Truancy Volume 51: Vjuan Allure

Washington DC’s Vjuan Allure is widely considered one of the innovators of ballroom music, to the point of being recognized as the originator of the genre’s “new sound,” setting the standard as well as raising the bar while steadily taking over dancefloors all over the world. Having released hundreds of tracks over the many years that he has spent producing and DJing, his longevity and prolific output testifies of his abilities to inspire as both a producer and as a DJ. Recently the movement to embrace voguing culture has been picking up momentum with increasing enthusiasm, with DJs from Ben UFO to Ikonika playing ballroom music in their sets and producers of all backgrounds adopting the iconic “ha” sample that makes so much ballroom music so distinguishable. Vjuan himself has been making waves in circles outside of ballroom music, with remixes appearing on MikeQ‘s “The Master Blaster EP” and on Bok Bok’s “Southside Remixes EP”. We asked Vjuan if he could put together a mix for our Truancy Volume series in order for us to more successfully demonstrate why we’ve been following him for so long. Vjuan responded by putting together a mix of his own music, all of which can be found on his CD “Bbeatt Bboxx.” To find out more about ballroom, you can read an introduction to the genre with Vjuan here, and we also took this opportunity to ask Vjuan a few questions below.

Just to make sure everyone is on the same page, how do you pronounce “Vjuan” and where did the name come from? I pronounce it like “Juan” + “Vaughn”. “Haha. You know, I hold contests to see who can mess up my name the best – so far Italy is still in the lead – but it is pronounced like “Vaughn”. It is a combination of my Great Grandfather (Virgilio) and Grandfather’s (Juan) names.”

Could you give a brief timeline of how you got to where you are today – at least regarding your musical career? How did it all begin? How did you find house music? “I found house music by way of a friend of mine who bombarded me with the music, and since I was a dancer I got into it. My favorite DJ at that time was Junior Vasquez until I visited DC and heard my mentor DJ Sedrick play…it was phenomenal and life changing! As far as my own productions it started as fun – I made little mixes – but just for friends, when I actually went to DJ for the first time in Detroit and brought an arsenal of beats I soon found I wasn’t going to use them – there was a set song list that they wanted– it was for a Ball! I was pissed because I’d carried all that music with me. When I returned home, I made the first remix of a popular Ballroom song, [The Masters At Work’s] “The Ha Dance.”  This was the spark that spawned 1000’s of remixes, haha.”

Which is more important for you today, personally, DJing or making your own beats? “I love playing in front of crowds, I want them to experience what I feel when I make my beatz. They go hand in hand. I have to make the madness in order for the people to feel it, and it is all worth it to see the crowd’s faces when a new hot Elite Beat comes on!”

What is your ideal setting to make beats? What is your ideal setting for DJing? What makes them ideal? What makes a set great and what can ruin a set for you? “My ideal setting to make beatz is around 1:00am at my home – sipping on a drink and in my zone! There is something about the late hours that really get me, I don’t know why, and it should really be in the day because sometimes [I’m] doing those voices at 1, 2, 3:00am. I know my neighbors are going “what the hell is he doing?!” My ideal setting for DJ’ing is in a club where the crowd is ready to go, already amped up before I arrive – the energy is kinetic and I am charged up to kill the audience…figuratively speaking lol! What can ruin a set for me – bad equipment – that is the only thing that can ruin my set. I’ve dealt with DJ’s who didn’t know how to leave once their sets were done, jealous DJ’s, touchy sound people who touch and tweak all knobs and levels while you’re playing, etc – I get over these speed bumps, but there is no getting around bad equipment.”

You have a lot of residencies, I’m pretty sure the last number I heard was 6, right? Do you see a lot of the same people? When you have people that you play for regularly, how does it change the way that you play? When you know your crowd better, do you find yourself playing newer tracks more or do you find yourself playing classics more? “I have eight residences at the moment, it would be very difficult if they were all close and on the same continent – but it works for me whenever I travel! I see a lot of the same people when I go to play somewhere – the music we play compliments each other so we usually wind up in the same venues. I do have loyal club followers that come to a lot of my gigs – they are always ready to party!  When there are people I see regularly at a party it makes me think – I don’t want to hit them with the same music, but I want to hit them just as hard as I usually do, – so I work in songs I know they love and surround them by new tracks their reaction influences my creativity…I always want them to leave talking about a new track I played.”

How is the crowd in DC different from the crowd in other regions? “DC COMES TO PARTY! From the time they come through the door! They know what you do, they expect you to do it – and then some! But it’s so much fun playing for DC, and I make sure they all sweat before they leave. I’ll see a few middle fingers from someone exhausted from dancing, clothes hanging off of them, knees dirty from floor moves, and I’ll think “Yeah, I did my job!””

How do you create energy on the dance floor? How do you keep energy on the dance floor? “I identify someone who really came to dance – they are the ones who are really dancing hard after you start and they are the party starters – then the rest of the people join in. I keep my eyes on them and constantly rev up the music…to that the songs get faster – just hotter more dramatic.”

You do so much. How do you keep up your own energy? “The most sleep I get is either on a plane or train, what keeps me up is fueling a party with the beatz, watching someone enjoying them as they should makes me play even harder.”

So, I know for me, sometimes inspiration just comes to me, and other times I have to work through a lot of bad ideas before I can get inspired. Does it work that way for you? How do you find yourself trying to reach out for inspiration? “Inspiration comes to me from anywhere, though I really try to stay away from things that will date a track – like a current saying, quote, etc. If a track is not working for me I will totally erase the idea, also at times when I’m making a track it doesn’t sound complete or finished to me, I will hold onto it for however long it takes to finish it.”

When you’re making a beat, do you already know what sound you’re going for? “Not at all: I go into a beat listening for a noise, not necessarily a beat, hook, bridge, none of that, and it can be anything – just something that perks my ears up. If I try too hard I am guaranteed not to find it, but if I relax and listen something will pop up in my head – it always does.”

How did that Bok Bok remix happen? “I had been shopping for music online and noticed I had a few of Bok Bok’s remixes, and I had just loaded up some things on FaceBook and searched for his name. I found it and sent him a message, told him I loved his music and respected what he did – just being me — and he wrote back. I found he loved my beats as well and so did a lot of others – which was news to me, not that it couldn’t happen of course – but just that it did happen was incredible enough. I got “Silo Pass,” heard it, and figured I’d give it a remix. When I sent it to him, he wrote back that it was not what he was expecting lol – but since it was chosen for the remix package I took that to be a good thing, haha!”

What projects are we going to be hearing more about in the near future? “The new projects are my release for Mad Decent, which is very very close, and also my release for Ultra Nate’s 410 Paradox Underground records. They are each different and I cannot wait for them to be heard. What’s in store for my near future, more tours, and my record label will be off the ground, and just more fun.”

What is your favorite slurpee flavor? “Suicide – everything mixed together well: the sweet and sour flavors – no Pina Colada, Banana, or Coke.”

Whose music are you enjoying lately? “Everybody’s! People are very very creative right now – must be something in the water!”

When was the last time you danced? “LAST NIGHT!!!”

Jack Murphy