these people/platforms pay! Some live streams, unfortunately, don’t get archived, but here are a few you can catch now via youtube! Note: My Junction 2 set aired in Jan 2021, but was recorded in late 2020 so I decided to include it anyway. 🙂

In closing, I want to say thank you for the continued support! I’m a few years into my DJ journey now and have no serious complaints. Things are well, but there is always work that needs doing, so that’s what I plan to continue to do. I’m playing a BHM live stream alongside Chicago’s Terry Hunter this Thursday, and I also recently participated in Off White’s SS21 “Imaginary TV” platform. I know a lot of things are still up in the air right now as it relates to traveling and club gigs, but I’m patient, and I know the day that we are all reunited on somebody’s dance floor will be a sweet one.

Love and Respect,

Ash Lauryn

Peep my Off-White set and the rest of the “Imaginary TV” performances here.

Setting The Record Straight

As a black woman in the industry trying to contribute something positive, it truly feels shitty to have someone claiming they want to protect you take advantage of your vulnerability, and hold it against you.

Its been a while since I’ve updated the blog, but here we are. If anything, you guys can always count on me to share my thoughts via this blog regarding things in the music industry that affect me directly. I’ve been transparent about my past experiences and have decided to do so today, to a certain extent. I’ve bit my tongue in a lot of “Techno Twitter” conversations this summer, but this was something I could not let slide, so hear me out if you will.

While I think these DM conversations and accusations are valid, let’s not treat the man behind the FB threads, Michael James as some hero. He has bad-mouthed me in FB posts, called me a “fake journalist girl,” and most recently leaked private information from a brief conversation I had with him back in February without my permission. Being that he was playing the role of someone genuinely concerned about women’s safety, I confided in him. What I got in return was him posting screenshots of parts of our conversation online. This act was extremely hurtful and done in response to me not coming forward publicly with the private information I shared with him. He did not share our entire conversation, but it’s clear he intended to make me look bad. After reading this, I will not be surprised if he chooses to air our entire conversation. I’ll state right now that that is totally against my wishes, but I don’t expect much else from a person who thrives on shaming people to make himself feel important and look like a savior.

He’s attempted to make a mockery out of my career as a DJ and Journalist simply because I didn’t come forward when he wanted me to. As someone subjected to sexual harassment in a professional setting, I now feel even more ashamed about the entire experience. I also feel like a fool for sharing it with Michael James, thinking I could trust him. The private information from our conversation should have been shared by ME when I was ready, not by him, to help speed up his DM investigation. He was never wholeheartedly concerned about my well-being; his concern was my story giving his accusations some traction. I became disposable once I was no longer useful to him. 

Interestingly enough, in his latest attempt to “expose” me, he no longer referred to me as a “fake journalist.” His argument for posting our private conversation online is that it was my “responsibility” as a journalist to come forward with MY EXPERIENCE. He also attempted to place blame on the publication I was freelancing for the day of the incident for not sharing the information. Again, this was MY experience to share. I’m comfortable with how the publication handled the situation. None of this information is Michael James’ business; neither is it a “cover-up” on our part as he is suggesting. It’s appalling that a man who is aware of an uncomfortable position I was faced with as a woman in the industry would make things EVEN MORE uncomfortable and unsafe by doing this to me. Going as far as making comments like “I’m the leader she wished she was.” If this behavior in itself isn’t an attack on a woman, I don’t know what is. It sucks to see people applauding his tactics because I was not okay with him sharing my story or our conversation whatsoever. 

As many of you know, being a woman in the music industry can be shitty at times. Coming forward regarding sexual harassment or abuse is not easy, and not something all victims are willing to do. Yes, there is somewhat of a reckoning happening regarding sexual assault and abuse, but that doesn’t mean we force victims to come forward, or victim-blame them if they don’t. And honestly, the treatment I received from Michael James is another reason women keep quiet; it’s like either way you lose. I’m subject to ridicule if I share my story, yet I’m also subject to it for not coming forward. It’s all just so disheartening. Again, the DM conversations are necessary, but I don’t think someone like Michael James is fit to be the leader of the #metoo movement in techno. I would much rather hear from the multiple women he says he’s in contact with. The allegations against DM are serious, yet it’s troubling to me that the main person we’ve heard from thus far is Michael James- a man who is openly bitter about not being credited on DM’s Strings of Life track. 

