Ysa Perez is equal parts captivating and capturing, a fascinating Puerto Rican pixie running around breaking hearts with her golden Contax T2 35mm point & shoot or analog Mamiya. She is best known for her outstanding portraits of A$AP Rocky before he went mainstream, yet her photography knows no bounds in terms of subject matter. Ysa seizes everyday occurrences, the little things we seem to take for granted: a streak of light on someone’s sleeping face, the last few puffs of a cigarette, sunshine & food, nights out & days spent in. With a list of notable names from Cassie, Solange, & Lil Debbie, to James Blake, Riff Raff & Andrew Garfield, expect to be exposed to more of this lady’s talent. I got to chat & photograph this lovely Rochester, NY belle post a Skream/Oneman show in Boston. She was gracious enough to offer me some not yet seen pics from the tour. If you don’t already, follow her journey via tumblr & after the jump let’s fall under her spell.
»>Hi Ysa, you’re back in Rochester, NY after a mini tour spree with fiancé Steve Bishop aka DJ Oneman. What’s your favorite thing about home? Any comical childhood memories you can share?
To be honest, I don’t visit home often; this is probably the most time I have spent in Rochester since I was in college. I went to RIT, which was 5 minutes away from my parent’s house. But I enjoy the quietness of suburban life and it’s simplicity. As much as New York has transformed me, I come back here and realize oh shit yeah; this is where I’m from. It’s the best way to disconnect after all that travelling – and NYC becomes abrasive for me after awhile. My first job was at Pontillo’s Pizza, and then I worked at the mall for a few years — that to me is comical. I had a completely different life growing up. You know Seinfeld’s Worlds Theory? This is my other world. I’m Ysanya here, not Ysa.
»>You guys hit both the Best & the Beast coast. Anything standout in San Fran or LA? How about Boston?
It was Steve’s first US Tour promoting his Solitaire II mix tape he had just dropped, so the west coast was a highlight because I rarely get to visit and he had only been once. We rented a car and crib and got to do whatever we wanted, so that was our favorite portion of the tour because usually you don’t really get to see much of a city anyway when dates are back to back. It’s so in and out, so it was really fun to be settled there and experience it. I hadn’t seen him in three fucking months before that so, downtime was essential. Unfortunately we had no time in Boston, but we would love to come back — I think it’s a beautiful town. I deeply regret not being able to try ANY seafood there. Oysters are a weakness of mine…
»>Before you discovered photography was there something else that occupied your creative time?
Yes, I used to play the violin all through middle school and high school. I only stopped because I didn’t have room in my schedule during college. I miss it… and I regret having to stop. Honestly, photography didn’t start for me until my second year of college. I attended the University of Buffalo my first year as an undecided major taking foundation classes trying to figure out what the fuck I was good at. After being involved in a photo project and seeing how amazing the photo facilities were at RIT, I transferred there to major in Advertising Photography. I wish it were a better story. I definitely wasn’t the kid with the handed down 35mm camera around my neck. No offense. I was always on computers though, or listening to music and smoking weed. Sort of my suburbia adolescence summed up.
»>Are you happy to have attended school for photography? The market seems oversaturated these days.
Yes, although some days it’s easy to become discouraged considering the amount of imagery there is to compete with. I open Instagram and everyone is a photographer, I open twitter and everyone has something out for some blog/magazine — there is a lot of pressure to constantly be putting shit out. These channels, although great for exposure and self-promotion, opened the doors for pretty much anyone. At the end of the day however, I remember that I knew nothing technical about photography before I began RIT, and I left with a really comprehensive understanding of it. My class year was right on the cusp of digital completely overtaking the curriculum, so I’m grateful I learned traditional analog printing, both color & B&W, used 4×5 cameras and medium format cameras, and overall learned the history of photography. Kodak originated in Rochester, so my school’s facilities were on point and my education there was crucial because it’s where I learned to shoot film properly and instantly fell in love with the process. I still only use film, 120 and 35mm (digital on the rare occasion that it’s required). I’m very thankful for that rather than the ‘Internet way’ of becoming something. Not for me.
»>You’re known for your innovative portraits of artists; however this past year your blog has featured more of a documentary style, gloriously capturing moments in NYC, Ibiza, & the UK. Would you move overseas? Anywhere else you wish to travel?
Thank you! In the past few years I have been able to travel quite a bit and it has allowed me to experiment in ways that editorial assignments limited me. I was able to take my time and learned to make photographs out of moments I might have overlooked before. It also helped me realize I was also interested in other types of photography, for example reportage. I love to document. A lot of my work comes from my personal life and things that actually happen to me. I would and will definitely move overseas as my fiancé lives in London, but there are absolutely other places I’d like to travel to! ASIA, where you at?
