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Recognise: Jasmine Infiniti

Jasmine Infiniti 5 - credit Christopher Sonny Martinez.jpg
Jasmine Infiniti 5 - credit Christopher Sonny Martinez.jpg

Jasmine Infiniti delivers a no-holds-barred set of furious, euphoric techno for the Recognise series, and speaks to Jasmine Kent-Smith about her New World Dysorder label and club night, her DIY ethos, and carving her own narrative

Jasmine Infiniti tells candid stories about her life through hard, fast dance music. “Music is an extension of ourselves and a way of communicating with people,” she says. It’s a soul-baring outlook that can be felt in everything she’s put her mind to: as a DJ, producer and promoter.

Born in the Bronx and based in Brooklyn, Jasmine Infiniti’s sound is a mesh of underground styles that New York City artists have long-shaped. Her DJ sets and original music oscillates between ballroom, hip-hop, house, industrial and techno; racing between fury and euphoria to create cathartic moments. Take her 2020 debut album ‘BXTCH SLÄP’, which roars into life with the formidable ‘Bxtch Släp — Queen Of Hell’. It’s a thrill-ride in track form, built with the kind of white-knuckle intensity that’ll send your stomach into somersaults. That’s until a hint of something calmer, more forlorn, seeps through — only for the next track to start and the whole ride to begin again. Her uncompromising DJ sets also fuse motifs picked up at pivotal points in her story. She’s brought all of that together into New World Dysorder, a club night, artist collective and, most recently, record label.

Growing up, Infiniti was part of a four-piece vocal group called Black Rain. They were clearly talented, as record labels caught wind of them, but Infiniti’s mother wasn’t keen on them signing a deal and so the group’s moment fizzled out. “It just put a damper on music for me,” Infiniti remembers, “but I always found other ways. I used to draw, I studied fine art, I started painting — I found all kinds of outlets. I feel like I was searching for the perfect one, though. None of those really felt like it.”

In her late teens, Infiniti also found the ballroom scene — the music, the dancing and the culture of it was awe-inspiring, so much so that she became part of the House Of Infiniti. She keeps the name today to honour the House, but plays around with others. A friend coined her most familiar one, ‘Queen of Hell’. Her discovery of the ballroom scene came alongside other explorations of New York City’s nightlife. For a time, Infiniti would visit gay clubs like Splash, but she soon realised that, as a feminine being, she wasn’t super comfortable being in these “hyper-masculine gay spaces”.

At 23, she was going through a difficult time. She had dropped out of school and been kicked out of her home for transitioning. Serendipitously, she went to live with her female cousin, who “magically” answered an advertisement for housing that Infiniti had posted on Craigslist. Their union marked a new chapter for Infiniti, and her discovery of the “queer underground”. “I say ‘queer’ because it’s a mélange of people, which is often something you don’t see in actual clubs. They’re all like, ‘This is a gay club’ or ‘This is a straight club’,” she explains, “but in the underground it was such an awesome melting pot, even in the music.”

One of the first parties she went to during this time was GHE20G0TH1K, the noted underground party hosted and DJ’d by Venus X, who Infiniti would later intern for. “When I discovered GHE20G0TH1K and Cherrybomb, I was wowed,” she remembers. “I thought, ‘These people are playing techno, they’re playing hip-hop and ballroom music. They’re mixing it all together. The crowd is straight people, gay people, artists, fashion people — all kinds of people coming together’. I thought it was amazing.”

New York City is Infiniti’s hometown, but it wasn’t until she moved out to the West Coast that things truly started to come together for her. “I met all these amazing queer people; my daughters, trans women,” she beams, about the Bay Area. “That was one of the first times that I’ve had actual trans women as friends, besides my gay mother. We were all queer and trans and we went to all kinds of parties: Burning Man kind of parties, underground parties, raves.”

Jasmine Infiniti 8 - credit Christopher Sonny Martinez.jpg
Jasmine Infiniti 8 - credit Christopher Sonny Martinez.jpg

While living in the Bay, Infiniti launched New World Dysorder partly out of necessity, after a disheartening, negative experience at an event left her and her friends feeling uncomfortable and taken advantage of. It drove her to make something for herself and her group: to create parties where they could control their own narrative, and fun.

New World Dysorder would place trans, gender non-conforming, queer and POC DJs and producers, like Yha Yha, Cali Rose and Erica Mar, at the forefront, and offer a similar melting pot-style of party to those Infiniti had cherished back home. The label’s helmed in a similar fashion, with Bored Lord, DJ Femboy and BAE BAE among those featured on its genre-weaving ‘New World Dysorder WW1’ compilation, released this September.

Launching New World Dysorder would also signal the start of Jasmine’s DJ career. “I was always booking other DJs and paying them, and so many of my friends who were DJs were just like, ‘You should start DJing — this is your party, you’ll save money!’” she says. “So I started learning on Traktor and eventually moved up to CDJs.” DJing herself may have helped her financially but, more crucially, it provided her with the “perfect” outlet that she’d been seeking all along.

Her yearning for a place where she feels comfortable and respected also stems from her admitted social awkwardness. Despite her warm, open demeanour during our conversation, Infiniti admits that it’s something she often experiences, as many artists often do. Sometimes she’ll find herself in spaces, even with friends, worrying that she’s said the wrong thing or made a comment that others find “weird”.

“Even if I’m correct, people just don’t want to hear my opinions,” she says. “Whether it’s trans rights, identity politics or any of this stuff that everyone has an opinion about. But if I’m ‘messing up the vibe’ by having conversations, I can express myself in music [instead]. I can express my frustrations, my happiness, my longing for love. I can express dealing with being bipolar, with abusing drugs or whatever. I can get all these things out, in a way.” 

Infiniti is an expressive and frank communicator, so much so that everything she says feels like a secret she’s revealing only to you. This is amplified in her music, which she approaches from an “ephemeral” perspective. She doesn’t associate the descriptor with either dark or light. It’s about being divine and goddess-like; figuratively “smiting people, but also bringing life”. We joke that our favourite genre is “sexy but sad”.

Infiniti’s music is an extension of her, so when 2020 rolled around and the nightlife industry shuttered for an unforeseeable stretch of time, it was hard for her — a club-focused artist left without clubbing — to adjust. She fell “into a bit of funk”. Zoom parties, online events and those sorts of things kept her busy, to an extent, but it just wasn’t the same. 

Recently, she’s been dipping her toe back into DJing to an audience in ‘new normal’ ways. “I was so uninspired at home, but having a physical space to try out my music or to even feel that energy totally inspired me after that. In the past month and a half I’ve finally been back on, even with my [DJ Mag] Recognise mix. I finally downloaded new music and started paying attention to a lot of things that I had to do.”

Infiniti’s Recognise mix hits like a sharp gust of chilly wind that catches you off guard, as you roll off a balmy dancefloor and out into the night. It’s one hour of no-holds-barred techno delirium that frames her, goddess-like, between heads-down intensity and more delicate moments of euphoria. The mix dropped just weeks before a remastered and double vinyl version of ‘BXTCH SLÄP’ gets released by San Francisco label Dark Entries, something she’s very excited about. Over at New World Dysorder, forthcoming releases from COTTON and Erica Mar are in the pipeline. Even in its infancy, the label is already shaping up to be as powerful and exciting as its founder.

Revisit Recognise features with UNIIQU3 and Badsista

Photos: Christopher Sonny Martinez

Jasmine Kent-Smith is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @jasmine_ks

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