Bushwick plays host to a broad banner of different sounds and communities. While the specifics of each scene may vary, most hold in common their belief in decentralized raves, an acceptance of marginalized members of broader society, and a dedication to exploring global styles of music in a hyper-local way.
But mostly, music is loud. Here, we call it Bushwick Loudly.
Joey Quiñones: A L K H E M Y’s Whirlcast 011
Techno, and more specifically the queer techno scene in Bushwick, is focused around a Berlin-based style heavy, industrial-leaning dance music. In its heyday, this scene was an exclusively inclusive community, one interested in bludgeoning beats, a commitment to late nights not limited to the weekends, a marked LGBTQ+ friendliness, and a propensity for BPMs faster even than those you’d have found at other modern-day clubs.
Joey Quiñones is a DJ from this community. He moved to Bushwick in 2016 and has since been involved with some of the neighborhood’s most left-leaning, often-secretive, and hard-partying crews like Wrecked NYC, A L K H E M Y (for whom this mix was produced), and others whom we would be remiss to mention in this public press.
These crews, like Quiñones himself, are dedicated to the general mission of restoring the true concept of rave; to all of the nights and mornings spent out on the town. These parties focus on creating immersive, safe spaces — spaces whose secrecy is fostered in order to maintain what so often gets called “the vibe.”
This mix by Quiñones, produced for A L K H E M Y’s Whirlwindcast series, is a mixture of hard-pounding techno that also folds in a broader range of genres: jit, electroclash, and even spins vocal samples from Charlie Chaplain’s The Dictator show up. The mix is both a window into a raging scene from whence we are pandemically-exiled as well as a continued opportunity to connect — at least digitally — through the power of music and its ability to create a network of like-minded souls.
A first listen reveals the intensity of a sweat-filled, intimate-yet-anonymous night at a whisper-campaign-promoted warehouse event. But, the collision of songs and sounds create a political, emotional, and personal narrative that is as important to Quiñones as much as anything else in our post-2016 world.
These sounds and the parties that nurtured them found their emotional and physical homes in the spaces in Bushwick’s outer edges. While the harder techno style has been around since the 90s, it fully coalesced into a scene in Bushwick around the start of the 2010s and crystallized, some might say, in 2014 when the Bossa Nova Civic Club opened up on Myrtle Avenue in 2014.
“We had a weekly party there every Wednesday for years,” Joey said, referring to his now-passed weekly event, Bromo. “People would come out to dance and to connect. Like the weekend but in the middle of the week for those who could swing it. It was like a techno Cheers.”
A L K H E M Y’s Whirlwindcast 011 is available to stream on Soundcloud.
Anna Morgan: Daisychain 064
Where techno sits on one side of the underground music scene, on the other side is bass. Bushwick transplant Anna Morgan has become a leader in local bass scene —having grown up in the Bronx, participating in the classic era of New York’s raves, Morgan has long been familiar with the rave’s power to create a sense of community and belonging for its creators and participants.
Morgan came to DJing in a roundabout way, inspired by DJs like Jubilee and the parties of Jen Lyon, who would go on to found the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival, where everything from Jungle to disco would be played. Soon, Morgan started collecting vinyl of her own. Finally, encouraged by a friend of hers who noted the scene’s distinct lack of female DJs, Morgan studied up and found her place in the genre’s lingua franca of musical references.
Although clearly a DJ, Morgan has always thought of herself first and foremost as a promoter, something she refers to as a “meta DJ”, who curates the longer selections of the night by slotting and highlighting different artists. In 2015, after noticing a need for a local night featuring the heavier side of bass, Morgan teamed up with DJ Ripley to create Heavy, a night featuring just that. Before the pandemic, they hosted Heavy in the basement of Trans-Pecos and, later, at H0l0.
Heavy was a party focused on the cross-pollinating of genres and scenes, intended to expand what a bass night means and to broaden the scope of what would be included. Lineups were consistently diverse, featuring crossover acts as diverse as the techno/bass electronic artist ShyBoi to the raggaeton-leaning producer Riobamba. Tracks she spun and artists she booked would come from scenes around the city, like the Brownsville-born FDM scene (which stands for Flexible Dance Music/Flex and was covered by Pitchfork back in 2016), the Harlem-based ‘litefeet’ scene (covered by New York in 2015 and which Morgan likens to the sound of breakdancing on your subway ride), and the DJs who spin in today’s ballroom scene.
Morgan notes the difficulty of trying to throw money-making events for such a niche. “The music isn’t that popular, you’ll have a couple hundred people showing up for these events where you’re flying in DJs from all over the world,” she says.
In addition to the geographic and financial strains, Morgan notes the party’s inherent ethos of diversity and inclusion. “We always focused on having women and nonbinary people playing at our parties,” Morgan said, “but we didn’t really promote that. It wasn’t explicit. We just thought this is how it should be; it doesn’t have to be a spectacle.”
Beyond just being a DJ and a promoter, Morgan launched Worst Behavior Recs in 2017 alongside fellow Brooklyn producer Bell Curve. If that wasn’t enough, Morgan also runs a blog called Footwork Jungle.
It is in the vein of her work that Morgan released this mix with the podcast Daisychain last month. As a woman ingrained in the bass music community — and one who so frequently highlights the outputs of intersectional artists — Morgan made sure that her mix highlighted that sound and community. All the tracks in the mix are produced, in one way or another, by women. The choice was both in honor of March as International Woman’s Month and part of her inherent inclusion of women and other non-white-male individuals in her sets.
The mix comes out sounding much like most of her sets. The sound is focused on dancehall-style rhythmic patterns or vocals, a nod to her Jamaican heritage.
The stunning tracklist (which can be found in full here) includes some of Morgan’s own records, like “Natural Vibe,” a track she made alongside Rider Shafique; German drum ‘n bass DJ Kabuki and breaks from Denham Audio, a bass trio from Sheffield. Elsewhere, Morgan’s breadth also includes works from fellow female bass spinner The Librarian (who helms Canada’s bass-heavy Best Coast Music Festival) as well as records from the aptly named DJ Girl, released on Worst Behavior.
“Every song on this mix wouldn’t work without women’s work, whether as producers, MCs, or vocalists,” Morgan said. “There is a small-but-decent amount of women in the left field bass community and they are my friends.”
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