»>You recently attended Drake’s OVO tour which (as showcased on your social networks) must’ve been a dream come true. What or who can top that moment?
I think ACTUALLY meeting Drake could only top that moment. After years of seeing DJs play, it was refreshing to see a big production like that. We had an amazing time, second best night of our life after getting engaged. Seriously, his show was perfect. I don’t need back up dancers, costume changes, or some dumb ass mountain, just wanted to hear the dude sing.
»>Type of music you grew up listening to:
Growing up early 2000’s in Rochester I listened to a lot of hip-hop for sure. Shit that doesn’t make sense to me now, like was I really listening to Jedi Mind Tricks when I was 13? Or Dead Prez “Hip Hop” would be blasting at a middle school party. But that’s what you listened to here. My friends were the guys that skated and smoked weed and watched CKY2K. Great era. I hung out, observed, stole a lot of Zoo York hoodies and in return was exposed to a lot of music. I did enjoy dance music but at that time it was all about ‘beats,’ or whatever. DJ Shadow, RJD2, Bonobo, etc. Had my Aphex Twin/Boards of Canada/Four Tet/Caribou/ moment as well. Listened to a lot of drum & bass even because that was big here. I went through alllll the phases. All of it shaped what I listened to today.
»>3 fav tunes your future hubby drops during his sets:
Can’t believe how difficult it is to just pick 3 because our taste in music is freakishly similar, so I generally like each track. I am most hyped at the end of his set, when the 4×4 bassline/grime/uk shit kicks in because I love the energy that type of music creates. Anyway, he doesn’t produce music, so instead he has regular tracks that he plays often. He’s new in America but if you’re in the UK at a Oneman show and for instance, hear the beginning of “I Love U” (Dizzee Rascal) creepin in, it’s usually an indication that he’s about to go for it.
But if I have to pick 3….
1.) Recently released and he plays it a lot, also was on the mix tape, it’s frantic in a good way.
2.) Another new one that got a lot of play in America, wasn’t mad.
Pearson Sound – Starburst:
3.) And lastly, classic Oneman.
Rossi B & Luca – E10 Riddim:
»>Seinfeld episode to have on repeat:
Season 5, Episode 13: The Dinner Party. You telling me wine is better than Pepsi?
words: Georgette Bibber
Within this universe of possibilities, will we ever learn to share?
The entity that is James Blake began his Boston performance last week at House of Blues with this precise question in the form of the mystifying and structural tour de force 3rd song from his self-titled debut album. He then synchronizes effortlessly into ‘Life Round Here’, also the 3rd song but from his sophomore release “Overgrown”. Being within feet of this voice & musical arrangement I imagine is comparable to strolling through the Elysian Fields, while simultaneously swimming among the lost souls of the Styx.
Transfixing, to say the least.
Those wise & lucky enough to have known of Mr. Blake for years were treated to his oddly fantastic dubstep tune from 2009: Air & Lack Thereof.
The massive tunes of ‘Overgrown’, ‘I am Sold’, & ‘Digital Lion’ woke up the nocturnal crowd. I have a feeling many of us common folk weren’t sure how to react. Most remained still or shimmied slightly about, quietly singing along, while others looked as though they were under hypnosis. There were also siren calls from fans at random moments. Myself, I danced as though no one was watching. A friend of mine cried during the Joni Mitchell cover “A Case of You”, while another got accosted by a seemingly doting couple.
You’d think it was a full moon with the myriad ‘weird’ experiences of those in attendance, but this fits the mood perfectly. James Blake is weird as well as tremendous (in physical height) & in creativity. If Jeopardy curated a category of him who would be amid his peers? I’m hard pressed to think of a name. Producers need to step their game up, or hop into a time machine & get to whatever future James’ mind dwells in.
Admittedly, my fandom began not too long ago. I had heard his critically acclaimed music before, but didn’t “get it”. The light bulb finally went on when upon first hearing “Voyeur” played through on Technics. I was quite pleased when James addressed the crowd claiming the song to be the most representative of his 1-800-Dinosaur label.
The audience, of course, went wild for “Retrograde” & “Wilhelm Scream”, unfortunately this joie de vivre was a bit late as these were his last two songs. Before James’ one man gospel encore of “Measurements”, he asks us to remain silent. As he walks off the stage with the lights dimmed, it’s as though a single tree left the forest. Eerie. Brilliant.
Topping off the evening the venue speakers play Dawn Penn’s happy to be melancholy dancehall track ‘No, no, no’, & we’re off, but not finished.
An hour & a half after the show he appears, walking to his tour bus to a small group of fans, myself included. I feel incomplete without meeting an artist after a show, so I nonchalantly waited in the wings with my McDonald’s fast food & was fortunate enough to briefly chat with the singer.
