Tuesday, 31 December 2013

CVNT Strictly Ballroom Top Ten for GENERATION BASS

So here she is, my end-of-the-year round up of my favourite ballroom house tracks from the last 12 months. Originally published on GENERATION BASS, here's the list in full, but for downloads/audio you need to go check out the original.


I came in for a bit of criticism for my last top 10 here on GB, as some of the acts I included were not ballroom (the list was a mixture of ballroom and house/other stuff I dug at that point). So, this time round, I’ve decided to keep the chart to strictly ballroom acts, and to look back at my favourite tracks in the genre from the last 12 months.

10. BAAUER – Harlem Shake (QWEEN BEAT Remix)
There was no escaping the Harlem Shake this year, but at least some good came of the craze, like this remix by MikeQ and Jay R Neutron for Qween Beat. Qween Beat is a collective of producers, djs, performers, MCs, designers and a lot more besides, featuring some of the hottest names in ballroom, and who are always worth checking out with some of the freshest mixes. You can find Qween Beat on Twitter, FB and Soundcloud.

9. JAY R NEUTRON The Godzilla Ha
Jay R Neutron has some awesome remixes and smash-ups on his Soundcloud page, many of which could have gone in this chart, but this cheeky Godzilla-soundtrack-sampling beat is the one for me. You might recognise the sample from hip-hop classic “Simon Says” by Pharaoh Monch. Let’s hope Godzilla doesn’t hear this, as a vogue dip from her would be bad news for Tokyo.

The second instalment of Byrell’s mix tape series serves up a tonne of hot dance floor remixes and edits, showcasing his this up-and-coming producer’s unique style, and also shows the influence of hip-hop, pop and R&B (not to mention Jersey Club) on the ever-developing ballroom sound.

7. LULU EBONY ft GREGG EVISU #BangiCunt (DJ Delish Remix)
Two seriously talented ballroom MCs go head to head on a majorly hot beat remixed by Philidelphia’s DJ Delish. Not much more to say here, just let Evisu & Ebony do the talking (though, as the title would suggest of course, this track is NOT safe for work).

6. SUGUR SHANE Outta Sight Cunt Juice
More commonly known for his MCing, this year Sugur Shane took the plunge into production too, turning out a hard-as-nails remix of DJ Fade’s “Outta Sight”, featuring vocal samples from Buddah and Shane himself. If anyone tells you that ballroom is too soft, too minimal or too repetitive, just slap this on and watch them shut the hell up.

5. BEEK Like This (Like That)
Beek is a name to keep an eye on, his work this year has been consistently impressive, and he has managed to push the ballroom envelope while still serving up tracks to thrown down to. The skittery vocal samples of “Like This” also manage to showcase his brilliant MC style, marrying it to an impressive minimal/complex rhythm.

4. MIA Y.A.L.A. (MikeQ Remix)
Nobody touches MIkeQ for stripped-back, dance floor destroying tracks, his remixes and originals use the barest of elements but achieve maximum impact. There’s a reason this guy is the premier ballroom DJ. This mix is a great example of his style, and again showcases ballroom’s ability to absorb practically any other genre. It’s great to see it crossing over into lots of different DJ sets.

3. BRITNEY SPEARS Work Bitch (Divoli S’vere Gaginator Remix)
Like the flip-side of MikeQ’s minimalist M.I.A. remix, fellow Qween Beat don Divoli S’vere transforms Britney’s wannabe pop-house anthem into a maximalist “WTF?!” epic. This is hands down my remix of the year, and I could see it working in both big and underground clubs, if the DJs have the balls to drop a Britney track that is!

2. KEVIN JZ PRODIGY Nasty Poetry (Schwarz Remix)
Kevin Prodigy is probably the best known ballroom MC, but this remix by Baltimore’s Schwarz slows things down just a touch, becoming *almost* a chilled out hybrid of deep house and Bmore beats that will work in many varied DJ sets. But Prodigy’s distinctive growl keeps it firmly in the ballroom ballpark, with Schwarz teasing out the best bits of his vocal performance.

1. VJUAN ALLURE Kid Conga (Rebounced) ft Daniel Haaksman
This is my top track of the year, an absolute dancefloor destroyer, whatever genre you prefer, from ballroom to house to bass to whateverthefuck. This was dropped back near the start of the year on Vjuan Allure’s debut Mad Decent/Jefrees release, the Vjuanage EP. The track is a cut up of Kid Conga by Daniel Haacksman featuring MC MIltihno, which you might already know, and it never fails to set dancefloors on fire. Also, if you ever get a chance to see a Vjuan Allure DJ set, DO NOT miss it, the dude SLAYS.

Honourable mentions:
I wanted to keep this top ten to one entry per producer, but some of these guys have been on fire this year, and their other work deserves mention too. So, here’s a quick round-up: Vjuan Allure “Natives R Restless”, Poisonous Relationship “Nite Birds (MikeQ Remix)”, Sugur Shane “My Night With Peter And Junior” mixtape, Beek “Beek” EP, DeShawn Timothy & Sugur Shane “Ima Read (Divoli’s 2013 Remix), Dawn Richards “Gleaux (Divoli S’vere Version)”, in fact, just follow all/any of the Soundcloud links posted above and you will find a wealth of awesome music, much of it available for free download. And if you’ve got any favourite ballroom tracks from the past 12 months I haven’t mentioned, leave a comment.

You can follow me at CVNT TRAXXX on Soundcloud, and check out my own ballroom-influenced grymehaus “Statement” EP on Body Work Records.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

DIVOLI S'VERE Ckuntinomksz 3.5 Mix

Divoli S'vere's remix of Britney's "Work Bitch" is my remix of the year, more on that in my ballroom top ten for Generation Bass. In the meantime, here's the next installment in Divoli's ongoing mix series Ckuntinomksz, with a frosty winter twist:

Divoli S'vere as Killer Frost gives everyone a very Merry XMas & Happy New Year! Here's a lil something I've been working on... As 2013 comes to an end ... 2014 IS THE YEAR OF THE SLAYERS! GET INTO THIS!!!!

Frost Bite Mix Tracklist

1. Applause Again (Another Standing O Remix)
2. Honest (Divoli's Deadass Refix)
3. Work Bitch (S'vere Gagginator Remix)
4. Bloody Leaves (Grand March Rip)
5. Haunted Ghost (Insidious Return Remix)
6. At The Ball [snippet]
7. Headband (S'vere Club Mix)
8. LoveMORE Pussy
9. The Read (Divoli S'vere Version)
10. Fuck It Up (Trinidad's S'vere Remix)
11. When You Lick (SuperSoaked Remix)
12. That Butch Ckunt
13. Im So... [snippet]
14. Shady [snippet]

The Frost Bite No Shade Mix
Featuring :
Dj Delish - The Engineer
Kevin JZ Prodigy - The Commentation of 2003
Dj Angel X - Bango 2010
Siir Eddie - I Have 1 Thing 2 Say Runway
Capitol Kaos - Who's The Baddest Bitch
VJtheDJ - No They Won't

Saturday, 28 December 2013

B AMES IS ON FIRE {Free Downloads]

GODAMMIT! I would never normally play any Gaga in my DJ sets, but between this and remixes by Boyfriends and Jay Neutron (and my own hi-nrg remix fo rMenergy) I've been made to eat my own words. In fact, ArtPop contains some of the first music by Gaga that I genuinely like. Hmm. ANyway, hats off to B for the awesome remix (as usual): 

