By day, Sean Flack is a mild-mannered, recent graduate of University of Texas at Austin figuring out his next step in life back home in Philadelphia. When night falls, Sean becomes Qiana Kitt-Shakur, his alter-ego and an amalgamation of his childhood idols. Relatively new to DJing, Qiana shows an innate ability to blend and bend genres, effortlessly mixing South American cumbia, east-coast club music and Texas rap as if they were meant to be.
Before Kahlon, hosted at Baltimore’s Crown Lounge, opened its doors, I got to talk to Qiana about the influence of Texas, the differences between Sean and Qiana and the connection between the art and the politics.
Q: What about Austin makes it your favorite city, besides being in Texas for school?
QIANA: I love the energy, it’s where the first time I actually deejayed. It’s a realty vibrant city and lots of different cultures and people coming together for SXSW of course. I still have a lot of friends there, so it’ really nice to have a lot of people there to support you.
Q: What’s the difference between Qiana and Sean?
QIANA: Sean is a little shy and nerdy, but Qiana gets to express herself and be the other part of me that I really love to express – the total opposite of Shawn, the opposite of nerdy, or goofy or weird. I just want to feel beautiful or artistic. They are two different people, but at the same they’re essentially the same person.
“Shawn is a little shy and nerdy, but Qiana gets to express herself and be the other part of me that I really love to express”
Q: Did you model Qiana off anyone one person in particular?
QIANA: Qiana is inspired by cousin, who’s the quintessential Philly girl from West Philly. I Just remember really good times with her. She’s just really hood and shit – that’s the only way to really describe her, but she’s a sweetheart at the same time. The Kitt Part – and I’m Qiana Kitt-Shakur – I want to evoke the Qiana, my cousin, Kitt as in Eartha Kitt who was a performer and activist, and I want to evoke Assata Shakur and Tupac.
^ Qiana Kitt-Shakur’s “Jeremy Meeks Mix”
Q: What is your message that you want to convey through your shows or your performance, when you transform into Qiana?
QIANA: I think it sort of changes according to how I feel. I think it’s going to be a very political statement tonight with themes that I have. Tonight it’s sort of about yearning; it’s sort of sexual, but political at the same time, in that it’s queer, but it’s also yearning black rights and equality.
“Tonight it’s sort of about yearning; it’s sort of sexual, but political at the same time, in that it’s queer, but it’s also yearning black rights and equality”
Q: Do you think it’s hard merging the two, considering what’s happened across the country, with police brutality, with laws design to disenfranchised minorities, these voting laws that are pushing people back a few decades. At the same time, the LGBTQ movement is making strides at the same time.
QIANA: I feel like people have different agendas. What fits another group doesn’t necessarily fit all groups, but we’re all merged in this struggle to find liberation. There could be a self-identified fat community and they want to see body positivity within the community and express that, and shed light on certain issues, but that might not be the goal of a black- queer community, primarily focused on simply black-queer [issues] or things that affect black-queers the most. In a shared agenda, I think people move forward into a better welfare.
“What fits another group doesn’t necessarily fit all groups, but we’re all merged in this struggle to find liberation”
Q: Where will you be in five days, five months and five years?
QIANA: That’s the worst question! Five days I will be in my house chillin’ looking for a job. Five months, I will have a job and have a goddamn car so I can go in and out. In five years, I want to be up in the Caribbean or [somewhere] international – I’m not trying to be in America too long, because you know how that is – it’s rough!