berlin dj horsegiirl at th
horsegiirl [supplied]

‘Do Not Wear Skinny Jeans’: horsegiirL on Donk, Doof Sticks and Ketamine

“There's always a place for unseriousness in everything, not just in music.”
Arielle Richards
Melbourne, AU

When my evening scroll was one day stopped by a horse-headed DJ blasting gabber to hundreds of screaming, sweaty fans in a European nightclub, I was not shocked. 

It’s the kind of shit you expect to see in Europe, sure, but it’s also the kind of shit that just pops online. Of all the bizarre things for me to wish I could unsee across my four screens, horsegiirL – a hyper-realistic horse-headed DJ clothed in arm warmers and a slogan baby tee emblazoned with “I’M A HORSE, NOT A DJ” – felt the most right. HorsegiirL felt normal. Natural, even.


The half-human, half-horse artist burst onto the mainstream in 2023 with her hit track “My Barn My Rules”, a catchy yeehaw-meets-hardstyle-bop which proliferated across TikTok in such aggressive fashion it was dubbed “the song of the summer” by Dazed. 

Berlin based horsegiirL, real name steLLa staLLiion, has brought her hoedown to Australia for Laneway Festival. It wasn’t the artist’s first time down under, but, as she told VICE, it was her first Australian summer.

“I was here in June last year, I thought it would be warm but it was cold,” she said. “It was winter time. So it's a very different experience this time around.”

horsegiirL’s creative world is genius: her music videos are a depraved downward spiral into gothic kitsch, where impenetrable plots and bad trip visuals reflect the euphoric madness that defines her sets. If you listen to enough horsegiirL, you won’t even need drugs. 

She rides at the unserious new frontier of party music, where a horse can be a DJ, and where peace is found when Khia’s “My Neck My Back” is mixed into Justin Timberlake’s “Sexyback” over 150bpm thonks. 

But the coolest thing about horsegiirL was her earnestness, as deeply couched in unseriousness as it is. She was all vibes.


VICE: Hello Stella Stallion and welcome to down under. What do you think of the dance floor and the crowd energy here, compared with Europe or other places you’ve toured?

Stella Stallion: I think the vibes are always very positive and very fun. It's very good. Maybe overall, people dress a little bit more colourful. There's more mullets than in Berlin. 

I was really expecting a lot more of these signs. What are they called? What do you call them? The Australian signs that you hold up?

The doof sticks?

Yes, I was really expecting a lot of those. But I haven't really seen them that much, at least not at Laneway Festival.

I think for the day parties and festivals, they’re more rare, but people bring them out for the three-day festivals. Do you have an opinion on them?

I think just from an outside perspective – I don't know the whole culture behind it – they look amazing. They are such a fun way of expressing your creativity and communicating with the artists on stage as well. And I guess they're used to find your friends. With phone signals being down at big crowd events, I think it's a very cool idea. But I haven't spent enough time here to think of any downsides.

If you see a lot of them it starts to weigh on your brain a bit. And they’re always drug puns, it gets old. On drugs, I wanted to talk to you about ketamine because it’s very popular here, is it the same where you’re from?


Yes it’s quite popular, that has been brought to my attention. I think everyone can, in a healthy manner, do what they think is right for them. As long as there's not a shortage for the ones that really need it, which is horses.

I recently had a call with a friend of mine. And she got injured, she's a show horse, and the vet didn't have enough ketamine because of human consumption. And so that is something we really need to be aware of: that the animals who really need this still have enough. 

It’s terrible that your friend couldn’t get her painkillers.

It was tragic for her, she had to be in pain for much longer. 

So it is about striving for balance, making sure humans don’t use up all the ketamine?

Yes. All things in life: striving for balance. And I would say, sometimes, a little break of any kind of substance when you go out is also needed. Don't forget that going out is great for many reasons, not just what you consume. It’s also just fun for the music.

Absolutely. Especially the music that you make and the music that you play, it brings such a strong energy that it's almost like being on drugs.

I sometimes think it could even be overwhelming if you are on drugs, because it's so fast and hard and the visuals now are so hectic. I personally always feel high after I play a set.

