On a Friday night in early June, Dubbel Dutch is finishing up a set of almost elegiac dancehall to a 2/3 full loft in Los Angeles’ Fashion District. The occasion is a collaborative Fade 2 Mind/Club Chai party, the first joint venture between the LA institution and the Oakland party/space. 8ULENTINA, half of Club Chai along with foozool, is set to step up and as the first song cuts in, a palpable excitement runs through the crowd. foozool has played earlier in the night and with BBC AZN NETWORK‘s Manara and Sweyn J in the building, the crowd feels primed to be knocked off their feet. An hour later and nearly everyone is drenched in sweat, whipped into a frenzy by breakneck Middle Eastern trance, dense blends and songs from 8ULENTINA’s diaspora-focused, border rejecting DISMISS U compilation from this April. That compilation, a collaborative project with Tobago Tracks, drew together artists like DJ Haram, Nargiz, Maieli and specifically declined to conform to western standards of composition and representation. DISMISS U involves several excellent 8ULENTINA songs and if the compilation exists of a statement of intent then their set at Club Chai felt like the manifestation of that intent, of 8ULENTINA setting out their own distinct path to follow in the physical club space, as well as the more ambiguous club music locales of the internet.
“I wanted a space where I could be trans, middle eastern, queer and everything else at once instead of one tokenized element of myself which is often the case when queer and trans poc get booked.” Chatting over email over the past few weeks, 8ULENTINA lays out their positions in no unclear terms and whereas many producers might not be able to articulate the whys and whats of their music, that position isn’t afforded to a Middle Eastern femme artist working in the ever-shifting climate of the Bay Area. Whereas many have left the Bay though, 8ULENTINA has decided to stay and in their words, “the music scene has kind of exploded, people have been making some really amazing, vulnerable and dark music during these times.” From Los Angeles, the talent drain in the Bay is palpable as more and more artists move south, but with Night Forms, foozool and 8ULENTINA’s first collaborative night in conjunction with Browntourage, and now Club Chai, a warehouse series started in January, the onus is clearly on supporting local artists, expanding and reinforcing the spaces that are left. That means involving performance artists that mesh with the DJ talent and creating networks outside of the temporal limits of a club night, two goals that seem key to the Club Chai ethos.
Listening to 8ULENTINA’s Astral Plane mix immediately took us back to that night in early June, recognizing a vibe from that set and several songs, especially DJ Kantik’s “La Marimba Rmx”, in particular. The sound is raw, sensual and heavily rhythmic, bringing east coast club forms into conversation with Turkish trance and vocal pop and slightly more abstract work from 8ULENTINA. Listening to their mixes and recorded sets from Club Chai, it’s obvious why Tobago Tracks asked 8ULENTINA to curate DISMISS U and the depth of that knowledge shines through on their Astral Plane volume. Throw yourself into 8ULENTINA’s Astral Plane mix below and hit the jump for the interview and track list.
Hi 8ULENTINA, how are you and where are you answering these questions from?
Drinking water at home, its really hot in Oakland right now.
You and Foozool played down here in LA a few weeks ago at a Club Chai x Fade 2 Mind party. How was that experience? You played some hardstyle-ish stuff and your set really felt like the high energy point of the night!
Getting the opportunity to collaborate with Fade to Mind for that night was amazing, I have a lot of respect for the work they do. We had been following BBC AZN NETWORK for a while so it was great to connect in person and get the chance to DJ on the same lineup as Sweyn J and Manara. Sweyn was up in Oakland the weekend before DJing Club Chai with Prince Will so it was a nice exchange, getting the opportunity for them to see what we do in Oakland and then bring the Club Chai sounds to LA. It was me and foozool’s first LA show, it was cool to connect with artists from there that I had been chatting with from afar. Shout out Maeili from the DISMISS U comp! I had a lot of fun DJing that night, the hardstyleish stuff you heard me playing was probably the middle eastern and Turkish trance that I put into a lot of my sets. You will hear a little of that in this mix too.
By running your own nights and now curating and contributing to your own compilation, I get the sense that the existing institutions, whether they be parties, labels, media outlets, etc., don’t fit your requirements. What is the impetus to forge your own path and create your own worlds/platforms/institutions? What does the world of 8ULENTINA/Club Chai/DISMISS U look like? You also ran party called Night Forms previously and now run Club Chai with Foozool. How did you get into throwing parties? Describe a night out at Club Chai!
When I started DJing more and getting excited about using sound as the main medium for my work I noticed that there weren’t a lot of local platforms for my work to exist in. So many of my friends were DJing and making really amazing music but didn’t have space to perform. No one cared so we had to make people care somehow. All of my work is about creating diasporic fantasy spaces often through collaboration. I wanted a space where I could be trans, middle eastern, queer and everything else at once instead of one tokenized element of myself which is often the case when queer and trans poc get booked. Me and foozool really wanted to create spaces that weren’t bound to one genre or sound and we wanted to hear non western and diasporic music in the ‘club’ more often. We started with a monthly, Night Forms, our collaboration with Browntourage, at a bar in Oakland for 8 months. We wanted to move away from bar spaces because it felt really limiting to what we do. We started Club Chai in January in a warehouse in Oakland and have been doing it there ever since.
