Women within the Hip Hop movement are rare and often criticized. Especially women excelling in the practice of DJ culture, a subset of the Hip Hop movement. Ayesha AKA “AYESCOLD” has been recreating DJ culture in DC since 2013, paving the way for women in a male dominated community. I had the pleasure of finding out more, in an exclusive Interview with AYESCOLD.
TreeHouse Meets AYESCOLD
TREEHOUSE: What are your thoughts on the music scene in DC? Particularly for the hip hop community?
AYESCOLD: The DC music scene is definitely on the cusp of something big. It's an exciting time to be a part of it. I'm going to talk about the DMV music scene though (DC+Maryland+Virginia) because it's a tristate area so those territories and scenes are super connected... There was a time when the world could only think of Wale, as far as DMV rappers go, even though you had amazing folks like Logic, Tabi Bonney and Oddissee also doing their thing. Now it seems like there's a growing awareness of the diversity that has always existed here. And you have rappers like Goldlink blowing up the scene (also: Beau Young Prince, Marvel Alexander, Matt Mcghee, Sir Eu, and Ciscero) - folks who are pushing the boundaries of hip hop, carving their own niches musically, and being recognized for it internationally.
TREEHOUSE: Thoughts on the DJing culture in DC? Is it vibrant or is it pretty sparse? Diverse?
AYESCOLD: While at times it can feel sparse (I started DJing because I felt that needed to change), I see DJ culture in DC becoming more diverse. Personally, I’ve noticed several women DJs appear within the past year, and a growing awareness of the need for more women on line ups. I've also noticed that people are paying more attention to DJs who spin more experimental / future sounds. There's definitely a solid scene of DJs and producers who want more for this city musically, and are making it happen by forming collectives and throwing their own events. I recently joined Fête - a dope collective in DC that's making some serious waves.
TREEHOUSE: What kind of equipment do you prefer to use/recommend? What are your thoughts on spinning with turntables and vinyl?
AYESCOLD: I'm definitely a Serato + Pioneer kind of gal - my style has always for the most part been digital. I currently use a Pioneer DDJ SR , and I started DJing with a little device that just had crossfaders and hot cue buttons, because that's all I really needed for my process at the time. While I've mainly relied on digital tools to mix (playing with loops and cue points), I definitely feel a desire to branch out now. I recently got myself a used Serato box and some control vinyls. Like the rest of the world, I can't deny the appeal of vinyl - I own a small but growing collection - a lot of reggae. This said, DJ equipment is a personal choice - I def encourage everybody to use what they’re most comfortable with. To me it's what I'm hearing that matters, and not how the DJ gets there.
TREEHOUSE: How did you get into spinning? Has your style changed since you began?
AYESCOLD: I started DJing (in 2013) because I felt that the music I enjoyed wasn't being played on dance floors in DC. I wanted to hear more variety so I started spinning at house parties, house shows, and art openings. It was a pretty crazy time - I was spinning several nights a week and holding down a pretty demanding day-job doing research on elections. A year after that I decided to leave my day-job to see if I could take the DJing to another level.
My style as a DJ has definitely evolved over the past two years - I find myself taking more risks in my sets than ever before. For example, I definitely throw in more genres in my sets and mixes now. In my latest installment of The Freezer (4) the tracks span funk, juke, hip hop, trap, and grime. I know that some listeners / music heads want to feel like a mix is a single track or vibe, but I like interesting transitions, and I enjoy experimenting with them (e.g. you probably will catch me mixing a jersey club tune with a baile funk beat, or a bhangra and a DC go-go beat. lately, I've been interested in throwing in experimenting with more grime, I like mixing it with Afrobeat). Ultimately I guess my style now is bolder than before - I focus on what I find interesting and care less about the haters <3
TREEHOUSE: Best part about being a DJ in DC and in general?
AYESCOLD: DC is one of the most musical cities I've lived in to date. It's got an incredible jazz and funk legacy. It's an amazing feeling to be part of a culture with such deep respect for music, and the work that artists put into keeping it alive.
In general it's amazing to be a DJ because not only do I get paid to do what love, but my job lets me connect with many different kinds of people, and help them experience moments of euphoria + bliss on the dance floor.
TREEHOUSE: What/who influences your work?
AYESCOLD: This is a tough question to answer, I've had so many influences ... I'm definitely the sum of my experiences. I grew up traveling a lot, and living between different parts of the United States and India. So I guess the biggest influence on my style as a DJ are the cultures I've been a part of - and their music. I can't seem to sit still, or settle myself neatly into a single scene or genre as a DJ.
Here are some other periods in my life that have influenced me : The time I spent on the West Coast really made dig the sounds of producers like Madlib and Flying Lotus- the time I spent in India has made be crazy about percussion and polyrhythmic stuff- I was born in Chicago, so I have an affinity towards Chicago club music - I lived in London for a year so I dig garage, two step, and grime - my time in DC has made me dig a lot of funk, soul, trap and Afrobeat... I can go on...
TREEHOUSE: Where do you find your inspiration for mixes?
AYESCOLD: My inspirations for mixes come mainly from what I'm vibing to at the moment. For example, in the Freezer 3 I was listening a lot to the artists on the line up of a music festival I was doing called Trillectro (e.g. Kehlani, Tunji Ige, Chance the Rapper, Histo, RL Grime, Masego).
TREEHOUSE: Top 5 go to records?
AYESCOLD: Here are some faves - these are not ranked in order of preference.
1. Madlib - Beat Konducta, Vols 3 & 4 in India
2. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma + Los Angeles
3. Tokimonsta - Creature Dreams EP
4. Erykah Badu - Baduizm
5. The Pharcyde - Bizarre Ride II
Photography - via - www.ayescold.com
Special thanks to AYESCOLD for her time and insight, we wish her a successful and positive year! Be further inspired by Ayesha on her website www.ayescold.com and pull up at one of her many, impressive and eclectic shows in the DMV area!
- AYESCOLD -
- WRITER - VIBE CREATOR -