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Fresh Kicks 144: Edge Slayer

With acrobatic club cuts, rave eruptions, and radiant pop manipulations, Edge Slayer crafts an hour of pure dancefloor hysteria for the Fresh Kicks mix series

“New Orleans taught me a lot of things,” says Edge Slayer. “To believe in myself and not give a fuck about what people think. Also, the beat rules all.”

Edge Slayer is a DJ, producer, vocalist and visual artist working at the intersection of experimental R&B and frenetic club euphoria. “If you can make people dance, it doesn’t always matter what you play,” she says. Though recently relocated to Los Angeles, the influence of her years spent in New Orleans, where she ran renowned parties and wrote her striking first EPs, cannot be understated. With an ever-evolving AV live show, creative DJ techniques spanning techno, hip-hop and anything in between, and lyrics that offer a window into the life and experience of a Black trans woman, Edge Slayer is establishing herself both as an ambassador for an unsung scene, and a crucial artist in her own right.

By the time the car she had driven to New Orleans was totaled during a parade, Edge Slayer had fallen in love with the city. She found a job and ended up living on a boat on the city’s South Shore Harbor Marina, and it wasn’t long before she was raving in old factory warehouses and getting acquainted with the city’s underground. 

Feeling underrepresented in the local rave scene, however, she decided to take matters into her own hands. “The femme queer parties were not Black-centred,” she says. “[They were] run almost exclusively by white males. The DJ scene when I first started was very aggy and male dominated, and most dance spots and parties were mainly featuring white DJs, which I thought was weird in a predominantly Black city. So I started having my own parties. Mainly booking Black and brown POC DJs and focusing on people who didn’t identify as males.”

Those parties included Séance and Barbie’s Inferno, an alternative pride event. At them, Edge Slayer would DJ from the laptop she’d go on to make her first EPs on, and when she wasn’t playing nights, she would rave in “warehouses, fields and churches” across the city.

“The New Orleans rave/party scene is competitive, but also loving and accepting,” she says. “Before COVID, I felt like things were integrating a lot and becoming more female empowered and queer trans-friendly. I approach art fearlessly because of making shit work with nothing for so many years.” 

That fearlessness has played into both her EP’s to date: a self-produced, self-titled EP in 2018 on Objects Ltd, and this year’s ‘COOCHI3’ on Interference Pattern, the label of LCD Soundsystem’s Tyler Pope. Her debut exquisitely fused raw noise with experimental R&B and New Orleans bounce music, and tackled the fear for one’s safety felt when living as a trans woman on tracks like ‘More Femme’ and ‘No Safe Space’.

‘COOCHI3’, which landed in February, is an intoxicating journey into experimental trap and darkly hypnotic hip-hop, confronting topics of “street harassment, text messages and relationships, ancestral magic love, and having free casual sex in a liberated way”. Written for the most part while driving around New Orleans, and produced with a meticulous, intentional creative process involving countless iPhone voice notes and acapellas, her own Logic beats, and manipulated tracks sent by Baton Rouge producer Suicideyear, the EP is purposeful and assured. It showcased an artist evolving at a rapid, determined rate. 

Edge Slayer stepped away from party promotion to focus on her own art, and has spent the COVID-19 lockdown working on a new live/DJ hybrid set for a new project and making new accompanying visual works. “This project will be heavily influenced by video games,” she says “I have been serious about corona, so I just stay inside with my partner playing video games, making music in Ableton and recording my tracks. I spend a lot of time slaying my XDJ because when the clubs are opening I’m going to eat the decks up!

“My visuals always tell the story of the music I have written,” she adds. “So listen to my music, and when you see it live the visuals will match the out-of-the-world fever dream acid trips that are my projects.”

In the meantime, Edge Slayer has landed on her feet in Los Angeles, starting a new residency on local independent station Dublab, and is working on her debut studio album. “You can tune into my chaotic but fabulous show every fourth Saturday, 10-12am LA time. I will be interviewing new artists, my legendary DJ friends. and speaking with other up-and-coming Black and brown queer artists about current events! And of course playing really bomb music.” 

Edge Slayer’s Fresh Kicks mix, which she has titled 'fishfry', is an hour of pure dancefloor hysteria, and is bursting with forthcoming original material, rave-ready pop edits and acrobatic club cuts. “I ended up doing a ravey weird spiraly set because it felt right,” she says. Check it out below. 

Want more? Check out Fresh Kicks mixes from Bored Lord and Alex Falk

Eoin Murray is DJ Mag's deputy digital editor. You can follow him on Twitter @eoin_murraye