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Vogue Evolution: Philly’s DJ Delish leads queer electronic music into the future

DJ Delish | photo courtesy of the artist

The hope for underground music fans with regards to vogue and ballroom culture leaping into the mainstream via FX television drama Pose (on the stiletto-adorned heels of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race, and other national TV shows highlighting colorful, performance aspects of the LGBT communities) is that the DJ’s, producers, dancers and emcees involved in crafting and embodying the culture can get a little shine.

Believed to have its origins in 1960’s Black and Latino discos and cabaret clubs, the vogue counter-culture — so named for the dancers who took many of their poses and awkwardly-arched, angular dance moves from the images in Vogue and other fashion magazines as a means of aspirational appropriation — moved from those venues and into underground clubs, community centers, and basements. The music was at first pumping, hard-edged and lesser known disco tracks (like Cheryl Lynn’s “Too Be Real” or Loose Joint’s “All Over My Face”) and eventually, house (Marshall Jefferson’s “House Music” and Derrick May’s “Strings of Life”).

As generations changed, techno-infused house music became the go-to dance beat for vogueing, with songs like Robbie Tronco’s “Walk 4 Me,” and particularly “The Ha Dance” — a rousing, swirling track by Masters at Work that compliments the equally swirling, ninja-like movements of the dancers. As DJ’s like Vjuan Allure (often considered the father/mother of “the Ha” remix movement) became frustrated by dancers only wanting a distinct collection of songs — those songs that had throbbing tribal beats; sassy vocalists chanting; horn stabs to accentuate the ultimate vogue move, the death drop — on the runway or dancefloor. And so, the Ha Remix genre was born.

 As a member of the current generation, DJ Delish‘s music takes the sound beyond what even her influences could have imagined. Her tracks are laced with a deep, resounding soulfulness that speaks to her Philly-injected approach to music. Underneath the slamming club beats are the warm bass and piano lines in songs like “U,” all riding on sinister string arrangements.  But don’t get it twisted: when it’s time to slay, Delish has the ability to do just that — the afro-beat inspired thump of “Men are Doomed” is laced with perfectly timed vocal snippets and an artful placement of the ever-present crash from the aforementioned “Ha Dance” that is the backbone of the genre.

Ironically, it’s on “Bag” that Delish really shines. It’s a simmering, playful piece of summery electronic soul that doesn’t ignore chillwave’s reinvention of the genre, but instead transcends it by paying closer attention to modern R&B’s roots. With its sweetly irreverent lyrics reminiscent of Diana Ross’s mid-’70’s, matter-of-fact storytelling on songs like “Upside Down,” words embedded in assured West Philly vernacular, Delish’s voice sits perfectly amongst the stammering synths and boom bap of the bass drum. We sat down with Delish to chop it up about beats, inspiration and where queer electronic music will take us in the future. Continue reading →

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DJ Delish aka Miss Boi channels frustrations into new tracks “Overstay” and “Bag”

DJ Delish | photo via djdelish.bandcamp.com

One of my favorite Philly DJs, DJ Delish, has stepped out with her singer alter-ego Miss Boi and released a pair of new tracks — “Overstay” and “Bag.”

The first of the two songs, “Overstay,” is a darkly anthemic, 90s-inspired, electronic hip hop anthem that is the musical manifestation of being utterly fed up. Continue reading →

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Five artists to see at O:O Our Black Arts Festival this weekend

Kingsley Ibeneche | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

O:O Our Black Arts Festival is this weekend, February 9th and 10th, at Circle of Hope in South Philadelphia. The two-day festival welcomes people of all ages, shapes, colors, genders, and orientations. There will be visual work, poetry, and performances from various artists, which you can read more about below.  Continue reading →

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Andre Altrez dabbles in atmospheric trap on new No Come Down project

Andre Altrez
Andre Altrez | photo by BlackMythPhoto | twitter.com/BlackMythPhoto | courtesy of the artist

After catching our ear with the mellowed-up, jazz-tinged Sprout EP, Philly rapper and producer André Altrez switches up gears for his latest, No Come Down — a gripping set of trap bangers that flaunts and flexes his skill. Altrez co-produced the EP, which is currently streaming on Bandcamp, in collaboration with Scrap, Butch Dawson and Ben Thomas. The tone is highly contemporary (notes of Migos and 21 Savage make their way to the surface) but Altrez takes the set in alluring and atmospheric directions, adding a psychedelic wash to the hazy dreamscape of “Mystic Thots” as well as the unflinching dose of reality that is “Consequences.” Continue reading →