LADY GAGA & R KELLY Do What You Want Remix

BONUS! A dj set featuring some of her own work and influences: 
1. Disclosure - Voices (Wookie Remix)
2. Enur + Natasja - Calabria 2007
3. Tyga - Rack City (DJ Diz Remix)
4. I Wanna' Be Down (Lucifuck Remix)
5. The Ha Dance
6. David Guetta + Rihanna- Right Now
7. Kid Sister- Switch Board
8. Leggo - I Chant, You Vogue
9. Manila Luzon - Bring It! (B. Ames Remix)
10. Early Ross - Why Don't You Do Right (B. Ames Remix)
11. Unknown - Circular Motion (MikeQ Club Edit)
12 . Unknown - Work Me (B. Ames Remix)

Monday, 23 December 2013

MYKKI BLANCO Booty Bamboo [Free Download]

Will hip hop ever accept me? Who gives a fuck. Will the gay community turn their back on me if I stop dressing in drag? Who gives a fuck. Will I get signed? Who gives a fuck. I did a world tour off the strength of soundcloud singles, a lo-fi mixtape and my first EP. I was out there, I saw the power of music and saw the power of love and now I just want to develop my music and have fun. People who fuck with Mykki Blanco fuck with Mykki Blanco no image or politics needed.

Light a blunt with your friends and listen to my new track Booty Bamboo. I feel free, I hope you do to. Prod. By Amnesia Scanner

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Interview for Ransom Note

I've had a very long CVNT interview/discussion with John Power of Body Work records, published by Ransom Note. Here's some extracts, you can read the whole thing here.  

J: Can you just quickly explain what a ‘House’ is?

N: The traditional definition of a ‘House’ is that it’s a gay street gang and instead of fighting these gangs would have dance-offs. The concept is taken from fashion houses and so a lot of original big American Houses are named after famous fashion brands or things that relate to fashion. 

I’ve seen at gigs I’ve been doing recently, especially in [Mainland] Europe there are some amazing Houses emerging but I don’t feel like there’s the same culture of dance here in the UK that you get in Europe

Still I think that the scene is growing here and there are some wicked dancers in the UK but we need more balls and more places for these dancers to show up. You see that’s how other people get into it, they go to a club and see someone Voguing and think ‘”that looks amazing”. I think there’s just not enough of that happening in the UK yet.

J: Is there a kind of a clash, a dilemma within the scene, where on the one hand you want to grow and encourage new people to get involved but at the same time still protect itself and provide a safe space?

N: I think it is changing and the scene is becoming a more open place where anyone can get involved, anyone can join in. Obviously Voguing is traditionally a black, gay art form, and certainly there were a lot of Trans people, a lot of Transgender women involved when it started, but today you’ll find a lot of biological women and straight women involved in the scene. In fact I think it’s just becoming a lot more of a female thing.

At the same time though I guess it depends who you speak to and there are some people on the scene who are very protective of what it is, and for good reason. They’ve seen it being exploited before; they’ve seen it move so far away from its roots that they feel that it is not the same thing anymore. 

So there is a certain element of protectionism and exclusivity within the scene, which I think is understandable, but for the most part it’s moving towards being more accessible and now you’re seeing countries that don’t have much or really any relation to New York’s black and gay scenes turning out amazing dancers.

So the scene must be moving ahead and I think that’s a positive and healthy thing as long as people remember and respect the roots from where it all came from, why they’re doing it and who the original legends were. In the end you can’t stop it, it’s all progress.

J: You talk about Ballroom’s roots, now obviously over the past few years and right now house music as a whole has never been bigger but it also feels like it’s never been further away from, or more really in denial of, its own black and gay origins. You can quite easily argue, and many do, that EDM has been a whitewash but even then it feels like dance music’s black roots are still more recognised than its gay roots…

N: Yes I think that is a thing and I definitely feel that there is still a bit of a sniffiness around Ballroom Culture, especially trying to get people that are into more traditional House Music to engage with Ballroom. Now there could be many reasons for that but from my point of view I feel that sexuality has a lot to do with it.

J: I feel like we’ve seen over the past few years not just an editing of House music’s history to maybe remove some of the more overtly gay aspects of it but a kind of bowdlerizing of the music too. Something like the ’Nu-Disco’ revival was very much driven at the start by some great gay clubs, Horse Meat Disco, places like that, and I feel that it was very much co-opted by straight, white, bearded guys (like myself but without the beard), who kind of took over in some respects and certainly when it came to the flood of re-edits that appeared from the early 2000s onwards it felt like a lot of them were taking out anything that was ‘too gay’ from a track. Actually I’m sure years ago I read something by Daniel Wang complaining about that in a much more considered way…

So you end up with a situation were you have this music that becomes stripped of so much of what originally made it what it was and you end up with well, kind of ‘Cosmic Disco’, which is great, I love so much of that music but you can’t help but sometimes feel it’s in denial of its roots when it presents this kind of sterile spacey music that isn’t too raunchy, is quite safe really.

N: I agree completely about the disco thing, it’s like a lot of those disco edits. Even going back to when a lot of that first started in the mid/late nineties, there was a lot of stripping out the campness, stripping out the glittery over the top moments that defined those records as being gay, just taking them back down to being about the groove.

Which at the start was cool but I definitely felt like it reached a point where you could go to a club playing Nu-Disco and it’s just a lot of middle class, middle aged, white people politely nodding their heads and you feel like this isn’t how this music was supposed to be consumed. I think that’s why it’s a brilliant thing when you go to a club like Horse Meat Disco and it brings a lot of those records to life, you’re actually hearing these records in the kind of environment they were meant to be played in, loads of screaming queens, loads of trans people and just a really mixed crowd where the atmosphere’s really good. 

I think there’s a definite seriousness about the way that a lot of people approach dance music in general nowadays, which is kind of nerdy and detached from the actual purpose of it, which is to make people dance, and dancing is of course for want of a better phrase, it’s a sex substitute. That’s what that rhythm is, ultimately a lot of it is just about simulating sex without getting naked as such. 

So I think there’s an element of white dance culture at the moment that has been de-sexed, and I think Ballroom is still very much coming from that Black, Gay place and possesses an overt sexuality. So I think there might be a reluctance to get too involved with it as the reality of the ‘black/gay clubbing experience’ is very different to the reality of a lot of middle class, middle aged, white people nodding along to Fleetwood Mac b-sides and the like.

Friday, 20 December 2013

AZARI & III live review for FACT


Niall Connolly is a UK-based producer and writer who releases music under the name CVNT. He’s also co-founder of the queer collective Tranachy, and hosts vogue/drag balls across the UK. He was at Manchester’s Warehouse Project for the last UK show by Azari & III, a Canadian group whose take on house music not only draws from the sounds of classic Chicago, but also the “marginalised black / gay club” culture at house music’s roots. 

And like that they’re gone, just as quickly as they’d arrived.

Four years ago a little single called ‘Hungry For The Power’ dropped on Cosmo Vitelli’s I’m A Cliche label in Paris. With its accompanying video of a psychotic business man, a dominatrix prostitute and some cannibal voguers, the world was introduced to Azari & III. It was as exciting a debut single as has been released since. And then, just under one month ago, via their Facebook page, it was announced that the group would be breaking up after fulfilling their current live engagements. This included a live set at Manchester’s Warehouse Project, a show that would mark the band’s last ever appearance in the UK.

