We Made a Mixtape Y’all
A few months ago, we at The_ONES, being lovers of all things classic, set out to create one of the ultimate expressions of classic nostalgia: a mixtape. The kind you'd spend hours painstakingly making and labeling for your crush way back when. <3 To help us in our musical quest, we enlisted the help of two of New York’s fiercest, most fabulous lady DJs: Natasha Diggs and Illexxandra. And the mixtape they created (Natasha on "Side L," Illexxandra on "Side R") was labor of love we’ve had on repeat ever since. Below you can check out their thoughts on #giglife, what moves them musically, and the classic-sneaker obsession they both have in common (hint: it starts with a “C” and ends in an “hucks”), and give both of their totally rad mixes a listen.
Allow Us To Introduce Natasha Diggs, Who Rocked "Side L" of The_ONES Mixtape
First things first, how’d you get into DJing?
ND: “Got into DJing through a love for music and dancing and an early teenage obsession with collecting vinyl from thrift stores.”
How would you describe your style?
ND: “My DJ style is soulful and eclectic...it doesn't necessarily matter the genre, decade, or country it's from. I like to play things that touch my heart, make people move, and uplift the collective vibration.”
Do you have a go-to song you almost always put on no matter where you're playing?
ND: “There are too many to name just one! But I'd say my sets usually always have some classic roller-disco feel-good vibes like GQ’s Disco Nights or Roy Ayers’ Running Away in the mix.”
What about when you personally need a boost? Do you have an anthem?
ND: “I love bumping Slum Village Vol. 2 the whole album, front to back, when I'm getting amped to go out for a night. So many good memories around this record.”
So we asked you to create a mixtape for The_ONES. Tell us what you were going for.
ND: “Because this mix was in collaboration with The_ONES, which is all about classic sneaker styles, I wanted to make it feel like classic New York. Like when you’re walking through the city on a summer day and you hear salsa blaring through a boombox in the Lower East Side, or hip-hop out of a car cruisin’ through Harlem, or some reggae vibes rolling down Flatbush in Brooklyn. It had to be a mix that displayed the diversity and flavor of the music and cultures that are the heart of this city.”
What’s a song on the mix you’re super-duper into?
ND: “‘Mi Swing Es Tropical’ by Quantic & Nickodemus has been a favorite and staple in my sets for a minute. I love how it puts you in that summertime feel-good, sun-is-shining type mood anytime you hear it!”
When should somebody turn on The_ONES mix you created? When you're working out? Getting ready?
ND: “It's a great soundtrack for a stroll through the city.”
"I like to play things that touch my heart, make people move, and uplift the collective vibration."
- Natasha Diggs
Obviously, we’re all about classic sneakers. What shoe do you always have on rotation?
ND: “Chuck Taylors, Nike Blazers.”
How about when you’re DJing? What are you wearing up there?
ND: “Usually some color variation of Chuck Taylors. Nothing classier than dressing down some classic menswear suit styles with a pair of Chucks!”
Have you always been into Chucks?
ND: “I lived in a pair of black-and-white Converse high-tops from middle school through college. I spent many an all-girls Catholic-high-school class doodling and customizing those babies. They were so beat up but I loved them so!!”
The_ONES Mixtape (Side L)
Allow Us To Introduce Illexxandra, Who Rocked "Side R" of The_ONES Mixtape
Describe your journey into DJing.
I: “I wasn't your typical young club kid who's always been in the biz. I come from a family of musicians; I was an opera singer and musical-theater singer before I got into club music. After a few years in New York pursuing opera, I got fed up with the behind-the-scenes side of classical music, and took a break from it. I had fallen in with a circle of friends that included DJs. I quickly found myself buying dollar records and soul 45s at New York's many (at the time) record stores and junk stores. This was 2006. By mid 2007, I was supporting myself as a DJ, and never looked back!
While my roots were soul, hip-hop, and digger culture, it's hard to summarize what I do today. I play everything from raves in the woods to fancy club events to international festivals. I play aggressive electronic bass music, global-influenced club music, and yet still plenty of disco. My favorite sets are when I have the flexibility and time to weave the most disparate things together! But wherever I go musically, in my mind I can always trace the lineage back to digger culture and, essentially, soul music.”
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I: “Getting a crowd to wile out to things they've never heard.”
Is there a certain track that’s like an Illexxandra signature?
I: “I play in so many different contexts, it's impossible to have one go-to track. Plus, I don't play any tracks I don't love! To me, my DJ crates are all-killer-no-filler. I have fallen madly in love with each and every song, and it's rare that I fall out of love with one. There is no B-crate.”
What about a personal anthem? Who are you listening to on your nights off?
I: “Lately I've been jamming on ‘Nothing’ by Kendra Morris, ‘If By Chance’ by 21st Century, ‘Dawn of Infinity’ by Sinjin Hawke, and ‘My Hood’ by RAY BLK.”
What was the vibe you were hoping to channel with the mix you created for The_ONES?
I: “Many people lose their sense of wonder in adulthood. This mix felt to me like adult daydreaming. An adult version of childlike wonder and mystery.”
Tell us about a couple songs you chose for the mix.
I: “I was determined to start the mix with the Elephant & Mosquito remix. It's a slow burner in the perfect way: You ease into the groove gently, and then before you know it, you're stomping away in a psychedelic landscape of afrobeats and horns. A great zero-to-party-started joint. My other favorite is the final song, ‘Hot Sauce.’ It's got a great combination of wonky rhythms while maintaining the forward motion, plus I love the directness of the lyrics vs. the overly contrived writing style in a lot of other hip-hop lyrics.”
When should somebody turn on The_ONES mix you created?
I: “I think the mix has enough layers to be great for revving up, or just grooving along. I don't ever think of my music as background music though. If I've done my job right, you'll be too distracted to get anything done if you listen to it at work!”
What classic sneaker do you always have on rotation?
I: “I'm pretty enthusiastic about Converse. I've got silver-cloth Converse with custom gold laces. I've got baby-pink and baby-blue X-Hi Platform Converse. I've got magenta foil low-tops, and blue-foil high-tops. And I've got a pair of the Pride special edition.”
"I'm pretty enthusiastic about Converse...Most of [mine] look well-loved and that's because I'm not precious with them! I wear them a lot, because they rock."
Love! Do you wear them to perform?
I: “Most of them look well-loved and that's because I'm not precious with them! I wear them a lot, because they rock. I wear the platforms at Burning Man, so they're covered in playa dust. I wear the magenta foil pair the most often—they're flashy for gigs or just amazing to walk down the street in. And the Pride ones are in the best shape because they're for extra-special occasions. I also love Converse because I can get cute options in women's 13!”
The_ONES Mixtape (Side R)
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