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Listen to Selectress Iriela: "A vision of my upcoming Asia tour."

The Selectress will be setting the tone for the Warehouse Rave in Phnom Penh, Cambodia next week.

  • Charles Budd
  • 13 December 2023
Listen to Selectress Iriela: "A vision of my upcoming Asia tour."

New York-based Selectress Iriela is a multi-hyphenate and force of nature in the music game. The Selectress has spent two decades melding genres and styles without a boundary in sight as a radio personality, producer, disc jockey, and event producer. She lands in Asia next week for Warehouse Rave in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

She brings with her unparalleled talent and passion for uniting people through universal vibrations.

Her journey began back in the mid-90s as the producer and host of "Rockers" on 88.9FM WERS in Boston, where she broke barriers as one of the first female DJs and producers in the city's reggae scene. Since then, she has embarked on a global quest, gracing stages alongside A Tribe Called Quest, Lady Starlight, Chaka Khan, Louie Vega, DJ Spinna, The Wailers, and Mutabaruka.

Before the revered queen of all things soul, funk, reggae and disco gets the festive fire started for her Cambodian debut, she drops in at Mixmag Asia Radio first with a mix dedicated to her forthcoming ventures. Assembling a multi-genre mix packed with surprises, including a few of her favourites from Asia, tune in to Mixmag Asia Radio with Selectress Iriela below.

Where are you based and how did you get there?

New York City by way of Boston. I got started on the radio in the nineties playing world music, reggae, jazz, funk, hip-hop, techno, experimental, disco, house and more. Some of my earliest experiences were with collectives of multidisciplinary artists like Boston's Toneburst Collective - every event was different and I shared lineups with everyone from MC cyphers, noise artists, performance artists, dancers, DJs, singers, and shadow puppetry troops. The events encompassed all senses, and creative visions were executed in a socially conscious manner. I recall light being projected through fabric with surround sound at one event called InfraSound at MassArt that mimicked a womb and an event that was an actual thesis on sound weapons- I think I still have the photo of us in front of a police car that rolled up on us in the middle of Harvard Yard!

What’s your favourite thing about the music scene there?

My favourite thing about New York is that the energy is extremely unique, almost electric, & you never know who you will bump into. I can have a cultural experience and geek out on art history just parking my car. I'll never forget the moment I realized that when I would go to my "living room" regular spot to play with my Mobile Mondays family at the Bowery Electric, it turns out that I was right in front of Basquiat's old apartment, which still bears signs of his presence. One night I was spinning an all vinyl set there as per the mission of the long running NYC night, and the legend himself Kool Herc, a key founding father of hip-hop approached the booth. I immediately began sweating. Then, all he said was, "I love what you are playing, I don't have any requests," I swooned ha! And back in the 90's I was opening for artists like Aster Aweke, Yellowman and The Wailers, MCing shows for Groove Collective at the original House of Blues in Boston, where I also interned in sound for their Sunday Gospel brunches. The first clubs I played in New York were Nell's and CBGB's and female collective show at Frank's Lounge in Brooklyn.

In five words, what do your DJ sets sound like?

Journeys into universal love.

And in three words, how would you describe yourself?

Evolving human consciousness.

What recent trends in music have you been paying attention to? Have you caught onto them?

The trends I am attracted to are those of polyrhythmic oneness globally inspired and multilingual, soulful vibrations, so I pick up on sonically unique sounds - classic and new. I am happy to see that since I began 26 years ago, musical understanding is deepening around the world, and audiences seem hungry to hear more. That's my cue because this is always how I've interacted with music - sort of like a musicologist meets an anthropologist who began as a dancer since a young age. If it moves and inspires me, I am all over it. The energy has to be right and every song has a different vibe. Everything we consume - including sound - is of the utmost importance, and I'm fascinated by the endless watays to unite and heal - now more than ever.

Are there any producers and DJs in Asia that have recently caught your attention?

Hallex M out of Hong Kong has been a force on my radar for years and I'm impressed with his taste and style of production. I have been feeling: of course, Sympatico with Omar and DJ Fudge on Papa Records: velvety rich sonic goodness, Hallex M's Remix of Morena with Vinila Von Bismark, Sparrow & Barbossa, and Francis Coletta, and Ese Soy Yo Remix with Floyd Lavine, Hallex M, and Afrosideral. These are sumptuous frequencies to work with when playing around the world.

The Darker than Wax label is super interesting as it harkens back to thoughts of my first trip to Singapore back in 2008 and I'm excited to see what has developed in the scene since. I dedicated a part of my mix to them :) I love the NYC link as well, and their constant nods to disco, funk, hip-hop, techno and more. Dean Chew aka the Funk Bast*rd and Kaye (Singapore) are dope and I dig their vision. They have many talented artists such as to name a few: Malik Hendricks (NYC), Totek (AU), Kansado (NYC), Unos (Belgium/Philippines), Midnight Runners (Indonesia) and Floyd Cheung (Singapore).

I just recently was turned on to RajaRani who specializes in music and fashion. The key word here is conscious fashion, and that's been a big part of my life since the nineties as well. Growing up in the age of the supermodel back in the day I was swept up in the creative side of fashion regarding design and modelling, and wanted to only be involved if it was contributing to equitable working conditions and regeneration of our planet - so when a friend told me what RajaRani was doing I was excited! Be on the lookout for some upcoming features by my Fashionably Fair initiative on the Second World platform launching in 2024!

Describe one prediction you have about dance music in a post-pandemic world that’s being driven by new technologies.

We will unite through new technologies that will not make us feel FOMO or isolation, but actually effect social change globally. Music is more than just music. Technology, if executed ethically and thoughtfully delving into each algorithm can drive this movement and healing on an entirely new level for humanity.

Tell us about the inspiration behind this mix - what drove your thoughts and emotions, and how did you curate your selection?

The inspiration behind this mix is a vision of my upcoming Asia tour and what it will feel like to play amongst the nature and people of this beautiful part of the world. It's a celebration of life, in the face of any challenge - I have had quite a past few years. This mix goes out to all of those who have experienced loss, and illness, and know what it is like to come back to life! This is a sonic mirroring of my healing journey which is a reflection of the collective. I also feature some dopeness out of the Darker Than Wax label. When it comes down to it, it's about the upliftment of all. Why I DJ is the same reason I breathe. We're returning to our humanity and gathering spiritual strength and embracing a sense of celebration for the beauty that is life and the magic that is love - no matter what.

What equipment did you record this mix on?

I recorded this from the Second World HQ on Technic 1200s/ CDJs / Pioneer mixer.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen happening from the DJ booth?

A biker gang brawl deep in Brooklyn while playing the last track of the night, which funny enough was the last little part of Cranes in the Sky by Solange (picture yelling burly men in leather jackets over the sound of a retro music box lullaby?!) had to be the most odd! Another time, at a Toneburst event in the 90's I waited for the artist playing after me to set up for her set and instead she handed me a disc and instructed me to play track #2 - she then disrobed completely and performed a. Unexpected and creative, just like how I like it!

Where can we hear you playing next?

I am excited to announce my upcoming New Years tour in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand very soon!

And you can catch me on Second World Sessions live on Saturdays at 8pm ET on Blast, Twitch and Instagram.

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