A lot can happen in four years, and in the case of Azari & III, an entire “house music revival” has sprung up, a revival that the band must take some credit for inspiring. Although consumers, DJs and fans of house music would argue – this writer included – that the genre never went away, it’s hard to deny the impact of Azari & III on dance music in general. Through the presence and vocals of front men Starving Yet Full and Fritz Helder, we were reminded of house music’s roots in underground, marginalised, black / gay clubs, and through the production of Dinamo Azari and Alixander III we were reminded that dance music could be sensual and sexy, something that was desperately needed in the era of stadium EDM, aggressive trap-pop and sexless brostep.

Read it all at: 

No Way Back: Niall Connolly salutes Azari & III

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Beyonce & Harvey Keitel

She's back, and she only owrks with the best. Seeing two of my idols together like this makes me feel all tingly inside. DAMN Harvey's aged well, and he looks genuinely happy here.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Feminism, Intersectionality and Rihanna's bottom

Forget Lily Allen and Miley Cyrus for a moment, the pop video on everyone's lips right now, for various reasons, is Rhianna's "Pour It Up". I've been reading some very interesting and insightful articles on this clip the last few days (thanks mainly to Khalil West and Stephanie Davis) so thought I would compile them here for safekeeping, as a reading list of some excellent articles/opinions, and to add my own (white/cis/gay/male) 2 cents.

To say it's a video that divides opinion is an understatement. Set in what appears to be an underwater strip club, devoid of men, the clip really reminds me of Maurice Binder's iconic, seminal intro sequences for James Bond. It's the sexy silhouttes, and the pole twirling. Seeing as, barring Skyfall, Bond intros of the last 15 years have been excruciatingly bad, maybe RiRi (who drected the clip) should get in touch with producer Cubby Brocolli and offer her services?

The video has been slammed for being overtly sexual, and, yes, even for a gay man, the final scenes of Rihanna twerking and rubbing her crotch on that throne make me hot and bothered. The Feminist Wire got the ball rolling by publishing an article featuring a variety of reactions, good and bad, to the clip by some prominent women of colour:

Sound Off: Black Women Writers respond to Rihanna's "Pour It Up"

The same site then went one further in publishing this piece in support of the video by Muna Mire:

Talk Back: In Defense Of Rihanna

(Some important info gleaned from this piece: the original, male, co-director of the clip pulled out of the project and asked to have his name removed, prompting a ZINGER of a comback from Ri-Ri, who then became the clip's sole director. Meaning: this clip is not representative of the "male gaze" associated with exploitation.)

The excellent blogger Batty Mamzelle (who got considerable recognition a few months back for her article Solidarity Is For Miley Cyrus) expands on some of the Talk Back themes in the (self-explanatory) piece:

Sexualisation, Exploitation and Black Female Celebrities: On the stripper Anthems of Rihanna and Nicki Minaj

Mamzelle points out that Minaj and Ri-Ri use the act of stripping/strip club settings as a form of female empowerment, using their skills and appearance to, in effect, exploit men and earn money. But is it that simple?

The next article, by Parks & Recreation/The Muppets actress Rashida Jones, doesn't believe so, she believes Minaj and Ri-Ri are part of a bigger problem that needs addressing:

Why Is Everyone Getting Naked? Rashida Jones on the Pornification of Everything

I have to be honest - I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of Jones' writing in this piece. No, NOT because she is a woman, but because she is a celebrity who achieved her fame as an actress, not as a writer (in this day and age, if you're not throwing side-eye at every demi-lebrity's attempt at expanding their "skill set", then I applaud your naivete).

I may not completely agree with her, but I love the way she has expressed herself, and hope to read more from her. And, ok, she HAS a point about the "tonnage" of female pop stars eager to expose their bodies at this point in time. Does the claim of "empowerment" lose its weight when getting naked seems more a job requirement than a genuine choice?

Maybe. So, why should the inclusion of Rhianna (and Nicki Minaj) be contentientious here?

I'll leave the explanation to Batty Mamselle:

Discussions of Sexuality are not the same for Women of Colour: Let's stop pretending they are

So why would this be so? Why should criticisms of white female pop stars not be relevant to non-white female pop stars? Well, in case you needed more convincing than the above article can provide, the following might help. This is one of the most insightful pieces written on "Pour It Up" so far, by three women of colour (one of whom is actually a stripper), transcribed from a discusion in Google Hangout:

Rihanna On My Mind: Chatting about the Pour It Up video

That article is really excellent, to me the kind of thing that makes me glad of our new media technologies, and the genuinely interesting interactions that can happen through social media. There is no filter, no need for an interpreter of any kind: let the kind of people portrayed in the video speak for themselves and tell us what they think of it.

As opposed to some random white dude who's not even in the same damn country.

So. What are my thoughts? Well, if you care to read on, I will tell you.

As I said above I am neither a black woman, nor a straight man, and to me those are the primary audiences for this clip (obviously, for very different reasons).

But what I am is a person who does not fit into traditional beauty modes, neither Western nor non-Western, and as such I feel that the kind of empowerment claimed for the Rihanna clip is only applicable to women who conform to certain body types. Which is not to say the clip is NOT empowering, not at all, just that I have my doubts that the clip is AS empowering to all women of colour as suggested in some of the articles above. The reach of its empowerment in limited, and [pure conjecture here] may even be damaging to women/girls who do not/never will conform to the beauty standard set by Rihanna, and in this video, her dancers.

That's not to say I dislike the video: far from it. I think it's a great piece of pop art.

But here's the thing, one hugely important and powerful aspect of "Pour It Up" that no-one seems to be mentioning: this is a POP video, so to judge it PURELY on image without taking into account the music (and not just the lyrics, but the melodies, arrangement, tone, etc) is not to judge it fully, in my opinion. It's unlikely that "Pour It Up" is watched with the sound off, and if it is, it's pretty safe to say that would be for masturbation purposes.

I love the song, but the feeling (yes, highly subjective and possibly problematic, I know) is not necessarily one of female empowerment. It's not one of exploitation either, though. To these ears there seems to be a deeply ingrained sadness to "Pour It Up". The whole song modulates between two minor chords, hardly the stuff of celebration, and there is a "sinister" sounding synth-string drone, reminiscent of Angelo Badlamienti's work for David Lynch, all the way through the track. Rihanna's vocals are, except for the wordless "woah-oh" bridge, softer and more controlled than on tracks like "S&M" and "We Found Love".

The arrangement is very spare, with constant drop-outs of the beat, suggesting it's not exactly a "club" track. The synths, as I kinda mentioned, sound reminiscent of 80s horror/thriller movies, especially that string part which underpins the whole track. While that kind of synth sound fits pretty neatly with conventions of the Trap genre (which is apparently very popular in US strip clubs), again, to me, it's not something that necessarily suggests celebration or empowerment. Compare it to A$AP Rocky's "Fashion Killa", whose video co-stars Rihanna, (and if rumours are to be believed, whose nascent romance with Rocky probably inspired the track) and is essentially a celebration of a woman's wardrobe and her shopping skills. "Fashion Killa" is light and airy, sounding warm and fuzzy and content, like the high of ecstacy or, suitably, the first blush of romance. In comparison, "Pour It Up" sounds menacing, less hopeful, more resigned. If "Fashion Killa" is an MDMA high, "Pour It Up" is a cocaine comedown (which, to be fair, is VERY Trap!)

Just to be clear, these aren't criticisms. These are observations. I don't want to seem like I am imposing upon Rihanna any ideas of what she "should" sound like. No-one, apart from Rihanna herself, or perhaps her most trusted producers, has the right to impose that on her, and as an artist she is more than capable of delivering hooky, quality pop music, and knowing what works the best for her, within her own limits. I recognise (and celebrate) that music is highly subjective, meaning different things for different people. I've also been involved in making music for half my life, so I tend to think about these kind of things a lot, and can't help analysing the "Pour It Up" song as part of the overall music video package.

