Cxemcast 084 – Rachel Noon
Interviewed by Maria Ustimenko.

Cxemcast 084 – Rachel Noon
Interviewed by Maria Ustimenko.

What was on your mind when you were recording this mix?

Because of the quarantine, this mix has a different vibe than I thought it would when I was first asked to do it, but it's the only mix I could have produced during this time. For me, it's about yearning, a desire to be with friends in the sun, or go for long car rides. It was super personal to do. I feel like I was really expressing something in a way that's more palpable than usual. It's a bit nostalgic, which is strange. Who knew that in May 2020 I was going to have this big wave of nostalgia for anything? 

When I was making it, I also felt a little bit more freedom in terms of letting go of the roles that I think guide mixmaking sometimes, when you think someone is expecting a certain thing. I was able to say “fuck it” to some rules. Who has time for that right now? I tried to bend the rules and put some tracks in there that I would typically just listen to in my headphones at home or on a walk, tracks that I really love but wouldn't necessarily play in a club. It's always fun with the podcasts, but I think this mix, in particular, I pushed it a little bit further. 

As a NYC resident, could you describe the electronic music scene there? 

It's really alive, it seems like every time I go out there’s more and more people. At least when we left off, it felt like it was growing. I do think like with most other scenes around the world there is a lack of venues: it's a constant push to find new locations, and also to what the venues that are legal can do. But what I think is really cool is the legal clubs are really in touch with what the community wants. It's not like they are coming up with their ideas behind the closed doors, they are actually vibing with what people want their club to look like and what that experience can be. Promoters and venue owners are really plugged into what the community wants, so they can provide for them. I don't know if it's particular to New York, but it's something that I feel here, and I appreciate it a lot.

What would you say the community wants? 

We want safer spaces. We want inclusivity and diverse lineups in every way possible. We want the locals to feel appreciated, and they definitely are here. 

Has there been a change in this regard recently? 

Yes, and I think that will continue because these conversations are being had. As I said, the club owners, promoters and people who throw big parties want to have these conversations, and they are hosting these conversations, so it's clear to me that they are on board. In the underground community, so many of us — its members — are also the people who throw parties. The DJs become the residents, promoters, and all the way up to a standard club structure where you have a proper booker and fly in international artists. You can sense integrity in what people are doing, so it doesn't really matter if we are going to a legal club or an underground club. I think the rave spirit is spread across. 

Since you mention it, what form do you think rave takes today?

I think about this all the time. I think it's more of a spirit. When I walk around, walk my dog or I'm on the subway, I feel like I'm taking that spirit pretty much everywhere. I don't think it needs to exist inside the party. It's a community. It's creating a place for expression, and it finds its way into whatever that space may be, party or not.

You’re a resident at one of the key NYC promoters, Unter. Could you please tell me about it? 

Yes, I'm sort of a member of the Unter family. There are a lot of people that put a lot of work into creating these parties. Most of us are ravers who love the party and want to see it stay. Ultimately, the person who “signs the papers” at the end of the day is my friend named Sewa. But he is the first to admit that he couldn't do it without the Unter family. 

What do you think makes Unter stand out?

It's really the first of its kind: a proper techno party that attracts queer, politically driven, vibrant crowd. I think it's pretty unique in New York. It's not like there are five of these to choose from. Everyone is excited whenever an Unter date is announced. You can show up there alone and see a hundred of your friends. The production value is so high and the physical comfort is paid attention to. It's also always the same staff: bar, security, door. The party is basically a roaming pop-up so when you arrive you're like, “Yep, I'm at Unter!”

Your own platform is called Large Marge. Is that a reference to the film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure?

Yes, it's funny when I talk about the party because I always have an image of the character in my mind. And people are always asking, “Who is Large Marge?” and I say, “It's you, it's you and it's me!” Over the last couple of years, Large Marge has come to be the rave spirit that I'm talking about. I call her a deity of the rave. She's our figure and there's a little bit of Marge inside us. 

How did it start?

It started as a way to gather and push femme and non-binary queer community. I wanted to expose them to space where they'd be at the forefront. That mission has expanded and come to mean different things: at this very moment, we're doing funny workout videos online called “Workout with Marge.” Large Marge was always an idea to throw a party that has a real throwback, ’90s vibe. Not directing music that way, but having a playful element that I had experienced in the ’90s when I was a kid raver. All the visuals, stupid stuff that I post, dumb ’90s imagery — for me, it's an instant ravey throwback.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to start a similar platform?

I think that people you work with to create the party is indicative of who you want to be at the party. So if you want to represent a certain group of people, you better have them by your side and work with them from the beginning. It’s everyone, from who you have on the lineups to who is doing the lighting to who is working the door. If people who come actually see themselves reflected in the people who are throwing the event, I think that's the baseline place to start. Invite members of the trans community and for all the shit they have to deal with, have them feel welcome and even remotely safe. Hire them. Put them in charge. How better to empower someone than let them make the decisions? I think who you have on your team is hugely important. To diversify that is a real gift to your cause.

You also co-run an audio series Faire Mauvais Genre. How did it come together?

This is a project I co-founded with my partner Vovotte, who lives in Paris. Our airwaves are a totally punk-rock radio station, called StationStation, that's housed inside a club called La Station. We started it almost two years ago with the intention of it being a 12-month series. The idea was to interview a different party “crew” each month for a year. We interviewed some of the most amazing, queer-spirited organizers, and I have the utmost respect for these people. It's wild to hear the struggles from the rave communities around the globe — and to think that we all have a common goal.

Vovotte and I also started an online mix series called WACKO. It's another way for us to highlight people we feel nourish the queer spirit. Radio Quantica, an amazing DIY project from Lisbon, is our host for the WACKO series.

What are your plans for the near future?

I've always got Large Marge going on at the back of my mind and, long-term speaking, I’d like to organize more events in New York and maybe elsewhere. I was actually able to take her to Copenhagen earlier this year so hopefully, there will be more of that. 

I'm also trying to make music. It's been a big goal well before the quarantine, but it's given me more time to work on stuff. I'd like to make music that I would actually play in my DJ sets, but sometimes I surprise myself. At this point, I'm okay with producing any kind of music, so long as I'm learning and feeling creative. I'm just a beginner, so if my music sounds different from what I had expected, that's great too. 

Also, sometimes I make something, take the beat out and I think it sounds better. I love playing beatless music or sets where you can identify beats only half of the time or like every third track. I think it's a very interesting journey as a DJ and I wish more parties had this kind of room where you can just chill, have a quiet talk, have a nap. I think there is a big place for the genre in this community as well. There aren't that many parties with chill rooms in New York, but it's totally special.

Do you have rooms like that at Large Marge parties? 

At this last party, we had a chill space and I think in the future having a non-dance program would be really amazing. I was talking before about producing parties with a certain level of comfort, and I think it's a huge way to do that. It just makes it sustainable. Like parties that serve fruit, I know it's not groundbreaking, but it goes so far and tells the raver that "We want you to stay here. You need your vitamins. Have this orange and maybe you'll get to be here for an hour longer.” I see a chill room as a similar nod to this kind of nourishment. It’s beautiful.

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