Interview: Item Idem And Venus X Talk Their Art Collaboration, Music, And NYC

Interview: Item Idem And Venus X Talk Their Art Collaboration, Music, And NYCItem Idem and Venus X (Photo by by Liz Barclay)

Venus X: For the Ford and Milk event, I didn’t know I’d be playing it until the morning of.

Item Idem: And I think everybody loved her set.

 

Whatever you want to do, just do it. If you’re conscious and present in the moment, you’ll mix it properly, and you’ll tell a story.

 

Venus X: I just feel really blessed. That was an amazing moment. I feel like there were so many people who just came to party, because of Milk, A$AP Rocky, their friends, or whatever reason. In the middle of all of it, something genuinely cool and important happened, you know? It wasn’t about tumbling photos or tweeting that you saw this person, or what you wore, but really about fucking the space up. It was pretty intense, because it wasn’t like I was just playing in the corner where nobody would notice. 

Item Idem: Since we decided that she would play the day of, I told her that the piece was quite intense — inspired by Japanese dekotora, which means decoration trucks — with blaring neons, metal, chrome extensions, and the WWI camouflage art for battleships called "Dazzle." So in total, we’ve done two collaborations so far.

Venus X: The show in Paris was really fun and scary, too. I DJ in clubs. Cyril’s getting comfortable asking me to do art stuff regularly now.

Item Idem: I love to play with different mediums, and actually, I’ve tried pretty much everything except music. Music is one thing I definitely can’t do. I love the color and aesthetic of music, but I’m so bad with rhythm. I have crappy commercial music taste. [Laughs] So it’s very exciting to work with an artist who’s so involved with sound. She started as a DJ, but she’s more than that to me. I saw her DJ for K8 Hardy at the Whitney Biennial, and in the art world, that’s pretty major. She mixed infomercials of shampoo products with beats…

Venus X: With Meek Mill… [Laughs] I didn’t care how people would react. My mom was there. My grandma was there. We did what we were supposed to do — all the things we weren’t supposed to do.

Item Idem: For me personally, I like when there’s a bit of thinking in the process. For this type of collaboration, you need someone who goes beyond playing club tracks. I’m also a huge fan of what she does for GHE20 G0TH1K (pronounced Ghetto Gothik). Maybe we should talk about that. How did it start? 

Venus X: It started in 2009 at Beauty Bar in Brooklyn, and I didn’t know how to DJ. It’ll be three years in October since that party. 

Item Idem: Wow, and you’ve changed the face of the city. It’s crazy.

Venus X: In 2009, I had an iPod, a computer, and a mixer. I would just DJ a lot. I had a monthly party where I only played Siouxsie and the Banshees and Dipset — black and white, back to back. I was going to goth parties where they didn’t play any black music, and I was going to white parties where they didn’t play any hood music, so I decided to put them together. We kept outgrowing small bars, and eventually our friend started managing Orchard Street, which is where we all started to meet — all the artists, kids, queens from the voguing scene, the cool art school kids, the skateboarders — everybody just started hanging out in the same club. A lot of new DJs started playing with us like Total Freedom (who played in LA on Cyril’s piece), Kingdom, NGUZUNGUZU, $hayne, and Physical Therapy. We had this solid core of new sound.

Item Idem: It’s the voice of a generation somehow. I’ve been in New York for four years, and I’ve befriended these people. There are so many creative talents in that scene. Three years ago, GHE20 G0TH1K started, and DIS Magazine happened around the same time, and those are linked in the way that they promote all these people moving things forward with video, sound, and fashion. For example, $hayne and Telfar are both DJs and fashion designers. I think there’s something about New York right now. It’s like the return of hedonism after the decay of post-911, where things were more difficult, and the art reflected that. It was not very positive. This is really happening, people are enjoying themselves. As she said, there are plenty of tribes coming into one, and the music is like that, too; you can play anything.

Venus X: Like how we started out playing punk, goth, and cold wave, then hip-hop, old Three 6 Mafia, and dark ghetto goth. It’s how I found juke; I only had two tracks before it exploded. A lot of DJs are dance-oriented, but there are some of us that really take that idea to heart. You can really mix anything that has sound to it — whether it’s a movie clip, an instrumental, a cappella, or a TV show. Whatever you want to do, just do it. If you’re conscious and present in the moment, you’ll mix it properly and you’ll tell a story. We’re not here to just play parties, make money, and get wasted. We like to party, but we have a desire to restore the narrative of New York, because it got too commercial. We were like, “We’re from there, this isn’t fun, this is full of shit, and we can’t afford to go places and buy things. Then we’re not let in at half the places that we wanna go to.” It became the epicenter of power exchange — when you have intergenerational people partying from ages 19 to 45, from all walks of life, getting to know each other, becoming friends, dating, and working together. Cyril and I never would have worked together three years ago. We didn’t even know each other. But all of a sudden this thing happened.

Tags: item-idem, venus-x, interview
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