The Highsnobiety Soundsystem Curator Series invites metropolitan DJs, curators and musicians to guide us through the unmissable sights, sounds, stores, and food spots of their city – each time with an exclusively curated playlist. Subscribe to Highsnobiety Music on Spotify and Apple Music now, and get on the list to see Aurielle spin alongside Rico Nasty and Siobhan Bell at Elsewhere, Brooklyn, September 5th here.
Originally from Atlanta, Aurielle Sayeh is a multi-hyphenate creative and curator whose work touches an entire spectrum of where fashion and music intersect. Formerly Head of Music at VFILES, Aurielle now calls New York City home, spending her days working on art direction, music supervision, and artist relations with adidas and her nights DJing and taking in the city’s sleepless nightlife.
Ahead of Aurielle’s performance at our next Highsnobiety Soundsystem event at Elsewhere, we visited her hood to find out what she thinks makes New York so special and to speak to her about some of the tracks she’s selected for her ‘Sounds Like NYC’ playlist.
What do you think makes New York different to any other city on Earth?
It’s funny because I have wanted to live here since I was a little girl – I thought I wanted to be a singer on Broadway (I can’t sing). My attraction to New York has always been that it really is a melting pot. I just moved back a year ago following my mother’s sudden passing after living in Europe the last seven years. I think coming back to America, in this political climate, made me feel that one reason why New York is so special is that it is really a representation of what most Americans actually dream of.
My father is Persian and moved to America when he was 18 for his education, and my mother, being of African American decent and from the South, made me feel so connected to being around different cultures. It’s the same thing that made me love living in Paris so much. A lot of cities tend to segregate the different races into neighborhoods, but people do a really great job of participating in cohabitation in New York, even with all the gentrification.
What spot in the City do you never get tired of visiting?
My “spot” has always been Imagine Circle/ Strawberry Fields. I have been a huge Beatles fan since I was like 11, thanks to one of my childhood best friends Nina – who’s also a New Yorker. I followed John Lennon’s story a lot and really love the teachings of Yoko Ono, so I’ve attended his passing/birthday celebrations there many times over the last 10-12 years, and even seen Yoko a few times!
There’s something peaceful about Central Park too. It’s not easy to get over there if you live in Brooklyn, but I definitely go there to think when I’m sad. There’s a rock I like to climb up on – no matter the season, or time of day – and just people watch or look at how beautiful the city is.
What restaurant do you go to when you’re tying to impress?
Honestly that’s a hard question!! I love dinner at Tacombi in Soho or Fort Greene, or brunch at Five Leaves in Williamsburg. I am a huge fan of micheladas, because I don’t really drink, but Tacombi gets it right. Brunch at Five Leaves is super packed always but well worth the wait. I always get the Big Breakkie.
Where do you go for comfort food?
Well as I was grieving a lot this year as you can imagine, and Mexican food is my top top favorite – I think I have tried every spot on Uber Eats, and I still have to say Tacombi. They have gotten all my money this year. My mom was always craving Mexican when she was pregnant with me so I guess I came out of the womb loving spicy food. When you’re grieving you tend to lose your appetite sometimes, and I think it’s the only way I’ve eaten this year.
Which store do you go to when you’re looking to spend big?
Well I am not really a shopper, believe it or not. I’ve kind of outgrown my sneakerhead phase, and because you end up consuming a lot of free product being an “Instagram-y” person, I actually believe it’s pretty wasteful to shop on top of that.
That said, I recently made a pretty big end of summer/early fall drop at a store called Reformation. Their clothes are basics that last a while and their company focus structure is on sustainability. I also just feel like a woman in their pieces, which is something I am working on regarding my wardrobe. I love Glossier too, but I normally order online and just do a pick up.
Where in New York do you go if you’re looking for some peace and tranquility?
Lately, since moving back to America, I have discovered Fort Greene. The park and the neighborhood, it’s so amazing.
However, I find it hard to have peace and tranquility in New York. There’s always too much buzzing energy. If I really need a get away and can’t leave the city I book an hour and a half massage at Pure Qi Spa in Brooklyn. It’s a family owned Chinese spa and I just love the guy that owns it. He’s super friendly and makes jokes, and the massages are affordable and super effective as well.
What’s your most coveted grail (clothing / possession)?
If you had of asked me this last year I would have said my sneaker collection, but since my life has changed so much in the past 12 months, and I have just gotten into my mid thirties, I would say nothing!
After living abroad (and also still having all my stuff in storage overseas) I have learned that everything comes and goes. I value books, and love clothes, sneakers, and my beauty products (I have a lot) but they are all replaceable. I do still geek out over new pairs of sneakers, but now that I’m in the game I see so many pairs weekly and the excitement is waning. I used to stand in line for drops, or finesse getting special pairs and then love opening boxes with the “new shoe smell,” but as far as possessions go I have my mom’s class ring from 1980 and her pageant/model book. I look at it whenever I need to.
I would also probably say my Pioneer DJ controller I really love being able to mix and create in my home.
What 5 items do you never travel without?
My phone, headphones/beats pill, Glossier jelly face wash & priming moisturizer, my tiger balm, and at least one sheet face mask.
Briefly talk us through your playlist – what are some of the tracks that remind you of NYC, and why?
“Jewelry” – Blood Orange
Dev is a homie of mine, and I feel like he’s the epitome of a New Yorker. This song is one of my favorite “subway” songs. I hate riding the metro so I like to play a mental game and make a movie soundtrack out of it. When Dev and I have chilled in the past we just go to book stores or walk around the city and I feel like his music really gets to essence of that feeling of being a New Yorker.
“Lover’s Rock” – Sade
I’m a die hard Sade fan first off, but this song is special. The lyrics she starts with are: “I am in the wilderness, you are in the music in the man’s car next to me…” for me that represents having to be around so many people at one time and that energy. I am super introverted so this city can be a lot, but there are pockets and moments where even in the chaos you can pick up on beautiful serendipities. Also Lover’s Rock bar in Bedstuy is a gem!
“Purity” – A$AP Rocky, Frank Ocean
This song is another train soundtrack song for me. It just has a vibe to it. And of course, A$AP mob and their community are such a huge part of this city.
“The Real Her” – Drake
I lived in NYC last during the Take Care album phase, so this track just gives vibes. I love the lyrics “the weekend’s here, started it right even if you only get part of it right / Live for today, Plan for tomorrow, Party tonight, Party tonight.” The best advice for living here, or at all!
“Fool’s Paradise” – Meli’sa Morgan
I listen to a lot of old music that came out practically when I was born, and I feel like it’s thanks to my parents that I get to make a living off of being a music encyclopedia! This song is from 1986 and the lyrics to me reflect the music industry and the cities we as creatives thrive in; but at a cost. It’s not all fun and games, you have to be careful and mindful, and make a lot of sacrifices when it comes to living a so-called ‘normal’ life. “Bright lights and big cities / Don’t go to my baby’s head / You know I love you, baby / But you choose this life instead.”
“No.9” – Playboi Carti
I’m a teenage boy stan for Carti and his music’s energy. For me this is a driving in NYC song for sure. Cruising. It gets me hyped up for sure.
“Hot Shower” – Chance the Rapper ft MadeinTYO & DaBaby
Winters in NYC. That’s all. If you know, you know.