Contemporary capitalism loves difference. Marginalized groups are ushered into the fold with open arms. Appeals to specific, lived experiences are used to propagate Empire. Sure, people still get murdered, but when everyone is a capitalist subject, don’t all lives matter? Empty sarcasm aside, when everyone is putatively welcome to enter the grand spectacle of capital, how can the previously excluded respond? First as a party and now as a label, GHE20GOTH1K has carved out spaces for interrogating questions of resistance. It exists as both a source for cutting-edge club music and a location for radically anti-hegemonic politics. LSDXOXO’s FUCK MARRY KILL, the label’s first release, enters this conversation as both a document of queer, POC experience and a politics for living in the contemporary period, a time when the center and the margin blur together.
“Musically, the party says two things specifically about our youth now: it’s very local and it’s also very Internet. So it’s from here but it’s also from nowhere.”
– Venus X, GHE20GOTH1K founder
If we’re talking about transforming centers and margins, the influence of the internet looms large: its effect on the production and transmission of music is hard to overstate. Localized scenes are increasingly able to gain international attention, resulting in cross-pollination and collaboration. “LOVE TAPS” is a case in point. It begins with stabbing, rave-y chords, the type that might be heard on a Crazylegs release1, before bringing in some ballroom thump, Ha crashes, and chopped percussion. This is the sound of post-geographic music, capacious in its connections to tight-knit communities the world over. LSDXOXO synthesizes these distributed sounds, using them to add texture and weight to their productions. It’s an open-hearted and exploratory approach, using ballroom to explore variations in melody and rhythm. Make no mistake though, this is music to move people: always attuned to club spaces, whether in New York City or Cape Town.
“GHE20GOTH1K is […] a real living, breathing thing”
– Venus X
Bodies are central to FUCK MARRY KILL. It’s an album-length narration of how they move through space. These bodies, so often the target for violence and precarity, instead become platforms for affirmation, knowledge, and connection. Discussing what makes a track “ballroom”, Divoli S’vere refers to “the vibe it gives ballroom culture. When making ballroom tracks, I try to keep in mind the essence and feel that a regular person would get if they walked in to a ball during a vogue battle or runway battle.” As a politics, ballroom works through the body. It’s a way of being in the world and a way of bringing a world into being: a somatic politics that uses the tools at its disposal to fight back against heteropatriarchal oppression. The body is the site from which new forms of being and belonging are birthed.
“I’m going to be ghetto goth until I die.”
– Venus X
Finally, this is a politics that is always aware of death. However, FUCK MARRY KILL refuses to view death as a terminal point. Rather, death becomes part of a continuum of life (Fuck, Marry, Kill), a means by which the pain of lives lost becomes a celebration of life in all forms. Following Rosi Braidotti in The Posthuman (2013), death in this sense can be thought of as a precursor to new modes of life, which work through difference to recognize our shared vitality. Living in the shadow of death then requires the transformation of our spaces and bodies so as to create new opportunities for living for and with others.
I have a hunch that one of the ways this transformation could occur might somehow resemble LSDXOXO’s remix of Kanye West’s “Freestyle 4.” In queering the original’s aggression, Kanye is rearticulated, so as to become “more relatable.” He’s now an accessory, a DJ tool, something to make the room move, to create a space in which new forms of expression, being, and feeling emerge.
1. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Crazylegs has played host to ballroom MC and frequent MikeQ collaborator, Kevin Jz Prodigy.