The artwork for Bored Lord’s ‘in case we never get to rave again’ mixtape speaks volumes. A grainy action shot captures the Memphis-born, Oakland-based artist DJing in a darkened warehouse, hunched before a sea of smiling dancers. An ecstatic energy beams from the photograph; you can practically hear the breakbeats rattle through the room. You can feel the kick drums bouncing in your chest.
It’s a fitting image for the release, which compiles 13 rave edits of pop, rock and R&B classics into one full-throttle mix, invoking what Bored Lord – real name Daria Lourd – describes as the “renegade moment where we are all one voice singing together”. The mixtape landed in April, and captured the now all too familiar craving for communal release, both from the relentless frustration and isolation of 2020, and the “serious” euro techno systems that would shun the thought of a cathartic dancefloor singalong.
With a fierce UKG edit of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, an ethereal breaks take on Dido’s ‘White Flag’, and a warped Jersey club twist on Kylie Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, Bored Lord injects an electrifying rave energy into tracks that already had strangers on dancefloors yelling as one. That fearless and refreshing sort of fusion was honed gradually on releases like ‘Pop Tools’ and ‘Nu Metal Toolz’, and speaks to Bored Lord’s devotion to those shared experiences, and the communities they help create.
“When I DJ or make a mix, I'm thinking more about the listener than I am myself,” she tells us. “I use music made by people I admire, people that are my friends and peers, and my own. So it becomes about community just by design. I also feel like dance music is a communal experience artistically in the sense that you're making art with the intention of it serving a function. In a lot of cases, the producer is a nameless entity. It’s more about the DJ and the dancers in that moment than it is about you or your art.”
There’s a generosity of spirit and openness to Bored Lord’s recent music, and it has formed the backbone of her artistic ethos since her relocation to Oakland just a few years ago. In July she released another edits EP, ‘any requests?’, with suggestions crowdsourced from Twitter friends and followers – If you’ve been searching for club reworks of No Doubt, Mariah Carey or TV on the Radio, look no further.
But it took some time for Bored Lord to embrace the upfront energy her sound has thrived on. Having made music since her teens, she spent “countless hours” writing and recording in her room and making mixtapes for friends. She would go on to release a wide array of EPs and visual works on labels and platforms including Gallery Online and Rare Nnudes, which she founded alongside DJ and producer Bastiengoat, among others. Her earlier work, while excellent, dealt more in abstract sounds and ruminative themes. It was only upon her move to Oakland, where she threw raves with local collective Trash Cvlt, and learned to DJ in workshops with Club Chai, that she fell fully in love with the forthright radiance of dance music, and with the self-affirmation that could be forged in its underground hubs.
“I was already making some music like that, but those things really helped shape my music and DJing style moving forward,” she says. “Then all the raves and parties I played, peers I've met, mixes I've fallen in love with, dance music history I’ve researched. They all play into each other... Coming into my identity and experiencing community support in the form of love, and even in the form of mutual aid, shifted the way I viewed the world and therefore the way I approached my art.”
Bored Lord’s knack for sampling pop hooks and turning them into mantras of personal discovery soared on her 2019’ album ‘Transexual Rave Hymns’ on Knightwerk Records. Dancefloor workouts became rallying anthems of transgender identity and assertion across its nine tracks, not just for herself, but for anyone they could connect to. Cuts like ‘No More Hiding Who I Want To Be’, ‘Keep Your Hands Of My Body’ and ‘Look How Far We’ve Come’ strike first as robust club cuts, but quickly reveal themselves as heartfelt bursts of raw emotion and resilience. The album was ranked as one of DJ Mag’s favourites of 2019.
Bored Lord has been prolific amid the coronavirus pandemic, releasing six EPs since April. Those EPs were all released on Bandcamp, which she has been using for seven years now. Throughout the pandemic, Bandcamp has become an increasingly vital platform for people left out of pocket from a lack of gigs and tours, with 80% of all sales from the online music store going directly to artists and labels. Since March, the platform has waived its own revenue share on the first Friday of every month, taking no cut of purchases made on what has come to be known as Bandcamp Day. “[It] was definitely a saving grace for a lot of us financially, and that's undeniable,” says Bored Lord, though she adds that it is not above criticism. “My main concern is that if this becomes the norm, then what we have is every independent artist being pressured to make new releases once a month, and all compete on the same day. Though the pay is much better than a streaming service, ultimately it still is an incentive to pull our fanbases to a tech platform. At the end of the day, the people at Bandcamp will always profit more than us. So yeah, it’s complicated. We definitely should take advantage of a rally to buy music more directly from artists, but this is only a temporary band-aid on the exploitative nature of the music industry.”
One of Bored Lord’s most recent EPs, ‘Weapon Of Sound’, is a club-ready eruption of breakbeats and rage, with vocal samples (including System of a Down, Deftones and Linkin Park) venting a universal frustration with corrupt systems. Closer ‘Guide Me To Shelter’ speaks again to the solidarity and community Bored Lord holds so dear, not least as we stare further down the rabbit hole of uncertainty. “I have a roof over my head and my loved ones are safe, so that’s what matters most,” she tells us. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess where we’ll be when the next EP drops.
Meanwhile, Bored Lord has stepped up with a new mix for the Fresh Kicks series, which spans styles, speeds and eras with an electrified energy. From frenetic breaks and jungle to percussive club cuts and pop edits, it’s a thrilling 60-minute trip into her communal sonic universe.
“[I’ve] been digging into dance music history a lot through articles and documentaries, and just thinking about what regional music genres have influenced me and where my music has reached in the world,” she says. “So you've got a lot of different things all in one place pulled from lots of legends but also lots of my peers and friends.”
Check it out below.
Linkin Park ‘Opening’
Double 99 ‘Ripgroove’
Florentino ‘RIP FUNK’
Bored Lord ‘too high’
Gonzalo Silva & Time Dolla ‘El Chavo Loco’
Denham Audio ‘Throw Your Hands Up’
DJ Sega ‘Woo Hah!’
Bored Lord ‘Don't Speak’
Hagan ‘Right Here’
Rod Lee ‘Let's Go’
DJ Erika Kayne - Bok Bok x Pop Smoke ‘Dior Hearts’’
DJ Gregory ‘Triby’
Tuff Trax ‘The Look’
Bored Lord ‘The Weapon of Sound’
Arma ‘Clap Track’
Tomu DJ ‘Gold 4 Salt’
Bored Lord ‘Pando 1’
PowerPlay (C Powers & PlayPlay) ‘ACAB’
Silkie ‘Jah Man (Yazzus Jungle Remix)’
Kush Jones ‘F##K OFF’
SHUG ‘BRAT (Bored Lord Jungle Edit)’
Bored Lord ‘31 Seconds’
Nasty Habits ‘Shadow Boxing’
Tama Gucci ‘I Still Want It t. B3EK (Bored Lord Warehouse Mix)’