You probably spotted her fluorescent green hair at New York Fashion Week – in a sea of two-toned pastel dip-jobs, it was unmistakeably bad-ass and individual, like all things Venus X. A Harlem native, she’s been a prominent DJ on the New York City nightlife scene in recent years, but is really coming into her element on an international scale in 2011 by catching the attention of some of pop’s leading luminaries (we aren’t at liberty to reveal what that entails just yet – you’ll know soon enough). Venus X, real name Jazmin Venus Soto, helped invent and continues to operate within a violent mash-up genre she coins “ghetto gothic.” The GHE20G0TH1K parties she organizes are the ideal testing ground for her brand of cyber diaspora – crashing industrial samples grating against syrupy drag and witch-house, aggro-tech, metal, and almost any sonic form designed to invoke unease. People started to pay attention to the sounds she was making; then suddenly, everyone was – including fashion labels, who find her look and sound suitably jarring.
Venus snapped up designer DJ gigs left and right this past New York Fashion Week, with her aggressive, vital Gerlan Jeans mix performance becoming the show’s most tweetable talking point. When your music transcends the limits of the runway and makes the front row participate on a more visceral level – that’s when you’ve done something right. And Venus can’t miss. She performed her sonic sorcery again at Hood By Air’s show only days later, where Rolling Stone caught up with her to discuss her extraordinary style, on the decks and the look she’s perfected to accompany it. She also shares with us a stream of her track, “Renegade Berberse,” above.
My name is Venus X and I make noise. I’m a DJ and musician. I throw a party in New York called GHE20G0TH1K with my best friend $hayne and we also hold down his line Hood By Air.
Are you primarily a DJ or producer?
I can’t choose. I DJ in a way that could be recorded as production so both.
What is your Fashion Week involvement?
This fashion week I worked with Gerlan Jeans; it was a crazy experience. I almost quit because I was so nervous! But it worked out really well. I found so many amazing new tracks: a lot of early 90’s Memphis rap, really dark songs, and angsty Aggrotech. I also did the music for the Hood By Air show alongside $hayne. We freestyled using the CD-Js hot cues as a sampler. Our set list included an early Nineties System of a Down acapella and a chopped and screwed Angolan kuduro trance.
What did you play, and what trademarks did you add to that mix?
At the Gerlan show, I played my favorite “goth” tracks across a lot of genres. I started with Stacey Q, then launched into a Combichrist x Creep Lo mashup, Björk dubstep, some news on the London riots, even an eerie Baltimore club track, and a dark girly hardstyle track. I tried to take the room’s temperature and match it to Gerlan’s.
What is GHE20GOTHIK?
GHE20G0TH1K is a party I started a few years ago that kept growing, and is now the sound of $hayne and I DJing. It’s about our friends who play amazing music; the party stays alive so artists like Total Freedom, Nguzunguzu, Tim Dewit, Fatima al Qadiri, Kingdom, Physical Therapy and others are able to play in a good space in NYC.
What would a dream collaboration be for you?
My dream collaborators would be Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliot, and girls in general!
What were some personal Fashion Week highlights for you?
Hood By Air, hands down. I didn’t see the final pieces until the day of the show; we just talked about the clothes a lot.
How long have you had green hair? And why did you color it that shade?
Two months. Well, I wanted baby blue and it was gonna be hard so I decided on green because it’s just the one! It’s the color of weed, money, the future, progress. It’s just direct and it was the exact color of Gerlan’s slime, which helps.
How do you define your personal style?
Personal style equals clear. Ideally all vinyl everything but for now, clothes my friends make, like [designer] Telfar. I love stores like Rainbow, free clothes, and Death Traitors.
Do you think it’s important for female DJs to have a strong visual
If that’s your thing, I say be you. I feel like a ghetto anime so I dress like it, and I love being risky it’s so fun. It pays off after you get comfortable.
Do your musical selections set a certain runway mood, even changing the way people see the clothes?
Totally! It’s supposed to put them in the ride. It’s all about making people see it better through information you get in music.
What do you enjoy most (or least) about fashion?
I don’t really like it! It’s too expensive, and the best stuff is underfunded. I see a lot of corny mass production; the exclusive next level pieces exist only in sample. Fashion is wack right now for the most part. It’s mad branding and no love!