In the words of Goddollars, co-founder of Los Angeles polysexual disco A Club Called Rhonda, “we’re currently experiencing a total mainstreaming of dance music in America.” Fewer and fewer LGBT and minority stakeholders control clubs and record labels, while the festival circuit has effectively sublimated dance music’s distinctly black, gay heritage into something more palatable for the $2000 Coachella ticket buying masses. Immerse yourself in Divoli S’vere‘s music for a few minutes though and you’d be hard-pressed to agree with the above statement. Raised in New York and presently residing in Atlanta, the dancer, producer, DJ, vocalist and graphic designer has become one of the mostly hotly tipped artists in the New York-centric ballroom/vogue realm, although he would attest that he’s “not in the scene.” And while Divoli did come up as a dancer, his production acumen has more in common with Brick Bandit originals Tim Dolla and DJ Tameil than the slower, more linear form of music oft-played at balls (for a quick rundown of contemporary ballroom lingo and history, see here).
Divoli grew up in the mixtape rap and dubstep era of American music after all and it’s readily apparent in his music and DJing, which is often comprised of manic quick chops and an un-compromising ferocity. “Ckuntinomksz”, now four volumes deep, is Divoli’s free mixtape series and sounds like the meeting of DJ Mustard, late-1990s Dance Mania and a mutant extrapolation of Masters at Work. The mixes have a strong pop sensibility and often include contemporary rap and R&B, but Divoli’s slinky, licentious vocal work generally dominates both his single and mixtape work. His laugh, often utilized as a producer tag, has become ubiquitous in Fade 2 Mind mixes over the past few years and Divoli has become one of the most sought after vocalists in the greater ballroom world. MikeQ, the F2M representative and ballroom ambassador, certainly noticed and snapped Divoli up for his Qween Beat imprint and the two collaborate often.
With the “mainstreaming” (read: whitening) of America’s dance culture in mind, Divoli S’vere and Qween Beat rise above the bullshit, not only because of their superior musical aesthetic, but because of the all-inclusive, collaborative, open-source and DIY ethos they bring into what they do. The production, vocals, visual design and dissemination are all doen in-house and all done right. You don’t need to be able to afford bottle service to enjoy, produce or play out ballroom, but you do need to understand its roots and respect its musical and dance form. Without further ado, Divoli ran through 26 manic tracks in just over half an hour in his Astral Plane mix. You’ll hear plenty of the holy trinity, Beyonce, Britney and Rihanna, as well as unreleased bits from various Qween Beats artists. After all, anyone can enjoy ballroom music, but don’t expect your duck walk to be described as ckunt unless you really bring it.
Side note: the art work was devised as a collaboration between our team and Divoli : )