Venus Jazmin Soto—one woman who always stayed true to herself and never let anyone alter or rearrange her art. That about sums up the progressive Latina feminist DJ that suddenly became DJ Venus X or “that girl with the green hair who threw one of the most infamous weirdo get-togethers of our cyber obsessed generation” – GHE20 G0TH1k. Right before the vampires of mainstream slowly creeped up her way to suck the blood out of her culture she decided to block the leeches. What exactly her craft is, how she pulled the masses of the freaky New York Underground scene and what her next moves are going to be can be found out here.
How has your tour been so far?
It was amazing. I started out in Beirut and then I went to Zurich, London and Berlin. That’s it – five amazing shows. I just started working with an agent who is also handling my friend Fatima Al-Qadiri‘s bookings but this tour was organized by me, still. Beirut reached out first for this conference and then Freeze was happening so my friends were throwing a party and I got to DJ there, more friends reached out and that lead to all the other shows. Basically, two shows with my favorite DJ Total Freedom and one show with Mike Q – and it all happened because of my great friends and loyal fans. Such an amazing experience, I can’t lie; it was the most amazing experience of my life!
You stayed in Berlin for almost a week. I’m secretly hoping that you extended your stay because you were working on something.
I am here with my friend Fatima Al-Qadiri, with a couple of our friends, Mike Q and Nguzunguzu. A bunch of us are working on a record, though that will take us spending a lot more time together than one week, wherever that may be. It’s nice here but I’d rather be in Beirut because it’s hotter. Nevertheless, I enjoy being here. I had a really crazy year, I have been on tour for almost a whole year. This is the beginning of relaxing for the first time in a while.
How did you experience Beirut?
Beirut is very western. It’s very advanced for how I imagined the middle east to be like. People there are obsessed with the same things as people in America. It’s either whiteness, weaves and fake body parts or religion. That’s pretty much the spectrum. There is of course a middle ground which is the working class, the people who can’t afford to do those things or don’t care. You have your Christian section of the city and the Muslim section and it’s really beautiful to see how they cross in and out; you go from eating McDonalds and pork into an area where everybody covers up. It’s not as dramatic as the US makes it seem. The media is doing a great job at making Muslim women seem so enslaved and Middle Eastern countries look so war-ridden when it’s not really like that everywhere.
The Mediterranean sea is the brightest sea I have ever seen, the friends I have made there are exceptional people. Radical, experimental artists, people who are ready to hear new music and open up although at the same time, what I play can be very mainstream and urban so it was like I was testing them in a way. It was a challenge to play for them but I am young and I like the music that my generation listens to. All in all, Beirut was a life changing experience also because musically there is no real middle ground. You either sing along to songs your grandmother knows too or you dance to Usher but the party scene is very receptive and so ready to dance and experience something new. It was a true experiment and it went well.
You announced that you will stop throwing your infamous GHE20 GoTH1k parties. Why is that?
Never again. I am exhausted! That’s the main reason.
I am sure that mainstream plays a role here, too.
It is not mainstream, but it sort of is. It became too well-known and it does not serve the same purpose it used to. When it used to happen, the DJs were totally under appreciated, the artists were new at their crafts and the communities were segregated. One would meet people at our party that usually one wouldn’t get the chance to interact with. White fashion faggots and their white girlfriends, black skaters, punks, gay women who only wanted to be around gay women because they hate men, art school girls and boys, Uptown kids and Brooklyn Kids – all of them used to have their own segregated parties and events but we brought them together. Now, they date each other, they work with each other, they do shoots together and the city is transformed. There is no more need for me in New York; I really don’t feel like competing with all these new parties that only reproduce our old lineups. I’m out in the world touring and New York is holding its ground.
When I do things, I want them to be done well and to my liking —I really only want to support artists that I believe in. At some point GHE20 G0TH1k became so regular that we had to do bookings and some people took advantage of the platform but there is still a spirit that goes with me everywhere. Also, I feel like in our generation there is this hybrid, darker side of things that enables brown kids to experience other emotions, they don’t have to be so ghetto and I think that that inspired other brown kids around the world to break out of the stereotypical norm.
Growing up in Europe I must say that girls or even brown girls with green hair, in certain scenes was kind of normal. Why do you think that for certain people your green hair became such a thing? It was almost your identity —the girl with the green hair.
One reason is that in New York there aren’t many brown punk girls that rock different color hair outside of their own scene. There aren’t many girls that DJ the type of music I play with green hair. Also, the timing was a bit divine. I dyed my hair green a couple of weeks before I did the A$AP Rocky video and it was overstimulating for people – they were like “Who is this girl with the green hair in this rap video? What is she about?”
Personally, I had the green hair because last year, I have been more radical than ever in my life. Green is the color of what matters to most people – money, progress, weed. It is a very strong color. Green is the color of our generation.
And it is the color of Islam.
True! Like the inhabitants of Paradise.
You guys here have a real punk scene! That’s why. We never had French coldwave and goth – we had our own version of it, but most of it were American bands that labels were capitalizing off of from the very beginning. There were people who were infatuated with it,and maybe also lived that culture but we didn’t have entire communities. You have a lot of forgotten music out here because one band got famous and thousands of other bands were playing in the same neighborhoods in the same decade and that created a real culture of music and style that we didn’t really have, honestly. America is the West and we are really good at being the West. We have imperialist attitudes, imperialist fashion, imperialist ideas and rules. Unless it becomes fashionable, it’s not so exciting.
What happened was that we caught a moment right before it became fashionable (as the Seapirate movement) when it was still kind of unknown and before tumblr had its real vampire moment around 2011/2012. You know, first it was just us and we were the progressive freaks, now it’s spreading all over the world and becoming more and more appealing to people. We have Katie Perry now and Nicki Minaj… it’s a trend. I hate fashion, now. Everything that used to make me happy is to everyone’s convenience to buy. It was hard for me to find something I’m comfortable in and still made me look different, because I feel different and it’s important for me to express that. But now everybody looks like me so I have to find a new way.
Why didn’t we catch up on it when for example Kelis was rocking that style in 1999?
Because back then the youth had more respect for iconography. Now, it is all about competition – I can do it better than you, I have money and I can go buy Manic Panic and rock it better than you, we all do the same thing and we compete at who is doing it better. This is the culture now—it’s all fashion and trend versus way back when this look was punk and it was political.
Have you considered a different discipline of your field? Rapping, singing?
I would love to! I focus on live mixing because that is where my power is. My power is not at home on my computer, moving little dots on Ableton. My power is in the club, mixing songs no one would expect. I want to master that first but my interest in developing my career is not as exciting to others as it is to me. It is a very, very cold world for women in music. It depends on where you are and who you musically are surrounded by whether you are being encouraged to make music or whether people will continue to watch you struggle and succeed despite the odds. As I travel, I meet more and more artists that are ready to experiment and learn, which is my main interest. I want to learn. I do not have a timeline as to when I will alter my career but when I do it, I want to do it right. I nurture what I am interested in and the more I do that the more success I will have because I do not take any of this lightly. I don’t think that rappers are produced out of certain circumstances; they choose to use literature as a medium for their self expression, and I chose DJing.
Now, I would like to explore other things but people don’t really understand how music works – success and good music come from a lot of different places and your surroundings. I am excited for the future but what’s next is a lot of discipline and experimenting with my voice. People would like me to rap but I don’t like what rap does to women. As a woman of color, I feel like I have too much power to just be another female rapper. It’s almost obvious. I have great plans and I am waiting for the right moment. Anything can happen at this point, and that is the beauty of it.
Published December 16, 2012. Words by Dreea Pavel.