From my initial finding out who Michael James was, I’ve seen him bad mouth numerous people involved in Detroit Techno, going as far as taking a picture of Submerge, posting it online, and making nasty comments about its appearance. He also slut shamed and harassed a woman online who was affiliated with DM, again, because she didn’t do what Michal James wanted her to do. Despicable behavior if you ask me. He also was swift to start sending me screenshots from other private conversations he’s had with people, trying to slander them; it all felt very gossipy. Honestly, a few minutes into our conversation, I was overwhelmed and realized that was probably not the best person to be speaking with; he was even suggesting things to me like chatting with a reporter who he claimed was working on a story. He was too overzealous about all of this way to quickly, and it didn’t feel right.

Contrary to what he said in his FB post about me, I did NOT suggest we talk on the phone; he offered up his number and told me to call him. It’s obvious he’s upset I decided not to. He wanted me at the forefront of these allegations and applied pressure- unsuccessfully. To make himself feel better about it, he decided to shame a black woman for the world to see. I think it’s very upsetting that this is the person championing this conversation when he has consistently displayed questionable behavior—even going as far as bringing my sister into the discussion, who has nothing to do with it. This is NOT okay. 

Another lie he stated was that I might even be interested in being signed to Transmat. Why on earth would I be thinking about that when I have close friends who own successful labels like NDATL, Sistrum, and Uzuri Recordings? And that’s only a few; I don’t need to name drop for clout. The point is, stop speaking lies on my name when you don’t have your facts straight. I’m a grown-ass woman, and I’m not with men talking recklessly about me EVER. Find out who I’m truly affiliated with since you’re so interested. For the record, I have NO affiliation with that label or the man in question. If Michael is the “investigative journalist” he claims to be he should know that already.

It was not easy for me to share even this much, but one thing I’m not going to do is let someone like Michael James lie on me or try to make a fool out of me. I’m an intelligent woman with massive respect in the community, and regardless of what happens, I know the majority will stick with me. I am deeply disturbed and saddened by the allegations against Derrick May and hope that truth will continue to come to light. Violence against women is never okay, and I hope these conversations will bring much-needed attention to ugly aspects of the music industry and women’s treatment. Yes, I spoke out on the Erik Morillo situation; it was very triggering, but not for a moment did that mean I had to share my experience as a woman in the industry relating to sexual harassment or assault. 

I’ve learned over the past few years; there are no icons and heroes in this music shit for me anymore; I’ve been let down a lot. Michael James is also not a hero, regardless of if some of his stories are credible. I regret ever speaking with him, and I hope he doesn’t do this to any of the other women he says he’s been talking with. As a black woman in the industry trying to contribute something positive, it truly feels shitty to have someone claiming they want to protect you take advantage of your vulnerability, and hold it against you. It’s trendy to say “protect black women” these days, but are you actually doing it? 

As always, I hold my head high, knowing who I am and that none of these fools out here can break me. Respect and protect women at all costs; we deserve so much better. 


An Update From Quarantine

Its officially week 2 of my quarantine and although the time hasn’t moved as slowly as I anticipated, I’m not exactly excited to spend another month like this. I’ve managed to keep “busy” around the house for the most part, but obviously am pretty stagnant in terms of work. I decided to pay my bills early this month just to get the stress out of the way, but with zero income coming in, I’ll definitely be needing to get back to work sooner than later. Although there is truly no way to tell at this point, I’d like to think I could be back to work somewhat by May. I know that may sound a bit ambitious, but I’m keeping an open mind. It’s going to be interesting to see how the next few weeks pan out to say the least. I did manage to complete a couple things that I’m proud of during my quarantine though, and for the most part, as long as I can keep creating I know I’ll be okay.

One of the things that I’m proud of is my “Social Deep Mix”, that I recorded on a whim mid last week.  When I get invited to do a guest mix for a large platform I usually put way too much thought into it and ending up having to start over numerous times. What I like about this mix is that I was recoding it for myself and didn’t quite have the intention of posting it. Since I ended up being happy with it, I decided to self-release on Soundcloud- overall there was no pressure. I also didn’t make any sort of playlist for this mix, which is something I typically do. I just searched through my drive, selected from various “deep” folders and went with it. Deep is pretty much the sound I do best, and definitely my favorite style of dance music. I know the term “deep house” had gotten pretty over saturated and lame at one point, but either you know the real shit or you don’t. There’s a lot of good deep house out there that gets overlooked, or just simply not played…I guess thats where my job comes in. The mix has been doing great though, and is almost at 1K plays after a week. I’m sharing the track list below since some have inquired. Thank you for the support, and big ups to all the artists included!

**Keep scrolling for links to a guide on creating your own DJ live stream and monetizing your Twitch account through Soundcloud!**


Baaz- Glim

Patrice Scott- Motions

Kai Alce- Closer

Make Yells, Black Loops- The Greatest (Kian T Remix)

Fred P.- Lush Life

Larry Heard- Guidance

Fred Everything- Winter Tones

Chaos in the CBD- Similar Stories

DJ Aakmael- Jazz Piece 2

DJ Aakmael- Beautiful

Delano Smith- Xscape

The It- Somebody Somewhere

Vincent Floyd- I Dream You

Stefan Ringer- Do U?