Undoubtedly stripping and pole dancing has been beneficial for some women of colour, and it's not my place to tell these women, well, anything really! If a WoC finds this "Pour It Up" a resonant celebration of that life, then that is fucking awesome and they should OWN that for all its worth. Like I said, I do really like this track, and think that the Unapologetic LP has some of Ri-Ri's best work to date.

As a performer/singer/personality, I find Rihanna to be pretty damn good. She delivers great pop music, and I totally get how she is someone who acts with agency within a world where that could be denied to her. But then, as I argued the same thing a few years back about Beyonce, I think I may be more tuned to that as a gay man who follows pop music, and the careers of many hyper-managed female performers (while not being part of their primary target audience).

And let's be real here: Rihanna gives the BEST side-eye in modern music.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I first came to "Pour It Up" via this remix by Ynfynyt Scroll, which makes the track much more "club" friendly, and which may have skewed my view of the song a wee bit. It's awesome though, and well worth downloading: 

Friday, 6 December 2013

DAVID MORALES @ Dalston Superstore

TOMORROW this is going to be insane! A mojor superstar dj playing in a relatively small, intimate club - this is gonna be pretty special:

Monday, 2 December 2013

Monday, 25 November 2013


It's not often you get a legendary voguer doing classes and performances right on your own doorstep. But that's the case with New York's Aviance Milan, who has recently been performing in Liverpool with the House Of Suarez, and teaching classes all over Europe. I was first introduced to Aviance through our mutual friend, the Swedish producer Petter Wallenberg, about a year ago and passed his details on to the House Of Suarez, and it has been very exciting to see them working together, culminating in a show called "Vogue Deco" which should be touring the UK next year. I originally interviewed Aviance back in January this year, but due to a hard-drive crash lost the text. Thankfully though, being a ture gentleman, he was kind enough to let me do the interview again last month...

How did you discover/get into voguing in the first place? 

It was the year 1991. I was in junior High School and my mother had gone away for the summer to Brazil, and I ended up staying at my Aunt's house in the Bronx. That's when I met Kevin Milan, who was a Magnifique at the time. He's passed away now. I saw them voguing, they were my cousin's friends who lived across the street. I got up to see what they were doing and they asked "are you interested in this? and I said "I guess so, a little bit". So they brought me inside the apartment and they played me tracks like "Dub Break". I hated it! But they said "if you wanna vogue this is the tune you have to vogue to". So they started teaching me stuff. Two months later I met Mink Xtravaganza and Luis Xtravaganza, and, really, they were the first ones who taught me about Balls, because I didn't know what it was. So they brought me upstairs and showed me videos. The first time I ever saw New Way was Damian Xtravaganza, who is a Revlon now, and it was the first time I saw voguing with the contortions and the stretches and stuff like that. That was what really attracted me to it actually. I joined the House of L'Amore, which was my very first house, and I started training for about a year and a half. After I was done training I started walking balls and I would win constantly.

I take it that voguing culture had a lot to do with the club scene at the time, too? 

Yes, a lot of it had to do with the club scene. I started going to the clubs in 92, so this is 92/93.  Clubs like Red Zone, which was my first club. Then you had places like The Building, Trax, Sound Factory, Sound Factory Bar, Cafe Con Leche, Wunderbar, Danceteria, Stingray's, Mars 2112, Palladium, Club USA, Limelight, Roseland, The Tunnel… yeah there were tons back then! And that's where the battles really started. That's where it started to get really competitive, 'cos in the ballroom you've only got a few minutes. but in the clubs there is no end. It just goes on, haha! 

So, this is after Madona released "Vogue" and the world had taken notice of the dance/culture. Do you think that track affected the scene?

Madonna first discovered vogue at the original Sound Factory on 27th St. and the DJ was Junior Vasquez. She used to go there all the time and you'd see her, partying, flirting, doing whatever she was doing. After "Vogue", the scene had never really stopped, but I guess she kinda commercialised it, and introduced it to the world. But Paris Is Burning is still the closest you could get to seeing the fundamentals of it. Where it actually came from and why they do it.

The scene has changed, and a good way to define would be like fashion. And back then when I was really active and competing in balls, it wasn't as commercial as it is now. The audience is 20 times bigger now.  

For me, from my observations, I think it got more mainstream with Dramatic Vogue Femme. because nowadays if you go to a ball and you see the New Way category there's like 3 people. You know, I can say there's a handful of Dramatic voguers who do it really well that I can watch, but for the most part, like I said, everything changes, styles evolve, you know. Also, I was one of the first butch queens to Vogue Femme. And this is before the Dramatics, this is like Old Way Femme. Like Dramatics now would be considered New Way Femme, like what Leoimy does and the twirls and the headspins and all that stuff. 

How would you define your own vogue style?

I would have to define my style as Old Way/New Way. Back in 92-93, and even 90-91, there was a lot of people with my style, for example Jose Xtravaganza, who danced with Madonna. And Derrick Xtravaganza, Damian Revlon, Jose Revlon - if you look at our styles they are all kinda similar, in terms of the music and the technicality. (What I consider new way New Way would be Javier Ninja.)

Aviance battling all the way back in 1995!! 

Who were the originators of Dramatic Vogue Femme?

Well the creators of the dramatic which were the femme queens were Ashley St Clair, Venus Mizrahi, Alyssa, they were the creators. And then Leoimy came and took it to a whole noter level. I think the first time I saw Leoimy was around 2004/2005.

The founder of Butch Queen Vogue Femme was Eugene Milan, Chi Chi Mizrahi was another, Mysterious Dior, Carlos Mugler, Taiepha Ebony...  This is the original, butch queens taking from the femme queen style. This is in about 93/94, and I stopped doing vogue femme in around 97/98. I just wasn't picturing myself falling on my back ha ha!

Did you feel alienated by Dramatics?

No not at all, I didn't feel alienated. Like, a lot of people consider me the youngest of the old school,  cos I was so young but I was battling the originals. Actually, I feel glad that I came from that as opposed to what is there now. The down point to the current scene is that everyone looks like they are doing the same thing. When you see Old Way or you see New Way, we're not doing the same things cos everyone's a little different. But these days everybody hops down they hop on their feet they jump up they shake their heads, they fall back and they get up and repeat the whole process again! So it gets a little repetitive. But on another note, Leoimy is different when she does it cos there are moves that only she can do. Moves that people are still trying to master and they can't. It's refreshing to see that from her. But I have my favourites, like Leoimy, and I love watching Dashaun. And Jarell, who used to be a Milan too, and Joey Mizrahi. Those are my favourites cos you can sit there and watch and you don't know what they are gonna do. It's un expected.

What's your advice to people who are starting out in vogue/ballroom?

I tell everyone you have to pick a style that really calls you, and that you feel comfortable with. I saw old way and New Way just called me. Everyone has that niche, and when you see a tyle you love, that's the one you should master. I tell everybody, when you have mastered one, then you can master others. It's impossible to take 5 different classes from 5 different styles cos you will be confused if you don't know one. 

So how did you get started teaching voguing classes in Europe?

I had taken a break from the balls because  a lot of the New Way people were just battling ourselves, over and over. So it kinda died down for about 3 or 4 years and it was actually an email from Russia that got me back involved. After that it was like a domino effect! I started going different places and it just took off like that. Russia were the first ones to actually throw a ball, and I still have the flyer on my phone! That was 3 years ago. Since then I have performed in Sweden, Finland, Russia, France, Germany, the UK and next year in Spain. There's always something going on!

