MikeQ is the undisputed Qween of the world’s most vivacious genre – Ballroom. Since the genre’s conception in the 1960s, in under the radar clubs across America, Ballroom has become synonymous with the most high-key, turnt up functions on the planet, despite remaining largely low-key as a genre. But at the forefront of purveying both voguing and Ballroom is this New Jersey DJ – who has pushed the genre to wider audiences by slaying on labels like Fade to Mind and New York’s GHE20G0TH1K party.
The Qween Beat producer has blessed us with an exclusive mix ahead of his performance at 3’Hi’s upcoming event in Berlin this Thursday. Listen to the vicious, hour-long ride of vogue-filled heat below. It’s NASTY, and it’s CUNT.
MikeQ also spoke to us over email about being Ballroom’s foremost pioneer, his musical and style icons and the commodification of the New York Ballroom scene, which has become increasingly prevalent throughout popular culture in recent years. Read the Qween’s speech below.
You’re Ballroom’s foremost ambassador. What initially made you so passionate to champion the genre the way you do today?
Well I never had intentions on being a champion of this amazing thing called Ballroom music as you say, it all sort of just happened from my initial exposure which was at the end of 2003. From that exposure the dance and music I heard collectively just took me in and made me want more. And then time has spoken for itself.
Tell us some more about your upbringing, and how it shaped your sound.
Born and raised in New Jersey, raised up with lots of family around, I’ve mostly been and still a very quiet, soft-spoken and reserved person. I was more of a science nerd coming up and then growing up in NJ with the sounds of house music, Baltimore and Jersey club that beat driven / dance sound is what is embedded into me. So that combined with what I see in Ballroom has made… me.
If you can single it down, what’s the one most essential thing to your creative process?
Being alone .. I’m weird like that. I am very personal in all ways so that for sure.
Who are your musical – and style – icons?
Musical icons.. man I mean I glorify Aaliyah, Missy, Timbaland, that whole crew. Vjuan Allure, DJ Tamiel, Larry Levan, Junior Vasquez, DJ Paulo, I could go on a bit. Style wise I don’t think I ever had style or was into it like that, but I do have my things lol. I must say my best friend Michael is the most stylish person I know. NOT NOBODY dresses better than that man.
Talk to us about how your connections with two of our favorite imprints – Fade To Mind & the GHE20G0TH1K party – came about.
With Fade to Mind I had met Kingdom on a mutual gig we had for a friend, and he already knew me and things kinda picked up from there. Then GG came soon after in 2011, I remember when that came along. Enjoying parties re-entered my life. They are both amazing teams and family for sure.
Much has been written about the commodification of the NY Ball scene, is this something that you have noticed firsthand? If so, is anything being done to prevent it? Or how has it changed over time?
Of course. I mean I’ve seen it in many forms from the music to the dance to fashion even as far as to just have “Vogue” on a hat or shirt. Our language “Kiki”, “Yassss”, “no shade”, “what’s the t” being just everywhere on the TV… Videos are being made .. like it’s a lot. Prevent? I can’t think of nobody but myself and few others speaking on those things or at least from music’s behalf. But it’s a large very open culture right now and it’s being spilled out all over but I try my best to do MY part.
What’s been the highlight of your tour? Which is the wildest crowd?
So far this tour it’s only been 4 gigs and a secret one.. I think my highlight was in Chicago just before I left the states and it was at Northwestern University and the most hype crowd I’ve seen in a while.
What are your plans for the rest of 2017?
The rest of this year touring, producing and continuing my 10 year journey on having my own imprint Qween Beat, so we will be having many releases and ya know everything I’m available to do.
Sum this mix up to us in one sentence.
(I actually forgot what the mix sounds like so I couldn’t honestly answer that right now lol)
Maybe I’ll just say.. ITS NASTY, and it’s CUNT!
3’Hi’s last mix we hosted came courtesy of one of the best grime DJ’s in the business – Grandmixxer. Listen to him serve up a slice of new-gen grime right here.