GUILTY BY MOONG!RL
GBA: How did you get into Djing, and how did you break into Bushwick’s nightlife?
Moong!rl: I began in my junior year of college when I learned from a friend who participated in our college radio station. I joined a collective of other women of color and non-binary people, and we began playing at venues in New Haven and Bushwick. I eventually moved here and continued playing.
GBA: Is there something within the NYC nightlife scene you wish you’d see happening more?
Moong!rl: For house/techno to stop being the baseline standard. I’d appreciate it if other genres could get a solid foothold at events outside the special events organized around select genres. Technically, a subset of the scene is already more genre-fluid, so who am I to complain? Maybe it’s a personal thing where I cannot play certain things at certain venues.
GBA: Navigating the scene as a queer Asian femme, what are some obstacles you overcame?
Moong!rl: First, I want to acknowledge the constant time and mental effort that comes with navigating non-cis, White identities (especially when you realize aspects of yourself in your twenties) and coping with life generally. After that, the main thing I’ve noticed is that because Djing and nightlife revolve around connections and networking, it’s inevitable that your career grows in the direction of your friendships and acquaintances. The main avenues are social media and word of mouth. You obviously cannot control who people are friends with and the dynamics that influence the formation of social groups. Sometimes I resent feeling “I cannot enter this space/group/etc. because I sense there may be ingrained, invisible racism/sexism/etc.” I might be partially right, but the extent to which I am right honestly isn’t worth the effort of engaging with or ruminating on. You could interpret that as me being complacent/not taking an active role in dismantling the aforementioned concepts. Still, in more ways than one, I feel better letting go and spending my mental resources on things that do not feel like they’re sucking out my soul. The bottom line is nightlife is supposed to be fun, so I try to minimize the amount of my headspace that is taken up by scene micropolitics and feeling like I’m losing in a rat race. I would rather spend my time actively creating things that mean a lot to me, that’s all.
GBA: How would you describe the venues you’ve played in 3 words? What are some of your favorite venues you’ve played?
Moong!rl: Dark, loud, and crowded? I guess not always crowded. but always dark and loud. My favorite sound system is Nowadays. I don’t think I have a favorite venue, but I like Heaven, all the way back to when it was 444club and then during and post Mood Ring ownership.
GBA: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you during your set?
Moong!rl: Someone threw a lime at my face last year at the end of my set at Mood Ring, while people were cheering. Personally, I think it was malicious, but I never found out who it was.
GBA: What kind of change do you wish to see in this nightlife?
Moong!rl: I guess less inflated egos. I don’t think DJing is a big deal. It’s really fun and exciting, but past a certain point, you’re just arrogant/an egoist. There is a baseline level of skill involved, but the upper bound where improving “skill” is maxed out is quite low. Not to mention nobody cares about technical skill past a certain minimum level. Maybe selection taste and song choice would be the next thing, but my favorite sets I’ve heard have been in the smallest of venues with like 10-15 people. The only thing differentiating a well-known, hyped DJ from a DJ just starting is reputation/word of mouth. Even the length of a career is just time. People with egos need a reality check.
GBA: Do you see a lot of Gen Z’s in your crowd? What are some demographics you notice?
Moong!rl: To be completely honest, I am scared to look up during my sets. Or I’m focused on getting something right, so I do not have a good enough read on my audience’s demographic as I should. It depends on the event and venue, though, and also, I prefer to see a crowd of people that feels on the same wavelength as me. I have played sets where I’m afraid to look up because I do not want to entertain the possibility of witnessing a sea of White cis men staring at me.