How did you end up living in Sweden? 

Well, I ended up in Finland as I was contracted through Nordic Moves school, for a period of four months, and so I moved there for those 4 months, and that's when I met my partner. I came back to the states for a month to settle up all my personal stuff, and then I moved back to Finland and then my partner got work in Sweden so they relocated us here. It's been a rollercoaster! 
Aviance performs a solo at the Blue Coat, Liverpool as part of Homotopia 2013:

Sunday, 24 November 2013

JA'MIE KING Private School Girl

I'm like SO obsessed with this show right now it's QUICHE bitches!!! If you haven't seen it yet WATCH IT. Chris Lilley as Ja'mie King is one of the best drag performances ever IMO, I'd go so far as to say it's beyond drag, it's just incredible character acting. With some of the nastiest, bitchiest dialog on TV.

I just couldn't help making this tribute to this genius show. I hope they don't sue:

Friday, 22 November 2013

Origin of the "HA"

In case you've ever wondered where that sounds comes form. Via MikeQ's Vine:

Thursday, 21 November 2013

KIDDY SMILE Get Myself Alone video


Been sitting on this video for a few months now, and I have been GAGGING to share it! It was under wraps while "industry" stuff was getting sorted out and now it is finally here, and you can see for yurself how much it rocks. One of my clips of the year, by one of the most exciting new artists around - and keep your eyes peeled for the CVNT remix of this monster:

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

JRAPP Ill Nonsense Mix for Knightwerk Records

LA Based DJ/Producer/Label Owner JRapp sent us @knightwerkrecords a really awesome NEW mix that has lots of Exclusives, including some stuff that will be out on his Forthcoming "Groovy Grub EP" due for release soon. Make sure 2 Show support and check him out...


1. Project Pat - If you aint from my hood (Chopped and Screwed)
2. Sugardaddy - stripped to the bone
3. Cromie - ZA
4. JRapp - Scripts
5. JRapp - Grubby Groove
6. Lil Flip Freestyle Interlude (Chopped and Screwed)
7. Sage Caswell - ?
8. Phil Kieran - Saturdays (Catz 'n Dogz Remix)
9. Tasty Treat - You Got Me
10. Green Velvet, Phil Kieran - Free Yourself
11. Pearson Sound - Starburst
12. Kingdom - That Mystic
13. SPF66 - Scorpion Cache (MIke G Remix)
14. Aden - Whip
15. Recloose - Chamois
16. Jackmaster K - Chemistry

artwork by @crylattice

Monday, 18 November 2013

RUSHMORE mix for Astral Plane

rushmore art photoshop2

Via Astral Plane, House Of Trax resident Rushmore is in the mix: 

It’s always interesting to witness disparate (in both a stylistic and geographic sense) musical scenes interacting, referencing and building off of each other. It’s also no surprise that we’re big fans of collaboration and intertextuality in these parts so you can imagine how pleased we were when Trax Couture bossman Rushmore agreed to contribute to our guest mix series. On his own time, the London-based producer makes machine music pure and simple. Rushmore’s tracks are industrial in nature, drawing on London’s ‘nuum fascination to bring together grime, dubstep and techno. He also draws much inspiration from Chicago and New York, specifically the sharp, linear lines of ghettotek and the lewd abrasiveness of ballroom, both of which are clearly apparent in his productions and mix work.

Lucky for all of us, his second 12″ (also the second in Trax Couture’ss HOT series) will be released in early December. You might recognize “Bloodlines” from Neana’s guest mix last week and the rest of the EP follows similar contours, repeatedly throwing jagged rhythms and undulating sub bass at the listener. To celebrate the EP release, the House of Trax folks (Rushmore and Fools) are throwing a party in London with Georgia Girls. The function will occur on December 6 at Birthdays and is sure to feature plenty of choice cuts from the HOT crew. Stream/download Rushmore’s mix below and hit the jump for a full tracklist.

Moleskin – Witch of the west
Akito – Aqua Tryst
Rushmore – Bloodlines
Fraxinus – Vox Humanae
Rushmore – Prada
MikeQ – Pussy Cunt
Rushmore – Ice Ton
Rushmore – Ignite
M.I.A – Y.A.L.A [ MikeQ Mix ]
Moleskin – Slippin
Rushmore – Turn It On
Anthony Viscunty – Work & Pop Ha
Neana & Georgia Girls – Be More
Dance System – DS Theme
Rushmore – Parad [ Overall Dub ]
Neana – Aggro Satin Theme
Dance System ft Jamming Gerald – Move It
Georgia Girls – Baddest White
Fraxinus – All Ends
Jhene Aiko – From Time TF Chop 4 Jesse

Thursday, 14 November 2013

PURPLE CRUSH iCarry / interview

One of the great things about running a blog is that when something interesting falls into your lap, it's the perfect excuse to find out more. Such is the case with LA-based production/dance unit Purple Crush, who sent me a sweet little track called "iCarry" (below, so I dutifully sent them back some questions to explain/introduce themselves to CVNTY...

What is Purple Crush/Who is Purple Crush?

Purple Crush is the love child between Isla and Jared, a hetero married queer couple.  Purple Crush was born in Brooklyn, NY and saw success in the blog house days, touring the US and Europe extensively.  We then moved to LA where we worked for Interscope and produced music for Lady Gaga (google Purple Crush/Lady Gaga/billboard/rollingstone).  After a drawn out lawsuit, Purple Crush was then resuscitated by the underground LA queer club community, which has brought us to now.

What was the inspiration behind iCarry?

It began as a track with Cobra Krames last may in his studio in Brooklyn.  It's a term everyone is using, not just NYers, and that week i had seen Contessa (of Reign in Ratchet and Azealia Banks' "Count Contesssa") go off on twitter about how she carries.  We've known Contessa for years and i couldn't help being inspired by it.  I had actually asked her to lay a verse but it was literally 3 days before Count Contessa dropped and so she got pretty busy.  Also, I simply must shout out House of Ladosha's "I'm Carrying", because that's the original.  By spelling iCarry like an apple product is sort of calling out the soon to be over exposure of the term (sorry).

Who are the other people you worked with on the track? 

Cobra Krames is an old homie.  He always goes hard.  Rica Shay is this adorable rapper/dancer from NY (though i hear he's moving to LA).  Erik Avery literally started performing in LA 2-3 months ago and is THE buzz kid.  "iCarry" is his first recorded track.
What's the ball scene like in LA? 
Well, despite what hipsters may think, it never went away.  I work with a group called REACH LA that houses the LA ball scene, and they have kept it alive; last weekend was their annual ball and Jack Mizrahi came out to MC, it was amazing.  I throw an event called the Banjee Ball which combines the ball scene with the underground club community.  I feel like overall the ball scene in LA is about to become a landmark.

What have you got coming up in the near future? 

We're finishing an album, ICONOCLASSIC (iconoclast + classic).  It features collaborations with the above artists, as well as Raja, Josh Peace (Azealia Banks remixer), Miss Barbie Q, and Rudeness.  I'm also going to be putting together a Banjee Ball tour for next year.

