PLF featuring Brooklyn-based DJ ILLexxandra happens this Friday at Strange Matter
ILLexxandra has made a name for herself around the world, playing from Tokyo to Dublin, with accolades from the likes of TropicalBass.com and Marcus Dowling. She’s even had a night on the UK’s dance station BBC1. A Burning Man Veteran, ILLexxandra brings the party where ever she goes, and that includes Smatter this Friday.
GayRVA/RVAMag President John Reinhold caught up with NYC’s ILLexxandra to talk a bit before her appearance later this week.
Lexi have you ever played Richmond Va before?
- I been to Richmond a number of times, but never actually played Richmond before which blows my mind right now. So yeah, this will be the first time I have played out in RVA.
Where else do you generally play when your performing, and can you tell us a bit about where you’re from?
Sure I have been living in NYC longer than anywhere else, I live in Brooklyn at this time. I’m a full time Dj and play regularly, I play in New York a lot and all over the eastern seaboard quite a bit. I also tour sometimes with some decently long tours on west coast, Europe and Japan. I have a NYC residency at the McKittrick Hotel a pretty well known spot with long running “Sleep No More” interactive show. So yeah thats just some of it, I do a lot stuff.
What would you say if someone asks you what you play when you play out?
So thats always its a difficult questions, as not to box anyone in for any particular sound. The reason I’m a Dj is because of my tracks I have worked on, and my sound really comes about because Im a jack of all trades. I am so very enthusiastic about collecting most things, so this answer that I sometimes say is “most things, not Trance”. I started out with records and soul 45’s – so that my base with funk. Although I have spent most of my career with music that is not linked to funk directly, it really strongly informs everything I do. I take this stuff way to seriously by the way. A lot of my career is spent with world music or global music. So, ok lets see let me give you a concise answer which is – “I play local music”. Which is to say its not exotic by any means, but music that represents a moment in time to you. I play tropical bass parties in DC, and lots of the music we play can be from all over — but it has that local feel whether we are playing New Orleans bounce or global beats.
So if you could explain to me your Dj name (ILLexxandra), and yourself as not just as a Dj but as a person. If your conformable talking about the personal changes and challenges that you have faced recently.
Yeah sure – my pervious Dj’s name were male or male oriented. I needed to change my Dj name from necessity. But I used it as an opportunity to refocus my efforts. I mean very similar to suffering dysphoria, my Dj identities were that of a chameleon adapting to peoples sounds. Which is the exact kinda thing I don’t like about music and art. But I was doing this to myself, and I was doing good art but I was doing other peoples work. So I brought it down to one identity and honed my sound to exactly who I am, that screamed me all the time. So I did a lot of thinking and come up with an artistic plan. I wanted to hide less, so I found a name that referenced my real name and my previous name which it does. And a name that has a link to transition and femininity, cause of the two xx basically.
So has any of this has effected your Dj career and sound at all?
Well no, some people have accused me of having a more feminine sound now. But I think thats due to two things. First its misogyny on some level, I think or have heard other women described as having a feminine sound before, and that makes makes no sense. And when I hear its said its like what? – I heard that said about Ana Sia one time and she is like one of the hardest slamming Dj’s there is, she rolls hard for real. In no way does she lend to that idea. Its just good, not necessarily feminine. With the emergence of future bass and such, its just something that appeals to people like me, though some people might think it softer or dreamier. Some people might think those things are linked, but its just whats going on in music now.
I have always found it hard when people seem to get used to a certain sound from you. If your a Dj you can constantly change, and constantly find new music and sounds. But sometimes people seem to want the old sound, or what they come to expect from you.
Thats a challenge of people in our position, they want something reliable and want to consume music. And thats always a hard gap for me to bridge. But I have solved that in different ways through my transition, and solve it in different ways now. We just do our best to be whole artists and not just a caricature of ourselves. Thats a part of why mainstream artists make it as they do, because they are digestible packages. There is merit to that of course, but in some ways it works against art.
So how do you know the PLF crew you’re playing with in RVA?
- How do I not know them (laughs). I guess fundamentally you would say through burning man like events and parties. But it has blossomed far beyond that and into a real fundamental kinda love. I deeply admire what they do, and what individual people represent and hard work they put in. You know the attention to art and community can not be overlooked, I think it as really kinda noble. I like playing with PLF because they are fun overall, accept all people, and really push the limits of music and art.
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