Year Two…

If you don’t like something, create something new to challenge it.

Well, its been a while, and I apologize for that. Sometimes its far too easy (for me) to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Last time I wrote I was coming down from my House In The Park high, and today, I sit here feeling extremely enlightened and motivated moving into my second year of being a “professional” DJ. Yes, I’m using the term “professional” extremely loosely,  but I’m making moves and getting paid, so that attributes to some sort of professionalism. Right?

I played NYC last weekend which was fun, although I think I drank a little too much during my set at Black Flamingo, and ended up misplacing one of my USB’s. I realized this the following morning as I went to prepare for Lot Radio, and definitely felt a punch to the gut. While there is a chance it perhaps fell onto some random street corner and got stepped on, there is also the chance that someone got a ahold it, (and lucked the fuck up on a shit load of music.) It sucks to say the least, and its apparent that I gotta start keeping my shit in order at gigs.  I can’t deny I’m a sucker for vodka cranberry’s, but you really gotta take care, and be aware of your belongings…whether it  be headphones, usb’s, records, etc…things come up missing and its never fun. Lesson learned. On the brighter side of things, I enjoyed my set, the club had a nice turn out for a Thursday, and for the first time, I felt as if I eloquently mixed via rotary mixer…turning those knobs really is an art of its own.

Lot Radio was another highlight of the trip, and I felt a sense of responsibility having the opportunity to host my own show on Friday night. Carry Nation and Analog Soul had the slot before me and it was really awesome to kick it with such respected artists and members of the dance music community. Its mind boggling playing alongside people like this, being that I wouldn’t have imagined this possible a couple years prior when I saw Analog Soul play at SmartBar in Chicago. I was so inspired when I saw them up there, and was hella proud to see two Black women controlling the dance floor with such strength and soul, and now, of course, things feel full circle.

Speaking of strength and soul, the weekend prior to NYC, was AfroPunk, which I’m sure some of you wanted hear about. I have decided to not go into full detail about some of the shortcomings I faced, but looking back on the day in itself, it was fun, and a great opportunity. AfroPunk being my first festival appearance felt extremely appropriate, and it was an honor to be there representing what I felt, was black people/women in dance music. While AfroPunk is pretty eclectic with their musical selections, the percentage of House Music / Techno DJ’s is still pretty low. When I first got booked for it, I immediately started thinking about all the hip-hop and soul edits I could potentially play….then as time passed I decided I would stick to my roots and play what I normally play… that’s the freedom of being an artist, and I don’t ever want to lose touch with that.

Due to some scheduling issues, my first set got cancelled, and I was to only perform my second set, which was from 10-11PM…the same time as Solange, the festival headliner, who everybody and they momma (including myself) wanted to see. I already knew my stage wouldn’t have much of an audience,  I mean, I can’t compete with Solange…lol. I had a crowd of about 15/20 throughout my set, and I’m glad that my friends were there to support me, it actually wasn’t so bad anyway. Random people would walk up and start dancing, clearly intrigued by sounds that were more then likely unfamiliar to them, and it felt good. It was crazy being back at work the next day…I went from being a respected artist with my own dressing room, to back sitting behind a desk kissing ass in a matter of less than 24 hours. Damn.

Next up is Milwaukee, and I’m ready. This will be my first time playing in the Midwest outside of Detroit, and I have a feeling I’m in for a treat. Playing gigs across the US has been a great experience, and I def still have a few more cities on my radar…LA, Miami, Chicago, and Pittsburg, to name a few. After this Milwaukee gig, and after Expressions the following weekend I’ll be pretty much open in terms of bookings. My local bookings have slowed down, and I’m taking this as an opportunity to brainstorm and get better. I’ve been peeping folks on social media griping about not being booked locally, and only getting respect outside of their hometowns, which I understand could/can be frustrating. I know I haven’t been out here long as a DJ, but the best advice I could give to those feelings is to quit focusing on who “doesn’t fuck with you”, and start focusing on who does. Not everyone has to like you or support you, and I’m just now really accepting that. It sucks, but thats just one of harsh realities of  this shit. I think complaining is counter productive when you could simply start creating your own platforms to showcase those  you feel are being overlooked (yourself included.)

One of the main reasons I started Expressions, or even thought of it, was because I wanted to start headlining and getting more playing time at my gigs. I figured, if its my party, I have control to set it up the way I see fit. Who cares if everyone isn’t booking you, its not their obligation to imo. Some people won’t book you bc they legit are a hater, and some may not book you because they legit don’t like your sound….thats their problem, not yours. I guess all I’m saying is that I rather focus on the good shit thats happening rather than whats not. If you don’t like something, create something new to challenge it. I used to get in my feelings when certain people would ignore my accomplishments, but at this point I really don’t care anymore. I’m focused on me, those that support me, and achieving goals. And honestly, people will come around if you keep shining and doing your thing…they’ll have no choice than to respect you in the long run.

In closing, I just want to say thank you….again. I’m moving into my second year of this journey and I don’t know where the hell I’d be if weren’t for so many of you that believe in me and trust me enough to be apart of your visions. Later this week I’m going to be on fucking NTS radio, and I been smiling all day. The day before I got the email, I thought to myself how NTS would be 2018 goal, and now here I am knocking it out much sooner than I expected. I know its not easy out here, and I know I’ve been blessed to accomplish so much in so little time, but best believe my work is far from done. I still only know a small percentage of this trade and lifestyle, and I’ll forever be a student. That being said, I’m eager to blossom into what I one day hope can be a long term career as a DJ and person of color keeping the visions of American underground dance music alive.

Until Next Time…

-ASH ❤




House In The Park: The Family Reunion Of All Family Reunions.

House in the Park is not merely a celebration of House Music, its a celebration of Black culture.

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.

Talk Soon.

-ASH ❤





Making Moves In The City…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until Next Time……

-ASH ❤

Californian Epiphanies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


-ASH ❤

Underground and BLACK Guest Mix 001: JAY SIMON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Where does one go from here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Best Moments:

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

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

My parents coming to my set at Mix.

Stingray giving me a pep talk before my set.

Playing an all Techno Set at Discwoman

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

Leaving Texture party at Marble Bar at 11am.

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

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

Kai’s BBQ and his Mom’s food.

Best Party:

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

The festival:

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

Best Club:

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

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

-ASH ❤


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

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

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