More info at the Purple Crush website.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


HEAVY FUKKIN TUNE!! Don't know who these guys are, but I will def be finding out more on the basis of this track alone. Feeling it hard:

Monday, 11 November 2013

Voguing, Ballroom & Cultural Appropriation for THE QUIETUS

I originally published this piece here on CVNTY last week, but it was picked up by The Quietus, so removed, editted ever so slightly (mostly a new intro to give context) and re-published on their site. So here it is again:

My name is Niall Connolly, aka The Niallist, and I am a UK-based music producer, DJ and writer. In the past I have released my music through some notable labels (Dissident, Eskimo/Radius, Lo Recordings) but am now channeling all my efforts into the alias CUNT TRAXXX, aka CVNT.

CVNT is directly inspired by the American ballroom/vogue scene, and in particular artists like Vjuan Allure, Kevin Prodigy, Divoli S'Vere and MIkeQ, and also very much by the dancers themselves. The word "cunt" is used frequently in ball culture, as a very positive term, the subtle difference being it is an adjective and not a noun. Its connotations of femininity, superiority and unique style are why I have chosen to use it, and I have just released my fourth EP as CVNT, the Statement EP, through the Belgian label Body Work. Apart from making music and DJing, I write about vogue culture and music at my blog CVNTY.

Post-Miley Cyrus, and amidst the raging debate about "cultural appropriation", a lot of pertinent issues are being ignored in a rush to paint everything as either "good" or "bad", "acceptable" or "unacceptable". I don't believe this extreme polarity is doing anyone any favours, especially when it is adopted by people who do not have sufficient knowledge of a culture to actually decide what is or isn't acceptable, which is what happened to me very recently.

It had to happen sometime I guess: I have been accused of "cultural appropriation" of the voguing/ballroom scene. The OP, Angus Finlayson, has since been in touch with me to apologise, and to admit that he was mistaken in his original accusations. I have accepted his apology, but have decided to write about this because it raises some very interesting issues, elements that are only a small part of the overall "cultural appropriation" story, but which should be discussed anyway.
Firstly, this is not to deny that cultural appropriation happens, or even that I am completely guilt-free myself. No, I am not a Black or Latino/a or from a major city on either of America's East or West coasts. I am a white, able-bodied cismale, living in Manchester, England, though I am an Irish national (not to be confused with "Irish-American" or "Irish-anything else" - as a culture we Irish have our own pretty huge history of appropriation by others).

Cultural appropriation definitely happens. There has been a lot of discussion on social networks over the last few weeks about the "masked DJ" craze in Jersey Club, a perceived "cashing-in" on this relatively new, localised US scene by anonymous, white acts like Yolo Bear, DJ Hoodboi, Trippy Turtle and more, some of whom are from Europe. This debate was sparked by a Facebook post by Dirty South Joe, and has been raging steadily since, with some originators of the Jersey Club sound rightly apprehensive of having their hard work ignored in favour of anonymous Johnny-come-latelys not from their world hoovering up their gigs and hype. I am guessing that this ongoing discussion was in the background when Finlayson wrote his original tweet.

So no, this isn't to deny cultural appropriation, but to ask for a more nuanced, less knee-jerk approach to the term when required, and also to question the credentials of the people claiming cultural appropriation, where necessary. Of course, it seems obvious to me that this sort of logic should be applied to every and all accusations of cultural hegemony and discrimination (which, in itself, might be a luxury of my own white privilege) but right now the term "cultural appropriation" is in danger of being appropriated and used to police culture by people who actually have no qualifications, or right, to do so.

So what are my qualifications?


Sunday, 10 November 2013

bell hooks "Is Paris Burning?" 1992

If you're a fan of Paris Is Burning and vogue culture in general, then wrap your peepers around the following.

bell hooks (spelled with no capitals) is a respected writer and cultural critic, best known for her writings on race and gender. "Is Paris Burning?" is an essay by hooks from the Black Looks collection from 1992, and is essentially a critique of the film we all know and love.

I may not necessarily agree with everything hooks writes, but this essay is a very valuable reading, adding insights from a black person's p.o.v. that may be missing for many white/straight viewers of the film. I'm not going to republish the essay here but you can read it at this link:

Highly recommended! Thanks to Stephanie Davis for the link.

Friday, 8 November 2013

HOUSE OF SUAREZ Vogue Deco (Nov 16th, Liverpool)

House of Suarez proudly presents Vogue Deco and other stories, performing highlights of the company's choreographies this year and also some special performances from the House of Milan , House of Cards and also the House of ShoQlat! With a surprise appearance from the winners of our very own Realness category 2 years winning! Saturday 16th November as part of the Homotopia festival, show starts 6pm till 7pm at the Bluecoat tickets £10 & £8.00 0151 702 5324

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

TRACK MEET interview

I'M HOT 4 TRACK MEET. After two brilliant free mixtapes (featuring some of my favourite producers), some awesome looking parties, and a Tumblr full of insane pictures, I had to get the low down on who and what Track Meet is. I knew it was something to do with Ynfynyt Scroll (who I love anyways, and have covered on CVNTY before), so I sent him some questions to get his head round, to open his heart, and to inspire us all with Track Meet's universal love: 

What is Track Meet?

A DJ crew and nascent net label. We throw parties and play at other people’s parties and it all sort of runs concurrently alongside our own personal projects we have going. We’ve released two compilations thus far featuring mostly American but also some international artists, both of which we’re very proud of and both of which also encapsulate the sound we’re looking for as DJs and producers.

Who is Track Meet? 

Ynfynyt Scroll, AiR DJ and Shooknite [above].

Why is Track Meet?

Some time in 2010, Track Meet was founded by myself and Shooknite as a way to blend the worlds of music we were currently into. I came from a Detroit techno, Chicago house, Dutch electro-heavy background and he came from a fidget, garage, footwork, “bass music” type background, with southern rap being the major common denominator. We realized there was not only a lot of crossover between these music worlds, but that we were also intent on blending them rather forcefully in our sets. We began throwing parties and eventually we started throwing bigger, more immersive and curated ones and bringing in guests like Nguzunguzu and Zebra Katz and Dubbel Dutch, and some time in 2012 AiR DJ, who came from the same techno background as me and who had been my DJ and production partner for years, was integrated into Track Meet.

Another thing that was important for us in regard to why it was so necessary for us to form Track Meet is for the irl solidarity it brought us. Texas, while it does have many incredible, forward-thinking artists, is also incredibly huge and can feel very lonely for someone who has a very net-focused sensibility. We all push each other and shared ideas to form a kind of 3-person community that makes it feel a lot less isolated.

When / Where is Track Meet?

2010 – present, Dallas, TX

What the inspiration for this mixtape? 

In writing the description for the mixtape, I had no choice but to use the phrase “small-room club music”. It’s literally just the opposite of giant superclub, big-room sensibilities. Music that’s lean, evolves quickly, picks up different techniques and tendencies and casts them off just as fast. Our obsession with latin sounds comes out pretty strongly in this tape, as well as Track Meet’s grime leanings. None of this was really our doing, by the way, this is simply what our favorite producers aka the people we asked to be on this mixtape submitted. The only criteria we really gave to any of the producers who submitted tracks was that we were wanting it to have mostly latin-based sounds, but what we got was a very focused sound that mixes a lot of elements of bubbling and tuki bass with some of grime and techno. 

How did you get the artists together for it? 

Just by asking them. Pretty much everybody we asked said yes.

If TM was a film what would it be and why? 

A porn in which all the actors were wearing high performance sports clothing.

If it was a cologne how would it smell?

