PHOTO BY TOM HINES
"I'm ready for things to slow down," says 25-year-old Manhattan-raised DJ Venus X (born Jazmin Venus Soto). It's a strange thing to hear from a budding star, but Venus's life has been nonstop recently—throwing warehouse parties, consulting for a major label, producing a documentary, and DJing weekly club nights. "A lot of that in one year will really turn you out."
Although she learned to DJ merely by accompanying bartending friends, Venus has recently played high-profile events at SXSW, Art Basel Miami Beach and the MoMA/PS1 "Warm Up" music series. Her genre-bending style has been noted in no less academic a format than ArtForum's "Top 10." Last month, she was linked to the production of a forthcoming album from one of pop's most pioneering princesses. And the launchpad, where it all began, is an ongoing party called Ghe20 Goth1k, which she has been put on sporadically in various locations around New York since 2009. It's currently in a basement in Bushwick—which all sounds a bit gratuitous except that top Manhattanites really do make the trek for it; for the new kids who flood in each week, and the new jam or style that Venus is pushing.
Venus's sets fuse different cultures' music together—Dominican Dembow, Jersey Club and German Hardstyle; pulling from pop and underground, local and global. While there are "no laptops ever" as part of her sets with DJ partner $HAYNE, Venus attribute her style to the Internet. "We're in the Wild Wild West now for real, for real," Venus says. "People are creating hybrids out of everything—crossing over into places where they wouldn't be able to go in real life. It's bringing up a lot of questions about appropriation."
Venus herself is a product of Washington Heights. "Most of my friends that I grew up with are living normal modest lives for 25—job, car maybe, kids probably." As a teenager, she was in Union Square all the time. "There were ravers, metal heads, gay people, and now we all DJ together."
With a bold personal style that veers toward monochromatic outfits and fur, Venus is inspired by female legends like Lil' Kim and Missy Elliot, both musically and aesthetically. Playing sweaty basement parties requires a uniform, combat boots are a must and "and minimal clothing," Venus jokes. "We advocate clear and nudity." Though, Venus doesn't seem to put too much thought into getting dressed, her outfits are the same both on and off stage. "I just dress like me."