Photo by Nick Blu
Last Friday, Qween Beat’s inaugural Qweendom compilation hit the streets; 11 tracks from a who’s who of contemporary ballroom greats. The release runs the gamut of ballroom style, a mixture of hard-as-nails production, fierce vocals and a reverent sense of history that manifests itself in both subtle and literal ways. In that sense, no artist epitomizes Qweendom more than Byrell the Great and on “Bubble Drop”, a collaboration with Kassandra Ebony, WARREN B. and Princess Precious, and “Legendary Children”, the New York-based DJ effortlessly matches a distinctly modern production approach with classic sounds. Which is pretty much what Byrell has been doing since emerging as a producer a few years back, working extensively with the likes of MikeQ, Cakes Da Killa and Venus X to establish a position as one of ballroom’s rising production stars and most sought after DJs.
Specifically, Byrell is one of the top DJs in the kiki scene, a counterpart to the main ballroom scene that is younger and more oriented to fun, free flowing balls. Without making too many assumptions, Byrell’s production work often mirrors those characteristics and features samples from predictable sources like Masters at Work, Tronco Traxx and Beyonce, but also brings in Chedda da Connect, Nicki Minaj and Kanye West for a decidedly more modern sound. Byrell’s Astral Plane mix is, in his words, a “spell casting” of recent favorites, a Qweendom-heavy tour through modern ballroom with room for a collaboration with UNIIQU3 and inclusion of tracks by up-and-comers Capital K’aos, Quest?onmarc and TRICK$. We had a brief chat with Byrell over email and talked about the next step for Qween Beat, testing out Qweendom and his position, both internal and external, as one of the most in-demand ballroom/kiki DJs around. Hit the jump for our talk with Byrell and check below that for a track list we’re sure you’ll be repeatedly checking back on as you run through these 35 hi energy minutes.