Today, Unorthodox’ Nathan X reveals some future plans, like their upcoming Open Deck Night and a stage at Tomorrowland this summer.
Firstly, what a great livestream that was a few weeks ago on Goat Shed Radio! How did you experience this?
Nathan X: Yeah, it was fun! There’s nothing like playing live, because I am a performer. I’m always MC’ing, dancing, and entertaining, the stage is my home. Then again, it was also really nice to be in the studio with our queer crew: Pinks, Clarkus and Mandidextrous. It felt like a proper stepping stone especially on Goat Shed, such a major streaming platform. It feels like we’re respected, we’re openly queer, we’re here to stay.
In what way do you hope to change the drum and bass scene with Unorthodox?
Nathan X: Dressing a bit more camp was a big step for me personally and before the pandemic I always got a lot of questions, mostly aggressive ones. Since we’ve been operating, DJs are becoming more open about their sexuality, people now are more positive towards me as well. I’m already seeing more openly queer people at drum and bass events. There are also way more queer artists now than two years ago. With Unorthodox we’ve been building a spreadsheet with queer artists. The last two years it’s grown into a list of 100+ names. I feel like it’s (a bit) more acceptable to be queer and be into drum and bass now, and that’s amazing.
Nathan X: What would I like to see in the future? More queer people on line-ups. Promotors are doing a great job by putting more women and people of colour on their line-ups, but queer artists are underrepresented. There are people that are high up but don’t speak about it. It’d be good if artists talked about it a bit more. That would make a big difference and would open up the conversation.
Talking about the future, you’re going to plan an Open Deck night in London soon. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Nathan X: Yes! It’s going to be in Boxpark, Shoreditch on the 2nd of March. (You can still sign up here) It’s an entertainment complex made out of old shipping containers and one of those containers is a music venue. One of the things we’re working towards with Unorthodox is creating more opportunities for queer artists, so I thought ‘Why not put on an Open Deck night here?’, it’s ideal. Now newer artists can gain more exposure and it’ll also be free entry so people can come and just enjoy the music.
What other events do you have planned?
Nathan X: On the 11th of March, we’re planning another night at Peckham Audio. For that event, we’re going to do something a little bit different. “Queer Drum and Bass” is our tagline and as the name suggests we’ve mainly been focusing on Drum & Bass, but I also love all the surrounding genres, there’s a lot of queer representation in there too. I wanted to showcase some of those artists, so this event is going to be a jungle vs drum and bass style night. It’s also going to bring a slightly different crowd; I’m excited for that too!
We’re also going to Belgium this year, to Tomorrowland! They want to put more drum and bass on and the booker we’re in touch with likes the queer angle we take, so that’s really exciting. Can’t wait for that. We’re bringing Mandidextrous, Flava D, Mollie Collins, IMANU, Charlie Tee and many others. It’s really nice to work with these sorts of budgets and get out of the UK!
How do you curate your line-up?
Nathan X: We normally go for one or two headliners, but we’re very limited with the amount of artists. The queer representation is still very limited. We can put on Mollie Collins, Flava D, Mandidextrous, IMANU… and a few others but that’s about it really. Then we pick support. There’s always our residents Pinks and Clarkus, and myself. Finally, we fill it up with queer artists I know or consider some from our spreadsheet we’ve been building. The Open Deck we talked about earlier is also going to be good for discovering more queer artists.
In terms of music, that’s a really big deal at our shows. In the beginning we got lots of homophobia, comments like ‘You can put on a queer night, but if the music’s shit, what’s the point?’. But we make a point to prove that wrong, because the music is important, and we want to put up a good night with ground breaking Drum & Bass, whilst being a queer movement. We also want to be the next generation of drum and bass events, we want to show people how else they can enjoy events. Unorthodox is more friendly than other events, it’s great vibes, plus a whole new experience with queens and club kids dancing on stage, however our biggest problem is the limitation we have with our headliner choice.
We like to curate line-ups properly, and if we do book a non-queer artist, it has to be an ally, someone who supports the movement an community. At our next event for example, we booked Charlie Tee, whom doesn’t identify as queer. She’s a BBC Radio One DJ and a great ally, constantly trying to help queer people and handing us opportunities. This is a big part of it, we don’t want to segregate. We want to create a more inclusive event that is open to absolutely everybody, but must still remain a safe space for queer people nonetheless.
What kind of drum and bass can we expect to hear at Unorthodox?
Nathan X: We keep it inline with the DnB everyone knows and loves but we try to make it a bit more camp. It’s work in progress obviously, but at Unorthodox we take drum and bass, and we bring queer elements into it, for example you’ll here a lot of Dance Floor, gelled with bootlegs of famous queer anthems, then meshed with heavier rollers.
Nathan X: The last message I have is, if you’re queer and you’re into drum and bass, follow up our socials. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram and our website. Get down to one of our shows or apply to our Open Deck night. We’d love to hear from you, we’d love to see you. If you have any questions about being queer, or if you ever need anyone to speak to, I’d love to welcome you to our events personally, or feel free to drop me a message on my personal account or the Unorthodox page. I’d love to hear your story. We’re a family, we’re a community!