Keep dancing & #payblackfemmes.
Artist by trade & DJ by craft, Gem (she/her) produces experiences that seduce the audience & lures them into her meticulously cultivated audiovisual realm. She is an open format DJ with an extensive collection of music that represents the best of Hip-Hop, R&B, Dancehall, Baltimore Club, Afrobeat, and Funk. Her party experiences involve decolonizing dance floors & making room for more femmes & NFC folks to be seen & heard.
Describe Gem in 3 words:
Fat, black, and magical.
What should we do while listening to this mix?
You can be doing anything. I think that I chose a really dope group of people...that represent a great spectrum of black and brown femmes. The music can be stuff that you listen to when you're putting on your makeup, or driving, or cooking, or just hanging out by yourself.
What inspired you to start #blackfemmefridays & #payblackfemmes on IG?
I just wanted to start these hashtags to help with the awareness of the emotional, spiritual, and physical labor that black femmes and womxn give on a daily basis. We are often the first ones to not be taken seriously, not paid enough, taken for granted, used, and overly consumed. So I want folks to start considering the true amount of work that we give out into the world, and having us be compensated in a way that is fair and just. I want folks to pay black femmes and to recognize the work that we do.
Why are dance floors important in 2018?
For me, the dance floor is a sanctuary. It is a place where people go to feel good, to find a sense of love and connection with other people...hopefully to find some type of healing through the music or through the dancing that happens.
It's a way to have space for people to feel safe and to enjoy themselves, which, for me, is important—especially in my community—because, in the face of trauma and injustice, joy is so, so important. The dance floor is one of those places where you can find that.
Can you tell us more about your efforts to decolonize them?
For me, stepping into the music scene years ago, I realized that it was very dominated by whiteness. It was very dominated by people that identified as cis-males, even if they were not white. So I wanted to create scenes where femmes, womxn, trans folx, non-gender conforming folx of color could go to to feel safe, be celebrated, be seen, be recognized.
Especially for my performers and DJs, just giving them an opportunity and them not feeling like it has to go through the approval of whiteness in order to make it happen. So I've been doing that for the last two years that I've been DJing.
What’s your relationship like to body image & self love these days?
I'm a big advocate for folx loving themselves as they are. I consider myself to be a fat femme, which means that I embrace that word. Fat used to be something very negative, and now it's like "no, yeah I can be fat and beautiful, and healthy, and active, and I can work out, and I can love myself." I don't have to change myself in order to be attractive to someone else, because someone else will learn to love exactly what I have to offer.
As a visual artist, it's really important for me to create images of femmes in all forms so that people can recognize themselves within the art, and hopefully recognize the beauty that they have in their own bodies.
If you could spend a night out in any decade, which would it be?
I would definitely have to say the 70s. I am very intrigued by 70s music from all over the world, but if I could go back and spend the night, it'd probably be in New York somewhere. Not necessarily like any particular scene in disco or rock, but maybe more so funk. 70s funk would probably be more my scene.
Where did your passion for music start?
My passion for music started at an early age at home. My mom, she listened to everything. She would be listening to Prince one minute, Run-DMC the next, the Pretenders and the Police the minute after that, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder...just literally some of everything. She never really kept it in one corner musically. So I was exposed to a lot, and would find myself always wanting to curate sounds at parties I would host or be at in college or afterwards.
Who’s one artist on your playlist we need to start following immediately, and why?
That is so hard to answer. I’m gonna list two artists because they both immediately come to mind for me:
Number one would be Suzi Analogue. I’ve been seeing Suzi, listening to Suzi do her thing for years now, and I am constantly inspired by her hustle, constantly inspired by her grind, and constantly inspired by her growth. What she sounded like 5 years ago isn’t at all what she sounds like now, and that’s completely okay. I love seeing her grow as an artist, and she’s out here really doing her thing and deserves all the shine and all the recognition.
Secondly, I would have to say SassyBlack, because she’s another black femme that I’ve been seeing evolve tremendously over the last few years. I’ve seen her go from being in a group to following a solo path in music, and just really always enjoying what she is putting out. Please check out both of those black femmes and support them, because they absolutely deserve it.
Gemynii's Upcoming Shows
Check out The Conjure, which has been my own personal dance party. It has been a way to decolonize dance floors here in North Carolina, especially in the Raleigh/Durham area. It is a party that celebrates the magic of black and brown femmes. It is where we come together to celebrate everything that we are and everything that we give other people and have been giving people since the beginning of time. I’m really proud, we’ve been going strong for more than a year and a half.
We have our Gemynii edition of the Conjure next month, where I’ll be celebrating my personal birthday and the birthday of another amazing black femme that I work with a lot, ZenSoFly, who is also on this playlist.
Check out The Conjure on Instagram and just celebrate any dance party that may be in your city that is hosted and curated and features black and brown artists. It’s so important.