Well folks, another House in the Park/Atlanta Weekender for the history books! Sitting here now reflecting on it all, the first thought that comes to mind is WOW. It’s hit me over the years that House in the Park is not merely a celebration of House Music, its a celebration of Black culture, a celebration of family, a celebration of togetherness, a celebration of life. This year marked my 7th year in attendance, and I must say, with every passing year this festival grows and blossoms in ways I never thought possible. I don’t speak about it often, but my first attendance to House in the Park in 2010 truly solidified my passion for Dance Music. It was the first House Music event I had ever attended in Atlanta, and without a doubt rekindled my relationship with the music I grew up loving in Detroit. I spent my first two years in Atlanta completely out of the loop musically until that grand day a friend from Detroit told me about “House In the Park…the rest is history.
Fast forward to today, and many years of being apart of the Atlanta House Music Community, I feel equally proud, humbled and inspired after this weekend. Proud because it’s safe to say that after years of hard work and dedication, Atlanta has made its mark, and is now known as a House Music destination in America. Perhaps not year around, but Labor Day weekend without question. And while every other weekend may not have as many events going on, or out-of-towners supporting our scene, best believe that EVERY weekend there is a a dance music event to choose from; whether it be Soulful, Techno, or Tribal. Humbled because this time last year I was still a bit shy of my first live DJ appearance, and now, a year later, I not only performed as a DJ at Atlanta Weekender events, I also was given the opportunity to host my event Expressions as an official Atlanta Weekender event. Having my party recognized alongside many other long running events in Atlanta like Kai’s Alce’s Distinctive, and Salah Ananse’s “LoveSexy” Prince Tribute Party, was very special to me. I feel inspired because now, more than ever, I realize the musical canvas that is Atlanta. The possibilities are endless, and I’m really excited to be apart of our ever-growing scene.
Saturday night Stefan and I hosted our bi-monthly party “Expressions” which is held at one of the most notable music venues in Atlanta, The Sound Table. Over the years The Sound Table has hosted the likes of Moodymann, Theo Parrish, Hunee, Mike Huckaby, K-HAND, and many, many, more. The night before our event was held, DJ Kemit and Josh Milan played there as well, so you could only imagine the honor I feel being able to work in the same DJ booth as so many other well-established artists that I look up to. I’m also blessed to host an event where I can take things wherever I’d like musically…I get bored easily, so am constantly acquiring new music, especially before a gig; expect to hear some hot new shit. Also, expect to hear some classic Detroit music as well; I think its safe to say that its pretty much synonymous with my sound. I played everything from Octave One- Daystar Rising, to Aaron Carl- Down, to Shari Vari by A Number of Names. After some very deep and sexy sounds from Austen Van Der Bleek, I started out my set with a new Hannah track called “July”…the vibes continued on from that point. At Expressions Stefan and I pretty much do a B2B set, with each of us playing multiple sets of about 30 minutes or so throughout the night. I really like that arrangement, because I can’t stand “2 and 2” b2b’s, I avoid those if at all possible. That being said, our styles compliment each other well, and the dance floor stayed full throughout the night. I was initially apprehensive when Salah (DJ and Atlanta Weekender organizer) approached me about potentially adding a friend of his to the bill. I mean, Expressions had always been just Stefan and I, and I didn’t see the need to change that, yet after doing a little research on Austen I was sold. He is an established DJ and promoter with his organization Open House Conspiracy, and has booked as well as played alongside the likes of Keith Worthy, King Britt, and of course, Kai Alce.
The night went well overall, and many, many friends came out. The highlight of my night without question, was incorporating vinyl into my set for the first time. I have to admit, I’ve had this fear of playing vinyl in public for a while now because I felt my skills weren’t all the way up to par. I was afraid of “train wrecking” or flat out embarrassing myself. In the past, there’s even been a couple gigs where I’ve brought vinyl with me and didn’t even up playing it because I’d get too intimidated. Every time I’d talk to Stefan about it he’d simply tell me to “stop talking about it”, and to “just do it”, and Saturday night, I finally did it. That morning I had woken up feeling incredibly inspired and started going through my records. Once I realized all the quality music I was missing out on playing, I decided right there that I was dropping records that night, “scared” or not. I had myself a nice little selection of about 20 records I knew I could potentially play. It wasn’t until almost 2am that I finally got the courage to drop one of them, a K-HAND record to be exact, titled “Beat that Bitch with a Stick”…classy, huh? From there I recall dropping some classic Kerri Chandler, and a “Call Me” Remix by Deee-Lite. Once I started playing records I felt like I didn’t want to stop, it felt good. There’s still work to be done, but I am proud that I finally took the leap. It was a special night…thank you to those who continue to support this event.
House In The Park in itself was, as always, equally fun and refreshing. With all the sub-genres and scenes in dance music, this is one of the very few events in Atlanta that can bring all of us together. I saw so many familiar faces whom I’ve I gotten acquainted with over the years, and while sometimes its only a quick hug, or hello, it feels good, and it means something. House In The Park is basically the family reunion of all family reunions, and is something that must be experienced to fully understand. When you enter that pavilion and the energy hits you theres no turning back…that sea of black and brown faces lost in rhythm is like nothing else you’ll ever experience. As we all sweat, dance and sing together, you realize just how powerful those moments are. If you haven’t been, I suggest you try next year. Good food, good music, cute kids, and vendors selling all the shea butters and ethnic apparel you’ll ever need!
As things winded down, the post-festival depression hit me hard as I geared back up for work after the holiday weekend festivities. All the fun and gigs were behind me, and my 9-5 was patiently waiting to eat away at my soul. Sometimes I feel selfish because I know I should be content with the way things are going for me musically, yet at the same time theres still so much more work to be done. There’s also still so much I’d like to do and accomplish. Its crazy to go from a check-list of gigs, to the day when all the gigs are behind you and you find yourself back at square one…the hustle never ends. In response to this, all I can do is continue to practice, plan, and execute. I’ve gotten some great press, which of course, has increased my visibility, and I’m glad that people are truly starting to know who I am. Not simply the girl from Detroit who lives in Atlanta, and is “on the scene”, but as Ash Lauryn, a respected DJ, writer, and event promoter. I’ve mentioned this before, but my goals with dance music are not merely for fun; this is a personal mission, a passion, and a calling. At this point in my life this is the only thing I can picture myself doing.
I’m proud of the recent success with my “Black Girls Like Techno Too” mix for Honey Sound System, and it felt surreal to be selected alongside people like DJ Bone (a long time hero of time) for the best DJ Mixes of August by Pitchfork. As I idly scrolled thru Twitter I saw the article and couldn’t contain the goofy smile on my face. “Mamma, I made it!”… Not quite, but ya girl is on her way, I tell you that. In addition to some TBA traveling gigs, I’ve been in contact with a few booking agents who may potentially want work with me, so I’m hoping that comes into fruition. It’s honestly just a matter of time, and I’m gonna keep pushing. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart to those that keep me inspired. I vow to stay humbled, hard working, and diligent with this journey.