Tag Archives: Club Chai


Photo by Black Plastica

Oakland has always been a hotbed of radical musics and movements and the city’s changing landscape has only made its current set of artists, producers and performers all the more vital. 8ULENTINA and FOOZOOL’s Club Chai is the entry point for many into Oakland’s varied scenes and 2017’s Club Chai Vol. 1 compilation offers an expansive roadmap to what the East Bay has to offer. Jasmine Infiniti contributed the powerful “Hapocalypse” to that compilation and has stood out from the jump, approaching both real and digital spaces with a frantic, often unmatched, energy.

After years spent in the Bay Area, the self-dubbed Queen of Hell now lives in New York (she grew up in the Bronx) and has been turning out original music and mixes at a remarkable rate. September saw the release of the sound defining SiS EP on Club Chai and Infiniti’s Soundcloud offers a deep dive into her works in progress, home recorded mixes and insanely creative edit work. Infiniti also puts a ton of effort into reposting inspiring work from other artists, an often misused tool, but a valuable one in the right hands. Beyond her original work, Infiniti is a also a member of the New World Dysorder collective and House of Infiniti, playing an important role in Oakland’s trans community and the ballroom community at large.

Infiniti’s sound is exploratory and often hard to define, but the six tracks on SiS are a good place to start. Elementally concise, the EP has a spiritual air to it with sparse drum arrangements accompanied by expansive, dissociative sound design. It’s at times forceful, but more often the mood is meditative, distinct without proffering easily graspable melodic or emotional motifs. If you followed Infiniti closely in the months before its release, you’ll have heard different versions of tracks like “Inside Me”, giving off the impression that, although SiS is an incredibly thorough, final body of work, future mutations are potentially in the works.

For many, Infiniti is a DJ first and foremost and official mixes for the likes of Boiler Room, Discwoman and FADER have put her on the map as an incisive, boundary pushing mixer. Once again though, it’s Infiniti’s Soundcloud where some of her most exciting material finds its home. Live recordings of sets from across the U.S. and beyond are a constant in the feed while mixes like “Stream of Consciousness” (a personal favorite), “Industrial Cunt” and “Voltage Drop” show a passion for the form and some of the slickest mixing around. We were lucky to grab Infiniti for a 30 minute session and the result doesn’t disappoint. Situating her own tunes in a collage of cavernous techno, cerebral house and bubbly club tracks, the mix is both extension of the SiS EP and a fitting example of Infiniti’s prowess behind the decks. It’s only one part of a larger map of material in that sense, but those new to Infiniti are in for a treat and longtime followers certainly already know what’s up. Grab a download of Astral Plane Mix 173 here and get SiS straight from Club Chai here.


For the past year, the East Bay has been blessed with a series of events focusing on non-binary, non-Western music and performance. foozool and 8ULENTINA’s Club Chai recently became an internationally recognized name after the release of their eponymous debut compilation, featuring artists like Lechuga Zafiro, Organ Tapes and Stud1nt, but it’s the local groundwork that has made the operation so immediately relevant and transgressive. In June of last year, we featured an Astral Plane mix from 8ULENTINA, a fitting introduction to the Club Chai ethos that has since been extrapolated on at length on Club Chai Vol. 1. Lara Sarkissian makes music under both her birth name and the foozool moniker, pushing “more abstract original productions & sound collage” through the former and dance-focused edits/remixes from the latter. Tracks like “Geghard” and “APRE ԱՊՐԷ” are dense, rhythmic tracks that match haunting melodies with solipsistic drum work and fits of noise, samples and field recordings. With a live show set to debut next month, it’s easy to see how these tracks will thrive when broken down, meshed and developed further in physical space.

The connection between many “experimental” artist’s original output and mix work is often tenuous, but Sarkissian’s DJ and radio sets are often where her own productions thrive, intertwining with Armenian dance tracks she’s sourced from her mother and Arabic club tracks she collected while living in Armenia’s Nagorno-Karabakh region. They’re often equal parts melancholy and festive, drawing in everything from Flex Dance Music and reggaeton to tracks from Bay Area like Turbo Sonidero and Ambr33zy BA!. Her Astral Plane mix is no different, linking compilation tracks with a series of foozool edits, transitioning from an emotive, low key opening section into club forward four-on-the-floor with Ara Gevorkyan’s “Musa Ler” playing the bridge roll. It’s clear that Sarkissian has a rigorous approach to sound design and sample arrangement and the mix has a distinct narrative arc to it even though its constituent elements are disjointed to say the least. We chatted over email and talked Club Chai’s Bay Area community, the compilation, sourcing samples from Vine and Ara Gevorgyan’s music. Hit the jump for the full interview and track list and be sure to grab Club Chai Vol. 1 here.

Hi Lara, how are you? Where are you answering these questions from?

My home dining room aka my “stu” in San Francisco.

You release as foozool as well as under your own name. What is the distinction between the two projects? Do you have a good idea of which pseudonym a track will fall into from the beginning of the production process?

The material I release under my name is more abstract original productions & sound collage I see tying into visual projects in the future (a couple that have been for film already), and eventually having screenings during performances of these sounds. I’ve always been super interested in the tactile relationship between sound and image and it’s something I haven’t done in a while, i’m back at working on something from footage recorded recently.

I’m going to be playing my first live show next month, so am excited to see what form the sound will take making things live/improvised, and being more comfortable using samples of a wider range of instruments. I’m continuing edits/remixes of other artists under foozool, and incorporate them into my dance DJ sets where I mainly mix with other’s work.

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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.

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