Here at the Arcade, we don’t think it’s fair to call the ballroom scene a subculture anymore. Balls and houses have influenced music, art, fashion, and dance for decades, even if the originators of a style or a move aren’t often given their due. Anyone who has ever had “a good read going” has a little bit of the ballroom living in them. Balls are urban; they’re black and brown; they’re performance and music and spectacle; art and dance in and of themselves.
DJ and producer MikeQ has been living in, and making music for, the ballroom scene for a decade, and we are in love with his upbeat, off-kilter, infectious mixes. Performing live has given MikeQ an improvisational style that will have you up and moving whether you’re getting ready to hit the club or working off all your stress on the elliptical. It’s not everyday that you have an opportunity to feel like you’re at a ball; today you don’t even have to stay up until 5 in the morning and there isn’t a cover.
A ball is a gender bending performance set to a fierce soundtrack. Get a taste for MikeQ’s style and sound in the interview below. Then, listen up, loosen up, and duck walk.
How do you describe your sound?
I would describe my sound as minimal yet exciting. I just use basic sounds and try to create a voguing monster from there.
Tell us about how you came to make music your life.
Well it sorta happened indirectly, I never aspired to be a DJ or producer but after first being exposed to the club scene in 2003, I began making tracks and about a year after that I started DJing which seems like it just came with the territory.
How do you as a DJ in the vogue world get inspired by the performance? Do you mix live and respond to the performers and their actions or the vibe of the room? How does that push you as a DJ?
Well it’s actually so funny because the DJ, the dancer and the MC all work off each other. I DJ and mix by what the MC is saying, and I might add some on-the-hit stuff in reaction to what the dancer is doing. The MC is of course going off the music but is screaming chants for the dancer. And the dancer needs the music and is also inspired by the MC so it’s a trinity of performance.
The Ballroom scene seems to be at least partially about creating a small circle of celebrity, giving people access to power and fame that are traditionally excluded. Is it important, then, to have recognition from mainstream artists and musicians, or does it remain about the Ball, the performance, the houses?
I would have to say that the outside world has no effect on how we recognized amongst ourselves. It’s cool to have the celebs peep in here and there but as far as the culture goes, we work off ourselves.
What’s got you excited about music right now?
With music itself, I’m enjoying the way my career is going and I just want to see how far I can take it and what I will do, I have YET to fully showcase myself as an artist so. Whatever is to come.
What’s up next for you? Any projects we should be looking out for?
Well as of today my new 12″ EP with Dj Sliink is out and coming on digital the 22nd. I have my label Qween beat Productions, which is debuting this summer and I’m super excited for that. My DJ schedule is cute, remixes, parties, music.