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.