Ron Trent, Robert Owens- Deep Down (Ron Trent Dub)

I’ve been starting to see the social media critics giving their unnecessary two cents on the DJ Live Stream surge thats currently happening. I must admit, I was a little weirded out myself in the beginning. I’m not a fan of deejaying on camera because it really can be quite awkward, and with everyone and their mamma doing it, what would make mine special? I went back and forth with the idea until I came to the conclusion that if I do one, it would be in the most professional way possible. RA published a great guide last week covering all the basics you need to get your set-up up and running. I won’t lie, I’m not the most technical person out there, but this guide was very direct and easy to follow. I had things up and running properly in no time.

I decided to do my first live set yesterday from 2-4PM, and it went pretty well! A shame I was still somewhat nervous deejaying in my living room (hence the camera), but overall I truly enjoyed it. It was a great way to connect with the people who follow my work. I’m grateful to those who donated and tuned in live. I also now realize that doing a live- steamed, in home DJ set is basically a DJ “working from home”. If you can make a couple hundred bucks off of it, I truly don’t see a problem. I understand not everyone is comfortable or interested in doing one, but I’m dropping the link below just in case you are. I’m also open to answer any questions about the experience if you have any, just reach out! Also, Soundcloud recently partnered with Twitch to help DJ’s monetize their stream content, which is another way to make some extra cash. I’ll include the link to the information on that as well, the process is pretty simple.

How To Set Up A Livestream: https://www.residentadvisor.net/features/3647

Soundcloud x Twitch: https://djmag.com/news/soundcloud-and-twitch-team-help-artists-monetize-live-streams

Other than that, not too much is going on, just staying safe and trying to keep my head up out here, I hope you all are doing the same.

See you soon.

Ash ❤



When Crisis Brings Out The Ugly In People

Why spread more negativity when we can offer support and understanding?

Covid-19 is in full swing, and a lot is going on in the world right now. Many still can’t comprehend it all. I just got back to the states from Europe yesterday after my entire DJ tour got canceled before it even actually began- I know many others can relate to some degree. And while some plan to lose more than others, this isn’t the time for comparisons; we’re all faced with the same harsh reality; significant income losses. This whole ordeal comes at an interesting time for me not only because I DJ and work in a gig-based economy, but also because I just left my full-time, decent pay, full benefits job just last month. The timing of my departure from the corporate world felt right regardless of losing my benefits and the guaranteed income; I worked hard to get to the point where I could sustain myself off music and was beyond excited to embark on the chapter. Sitting here today with the future of my DJ career unknown, I can’t say I now regret my decision to leave my job. In the weeks following my departure, the creative juices were flowing, and it felt amazing to live life on my terms only. Its day 1 of my quarantine since arriving back in the states. To say the least, my mind is racing.

What’s crazy about dealing with these worldwide emergencies in the modern day is that we are all still very much connected thanks to things like the internet, social media, and television. And while one would think our access to these resources would bring us together, it tears us apart in many cases. Over the past few days, I’ve witnessed some cruel reactions to those asking for financial assistance. I understand tensions are high right now, but it’s genuinely disappointing to read some people’s responses to those in fear or need. The way I see it; if you want to donate to a cause and its something you believe in, go ahead and do it. If its something you do not see fit to contribute to, don’t, and move on. Enough with the call-out culture and hot takes. Some of the behavior on these platforms is just as toxic as the damn virus itself. Why spread more negativity when we can offer support and understanding in a time of panic and confusion? It seems as if folks sit around and wait for the right moment to shame people, and when the opportunity strikes, all hell breaks loose. I even fell victim to contributing to the negativity online and had to stop and check myself; so many of us are acting off emotion whether than logic, and that’s one of the problems. It’s also eye-opening, yet not surprising, to see how people start acting when it comes to money matters.

I don’t know about every DJ out there, but I’ve never seen anything wrong with deejaying while also holding down a full or part-time job; many of us do it. What’s tricky, though, is being able to maintain the two successfully. From my personal experience, working full-time and deejaying was excellent in financial security, but it also meant that I was forced to turn down specific opportunities. It was also too exhausting at times. Most jobs won’t let you take time off to complete a DJ tour outside of the country, which is important when you are trying to get a global reach. It can also put a major strain on your ability to create as working full time in America takes up so much time and energy- usually, when I got home from work, I was drained mentally and physically and far from inspired. I say all of this to explain that it’s not always so simple to “get a job” or “keep a job” while also pursuing a full-time DJ career. I don’t think me leaving my job was irresponsible in the least bit, and I don’t believe that others in this same position are either.