Like the smell of Coolwater in a locker room after the state championships.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Friday, 1 November 2013

TRUMPET & BADMAN Mix for Dummy Mag

LOVE LOVE LOVE these guys! Bringing the old school NY/NJ 90s house flavour back - as I mentioned below, their EP is one of my faves of the year and always gets rinsed when I play out. Expect an interview with these guys soon, and in the meantime here's a mix wot they dun for Dummy Mag: 

Trumpet & Badman - I Got The Love
Toyboy & Robin - Everything You Want
Montel - Can't Go Wrong
Shadow Dancer - Hydrate
Mista Men - All Of You
Pal Joey & Earth People - Reach Up To Mars (Martian Remix)
Bicep - Courtside Drama
KODIAK -  Dragon Drop (Eliphino Remix)
Trumpet & Badman - Love Keeps Changing
Leftwing & Kody - You Were (Original Mix)
Steve Poindexter - Happy Stick
Sinden - Ring Around The Moon
KODIAK -  Egyptian Kings
Trumpet & Badman - Go
Walter Ego - Heaven
Blake Baxter - Touch Me
Steve Poindexter - Chillin With The P
Trumpet & Badman - Bang Dis
Daniel Bell & DBX - Losing Control
Palace - Astral
Celeda & Danny Tenaglia - Music Is The Answer
Pal Joey & Earth People - Dance (Club Mix)

Thursday, 31 October 2013

DJ UNIIQU3 interview

Did you check that mix by UNIIQU3 for Knightwerk Records (below)? I was so impressed I wanted to find out more about Uniique and her, em, sui generis take on Jersey Club. And, you know, exact what Jersey Club IS. Uniique was kind enough to take some time out of her hectic schedule to answer the following:

I'm an alien just arrived on Earth - how would you describe "Jersey Club" to me?

Hi Alien =) Jersey Club is great. It’s some of your favorite songs beautifully remixed into music you can’t help but dance to.

Is Jersey Club more than just a sound? Would you say it's a lifestyle?

Jersey Club is way more than just a sound, it’s a feeling. When remixing you literally take a song apart and put it back together in the way you want you sound. It’s the highlight of every party in New Jersey, whether it’s the newest remix of a hot new song, an original piece, or a remix of an old school classic. The fact that you can make a living off of Dj’ing and Producing, with Jersey Club being your signature style, definitely confirms it being a lifestyle.

What is the relationship between Jersey Club and Bmore?

Jersey Club is basically an offshoot of Baltimore Club and has a tempo ranging from 130 - 140 bmp. Baltimore has more a mellow feel to it but Jersey Club is always hype. It contains more vocal chops and different concepts too.

And what do you think the connection is (if any) between JC and ballroom?

Jersey Club and Ballroom definitely share a connection. When I was a kid, they used to play Jay Karan ( Miss Jay ) all the time, and they would make numerous Jersey Club remixes of all the hottest Ballroom beats. Which also got played at the Vogue/Ballroom parties despite the separation of the two party scenes in New Jersey.

How did you get into music in the first place? What were your formative influences?

I’ve always been in love with music. I started dancing at age 5, played piano since age 7 and I used to try out for Broadway Musicals like The Lion King all throughout my childhood. Dance really influenced me because I was introduced to new sounds all the time. Classical music, Hip Hop, Rock, Tribal music and etc. It kept me very well-rounded.

And how did you get into DJing?

I got into because I was deep in the party scene in Jersey. There was nothing but male Dj’s though. So in late 2009 I decided I wanted to learn how to Dj. When I first started nobody really took me serious but I gained their respect over time.

What's been your best gig so far?

My BEST gig had to be Vermont. It was for the Young Bloodz Crew 1st Anni. The energy that I got from the crowd was so amazing and that’s what I feed off when I Dj. I literally played whatever I was feeling and made them feel the same way.

How did you get into production/remixing and what do you use?

I’ve only been producing for 2 years. I used to do vocals on a lot of Jersey Club tracks, but there were no female producers. So I decided that I’m going to learn how to produce too. I started off using Sony Acid Pro, and I still do, as well as Fl Studios and I eventually want to learn how to master Logic and Ableton.

What can we expect from Uniique in the near future?

I have a mixtape coming out in December 2013 and the release of my debut EP in early 2014! I’m also featured on numerous projects of some great producers so stay tuned!

Any words of advice to young producers on the way up?

My advice ( as corny as it may sound ) is to never give up! I don’t have enough fingers to count how many times I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. Keep grinding and never get complacent.

Follow DJ Uniique on Soundcloud and Twitter.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

DJ UNIIQU3 Evolution Mix for Knightwerk Records

 DJ Uniique (left) and Brenmar (right) warming up for Yolo Bear.

KNIGHTWERK Presents a very Special mix brought to you by the queen of Jersey Club, UNIIQU3... This mix features and pretty much showcases all of her very best tracks, Old & New. You can check out more about UNIIQU3 on all her social media outlets.

1. Grind on you - Uniique Prod By Dj Bake
2. Dripped out - Uniique Prod By Noms
3. Imma Get Hype - Uniique Prod By Felix Snow
4. Drop it low - Uniique Prod By Dj Flawless
5. Boy I gotta donk - Uniique Prod By Dj Bake
6. Booty bounce anthem - Uniique x Status Prod Dj Bake & Dj Smacks
7. Bounce left right - Uniique Prod By Dj L-Spiz
8. Fuck it up gurl - Uniique
9. WNBA Theme - Uniique Prod By Dj Bake & Dj Problem
10. When we get freaky - Uniique x M Breeze Prod By Dj Bake
11. Make it dump - Uniique Prod By Dj K Shiz
12. Imma make my booty bounce - Uniique Prod By Breeze The Producer
13. This pussy will drive you crazy - Dj Technics ft Ms Preaches (Uniique Remix)
14. Boy girl fling - Sugur Shane (Uniique Remix)
15. Digital Divaz - Uniique Prod By LOL GURLZ
16. No New Friends - Drake (Uniique Remix)
17. I wanna be with you - Nicki Minaj ft Future ( Uniique x Dj Trey Remix)
18. Im out - Ciara ft Nicki Minaj (Uniique Remix)
19. Work - Iggy Azeala (Uniique Remix )

Monday, 28 October 2013

ALINKA (Twirl, Chicago) interview

ALINKA is one half of the production/dj duo TWIRL with the wonderful Shaun J Wright. On her Soundcloud she describes herself as "music-maker and believer in magic" with releases on Classic and NBD, among others. We're excited about TWIRL here at CVNTY, and as we've interviewed Shaun here before, thought it only right to interview the other half of this duo.

Who/what is Alinka? 

Well I am Alinka :) It's actually the nick name my family calls me by. I was born in Ukraine and grew up speaking Russian, and  it's pretty common to take your name and add a ka at the end as a kind of nick name or term of endearment. It's kind of like saying Mickey for Michael and etc. Alena is my real name and I used to DJ/Produce under that when I started in 1999, but  I took some time off to be in a band and so when I began working on dance music again I decided I needed a fresh start and so Alinka was born.

How did you get your start in this crazy business of music? 

I went to a University 2 hours south of Chicago, which had a club that was bringing in Chicago DJ's every week. I started going there and really just fell in love with house music, and became obsessed with it. So it grew from there. We drove up to Chicago to go to raves on the weekends and after a year of non stop dancing I decided I really wanted to learn to mix. I worked double shifts at a water park all summer and by the end of summer I got my turntables and was immediately hooked. I didn't get to class much the following year, as I was practicing all day :) Six months later I started opening for the Chicago DJ's at the same club and soon after moved back to Chicago, and everything kind of grew from there. That was around '99-2000. 

What is Twirl and how did you get involved in it? 

