Words + Photos by Antonio.
DJ Genie is a multi-faceted artist, a creative with a penchant for being challenged and conquering new disciplines. A transplant to Baltimore by way of Miami, Genie is an ambitious free-spirit who wants to move partygoers, physically and emotionally.
Genie got her feet wet in Baltimore’s distinctive music scene promoting for Abdu Ali’s Kahlon parties. Being a firsthand witness to the diversity of sounds and audiences that Abdu cultivated, she felt the itch to DJ, and move crowds to the rhythms of dembow, merengue and bachata that she grew up with, alongside the club and punk music she encountered in her new home.
DJ Genie discusses what she loves about Baltimore, the importance of spirituality, and the lasting influences of Miami on her personal and musical stylings.
Q: We were talking about the creative process and just being a creative person. How would you describe yourself?
DJ GENIE: I describe myself as a student. I think I sometimes tend to spread myself too thin. I’m attracted to a lot of different media and I’m attracted to a lot of different ways of creating, from visual and graphic design, to video, and to music – all the senses are incorporated. I’m always learning, always trying to absorb the next thing.
“All the senses are incorporated. I’m always learning, always trying to absorb the next thing”
Q: Who or what has been your greatest teacher so far?
DJ GENIE: My greatest teacher so far has been the people closest to me in Baltimore that are in the music scene, or making things happen and relevant. Even the people in this room: Dylan (of Llamadon), Abdu (Ali). People that I’ve seen perform live or I’ve performed with, I think I learn the most from them, just because they’re the most accessible thing for me now, and the closest thing to me now.
The internet of course is a huge thing, and you can see what’s happening in New York, you can see what’s happening in Philly, in D.C., in Miami, and overseas as well. A lot of stuff in my set is Dominican dembow beats and stuff like that.
“I think everybody here is real – they’re not too corrupted by money, they’re really about their art and they’re incredibly driven”
Q: What about Baltimore keeps you here?
DJ GENIE: Oh my god, the people! I think everybody here is real – they’re not too corrupted by money, they’re really about their art and they’re incredibly driven. The people I’ve met here aren’t boxed in, they’re very like “ok let’s do what we can out of nothing, let’s do what we can out of whatever we’ve got. Let’s make it happen.” It’s not too nose-up-in-the-air about it. People are just trying to create and make things.
Q: What influenced you to start DJing?
DJ GENIE: A lot of my friends are performers. I was very interested in moving my creative practice into something more interactive, so I started promoting for Kahlon, so that was the first step in doing that.
“That’s been a huge interest of mine: being at parties, not just to get fucked up, but parties because they’re beautiful”
Q: Did you start that last year?
DJ GENIE: The last few Kahlons – the last three or four – I’ve been the promoter for and co-hosted with Chanel Cruz. I had an interest in DJing because it seemed like something really accessible that I could pick up, it could be another way for me to interact with people. That’s important to me. Ever since high school, that’s been a huge interest of mine: being at parties, not just to get fucked up, but parties because they’re beautiful. It’s so much energy, and people are just moving their bodies and dancing, and I’ve always loved that. DJing was a good way to be part of it.
“We’re all gods on this earth. When we’re looking for something, what we’re looking for is within ourselves”
Q: How important is spirituality to you?
DJ GENIE: It’s important, yeah. I’m not affiliated with any religion per se. Spirituality is important. I think the universe is just so full of different energies. I think, when I pray or think of a god or goddess, I’m not really praying to any one being. I think we’re all gods on this earth. When we’re looking for something, what we’re looking for is within ourselves, for the the best version of ourselves. That’s important to me, to look inside yourself and try to find the most empowered version of yourself; the most conscious version of yourself.
Q: Did you grow up listening to dembow and reggaeton. Do you connect with that the most?
DJ GENIE: I do connect with it, but I wouldn’t say the most. I grew up around reggaeton, [but also] a lot of old school stuff like Juan Luis Guerra, and old bachata and merengue in my household. I grew up around that and I think when I was younger, I kind of dismissed it as whatever – I didn’t like it. I got more into rap, and I was a big rap head in high school. As an adult, actually after I moved to Baltimore, I was put in a very different community. I wasn’t around a huge hispanic community, or a big Dominican community anymore, and it sort of made me miss it. It was always kind of in the background. Now I’m bringing it back to the foreground and appreciate it more as an adult.
“I was put in a very different community. I wasn’t around a huge hispanic community, or a big Dominican community anymore, and it sort of made me miss it”
Q: Where do you get your inspiration, from your style and fashion. Every time I’ve seen you, it’s been super different.
DJ GENIE: My style changes constantly – I’m always throwing out clothes. I think Miami is a really big inspiration for me: the bright colors, being by the ocean, and everybody’s in really obnoxiously neon colors. I think for me, when I do wear bright things like that, it’s nostalgic for me, thinking of back home.
“Miami is a really big inspiration for me: the bright colors, being by the ocean, and everybody’s in really obnoxiously neon colors”
I think I get a lot of inspiration just from other people in music, and seeing what they’re wearing, and thrift stores of course. Sometimes I’ll just browse online, not to buy anything, but just to look through different sites, and see things that I like. I like standing out. It makes me feel good to put on something very bright and something strongly associated with me. It makes me feel confident to wear that.
Q: Was it a shock at all when you moved from Miami to Baltimore? Did you feel like you have to make any adjustments?
DJ GENIE: It was a big culture shock to me, it was a big adjustment. Musically, I was introduced to a lot of new things. I was used to a lot of EDM back home. It’s a big electronic music scene. Coming here, I got introduced to Baltimore club music which was new and really fun. Culturally, it’s very different.
“I didn’t find a huge Caribbean community, which I was used to back home. I’m used to everyone speaking Spanish all the time and being the majority”
The racial tension up here is a lot more prevalent, than visually prevalent. You can see the neighborhoods and fine streets where you can the line between the upper-class neighborhood and the ‘hood. It’s very divided. I wasn’t used to that. I didn’t find a huge Caribbean community, which I was used to back home. I’m used to everyone speaking Spanish all the time and being the majority, having that around and it was just a different energy.
Q: Where will you be in 5 days, 5 months and 5 years?
DJ GENIE: In five days, I’ll be at school. Five months, I’ll be on Mars. Five years, I’ll be on an island somewhere, hopefully somewhere tropical.