On the contrary, I think that many are eager to jump into this life full time without a real back-up plan in the current day. That’s what many need to focus on right now. I hope that this 14 day or more quarantine will give us time to brainstorm just that.

Through all of this, I know many have been told to “stay strong,” which is right, we have to. But don’t be afraid to cry or even be a little angry; we need not ignore these emotions; addressing them has helped me keep my sanity. The past few days, I was so focused on “staying safe” and “being strong” that I hadn’t had time to address the sorrow I felt truly. No one has the right to question your hurt or struggle. Our passions, livelihoods, and futures are all in jeopardy right now; its okay to be worried about that. I do not suggest dwelling, but sometimes you gotta get through the hurt and crying phase to get to the action phase plan. It felt the most real for me yesterday as I got back to my apartment with all of my luggage in tow from what was supposed to be a 1-month tour in Europe. As I dragged my luggage and record bag up the sidewalk towards my building, the tears started to flow freely- it was a sobering moment I’m sure I won’t forget. My world isn’t over by any means, but after planning my last day at work with this tour in mind, and all that I had to look forward to in the months after no longer happening sucks. Nonetheless, now that I’m home and attempting to re-settle, I’ve been focused on what’s next. While there are plenty of high profile and highly paid DJ’s that can sit back and quarantine for even a few years easily if necessary, the reality for many of us isn’t as such.

I’ve seen the word “entitlement” thrown around a lot lately, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I too appear to be some entitled touring DJ crying about losing gigs and canceled travel? The reality, though, is that this situation is so much deeper than canceled gigs or flights; people are worried about their finances for the most part. That’s how real it is out here; some can’t afford to put all of their focus on health and safety right now because they could potentially be homeless in a month or two- its a scary thing to acknowledge. Rent, food, car payments, etc. unfortunately don’t get canceled, so yes, people are stressing. While most, including myself, plan to take care of ourselves and use what resources we have to get by for the next few months, we don’t know everyone’s situation; some are worse off than others. Let’s not judge and act as someone can find another job overnight. Who’s to say right now is even a good time for someone to find a job? With all the club, bar, school, and business closures, it might be a while before companies start hosting interviews again- we truly have no way of knowing right now. Stop the judging, stop the shit-talking, and think about something positive you can bring to this dark situation.

Speaking of positive, amid the madness, we thankfully have also witnessed solidarity and community-focused ideas brewing, that is precisely what we need more of; positivity and creativity. Many clubs and DJ’s have already started putting together live DJ streams from home or empty clubs, giving viewers the option to donate if they wish. Mix series are being created, producers are jumping back into the studio, and many are putting up merchandise for sale to collect funds to stay afloat as we sit in limbo.

All of that said, not all is lost yet. If you have anxiety about rent, don’t be afraid to reach out to your landlord to see if there’s anything you can work out; you never know, people might be willing to be a little more generous given the state of things. I plan not to give up, and I hope those reading this do not either. If you need to take a break from social media, DO IT. Social media causes so much unnecessary stress and anxiety that the only way to avoid it sometimes truly is to log off. Read a book, do some yoga, write in your journal, record a mix, talk of the phone, etc. We still have plenty of options for creativity within our own homes’ courtesy- let us not forget that. And while we all may be physically quarantined with no clubs, large gatherings, or festivals, the music remains. Music can never be contained, and for that, I smile.

Take care of yourselves out there.

Underground & Black’s Favorite Records of 2K19

In 2020 I’d like to see some major improvements in diversity in dance music journalism, and I plan to be contributing to the cause.

Well folks, it looks like we finally made it through another year. As always, I’ll be taking some time to talk about some of my favorite tunes that came out over the past 12 months. Most of the “EOY” lists that I’ve already skimmed over feel quite un-relatable, which is one of the reasons why I started doing my own list a couple years back. I do realize that what people like in terms of music is extremely subjective, so no shade to anyone. It’s actually been great seeing different artists and DJ’s listing some of their favorite music of the year as well. What I will say though, is that it appears (to me) that many of the people writing, reviewing, and talking about dance music on these larger platforms are NOT black. In 2020 I’d like to see some major improvements in diversity in dance music journalism, and I plan to be contributing to the cause. There are still so many of us who’s voices should and need to be heard. Never bitter, yet simply motived to make positive change. In closing, I just want to say thank you to all of you for taking the time to read and support this blog, it means a lot. Also, a big thank you to all of the talented people who create this powerful music that is telling the story of my existence- you are appreciated!