I find out that James Blake’s favorite ice cream is the Cadbury crunchie:
& that the one album he would take with him on a deserted island is Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below:
Maybe he is just like one of us.
words + live show photos: Georgette Bibber
portrait: Guarionex Rodriguez Jr.
one of a kind.
Andre Lira is dj + producer with the rare ability to be versatile and diverse with his dj sets while maintaining an individual style in his productions. Take a gander at Doctor Jeep’s soundcloud + have yourself a listen (or five) to his many tracks that embrace a spectrum of genres. When attending an evening at a club I most definitely prefer the problem of wanting to #shazam tracks in the corner rather than wanting to cry there, & when this doctor is in, the former is not a problem. With an upcoming EP release on Drop the Lime’s Trouble and Bass (which you can preview here), if you haven’t heard of the Jeep-ster your ears are in for some percolating.
‘Ello Doctor, so first thing, when did you get your name & what encouraged it?
I get asked this question a ton, and I really wish I had a better answer but Doctor Jeep was a character in a book I read in high school. He was this villain sort of guy that was really mysterious and badass, so I adopted the name when I first started making electronic music because I thought it sounded cool at the time (2008ish). Nowadays, not so much – to be honest I actually kind of hate introducing myself as that to people but at this point I can’t really change the name because everyone knows me as that.
You began to dj + produce dance music during college, what was on your playlist back in high school? Were you raised on any specific genres or acts?
Oh man I listened to totally different music before college. I played guitar all through middle and high school and listened to metal and hardcore mostly. I listened to a lot of Converge, The Black Dahlia Murder, Circle Takes the Square, etc… Actually, now that I think about it, my taste was a weird mix of the super heavy and ‘lighter’ emo stuff like Cursive and Appleseed Cast. Basically I was a tortured soul who got made fun of a lot for being kind of a small dude. That’s not really an issue now as I learned to stop deriving self-confidence from physical attributes but yeah; I liked emotionally aggressive stuff back then haha.
I lightened up a bit towards the end of high school and somehow I got roped into playing bass for this ridiculous fantasy metal band. We did Dragonforce covers and wrote songs about Norse gods and stuff…needless to say we were kind of geeky. We didn’t drink or smoke and would spend all night practicing in the guitarist’s basement. It was actually kind of tight because the other guys in the band were ridiculously talented at their instruments so we tried to push the envelope for music that people our age were making. Once I got more involved with producing electronic music I sold all my guitar/bass gear though. Kind of miss it!
‘Luv 4 Me’ is the track with the most plays on your soundcloud & is being released on Shy FX’s label Digital Soundboy, but you’ve said that you’re inclined towards a darker, less pop-y sound. This is clearly demonstrated with your successful Level II release a few years ago and your forthcoming Trouble & Bass EP. Do you have trouble balancing your DRJ + DJ BARK LEE monikers?
Oh yeah, ‘Luv 4 Me’ is definitely the most mainstream-friendly jam I’ve ever made. The reality is, I made it as a one-off and never expected it to be the kind of tune I would get messages every single day about. I’ve been asked to write more songs with that kind of sound a lot, but honestly I find it really difficult to duplicate that vibe as I’m intrinsically drawn to rhythm rather than melody when I’m producing. As for classifying my music as ‘dark,’ well, that’ll always be part of me. I’m actually a very happy guy in my day-to-day life, but when I’m the zone it feels so natural to make darker music.
There are times when I envy all those people who can easily crank out the hits with the nice chord progressions and pitched vocals or whatever – music that’s great for home listening and gets to the top of Hype Machine - but my personal mission is making music designed for the club. Ultimately, I want to build the tracks that make you go rush the DJ booth for the ID the second it comes in, because of the crazy bassline or unique drum pattern or little vocal snippet. However, I think with the kind of music I make, this is a more likely reality overseas unfortunately. Our clubbing cultures are just so different.
As for the aliases, I usually explain them like this: DRJ is the fun, happy stuff you could listen to in any situation. DJ Bark Lee is Baltimore/Jersey-style edits of otherwise popular tracks – these are DJ tools for my sets more than anything. Doctor Jeep is everything else, mainly influenced by garage / grime / dubstep / drum n bass. I try to make it a point to keep the identities separate because Jeep is the main one and I have a certain style in mind for that name. Like, I want to build this “character” for Jeep so when you hear the name you can imagine what it might sound like. I always have this vision in my head that I want my music (as Doctor Jeep) to feel as if you’re raving in an Amazonian jungle illuminated by torches and stuff haha. This might not be immediately apparent in my previous works save for a few, but hopefully once all the music I made in the summer gets released to the public this idea will make more sense.