What’s your drug of choice?

Mmm hmm. I would say probably sugar.


Is there one song you can’t live without?

That is very difficult, because I think there are so many great songs. I'm just gonna say one I like a lot at the moment, it’s this very, very long song actually, it's like an hour long. And I always listen to it when I travel from show to show and it really helps to reset my brain, and I can read to it, because it doesn't have any lyrics, or I can just fall asleep to it. It’s called Water Music, by William Basinski. 

What do you think might be behind the recent surge in popularity of donk, or happy hardcore, or the wider umbrella of “hard and fast” music?

I would say in club spaces, the happy part, the euphoric part, was completely gone for a long time. At least in European clubs. It was very dark and very monotonous and very anti-vocals, the only time you would hear vocals and more of a euphoric chord feel was maybe in house music. So for a long time, in harder-style dance music, it was very dark. And people maybe were missing this happy feeling. So, it's kind of a return. 

“I really strongly disagree with the notion that high art, good art, in any form has to be serious and super intellectual.”


We see there's this cycle of recurring themes in culture, and with the 90s and early 2000s comeback, that style of music has returned. I would say the reason everything's so fast is just our brains, as TikTok and social media have sped up our way of perceiving things. Maybe that also leads to us really liking stuff that is just incredibly fast, the BPM is almost like you're having a heart attack. 

It naturally puts you in this state of vibration that is very exhilarating, also exhausting. Which is why my sets are only an hour long, and I wouldn't necessarily think the style is for everyone for two hours, or even a whole lineup of artists that plays so fast.

Speaking of TikTok, I think a lot of people seem to believe that it has made music unserious. Do you think that there's a place for unseriousness in music?

There's always a place for unseriousness in everything, not just in music. 

I really strongly disagree with the notion that high art, good art, in any form has to be serious and super intellectual. I think there are so many amazing examples of great artists that just had fun with what they did, and brought us incredible pieces of music or pieces of art. 

I would really try to challenge this narrative that we have somehow adopted: that good art has to be this snobby, intellectualised, serious thing. Because I think to make human beings laugh, to make them connect, to make them have this powerful expression of joy is not an easy thing to do. And I have a high respect for comedians, because I think it's much easier to make people cry than to make them really, really laugh and have a good time. 


So I think yes, there's always room for unseriousness in anything really, because life is short. And there's so many dark things going on in the world that I think we need to also have something that is a release.

Absolutely. And, speaking of art, I'm really obsessed with your Instagram presence, it’s so fun. Are you very involved in the creative side of that, coming up with the shoots and the videos? 

Yes, I love this. I love this. I do all of my Instagram myself. I have two friends that help me to cut the video content because I'm very slow at cutting video content. And they also bring in amazing ideas and they also let me direct whatever crazy idea I have without discussion. I am the house dragon over my Instagram. 

It's very iconic. And it's very surprising and original and that's what art should be. In almost every interview that I've read you've chatted about your fashion sense. Have you always been interested in fashion?

I've always been interested in fashion. I think most horses, we have a little vain streak. We like our coats to be shiny and our manes to be nice and healthy. Obviously also the saddle and the shoes we have on our hooves need to be on fleek… if that's still a term that people use. 

Can I please get one fashion in and one fashion out for 2024?

A fashion in: dress up. Just dress the fuck up. Maybe that's also me living in Berlin. Although… I feel like Berlin has really good style, but I think in general fashion can be so transformative for your mood, and for how the world perceives you. So my forever fashion in will be dress the way you want to and be extra no matter the occasion. If you feel like it, do it. An out is do not wear skinny jeans. Unless you are an emo or core kid. That's fine. But if you are not then don't do skinny jeans.


Apparently they’re coming back in though.

No, no, no.

Australian millennials all wear them. They never stopped wearing them.

That's the thing. That's really the thing. They just never stopped wearing them. So how can they even come back? They never really went and I just want them to go.

We touched on it before but has anything really struck you about the fashions on the field in Australia?

Mullets in combination with goatees. That’s definitely an Australian thing, I would say.

Arielle Richards is the multimedia reporter at VICE Australia, follow her on Instagram and Twitter.