NYC-based Qween Beat affiliate Quest?onmarc today shared a visceral self-released EP titled ? : ID. Their new five-track work is named after Freud's concept of the id—the part of the human psyche that impulsively produces basic drives and instincts—and each of its thunderous ballroom tracks corresponds to a different vogue dance element. They are mainly composed of classic house elements—including, of course, the iconic ballroom ha crash sample—re-contextualized in an austere yet high-impact manner.
THUMP interviewed the artist over email, where we talked about how the EP came together, their relationship to the House of Amazon, and more.
Can you tell us about the thinking behind this EP?
? : ID is the first in a series of works dedicated to self-discovery. Developed of instinct and less of intent, I worked off of emotion.
2016 saw a lot of new experiences for me. Perhaps this was a reaction? Those nights at the helm playing live for the first times had inspired me to dig in... my goal wasn't to create a body of work but it's like painting: eventually you stand back and realize you've got something going on.
What are the vogue dance elements these songs correspond to?
There are five core elements to vogue performance, leading off with a display of how neatly one can articulate a story with their hands, in "Work This." The track feels like my journey toward self-acceptance and empowerment as queer youth. What more can be said to someone who owns themselves and challenges naysayers to "Work This"? Not a lot!
Next up are the catwalk and duck walk, two transitional elements that glue the show together. Both elements require a great deal of balance and posture which I feel "Cunty" and "The ? Ha" illustrate. Rounding out performance are the hallmark spin and dip combo which I really went for with the use of negative space in 'Elevator'.
There are also non-dancing categories such as face and runway. "Walk 4 Me" is for the non-performance kids.
What is your relationship with the House of Amazon like?
After a few years in and around the ballroom scene, mostly interacting through the weekly NYC-based Vogue Knights party, I started to receive offers to join different houses or invitations to sit in on house practices. When I would follow up and ask, "Why this house?" or "Why that house?," I'd either be met with blank stares or shining superlatives suggesting that joining would be the obvious choice. This never really resonated with me and I held off from being affiliated for most of my early years in the ballroom community. This status is called being "007."
I met Amazon Mother Leiomy, the Wonder Woman of Vogue, years prior through her intimate classes held in dance studios around the city. I was always taken by her grace, poise, fluidity, and ability to make dizzying spins and breakback stunts look effortless. Over the years I'd seen my own progress take form and she had taken note as well. I was tapped to join. Leiomy shared that this would be a different experience.
"The House of Amazon is not about walking balls and being 'fab,'" she said recently on Facebook. "I created my house to help my kids grown individually in and out the scene. I wanted to bring back the true aspect of what a house is suppose to be (family, support, unity, compassion, loyalty, etc...) and to bring back what's missing in the scene. "
We are called Amazon after the women of Themyscira!
The artwork for this release is really beautiful. What were you going for with it?
I took the cover photo with my phone's self timer about two years ago. Long before I'd even thought of DJing or producing... there was no intent at the time other than chasing a feeling.
Meet the stars of NYC's ballroom community in a 2016 documentary from THUMP's Night Visions series, featuring MikeQ, Gisele Xtravaganza, and Leggo "Old Navy" LaBeija; after that, revisit Qween Beat's debut compilation Qweendom.
? : ID is out now.
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