When I launched OVAH Mag, my mission was to create a platform where I could celebrate parts of the community that are often overshadowed by those who are deemed popular by the larger gay media publications and regularly featured and/or given an unlimited amount of press.
Gay publications today aren’t entirely embracing all the extraordinary talent within the community especially when they’re repeatedly featuring the same artists over and over again. In my mind, those featured or written about less often are the individuals who form a more culturally diverse and realistic depiction of the community.
When developing OVAH Mag, I focused on the things I am passionate about, and those who often receive little or no recognition. LGBTQ artists within the music industry, and especially our DJs came to mind.
DJs have shaped my journey as a gay man, giving my life musical meaning. DJs have been influential throughout my life. Their skill to create a vibration of hope, inspire a generation, and invoke emotion over the years has fascinated me and given me the courage to make it through every day.
Looking back, in my late 20’s and early 30’s, I went out every night of the week, at all hours of the night, just to hear a DJ spin. It’s also a time in my life I stressed less and had happier moments. “Take your problems to the dancefloor” meant something in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
When New York City’s nightlife changed, so did the music and the respect my generation showed DJs. DJs helped transform our safe places (clubs) into events, epic moments in our lives, which has provided memories many of us of a particular age reminisce about and wish our younger generation could have experienced.
As I thought more about DJs, I started requesting interviews for OVAH MAG. As a new publication, it was hard getting DJ’s to say “yes!” I received a handful of “no thank you’s,” but that didn’t stop me.
My first “yes” was Mark Farina, and I am proud to say I interviewed him. Although it was an interview of questions and answers via email, it was the “yes” that gave me the push to keep asking.
A year later I asked another DJ I respected and admired for an interview, DJ Serving Ovahness. His sound was fresh and reminded me of my clubbing days. Back then, going out was an event. I would shop early in the day for a new outfit, meet friends for a late dinner at “FoodBar,” and then we would head to the club to hear the latest and greatest DJ. Those were the days.
DJ Ovahness was my first interview over the phone and boy was I nervous, but I pushed through, and by the end, I felt accomplished. That interview inspired me to keep going.
From there, I started to connect with more DJs and feature them and their music.
Mark DeMarko is someone I know personally. When he was living in NYC I specifically went out to hear him spin. Kinkster MAG named DeMarko ‘DJ of the Year 2016.’ However, as we moved forward, we realized that might not be the right title to use for future DJs. It did not match the overall mission for the site where we were thinking about the future of music as opposed to what was already happening.
We changed the title of our top DJ pick from DJ of the Year to ‘DJ on the Rise,’ after considerable debate. A few months later, Bio Zounds was recognized as OVAH Music 2018 DJ on the Rise.
I love music, but remixes are my love which is why I was excited to celebrate Bio Zounds who has exceeded our expectations as 2018 DJ on the Rise. The 3rd exclusive mix of his 4-part series has been epic. We cannot be more grateful for his support.
DJ on the Rise is our chance to highlight and recognize a handful of DJs we’ve uncovered, listened to regularly, who influenced, inspired, and motivated us through their remixes. We also acknowledge their hustle and determination as they spin gig to gig and how they connect with us via social media. They’re also serious about their craft and as long as they are creating memorable moments on and off the dancefloor.
This year, we have 4 DJs who have impacted our lives, but one of them, we cannot stop listening to one of them. We have a few more weeks before the official announcement but here are the 5 contenders for 2019 DJ on the Rise.
Who is your favorite? Take a listen and leave a comment and let us know.