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Deep South

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deep south ATL

ROBERT ANSLEY, VICKI POWELL, ASH LAURYN

Deep South founder Vicki Powell has been playing records and grooving on the dancefloor for her entire life. Her first gig was at a roller skating rink when she was 13 years old and she has been throwing parties for decades. An asset to her local queer scene and abroad, she has been booked at Honcho in Pittsburgh; NYC’s Battle Hymn; Femme’s Room in Chicago; Ostbanhof, Daddy Issues, and Cub Scout in Los Angeles; NeedlExchange in D.C.; and numerous other cities. With the culmination of meeting new people and seeing the gamut of party styles she was inspired to bring a new project to ATL.

Deep South is the evolution of years and years of parties and nightclubbing. I was ending a 10-year run with another party, and had been traveling and meeting DJs on the road,” Powell says. “I was so surprised at how many people had never been to Atlanta! As a native, I have a lot of pride in Atlanta. We have one of the coolest music scenes around, full of great talent, but for whatever reason we’re overlooked in certain areas.”

Embodying a DIY atmosphere, this party is inspired by early rave years. Powell says back then “there were so many club spaces to choose from but over time many of the proper nightclubs were torn down to build luxury condos and apartments. DJs lost the ability to show up and play in a professional setting. A lot of restaurants around town started adding turntables in a back corner but it wasn’t a true industry standard booth. It was what we had to work with at the time. I actually really loved the intimacy of those days, especially after the huge nightclubs of previous decades.”

She continues, “I ended up buying my own sound system so I could set-up anytime, anywhere. This was the beginning of becoming more DIY and, in turn, returning to a more underground environment. I wasn’t really hearing the music I wanted to hear in the larger gay clubs so I had to throw the party myself and book DJs I wanted to hear instead. Unfortunately there was (and still is) a lot of misogyny in the gay community. There is an obvious need to book more female talent as well as POC, trans, non-binary, and underrepresented artists in general.”

“For me, dance floors are sexy spaces, where one can express themselves in a provocative way. There is a seduction in all of it and if you are someone who doesn’t feel quite comfortable in a mainstream gay circuit environment then that isn’t really gonna bring out the sexy for you. I like to think my dance spaces open people up to feeling more free and fluid than your average, white, male-dominated dance floor.” – VICKI POWELL

The party’s charismatic following and quick growth stems from Powell’s deep roots in Atlanta’s music scene. Deep South resident Robert Ansley says, “Vicki brought her massive following, her music connections, and her skill as a fierce party starter together to make Deep South successful right off the bat. Even though it’s taken us countless hours of planning, brainstorming, and stressing, we’re pretty lucky to have a city where so many queer folks and friends are always ready to party. It’s been a breath of fresh air for the queer scene here that is so saturated with circuit parties and mainstream music. It can also be hard to get folks out to a party that isn’t centered around drag shows here because Atlanta has such a fiercely talented drag scene.”

Ansley’s music journey began by going out to parties and immersing himself in the scene. Around 2006, he says, Atlanta’s 24-hour clubs closed and the scene fractured into two scenes: one straight and one queer. During that time two awesome things happened for Ansley. He met his best friend, a local afterhours DJ named Christopher Allen. Ansley also was able to travel to Europe where he was introduced to the minimal side of techno.

“It was a really cool contrast to the big progressive and sort of circuit sounds that were starting to fizzle out back home. By 2010 Allen was mentoring me and I was obsessively collecting music and listening to everything I could get my hands on,” he says. “I spent most of my free time in my apartment learning how to mix and program tracks and hoping for opportunities to play out somewhere.”

One night, Mike Bradley (another local DJ) asked Ansley to fill his spot at his weekly residency. “They offered me my own monthly after that night, and with Mike’s help during that time I was introduced to all of the local music heads and DJ folks I now call friends today.” Bradley also went on to introduce him to the Cardio ATL collective. “That crew is like family to me and I became extremely close with all of them.” Ansley was invited to be a resident for Cardio in May 2015. “For a local DJ collective, the Cardio roster is incredibly talented so I’ve learned a lot and been inspired by each of them in so many ways. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am musically without the opportunities they have given me.”

