Interview by
Charlie Porter
Mixtape by
DJ Mike Q


26-year-old Mike Q from New Jersey is resident deejay of Vogue Knights, happening every Tuesday night at Escuelita in Manhattan. There you'll find him doing six-hour sets of mostly his own edits, remixes and original tracks. As head honcho of Qween Beat Productions, he's been making some ultramodern ballroom and house music, all the while playing burgeoning scenes in places like Atlanta and Houston. The fast and nasty tracks — loaded with bitchy vocal samples and repetitive beats — are the perfect complement to the audacious and fierce 'new way' of voguing these days. Madonna would probably break her old back trying to copy one of those girl’s dips.

In person (we talked via Skype) Mike is the sweetest, most polite gentleman around. We had a quick chat while he packed for his upcoming mini-tour of Canada and cleaned his jewelery with an old toothbrush.

Charlie: When did you start deejaying?
Mike: I didn’t start til maybe 2005. I started making music in 2004, after first going out and getting exposed to the ballroom. I started playing around with the music and making it myself. Deejaying came around a year after that.
Has the music evolved much since then?
It’s a little bit different now because there are so many more people making it. At the time, there were probably only two. The track that I heard first was by a DJ Vjuan Allure. It was pretty much the same as what we’d make today, but at the time, the club only played that track and just two regular house tracks.
Playing at a ball must be really specific, timing the beat to go with the dancing.
Sometimes, I’ll take a sample and play it with another track side-by-side, and when they’re dancing I’ll try to hit it when they drop it. But when I’m playing at Escuelita, I can’t really see the dancers from the booth. I just listen to the commentators to know when to stop the beat, or I can just hear what’s going on to know what to do.
Do you have particular tracks for particular voguing categories?
They can pretty much vogue to anything. I’ll try to play more up beats, more dramatic stuff. That’s what they like to hear. If there’s a certain beat that they’re not feeling, they will ask me to change it, but I pretty much know what they want.
Are you in a house, Mike?
Yes. My first house was LaBeija. Now I’m in Ebony. I’ve been in that house for about three years now. But I don’t vogue or anything.
What does being in a house involve?
It’s almost like a fraternity. You carry the house name, and you walk balls in that house name and try to get trophies. It’s just a family thing.
How do you think the music works outside the ballroom?
I think it really does work. I don’t see many people voguing to it when I play it outside of the ballroom, but I feel that I get more recognition outside of the scene than inside the scene with the same music.
Why is that?
In the scene, we have different categories and statuses of people. Stars, statements, legends, icons, pioneers… Stuff like that. It goes by how many years you’ve been in the scene, how many times you’ve walked and won. A lot of that is based around the walking. Being a deejay is just being a deejay.

Tonight Mike Q is playing The Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver, and on Saturday you can catch him in Toronto at the Black Box Theatre with Zebra Katz & Njena Reddd. He’s also in the booth at Vogue Knights every Tuesday in New York City.

Charlie Porter is a writer based in London. His chat with gay calligrapher Paul Antonio was featured in BUTT 29. Read his amazing blog here.

Published on 15 June 2012