"SO TIRED OF PEOPLE DOING RECORDS AND EVEN WHOLE EPS BASED ON VOGUE WHEN ALL THEY KNOW IS PARIS IS BURNING AND HAVE NEVER EVEN BEEN TO A BALL," awesome new-generation vogue beats pioneer MikeQ (appearing with Big Freedia Fri/8 at the Lights Down Low party at Mezzanine) recently posted on his Facebook. And it's true: vogueing culture and its music has been choppin, mopping, and dropping to the fore of dance music lately -- a joyful salute the the glorious pioneers of underground black gay nightlife culture, but also, unfortunately, the latest peg of "authenticity" for producers wanting to get some trendy attention.
MikeQ would know from all of that -- he's not only deeply rooted in New Jersey and NYC's ballroom scene (and regularly featured at Jack Mizrahi's party Vogue Knights), he and his Qween Beat production company have been at the forefront of a new generation of vogue beats pioneers that exploded in the past few years with their own styles. (I interviewed him about it in 2011). As new and affordable technology makes it possible for bedroom producers to create, emulate, and transform the traditional "Ha" slam beat that drives vogueing battles, the "Ha" has taken on new life. Now it's the "Ha" heard 'round the world. Ummmm....
And MikeQ's at the center of it all, with his ace mixing skills and his ear for cunty beats. I emailed him about his feelings regarding the latest voguesplosion, his future plans, and his upcoming recording session with Azaelia Banks.
SFBG Can you elaborate a little on how you feel about so many people jumping on the vogue beats bandwagon? Is it reaching criminal levels? And what do you think is being lost or gained in the spread of "vogue" as a style rather than a culture?
MIKEQ Well. Like I always say, it's nothing wrong with other people making ballroom and showing love and whatnot, whether you have been to a ball or not. But people are starting to just go a little more than they should in my opinion. EPs and entire projects based off ballroom. People always try to oppose what I say, saying things like. "It happens to all music" and "It's not my music or my choice what happens with it." And me being one of the forefront people of this sound I feel like I have to protect it from being "overused," "misused," and "exploited."
For one, money was made from Paris Is Burning, and it wasn't given back to the ballroom culture. And I don't want it to be my fault for not putting up a fight if the same thing happens with the music. Not only that, I see what's happening today in the world of dance music and I see that everybody producer/DJ jumps on these trends and completely kills them into being hated and forgotten about only for them to move on to the next. In the scene people put a great deal of time and money into being a part of this culture only for some outsiders to come in, rip it apart for the moment, and then on to the next. That's my issue.
SFBG Are you still in with the (NYC foreward-thinking bass label) Fade to Mind crew? I talked to Kingdom a little bit back and he talked about how much he admired what you were doing. Are there any upcoming releases from you on that label -- or anything else upcoming from you? And are you really going into the studio with Azaelia Banks?
MIKEQ Yes I am now and god-willing will always be apart if Fade To Mind, that is my family, not just a label for me. I do have an upcoming EP series with fellow Jersey producer DJ Sliink, as well as I will be officially launching my own label this year, my Mad Decent EP Debut and plenty of remixes and other releases here and there. And yes I will be in studio with Azealia this week. I don't know what it will be like, I just know we are going to turn it for the cunts. Lol (can I say that?)
SFBG Oh yes you can! And you're playing Sydney Mardi Gras too? Have you been doing a lot of international? What's the reception?
MIKEQ Yes, I will be in Sydney in less than a month actually. I traveled this world end of November 2011, the entire 2012 and getting ready to do it again this year. The reception is good, not many people know who I am or what ballroom is so the music is just regular good dance music to them, but there are always a handful of people who do know and are always just as excited as I am for any overseas shows.
SFBG This is your third or fourth appearance in SF in the past couple years, yes? Do you feel like your music is reaching the right audience here (or other places you perform outside the ballroom)?
MIKEQ Yes, SF is like another home to me. Like I said above about the reception to my music internationally. Sometimes it does [reaches the ballroom audience], sometimes it doesn't. I'm not really trying to say "come vogue and learn about ballroom" at my shows. But it's always different depending where I am. It's easier to get non-ballroom people to my shows than it is with the people actually in the scene.
So get on the floor Friday night, people! I know you know some ballroom and can bring it for MikeQ's amazingness.
LIGHTS DOWN LOW: MARDI GRAS TWERK ACTION WITH MIKEQ AND BIG FREEDIA
Fri/8, 9pm-3am, $16 advance
444 Jessie, SF