New York-based artist Venetta is indebted to amplifying her community. Alongside her own work as a visual artist, DJ, producer and creative director, she’s behind several creative platforms that help to support and create opportunities for marginalised groups.
On a creative tip, she’s a founding member of NuZi, a collective focused on spotlighting Black and brown women, trans and non-binary people through events and community engagement, while she’s also co-founder and creative director of Dispone, a publication that aims to decolonise the media by putting the dreams and visions of Black, indigenous and POC women, trans, non-binary, 2S and disabled creatives front and centre.
These initiatives aren’t solely creative-focused though, she’s also the founder of the Vancouver Black Therapy & Advocacy Foundation, a non-profit organization that connects Black community members with mental health resources, and is the charity she’s chosen to pair her (Extended Mix) with.
Normally her mixes are concerned with club sounds, namely electro, acid and trance, but for this three hour journey Venetta’s decided to take a different approach. Taking inspiration from the mixes and sounds that have provided reflective and meditative moments for her during lockdown, she laces together ambient soundscapes, glitch and IDM to soundtrack listener’s bedtime routines.
(Extended Mix) is a new charitable series that celebrates all-night specialists and more simple, carbon-friendly lineups. Instead of paying on the door for this extended experience, we invite listeners to donate to the DJ directly while their gigs are cancelled, or to a chosen charity.
First off, how have you found lockdown? What has been the biggest challenge and more positive outcome you’ve experienced through extended time at home?
I’m currently in New York so there is no lockdown at the moment but I wouldn’t be surprised if things were heading that way. Ever since the first lockdown back in 2020 though I’ve completely embraced becoming a homebody, I really don’t leave my house unless it’s necessary like for errands and exercise. The positive outcome would be that I no longer apply pressure onto myself to leave the house and do things I don’t wanna do. I now listen to my body and prioritize resting, something I was never able to do before the lockdown.
Before the lockdown, I would be digging for new music all throughout the week, but during the lockdown, I stopped digging as frequently so DJing out after the lockdown was really weird. I had no idea what to play after not playing at the club live for over a year, most of my playlists felt outdated in comparison to the sounds I’ve been embracing recently, but we’re back in business now and playing out feels more cathartic than ever.
Thanks for recording an extended mix for us. How did you find the recording process?
It was my first time creating a mix through Ableton, as opposed to recording live using my CDJs. I couldn’t fathom the idea of standing for 4 hours recording in my room, but lounging and creating the mix through Ableton was relaxing, I set the mood in my room to make it a relaxing experience and I also found creating the mix through Ableton forced me to think more critically about the tracks I was pairing, as opposed to mixing live where I can just sort of wing it.
How did you approach the mix? Did you have an idea in mind beforehand? Was there much pre-planning or did you just trust your instincts?
I wanted to try a different approach to recording the mix, I usually almost always record dance mixes, but because the mix had to be 4 hours long I decided to record a meditative mix, like the extended soundscapes and ambient mixes I listen to when I sleep at night. These mixes always help me unwind and relax, so I tried to mimic these mixes and take listeners on a meditative journey.
Could you talk us through a couple standouts from the set?
There’s a part of the mix in the middle that gets pretty glitchy, the only part that’s not beatless, and I had a lot of fun with it. Tracks such as ‘Mmm’ and ‘Ahh’ by Loraine James, and ‘Insides’ by Jon Hopkins stand out for me, both are by some of my favorite IDM producers with really refreshing approaches to sound design.
If a listener were to listen to the mix while sleeping, I want it to feel psychedelic, so by the time that part hits they should already be in a deep, and it can trip out their subconscious mind.
Who are some of your favourite all-night specialists, and why?
Josey Rebelle no doubt. Her all-night sets are legendary. Always consistent, genre-bending emotional journeys.
By celebrating DJs with a penchant for all-night sets, the (Extended Mix) series hopes to encourage a more stripped back, carbon-friendly approach to lineup curation. Reducing our footprint as a globalised underground community is a massive challenge as we try to rebuild the scene after Covid-19 lockdown, and we hope progression can be forged through sharing our challenges and experiences. Are there any thoughts you’d like to add to the discussion?
I love the idea of extended sets. For me, my favorite sets I’ve ever played have always been 2+ hours long because I really got to connect with the audience on a deeper and even spiritual level. I think more people don’t book artists for longer sets because of budgetary constraints but when you think about it, it would cost less to book fewer DJs but with extended sets, as opposed to stacking the lineup with tons of DJs with short sets. I guess it really depends on the vibe you’re after, do you want to offer the audience a wide variety of sounds and moods? Or do you want to spotlight the talent, and craft a much more intimate experience?
Tell us a bit more about your chosen charity – what work do they do and why is it so important to you?
I chose the Vancouver Black Therapy & Advocacy Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to connecting Black community members with mental health resources such as free therapy and advocacy services. The VBT&AF is near and dear to my heart as I founded the organization back in June 2020, and to date, we have provided almost 70 Black folks with free therapy sessions.