In addition to GHE20 G0TH1K, the transnational warehouse party that DJ Venus X, a 25-year-old New Yorker, throws with her musical partner $hayne, she’s also working on an album to be released at the end of the year. “At GHE20G0TH1K this year I’m going to be DJing for the first time in Mexico, Brazil, Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, and Switzerland—and this is all based on grassroots action,” she says. “My fans have learned about me through word of mouth and through this storytelling process.” Here, Venus X explains the philosophy behind her schizophrenic sound, the dangers of the internet, and why it’s important to think about where we’ve been in order to get where we’re headed.
Can you tell me about the projects you’re working on right now?
Right now I’m just DJing a lot, I’m writing a lot of music, and throwing my parties and working with different producers. It’s evolving from this underground thing to there being a solid sound coming out of it. And getting my vocals to a place where I can be the artist that delivers that sound. We’re working on an album to release at the end of next year, I also have an EP that I’m working on with Fatima Al Quadiri, and Asma Maroof of Nguzunguzu. One is from Kuwait and one is from India, and I’m Dominican and Equadorian, so together we’re Future Brown. That’s just like a fun dance/electronic project that we’re working on, and I’m rapping a lot.
What are you in this for?
And it’s all about people—it’s not like I get to make money, but at least I can go to a new city and get 500 new kids to listen to me. And the reality is that people need it. Because music is programming. We listen to everything that’s on the radio, but as much as we might like it, they’re all guilty pleasures, none of that is good for us. It doesn’t encourage us to do the right thing with our time, with our money, with our life. And kids just need a little bit of something else sometimes to remind them that in the midst of Young Money and all the stuff on the radio that we love to hate and hate to love, there’s also something else, this whole new generation of artists that are making sounds that are really exciting and futuristic, and telling stories that have been rejected from the mainstream forever.
What do you think about past eras in music?
I think that the bridge has to happen constantly between past and future in order for the present to be honest. We’re living so much in the present that we’re not thinking about the future and we’re not thinking about the past. If we think about the past than it holds us accountable. People in the past made way better music than what’s on the radio right now. So if we’re constantly thinking about the past, then we have to make music that’s that good. But if we’re also thinking about the future, then we also have to make music that our children are going to be able to listen to.Basically, kiss a girl because you like it even though you’re straight and you’re just pretending to be gay. We have to think about our future, we can’t just fucking sit and be all caught up in the present, as if the reality is that you only live once. No, the reality is you live until you’re eighty unless you kill yourself via alcohol or HIV or driving drunk or whatever. You’re going to live a long life. That’s kind of the problem with music now, it’s too focused on the now and not enough on where we’re coming from. You have to know where you come from to know where you’re going. And a lot of people don’t know where we’re coming from. I think people should be nostalgic. And that’s where GHE20G0TH1K comes in, we play everything.
What’s one positive thing you think is going to come out of all of this?
I think artists are going to become more autonomous because labels can’t even give them what they used to be able to give them, which is access to money. The point is to make something that you don’t need to invest that much money in to make it back. Because there’s really no art in it. The art should be in giving someone the resources to live and make something that’s so beautiful that people can connect with it, not something they have to be programmed via advertising to buy into it. All you can sell is access to your performance, to you. And so in order to get good at that you have to be willing to do it all the time and get over the fears. You can’t do that in a studio, in isolation. You can’t write a song that will make people look at you and believe everything you’re saying. That’s something that you have to do from human to human, you know? And that’s another reason why the internet is a really scary thing, because the humanity is lost via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr. People are not interacting with each other, they’re not seeing each other’s facial expressions, they don’t even read. It’s not healthy for the future, because they’re not going to know how to interact with other people, and they’re also not going to know how to make money when everything is reproducible online. I haven’t recorded one thing in the last 2 years. People have told me at my sets, the things I remix live, that they’ve never heard anything like it and I’m like, it was just for you. That ten dollars you paid to get in there got you that one-of-a-kind experience and it’s not for anybody else. I don’t record, I don’t remember it, I didn’t practice it, and I’m going to do it differently tomorrow.
Styling by Kat Wennekamp.