  1. Stefan Ringer- SO

Stefan Ringer came out with the second release on his Atlanta based label “FWM Entertainment” in May 2019. The EP includes 3 original tracks with “SO” being the standout track of the release- I can’t even begin to count the number of times I heard this track played throughout the course of the year, and each time a crowd favorite. This is one of those magical tracks that must be played in full and has been described as “instantly exciting”.

2. Theo Parrish feat. Maurissa Rose- This is for You

In late 2019 Parrish dropped “This is For You” on his “Sound Signature” imprint, and some are already calling it his best work to date. The single features Detroit based vocalist Maurissa Rose, who’s warm vocals accompany the track effortlessly. “This is for You” showcases the evolving instrumentation that Parrish can be known for, and paired with the almost lullaby like vocals from Rose you’re in for a real treat- this one is an instant classic.

3. Patrick Gibin- Cloud Nine feat. Mdcl & Javonntte

Italian DJ and Producer Patrick Gibin started off the new year right with “Eglo’s” first release of 2019. The EP titled “Cloud 9” showcases those warm and soulful sounds that are somewhat synonymous with my personal sound as a DJ. With Mark de Clive-Lowe on keys, and Detroit hero Jovonntte on vocals, there’s not much more soul one could ask for! This one got a lot of play out of me this year.

4. The Vision feat. Andreya Triana- Heaven (Danny Krivit Edit)

Danny Krivit’s edit of ‘Heaven” by The Vision was an instant summer hit, interweaving a funky baseline with Andreya Triana’s powerful vocals. I heard this track first on a recent Boiler Room performance by Joe Clausell and knew instantly I needed this one in the collection. The EP also features another edit by Krivit for The DangerFeel Newbies “What am I here for, Original NDATL Vocal”, which was a hit here in Atlanta and beyond.

5. Ed Nine- Deep Concentration

The Chicago based producer showcases the sound he does best; deep. The 3 track EP dropped on “NDATL” in late December and rounds up a year of impeccable releases from the Atlanta based label.

6. Lady Alma and The Rainmakers – Let it Fall (DJ Spinna Galactic Soul Remix)

Honestly, who doesn’t love a “Galactic Soul” remix from Spinna? The Brooklyn legend put his signature twist on the anthemic “Let it Fall” by songstress Lady Alma and the outcome was magic. For a better showcase of his work on the key’s check out the instrumental version. The vinyl is unfortunately (and unsurprisingly) SOLD OUT via his Bandcamp, but you can easily grab the digital via Traxsource or Beatport.

7. Waajeed feat. Ideeyah, DeSean Jones & Khristian Foreman- Let Your Love

Waajeed doesn’t seem to rest when it comes to putting out new and quality music, and the “Hocus Pocus EP” is by far some of my favorite work of his to date. The 4 track EP came out on London based “Deviation Music” in October and has been getting its fair share of play worldwide. One of my favorites on the EP is “Let Your Love” where fellow Detroiter Ideeyah contributes the vocals.

8. DJ Kemit, Carl McIntosh, Kai Alce- Digital Love (Remix)

A personal favorite that I played many times this year, “Digital Love Remix” came out on “Sound Signature” in May and showcases soulful sounds and vocals complied by DJ Kemit, Kai Alce, and Carl McIntosh.

9. Acemo feat John F.M.- Where They At???

A crowd favorite and club banger, Acemo dropped “Where They At???” featuring John F.M. on his release “All My Life” that dropped early in the year. With John F.M. on MC duties, he shouts out everyone from single mothers to the big girls- and who couldn’t love with a track that features one of House Music’s most classic baselines; 1993’s “Show Me Love” by Robin.

10. LadyMonix- Track 39

Ladymonix did it again this year, dropping the second release on her “Frizner Eletric” Detroit based label that she founded in 2018. Far from a stranger to U&B’s top pics, the 4-track release titled “Track 39 EP” invites us to dance-floor with sassy vocals and house beats reminiscent of Strictly Rhythm in its heyday, yet with a modern twist. Continue to keep an eye on this Detroit via Baltimore queen in 2020!


Keeping It Real…

It’s Tuesday, and I still haven’t been able to shake this whole “cornrow” situation that blew up on Twitter regarding NK. My anger is rooted in her reaction to the backlash, not the action of wearing the hairstyle. Correct everyone makes mistakes, but how one goes about the situation, in the end, is what can deem one noble. The case here is that NK feels she did no wrong; therefore, she will never take responsibility for her offensive actions. There wasn’t a drop of nobility to her response to the backlash, which is essential because most of it came from the same black and brown people in the community she claims to care for. Her excuses, invalid points, and retweets from clueless supporters shined a bright light on her white supremacy and entitlement. Rather than listen and attempt to have a constructive conversation about her use of the term “ghetto” and cultural appropriation, she jumped right into defense mode. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was her having the audacity to call one of the most dedicated people to diversity in the scene right now, who also happens to be a black woman, a racist. That’s the point when I lost all respect.