Powell and Ansley’s paths crossed often in Atlanta until they eventually collided. “I liked him immediately,” Powell says about Ansley. “I loved his sound. It was adventurous and interesting and went against the grain of the typical gay DJ we were hearing so much of in Atlanta.”

He adds, “Meeting Vicki was another major milestone for me. Vicki Powell has been a household name in Atlanta’s queer dance music scene literally for decades. I always knew of her parties and had heard her play before ever actually meeting her. She has this incredible outgoing, welcoming energy that kind of surrounds her, and anyone who knows her can tell you it is this energy that brings people together and has created such a massive following for so many years.”

Their friendship began to flourish around 2013 when they played each other’s parties. Ansley says, “We started talking pretty constantly about how Atlanta’s dance music scene and queer scene had this enormous potential. We had each been to queer underground parties in other cities that really inspired us. We looked up to crews like Honcho, Honey Soundsystem, and many others, and wanted Atlanta to have parties where the music, crowd, and everything else was of that caliber.”

“I think Deep South has hopefully built a reputation for being the party where you go when you want to dance all night and not worry about standing around being judged by anyone. We put a lot of thought into the musical programming and other details to make sure the energy is really amazing and also welcoming. We want everyone to feel like family, and like they can dance or do anything else they want on our dancefloor without any judgement. So far it seems to be working.” – ROBERT ANSLEY

Pittsburgh’s Honcho crew played the first Deep South party in March 2016. Bookings since then included Bears in Space, The Carry Nation, NeedlExchange, Polyglamorous, Mike Servito, Gay Marvine, DJ Minx, and Doc Sleep, to name a few.

Ansley says, “Vicki was gracious enough to make me a resident for Deep South, and by the end of that first year we had moved to a new venue and also added Ash Lauryn [Ashleigh Teasley] to our DJ crew. Since then we’ve added Brian Rojas as our newest resident and are coming up on the end of our second full year, with big plans for 2018.”

Teasley, who is also Powell’s neighbor, is a Detroit native and founder of Underground and Black, a blog in which she explores the facets of being a POC female DJ. Powell says, “Her taste in music is impeccable. Finally, I had an opening spot for a Deep South event and invited Ash to play. She killed it, of course, and the rest is herstory.” Rojas began helping Powell with Deep South and one day asked if she would teach him to mix. “I was so excited and responded with a resounding YES! It surprised me though because we had been hanging out for years and I never knew he wanted to learn how to play,” she says. “Mentoring and the craft of DJing are such important things to me, I couldn’t wait to get started. He’s been playing now for almost a year and he’s a natural and so much fun to be around.”

This guest mix is the first time Powell and Ansley have made a studio mix, as most mix releases of theirs have been live sets. “We want it to be a reflection of the energy and vibe at Deep South parties, and of both of our styles,” he says. “It’s been challenging but I hope people will enjoy the result.”

Powell says, “Robert and I got together one night and talked for hours about the music we had been buying and playing lately. This mix reflects that. We pulled a dozen or so favorites and then hit the record button and ended up totally in sync with the sound we hope would come through.”

1. “Keep away from Children” – Faielle Stocco
2. “For the Forgetful” – Eluize
3. “Eastern Crown” – Red Axes
4. “Energy Flow (DJ Koze’s Splasher Remix)” – Mano Le Tough
5. “Light into Dark’ – Daniel Avery
6. “Unknown Trouble (Dj Alien Back To Acid Mix)” – Mirko Worz
7. “Neutrino” – KINK
8. “Trip South” – Beafair
9. “Vanishing Point” – A Sagittariun
10. “Solace” – Pan Pot
11. “LFO (Leeds Warehouse Mix)” – LFO