How fun was it touring with the Hot Mom USA crew this summer? Can you recall a particularly memorable moment?
Oh man, so sick! It was a real treat to spend 5 days straight with Elijah (Butterz), Spooky, and the rest of the Hot Mom gang. Every show we played was tight, the crowds were surprisingly receptive to grime, and the Brits had awesome stories. I guess the most memorable moment was playing b2b with Spooky on the last night of the tour in Boston. I never could have imagined playing track for track with a producer I really respect and someone who is somewhat of a legend in that scene.
You currently dwell in the heart of NYC, any pros + cons compared to your jaunt in Boston?
The most strikingly obvious difference is that the nightlife is way better in New York than Boston. To be fair, Boston has had some great bookings recently, but the fact that public transportation closes down at 12:30 and everything else shuts down at 2am puts a serious damper on any chances of it being a major nightlife city, at least for the kind of vibe I like. New York has way more people, so there can be 5 great shows with multiple headliners that will be equally well attended on any given weekend, whereas in Boston when two shows compete one ultimately suffers a little bit.
As for cons, New York is ludicrously expensive in every respect. I miss being able to live in a large house with a yard versus an apartment surrounded by skyscrapers. The pace of life in Boston was way more relaxing than here where everyone is constantly rushing to something. In the end, New York is right for me because being in the thick of everything and having more competition heightens the desire to hustle and succeed, but I will always relish the time I spent in Boston.
You get to choose the one gold plated drum n’ bass record that gets sent into space, what is it:
Oh this is easy: M-Beat & General Levy – Incredible. I like to imagine a scenario where a highly futuristic alien race stumbles upon this in their intergalactic travels, somehow finds a way to produce audio from a vinyl record, then reveres the record as their new god. Soon all the multi-tentacled beings are wearing camo, doing the gunfingers, blowing on rave whistles, speaking inna ragga dialect, etc. Really I just want our alien overlords to descend upon earth and be cool junglists that we can party with.
Dream residency location:
Room 1 at Fabric, London. That place is heaven on earth to me. The lights, the sound (the damn floor vibrates with the bass!), the layout, it’s perfect. It would have to be like a monthly residency at most though, I’d rather have 4 badass headlining slots in a year than playing every weekend. Actually, I’m really into the idea of curating a night more than anything; picking who is playing in which rooms. When I lived in London the first big night I went to was the Hessle Audio residency, and in Room 1 they had Pearson Sound, Ben UFO, Pangaea, Kode 9, Kowton, Jam City, and Icicle. As you can probably imagine, it was a life changing experience and I never viewed clubbing the same way again. I was so blown away by what I was hearing that I ended up staying in the same room the entire 6 hours I was there, even though in the next room over was Pinch, Loefah, 2562, Peverelist, Distance, and Om Unit. Man, now I’m getting all nostalgic for London haha.
*Bonus* question from DJ @199DS
"It’s 2003 and you’re about to play a set at a London pirate radio station at the top of a Hackney tower block… what are your first three tracks?"
words: Georgette Bibber
portraits: Guarionex Rodriguez Jr.
@DJONEMAN is a Titan among mere mortals. How quintessential his name + persona mesh is no coincidence. From the looks of it there will be no overthrow of his reign during this Golden Age of electronic music. This South Londoner has his masterful weekly show on the former pirate radio station Rinse FM, where he showcases fresh UK funky along with classic garage & dubstep tunes, while crossing them over with US hip hop, rap, + r&b.
Every episode quickly becomes a go to download but his exclusive Diplo & Friends set on BBC Radio 1 Xtra was an impeccable platform for more mainstream exposure.
Want to know his secret? Well, Steve Bishop is not one to fit into any molds- his style transcends them.
In a recent interview with Trap Magazine he explains his evolution:
“Yeah man, it’s just a natural progression. I’m not afraid to play any music I like… I really don’t have guilty pleasures. I play so broad, I can’t box in what I do or will want to do next. Rhythm and bass, that’s the common thread. They are always key – that’s it.”
DJ Oneman has a discreet confidence about him that comes with knowing. Actions speak louder than words, & this selector’s advantage in being able to correct & blend, as well as switch up the vibe at lightning speed- is a summit few are able to reach unfettered. Although it is no longer physically necessary to dig the crates, Oneman is still willing to deepen the variety of his sets by spanning decades & genres.
A magnificent example is Oneman’s Boiler Room after the launch of his Solitaire Vol. 1 mixtape, which is now onto Vol. 2, just released last month.
What can you expect from his opening set for Skream during his Boston debut? Well, thanks to the team over at Crush! we have a chance to find out. Let’s hope this is the first of many appearances the individual known as Oneman can grace us with.
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