“How dare you speak to me this way” NK tweeted in response to one of the tweets critiquing her actions. It’s clear to me that this woman has never had anyone check her ass, and she folded under pressure- I, for one, am not surprised. People like her spend their careers profiting off black culture, yet when it comes down to it, our concerns are invalid to them. This entire situation reflects that. These are the same type of folks who will run around screaming “black lives matter,” yet when it’s time to a be a real ally MF’s are SILENT. Personally, what I want to know is, where are all of the top white feminist DJ’s in this conversation? The social justice warrior types who always have something to say about every political thing yet won’t use their platform and white privilege to denounce their peers’ inappropriate actions. Again, not surprised. When sticking up for black people is convenient, everyone is on top of it, but I suppose this situation isn’t the most convenient one (being the power of the woman in question), so they don’t say shit. Isn’t that a bitch?

This entire situation has been equally draining and nauseating. I like to consider myself a strong person, but I won’t lie, this situation has hit me to my core. It’s one thing to have internet trolls coming for me, but for another black woman and DJ that I at one point admired and looked up to, go at me publicly telling me that I’m speaking out on all of this in hopes of “attention” or “accolades” is disappointing. My initial tweet on this topic (that just happened to blow up on Twitter), received way more attention than I imagined. I was in a heated mental state and typed the first thing that came to mind. I don’t need attention, I’m not a hater, nor am I jealous. I’m a black woman who is passionate about my culture, dance music, and braids for that matter- I rock them about 60% of the time. I’m wondering if this person, someone I’ve known for years and is a fellow black woman, would have had my back the same way had I been in question about something? Now I’m not here to disrespect anyone, but I am indeed a grown-ass woman who is not afraid to speak to my mind. As I mentioned above, the silence and ignorant statements from many on this issue are VERY telling. Scary to think that these are some of the same folks we rub elbows at clubs and festivals worldwide.

As a black woman who wears cornrows regularly, I find pride and strength in rocking the style, and it often feels like a form of resistance against the white society that tells me I need to wear my hair straight to be accepted. Perhaps this is what makes the topic a sensitive one because, to me, the style is not merely a fad or a costume for the night- it’s my heritage. Here’s a quick story for reference; when Resident Advisor reached out to me to contribute to their infamous podcast series I was elated, I felt like it would be the perfect opportunity for me to put some shine on my DJ career. When it came time to select a photo to accompany the podcast, I immediately told myself I would go with one of my more “polished” photos wearing straight hair- I said to myself this was “prettier” and would draw more attention to the mix. I soon realized how stupid I was being and that I was playing into society’s preference for European beauty standards. Eventually, I said the hell with it; I’m going to rep for the culture like I’ve been doing, I mean, that is what my platform, Underground & Black is all about. So yeah, the decision to use a picture with me wearing cornrows was a conscious one, one that was rooted in much more than merely being “cool,” “badass” or “ghetto” for the night. At the end of the day, though, I realize that no matter how shitty NK’s cornrows looked, me, a black woman in the same industry with the same style, would never, and will never receive the same amount of love and compliments for doing it.

Why is it so often that white people get applauded for doing the same things that black people have been doing for centuries? It’s genuinely absurd how so many seem to be completely unaware of how frustrating it is for black people. We literally cannot have ANYTHING to ourselves. We live in a world where people get upset that we get one measly month to celebrate our culture. We live in a world where non-black people think it is acceptable to use the “N” word simply because we do. We live in a world where non-black people profit off our culture, language, music, style, etc., every day, all the while, many of us still struggle on the sidelines. White people run our society, have a much better chance at successfully navigating through this tainted world, and are somehow still upset about black people wanting to keep certain things solely in our community. The white entitlement is clear as day, and way too many folks feel so openly entitled to everything.

This is the world we live in, and I realize some of you will never know what it’s like to be a black man or woman living in a white man’s world. From day 1 of stepping into DJing, I knew I’d never be the most popular or make the most money even if I indeed was the best at it, and honestly, I’m okay with that. Unbeknownst to some, I’m not in this game for fame and fortune; I’m in this shit because of my passion. Since I am a black woman born and raised in Detroit, this is my roots, my upbringing- I’ve been involved in this shit since I was a kid, and it’s important to me that folks know that. That they know my sheer commitment to everything dance music related, whether it be this very blog, my radio show, an interview I conduct, or a black artist I book. I am someone out here making an actual contribution, as is Frankie of Discwoman, yet here we are being shaded for speaking out on what is right and what is wrong. The irony.

