UNIIQU3 Talks "Trunk", Diversity, And Being a Triple Threat
New Jersey may not be known as a major hub for culture or influence, but don’t stop at the surface. Beneath first impressions is an underground Jersey club scene that’s hypnotic texture and boisterous bass-filled glory will have you hooked. And at the helm of the ship? Reigning queen UNIIQU3.
This triple threat (she plays the part of DJ, vocalist, and dancer) is here to light a fire under your bum and get your groove on. Her inimitable production skills and infectious energy are the jewels on her crown, and she’s been busy wearing it: this NJ native is slated to debut her first label release, “Trunk,” with fellow Jersey club producer YungKiiDD, next month. As if that’s not enough excitement for one artist, she’s also set to unveil her forthcoming EP on Nina Las Vegas’ label, NLV Records. Plus, next month is the launch of UNIIQU3’s monthly party run and a Jersey club 101 workout series featuring guest DJs. Phew.
UNIIQU3 is one busy queen, to say the least. Milk.xyz sat down with the Jersey club mastermind to get to the heart of the genre and talk about what challenges come with being a minority in the current dance music climate. Read the full interview below.
How did the partnership happen between you and Nina’s label?
I’ve known Nina for a while. She’s always been a big supporter of what I do. I feel like it’s really genuine. So when she asked me to be a part of her label and release an EP, I was like, “Sure.” I feel like she’s a very important part of what’s going on in Australia, too. I respect it.
Yeah, she is for sure. I like how supportive she is of all the artists she represents.
Yeah, definitely. It’s really genuine.
Going into your overall sound, I’m familiar with what Jersey club is. However, for those who are green to what the genre is, how would you describe it?
It’s all about the dance floor, and it has a lot of emotion in it. I feel like when kids in Jersey go to the clubs, it’s like, to let go of a lot of the built-up feelings that they develop from being in these inner cities, you know what I mean? It’s like a stress reliever. A lot of emotion, energy, fast-paced [and] a lot of vocals.
How did you get involved with the Jersey club scene?
Well, I grew up in it. I was just a kid. It wasn’t even like a scene to me, it’s just what I knew. That was always the music that we danced to. First it was Baltimore Club, then we developed our own swag to it; and ever since then, I just would go to the parties and be out and about enjoying my Jersey club life. (Laughs) I didn’t really come up in it, I guess you could say. It’s just something that I knew and I just wanted to DJ because I didn’t see a lot of girls DJing. I went on to producing and now I’m here.
I know that you started out as a vocalist and a dancer before going behind the decks. What was the catalyst in your decision to making the switch to DJing and producing?
Well, it was just a hobby really and then a couple of notable DJs heard me and they were like, “Well, you’re really dope.” I was like, “Maybe I’ll take it serious.” It was really just a hobby for me. I did it for fun and I would just hop on the decks at different parties. That’s when it became a thing, like people asked me, “You want to DJ?” and I was like, “Okay!” and then I started doing my own parties.
So, it was a spontaneous thing then. It wasn’t a planned career.
Yeah, no. It was definitely just something I grew to love. When you love something, you just keep doing it and I was like, “I want to get better at this.”
Absolutely. I love your Twitter feed because you’re always so positive about the scene. What helps you to keep that positive perspective when it comes to dance music?
I mean, dance music is supposed to make you happy, right? (Laughs) I just feel like the world is so fucked up in reality. It’s messed up and I just feel like Jersey club music is kind of like our escape from the harsh reality that we live in everyday of like the news, the politics or just living in the hood. So, that’s why I try to keep a positive attitude. I feel like everybody could use that and dance music together. Also, I try to be positive on social media more than negative. I’ll talk about negative topics more in-person because I feel like on social media platforms there’s a lot of opinions and complaints about stuff that people have no resolution to. I rather spread positive vibes. People need them and I do that through my music.
That’s so important to have, especially now. We’re living in such a tumultuous time.
It’s crazy, right? You’re like, “Is that real?” I feel you.
It’s so important to have that positive perspective to come through the music and attitude. It’s hard, but I appreciate what you do.
I just feel like with doing music it becomes a certain responsibility you have because you influence so many people.
Right! In terms of challenges you’ve faced as a DJ, what’s helped you to overcome them and what have some of those obstacles been?
That’s kind of a tough question. I feel like I face a lot of challenges. In the realm of dance music, it’s just predominately white male. I’m just different. I feel like there are people in the world that could fuck with the wave I’m on.
Yeah, the dance music arena is predominately white male.
Yeah, it is and I don’t know why. I feel like the first problem was like, we need more women, and it was cool. Then after the whole women thing it was like, “Can we get some more brown girls?” Sometimes I’ll go to places and I’ll be the only black girl there. I want to see more of me. How come only this kind of person can enjoy this party? I want them to feel more accepted in the places that people enjoy me. That’s mostly overseas.
I can relate to that. I appreciate the scene, but why isn’t there more diversity in dance music? It’s not really talked about either.
I know, right? It’s not like it’s not us out here.
What do you think would be a remedy to that issue?
I don’t know. I feel like [it’s] the line-ups though. I think it can be curated a little more diverse and also just more outlets–like advertise. If you’re advertising for festivals, make sure it’s a colorful crowd, like photos. Afropunk does a great job at it. I also think HARD Summer does a really good job at keeping everything really diverse. I’m a really big fan of those festivals. It’s different everywhere. To be honest, everything I spoke about is directed mainly at the American market of music. Overseas is a big difference I will say. To me more they kind of get it.
So, do you feel like places like Europe are a little more accepting of different crowds than America?
Well, Europe is diverse within itself. Everything is so close, not as in races but literally like the country. So, I feel like they’re a little bit more accepting to people speaking a different language because everything’s so close and everybody is from everywhere. Compared to America where people expect you to speak English.
So, one of the recent collaborations that I’m excited that you worked on is “Never Squad Down”.
Aww, thank you. Did you see the video? Isn’t it so cute? I’m so happy.
You can tell you all had fun! How did that project come about?
To be honest, I recorded with JSTJR a while ago. So, that was organic. He’s my homie and I worked on those vocals a while ago. He was like, “I have this idea. Let’s get a music video with these girls.” We have my girl Ma-Less on there. It was just a dope, organic project. I just feel like every girl was sexy in their own way. Then, we threw a big party with all of our friends. Every shot was pretty organic. I’m excited for JSTJR. He’s fresh in what’s music right now.
So, regarding what you have coming next…
Oh my gosh! A lot! I just shot the cover for “Trunk”. That comes out really soon. I’m excited for it. It’s my first single by myself on a label. I’m excited because I feel like its long coming. Before, everything I’ve released was very DIY or self-released. It’ll be under Warner, so that’s pretty dope.
Featured image courtesy of Steven Gard
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