Monday, 1 September 2014

QWEEN BEAT mixtapes piece for FACT Mag

My latest ballroom piece for FACT Magazine is a look at 3 recent mixtpes put out by heavy hitters at MikeQ's Qween Beat label - namely Beek, Byrell The Great and Divoli S'Vere:

What Brick Bandits are to Jersey club and what Teklife is to footwork, Qween Beat is to ballroom.

That is, unquestionably the number one production and djing crew, who set the standard for the music and culture in a scene that’s currently booming in popularity.

Headed up by the formidable MikeQ, resident at New York’s weekly dance showdown Vogue Knights and recording artist for LA’s Fade To Mind, Qween Beat counts among their ranks a dozen different members, with skills ranging from the usual production and remixing, to DJing and MCing (in particular the uptempo, in-your-face styles known as “commentating” and “chanting”, unique to ballroom and distinct from other rap-based vocal forms).

This past summer, three of the main members of Qween Beat – Divoli S’Vere, Beek and Byrell The Great – have all released their latest mixtape installments, showcasing each producer’s individual style and their take on the ballroom sound. While the genre is very much rooted in ’90s house and current East coast American club styles – with recognisable signifiers like the Kenlou “HA”/krash and vocal snippets from the like of Kevin Aviance (“cun-ty”) and Loleatta Holloway (the instantly recognisable “woop” vocal from Armand Van Helden’s “Witchdoktor”) – there is much more to ballroom than just a specific set of samples married to a minimalist club/house aesthetic.

I spoke to Divoli, Beek and Byrell to get the low down on what makes a track “ballroom”, but also to find out how exactly these talented producers differ from each other, and what else the Qween Beat crew has in store for us in the future.


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