A lot of people genuinely do not understand the concept of bullying. Holding someone accountable for shitty mistakes is NOT bullying. A critique of someone’s careless actions is not hating or reflecting what someone thinks of this person’s musical ability. People are turning this thing into something that is not without realizing the bigger picture, which is that this conversation is much bigger than NK. It is is not the first and not the last time this discussion will happen; trust me.

As I wrap all of this up, I want to say, LISTEN. Listen when black people or minority groups get offended about specific words, behaviors, or actions; show us the respect of hearing us. Writing us off and ignoring our concerns is not conducive to growth and understanding. Also, if you call yourself an “ally,” stand up for us. SAY SOMETHING. White silence on these sorts of issues is one of the main reasons why things like cultural appropriation bother us. This idea that it’s okay to mimic black people when its time to look “cool” and “have fun,” but when shit gets real many of yall are nowhere to be found. I could talk about this shit all day, to be honest, but I’m choosing to move forward. Many of us have our points, and thank you to those that stood up and showed solidarity. The black community came together on this, and we must remember to come together ALL OF THE TIME, not just when these types of battles arise.

It was vital for me to use my platform to talk about this because we all know every other outlet is going to tiptoe around it and wait for it to blow over just like every other “Techno Twitter” battle. These are valid discussions, and the work doesn’t stop with this post. All of my Underground & Black projects have been about CELEBRATING and INSPIRING, and that is what I plan to continue to do. And hey, if I have to call bullshit on certain things from time to time, I’m down for that. Although my blackness may be a trend and novelty to you, it is not to me, and I take it very seriously. I am not shocked to see how offended some get when a black woman speaks her mind; that’s how the story goes! Today, I still stand head high, knowing that I got the cities of Detroit and Atlanta behind me. I’m going to keep doing me yall.


A Weekend Across The Pond

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.

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.

With DJ Soch at BMPdischi in Foligno, Italy.

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!

Ciao, Italy! ❤


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.

Pre gig selfie in London.

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.

The “spaceship” aka DJ Booth at Secretsundaze.

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.

  Sweet note from a fan during my set. 

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.

Myself, Giles, and Helena Star backstage at Oval Space.

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.

-Ash ❤





Underground & Black Top 10 Records of 2018

As the year comes a close there’s no denying  that there was a lot of great music that came out these past 12 months. The state of dance music is often questionable in this day, but coming across quality music that captures the true essence of the sound and culture we come from is always refreshing. The music featured in this piece is music that I held close throughout the year, and will continue to hold close moving into 2019. Black music is still as relevant as it ever was, and I feel so honored to be able to express myself through this music. As the “end of year list” antics commence, I just want to say that I’m grateful to have a platform that I can use to shine some more light on these amazing artists with. Much love and respect to those who continue to innovate and inspire!


#fortheculture #undergroundandblack 

1. Patrice Scott- Moments and Concepts (Sistrum Recordings)

As many of you already know, Patrice is by far my favorite producer, and 2018 saw him turn in some show stopping work. Starting out the year with a coveted release on Sounds Of The City, followed by his epic remix of Alton Miller’s “All the little things”, Moments and Concepts (below) on his Sistrum imprint, and most recently, the “Powder Fresh” EP on NYC’s Second Hand Records. This my friends, is true soulful, deep house, and I’m saying this now, “Be Free”, is the deep house track of the year- straight church vibes! Patrice has been humbly and steadily on the incline for many years now, and its time to show this man some respect! True Detroit royalty that deserves just as much shine as the rest of em. #realright


2. Stefan Ringer- FWM 001 (FWM)

Stefan is no stranger to the scene, and has been doing his thing in Atlanta and throughout North America for a minute now. After releasing some prized EP’s on labels like NDATL, CGI, and Argot, he decided to step up to the plate and start a label of his own. “FWM” dropped its first release by Ringer in August 2018,  and features summer  favorites like “Wanna Be Bad”, and “Southside”. All five tracks go hard, and you can’t lose with this one in your record bag or playlist. Keep an eye out for what’s next from this Atlanta staple who has proved consistent over time. #iwannabebad


3. Alton Miller- All Things Good EP (Waella’s Choice)

I was lucky enough to build a relationship with some of the folks behind Dimensions Festival this past year, which included Andy Lemay, who runs a called label Waella’s Choice. This is the label behind my next pick, Alton Miller’s “All Things Good EP”, which features what I like to call “grown and sexy” house. These are definitely not your peak time rave tracks, yet more so, your feet in sand, hair in the wind type of tracks. In terms of the dance floor; tracks you can two step with your lover to. “In The D” is by far my favorite, and feels like a little taste of South Africa and Detroit mixed into one. #grownfolksmusic