The world of 8ULENTINA is femme, dark, fast and aggressive.
Club Chai is about bringing together local artists/ crews and our out of town guests. Club Chai is a space for collaboration and dialogue even if it’s just for one night. Club Chai dismisses genres and is an event that often centers diasporic narratives women and trans artists/djs/producers.
DISMISS U was about bringing together a bunch of femme non western artists/producers onto one compilation that dismisses genres and generalizations about non western sounds.
How do you avoid and/or fight back against Bay Area monoculture? Tech-driven gentrification has been well documented, but it’s generally approached in a pretty defeatist manner. You seem to be actively building alternative platforms and creating important networks both in and outside of the geographical constraints of San Francisco, Oakland and beyond.
I was raised in San Diego and have been in the Bay for 8 years and have seen so much change due to gentrification within my time living here. Being someone who moved to the Bay from somewhere else I try to create spaces that support local artists. I feel really grateful for the Bay Area and the ways i’ve been able to grow here as a person and want to give back to a local scene that has inspired me for years. Lots of people have left the Bay Area because the Tech gentrification has made them feel like there isn’t anything here for them anymore or they have been priced out completely. Many art spaces and venues have disappeared and it’s true that it’s harder to be a creative person here (especially if you aren’t white or rich).
I don’t like the mentality that you just leave a place when it stops giving you what you want but it’s not always that easy to stay sometimes you just get pushed out. I feel like ever since things got really tense with the Tech driven gentrification people have had to fight to stay and the music scene has kind of exploded, people have been making some really amazing, vulnerable and dark music during these times. I’m really excited about lots of local artists in Oakland right now and hope that the spaces we create can continue to exist.
When working outside of the bay area we try to work with people who are also booking local artists and focusing on supporting local talent, not just huge names.
Are there other crews, parties, artists you’re excited about in the Bay?
Jasmine Infiniti is an amazing DJ and organizes amazing parties under the name New World Dysorder. Fela Kutchii, Russell Butler, lak, The Creatrix, Demongay, Turbo Sonidero, XUXA SANTAMARIA, Soisy, Shruggs… the list goes on
In a Spark Magazine interview, you spoke about wanting to bring in performance artists and live acts to Club Chai. Who are some artists you’d like to work with and how would you work them into the existing framework of the party?
We had duo XUXA SANTAMARIA perform at the 3rd Club Chai and it was amazing to have live vocals and performance in the room. I feel like Club Chai reached a different level of intimacy that night, when XUXA was performing there was a focus in the room that was different than the DJs sets. It was less about being lost in your own world during someones set and more about being present together for a performers vulnerability. Something about live performance gives me the opportunity to really focus on the individuals who are present that night and experience an different pace with everyone. We really bonded that night, wanting to exchange stems for remixes and continue to have conversations about each others work. We are hoping to incorporate more live acts and vocalists into Club Chai but want to make sure we do it right and book them on lineups with DJs that have a relationship to what they do.
As far as releases go, what do you have planned over the next few months? Do you have any interest in releasing something more longform at this point?
I’m always working on tracks and I’m working on some ideas for curatorial projects in the future. I’m interested in releasing an EP or album but i’m not in a rush to put out a long solo project right now, I really want to take my time on that. I’m really excited to collaborate with more producers and learn a lot from that process. Also excited to DJ more shows outside of the Bay Area.
What medium that you haven’t worked in yet would you like to/plan on working in?
It would be cool to make my own instrument. I’ve worked in video a lot in the past but definitely want to do more collaborative video work in the future that involves sound.
Where do you generate the most trash, either physically or digitally?
I take a lot of screenshots i guess sometimes that becomes digital trash but I keep a lot of shit on my desktop.
undercover – 8ULENTINA
Dummy Track – Why Be, Elysia Crampton, Chino Amobi
patience feat ABOSAHAR – 8ULENTINA
knife – 8ULENTINA
Medusa- Immortal Instruments
My Betrayal – Kilbourne
Medusa – Immortal Instruments
SAY IT RMX (ANJUBLAXX REMIX) – TORY LANEZ FEAT BLAK DIAMOND
Çalkala – Demet Akalın
Ugly (Instrumental) – Bubba Sparxxx
KIFESH (STIEKZ-O-MATIC AFRO RMX) – Evn Alias
la marimba rmx – DJ kantik
SUGARFALLS – LSDXOXO
فيلو ☼ حوده ناصر ☼ التوني ♫ ريمكس(اسلام فانتا) توزيع الفيلو جديد – FELO
Turkish Lute – DJ Kantik
Stick Talk Remix – Dj Aaron
How I Get It – DAWN
2685 – DJ MARFOX
Banhab Allaab – El Madfaaagya
16 Anos de Idade ( DJ MAA ) 2016 – Mc Kalzin Mc Jhon Mc Dingo
Chant Con Sal (Oblivion Edit) – Bianca Obivion
higher x YAH CUNT – 8ULENTINA EDIT (Rihanna + ANGEL-HO)