HOW HAS YOUR BACKGROUND AFFECTED YOUR LIFE/ WORK?
I grew up in a very religious household. Both of my parents were preachers and were socially conservative, so needless to say, being queer and trans was not a good look in our household. Even though I was a raging tomboy as a young girl, my queerness was not something I fully recognized in myself until my mid twenties, and I didn't allow myself to fully express my gender until recently. The only media coverage I saw of trans people as a child were horror stories, and I literally thought only white people could be gay. I was scared and didn't have a clear vision of who I was. I'm thankful that my family gave me the space I needed to be that tomboy, because if I didn't, I would've been an incredibly sad child. But even with the freedom I had to be butch, coming out under their roof as a teen was not an option. So I had to move away to deal with my sexuality and gender on my own terms, and this took a lot of energy and work in a time when there were no visible black queer/trans mentors.
Luckily, my house was also always filled with music, and virtually everyone in my family did something music related whether it was singing, playing instruments, or choir directing. My sister was obsessed with New Edition and the Sugar Hill Gang, and my brother couldn't get enough Prince and Morris Day. My parents would also blare gospel and Motown all the time – these were my earliest influences and there was always loud music playing somewhere in the house. I grew up playing lots of instruments and was a major band nerd; marching, concert, jazz bands. I even used to play hand bells and sing in choirs, and as I got older I played in indie bands, and hosted radio shows in college where I was first introduced to a lot of the electronic music that serves as a base for the Djing I do now (trip hop, jungle, acid, house, etc.).
Nowadays, I'm starting to see the fruits of my labor in terms of reconnecting with my family, as challenging as it is. I think standing firm in who I am has made it so much easier for me to accept the fact that I can't please everyone, and to see the value in agreeing to disagree. I'm thankful that my family is able to rally around me, even if they don't always understand me. In turn they are helping me realize that my assumption that they wouldn't love me because of my sexuality and gender was wrong. We're all kind of struggling together, and it's a beautiful thing.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU (UPCOMING PROJECTS)?
A few months ago, I had a doctor's appointment where I had to undergo a nerve test. Basically the doctor attached a bunch of electrodes to my arms and legs to make sure my nerves were firing properly. To do this he had to send mild currents of electricity through my body, and the electrodes were attached to a machine which would emit a noise when I moved my arms and legs. I could literally hear my nerves firing, so for my second test I got permission to record it and plan to make a larger video/sound piece with it. I'll be working on this over the next several months.
I also have a few unfinished tracks that I need to put some work into. I've been avoiding music production for the longest time but I need to get over myself and put some music out. Overall, I'm looking forward doing less club gigs and more collaborations with my DJ/production/art collective, KUNQ and just more production work in general; music, new media art, and other career building maneuvers.
Photo: Dan Gutt