4. Waajeed- From The Dirt (Dirt Tech Reck)

Waajeed is another artist who I’ve mentioned quite frequently in the past, and rightfully so. After the success of last years “Shango EP”, he stayed busy in 2018 DJing throughout Europe, Asia, the US, and beyond. He also premiered his first live show at Good Room in Brooklyn back in May. On November 9th, Waajeed dropped his first solo, full length LP “From The Dirt” on his label Dirt Tech Reck, that includes 10 perfectly hand crafted tracks with each a style their own. According to Waajeed, Dilla’s basement in his childhood home was the birthplace for their discovery of un-quantized beats, and that its reflected in “My Fathers Rhythm”-my favorite track on the album. #strength


5. Steven Julien- Bloodline (Apron) 

London’s Steven Julian, aka Funkineven dropped his sophomore album “Bloodline” in April on his Apron imprint, which pays tribute to his family roots. According to Julien, his drum programming (which is extremely impressive on this release) isn’t coming from himself, but from “a long line of ancestors, that includes rhythm from tribes in Africa and natives from the Caribbean.” “Bloodline” and “IDK” are my two favorite tracks on this one, and I also want to note that I really appreciate the imagery of this album, which showcases pictures of what appear to be a young Julien and his family. In reference to music, I recognize the importance and pride in paying homage to ones roots. #rolandtr808


6. Kai Alce- Back in this sh!t (NDATL)

Kai Alce’s NDATL records celebrated 10 years in 2018, and what better what to celebrate than with all the amazing music that debuted on the label this year. With releases from Andres, DJ Spinna, and Alce and himself, NDATL had a pretty successful year. “Back In this Sh!t” dropped in April 2018, and I had a nice time playing these tracks everywhere from Berlin, to NYC, to Atlanta. Posted Below, “Jam Tight” is described as a “Detroit flavored burner”, and I’d have to agree. My favorite memory of this track is when I dropped it at Paloma Bar in Berlin, and DJ Amir came running up to me like “damnnn, who is this!!?” I was obliged to let him know it was our friend Kai Alce. Cheers to another 10 years of one of my favorite labels, NDATL. #lifesgoodafterasession


7. Ladymonix- BC I Want To (Frizner Electric)

Next up we have the debut EP from Detroit’s Ladymonix, titled “BC I Want To”, on her Frizner Electric imprint, which she also debuted this year. Its great to see fellow women out here doing their thing, and Monica made some nice moves over the year, including starting a residency at Detroit’s beloved Motor City Wine. As soon as I heard these tracks I fell in love, and they all got major play in my sets throughout the year. “BC I want to”  is “a deep and sensual body mover, anchored by empowering vocal samples that make no apologies”, and my favorite, “In Flight”, is “a soaring track that blends the energy of an evening into the power of the night.” Much love to Monica for being a continued force of the scene, and I look forward to seeing what she and Frizner Electric have in store for 2019! #bcshewantsto


8. K15- Be Glad You Create Anything (WotNot Music) 

K15, a man known for deepness, dropped “Be Glad You Create Anything” on WotNot Music this year, and not surprisingly, sold out quickly. As Juno nicely puts it, “Be Glad You Create Anything”, is “a sparkling, mid-tempo shuffler that wraps darting, Kaidi Tatham style jazz-funk synth motifs around loose and languid beats and a suitably warm and attractive bassline.” “Communion”, my favorite track on the EP, was included in my June episode of “Underground and Black”, and was received with open arms. This is another person who has stayed consistent over the years, and I’m always looking forward to what next. #createanything


9. Kaidi Tatham- In my Life (2000 Black) 

After releasing his incredible LP “Its A World Before You”, on First Word Records back in June, Kaidi Tatham returned to 2000black, with the EP “In my Life”. “Freddie Can’t Run Away”, is a nice fusion track, and showcases the true creativity of his artistry. “But You Bring It Up” is a warm jazzy track that features vocals from Nadine Charles . The EP covers everything from jazz, to boogie, to funk and was definitely a necessary purchase this year!   #inmylife


10. Wbeeza- The OD EP (Troy Town) 

I’ve been a big fan of Wbeeza’s for a while now, and was so excited to learn he was dropping a new record after a 3 year hiatus. He is revered as a 1st generation pioneer of what has become affectionately known as the “Peckham Sound”. The 3 track EP features a mix of sounds from Techno, to Deep House, to Bounce. My favorite of the 3, “Bizzle Boogie”, is a “equal parts gritty, Midwest-influenced bounce track.” I included this track in my Truants mix, and it got more than a few ID request’s! #southlondon