Twirl is a party I throw with Shaun J. Wright at Berlin Nightclub in Chicago. We wanted to have a home to play at and bring in DJ's we really love that we haven't really seen in Chicago and so we teamed up with Scott Cramer and Berlin and they've been really wonderful and in letting us run with our vision. So far it's been really amazing, and we're looking forward to building it more and expanding to other cities. 

How did you hook up with Shaun? 

Shaun and I met in 2012 through my manager Scott.  He was friends with Shaun and Kim Ann, and knew I was a big Hercules & Love Affair fan so he made the introduction and suggested we work together. We instantly bonded over our love of Chicago House and started working on tracks and then kept going. This past spring I left my band and so we were able to devote more time to our project and it's been really amazing.  Meeting Shaun was the most life changing experience for me, in my life and my career. He's the most inspiring person I've ever worked with, and I think now I'm finally making the music I've wanted to make the past 13 years so it's pretty magical. It's a bit crazy a few years ago I was really down and thinking about quitting music all together, but I used to listen to the Hercules records and tell myself that's the music I really want to make, it got me through difficult times, and then all this kind of transpired organically. Universe is a bit mental :)

Do you see your work with Shaun as a detour/side project, or is it your main focus now? And what have you guys got coming up in the future?

It's definitely my main focus, I am working and collaborating with other people and doing solo stuff as well but I love working with Shaun and it's always going to be a priority for me. Right now we have some more remixes coming out for JD Samson's band MEN and also one for her label Atlas Chair for Baby Alpaca, both of which we REALLY love. We're also working on a few other remixes and have are shopping a lot of solo stuff. Always working on new material so that's kind of the focus, staying busy and creative. 

Who has been the biggest influence on your dj sets?

Chicago has been the biggest influence on my DJ sets. Crowds are very hard to please and DJ's in Chicago don't mess around, you really gotta be on your game to make it here as there's so much talent in house.   But if we have to name names, I think Derrick Carter, DJ Heather, Justin Long. I was a baby DJ watching those kids and I opened for Justin's night .Dotbleep at Smartbar from the time I turned 21 to around 2009 so that was kind of where I grew into myself as a DJ.

All time dance floor top three? 
Daft Punk - Burnin
Cajmere + Dajae - Brighter Days
Markus Nikolai - Bushes (Derrick Carter Remix)

All time non-dance floor top three? 

Depeche Mode - Enjoy The Silence 
Joy Division  - Ceremony
Michael Jackson Billie Jean

Who's your top style icon? 

Parker Lewis (Can't Lose.)

What does the future hold for Alinka?

A location change to NYC, lot more music, less sleep, more memories, more friends around the globe, lots of love.

Friday, 25 October 2013

HOUSE OF SHADE Hysteric Xtra-Organza Mix

"Sheer Organza" off the Statement EP featured on this lovely mix by Jan from House Of Shade:

mixed by Jan Kedves for HOUSE OF SHADE in Berlin – vinyl only – thank you for listening

1. Sade – Couldn't Love You More (Vin Sol & Matrixxman Mix) (White Label)
2. Farley Funkin Keith – Pump-N The Bass (House Records)
3. Ron Jason & Kim Ann Foxman – The Dream Project (Love Fever Records)
4. EZLV – Ordinary Thing (House Of Silk)
5. Ejeca – Together (Terrence Parker's Motor City Soul Mix) (Needwant)
6. Size Queen – Walk! (Paul's Groove) (Tribal)
7. Rick Wilhite – Drum Patterns & Memories (Moodymann Mix 2) (Rush Hour)
8. Julio Bashmore & Kowton – Mirror Song (Broadwalk Records)
9. CVNT – Sheer Organza (Body Work)
10. Hysterics – Code Switch (Club Mix) (Night Slugs)
11. Jam City – 500 Years (Night Slugs)
12. The Ride Committee feat. Roxy – Get Huh! (The New Mix) (E Legal)
13. Point G – Druker (Point G)
14. Whatever, Girl – Activator (You Need Some) (Dark & Lovely Mix) (Yoshitoshi)
15. DJ Cease – Super Crash (Tribute To Lil' Louis Rework) (Rush Hour)
16. Jamie Principle – Bad Boy (Unreleased Mix) (Trax)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

My first vogue piece for MENERGY blog, Nov 2010

Three years old! But who's counting?

This is one of my first ever pieces of writing on voguing and ballroom, which was written in preperation for the Menergy Fierce Ruling Divas Ball in Glasgow in 2010. It also acts as a summary of the different types of vogue styles, and, of course, a look at the legendary House Of Ninja:

Probably the most famous voguing house in the world is the House of Ninja, formed by the legendary Willi Ninja back (I'm guessing here) in the early 80's or late 70s. Even though drag balls already existed, as did the dance, Willi Ninja is regarded as the godfather of voguing, and is featured heavily in both the Paris Is Burning film and the "Deep In Vogue" video by Malcolm McLaren. In anticipation of our own Fierce Ruling Divas Ball on Saturday, here's a selection of some of the best moves by the house, that can also serve as a kind of introduction to how voguing (and "houses") work.

First here's "Overall Mother" Willi Ninja in Paris Is Burning. This is the perfect introduction to this dance style:

And here is the "Deep In Vogue" video, though I have to say, the quality of this upload sucks, and the extended 9 minute mix is much better (with more dancing in the video). Still, it's worth a watch as it's some of the best voguing on film, IMO:

Here's another clip of Willi doing his thing in a club, and the catwalk/fashion connections are more clear here (as are the clubby origins of the dance):

Unfortunately Willi died in 2006. Thankfully, the house is still going strong - here they are in a group performance, and this clip also gives some insight into the voguing scene and its participants.

There are three main types of voguing, "new way", "old way" and "femme". Here is Aus Ninja demonstrating old way vogue, the classic style as seen in the late 80's videos:

In a nutshell, new way is more athletic and faster, and came to prominence after 1990. Here is rising star Javier Ninja showing some new way moves:

The third type of voguing is "femme" and has to do with extreme posing (in a very feminine style), coupled with some more acrobatic moves. Here is a clip of Danielle Ninja at the House of Mizrahi's 2006 Willi Ninja-tribute Latex Ball. (Note the signature vogue "dip" move where the dancer falls on to her back but with her leg tucked up under her bum):

Voguing is also closely related to "waacking", in which hand and arm movements are the focus. Here is Javier Ninja again with an amazing performance from the same House of Mizrahi's Latex Ball. Note how the MC Selvin Mizrahi is left speechless - THAT is how you dig status:

Perhaps the most famous current memnber of the House of Ninja is Benny Ninja, after his appearnace on America's Next Top Model teaching the contestants how to pose. This clip makes explicit the links between voguing and modelling, and the dance and fashion scenes. Benny appears around three and a half minutes in (so skip to that if you're not interested in some serious mega-bitchery).

Benny was given the title of Father of the House of Ninja by Willi himself before he died. And as the saying goes, "boys learn, men teach". Here's Benny giving a demo at a workshop in Paris:

And here's one of my favourite clips of all - House of Ninja performing at a party thrown by the SoBe drinks company, with Aus Ninja (I think) dressed in a giant lizard outfit (after the company's logo). With him are Javier and Benny, and they work to Madonna's "Vogue". What starts off looking like just some people messing around soon turns into an incredible routine:

So, hopefully this will teach all you budding children what you need to know for Saturday - doors open at 9pm (fashion show at 10pm) and the voguing/drag ball takes place at midnight. So come down, look fierce, throw shade and BRING IT!