The beat that pulses through House music compels an individual to move their body. Yet, House music is more than an irresistible groove. In the eyes and ears of Zimbabwean-born artist Jackie Queens, House music has the power of building communities.
Lyricist, vocalist, educator, and label owner at once, Jackie was propelled into the spotlight of the Afro House scene following the release of her debut track ‘Conqueror’ in 2015. The music she released after her debut track is indicative of her authenticity which seeps through her inclusive songwriting and profound vocals, positioning her at the forefront of the South African music scene. Notwithstanding her formidable influence as a musical artist, she also channels her energy into being a cultural educator and entrepreneur who aims to create a safe and equitable environment for her peers within the music industry.
Her goal to promote the free expression of women started with the creation of Bae Electronica, an independent label and agency that serves as a platform for creatives who are women. In an effort to deconstruct the oppressive boundaries of the music industry, she has also contributed to various projects such as GIRLS, #WomenofHouse, and worked with organisations such as Bridges for Music, and shesaid.so. Reclaiming space for those who have notoriously been objectified and placed into the shadows of the music industry lies at the core of her work. Jackie Queens is not afraid to challenge the status quo, as she fiercely pursues the goal of enabling marginalised individuals to dance to the rhythm of their own beat within the music industry.
For FF Mixtape #177, Jackie Queens curated a playlist of her personal favourites. These range from old classic house tunes to new ones that have been on repeat for the past six months.
What does house music mean to you?
House music is cathartic. I associate this feeling with house music most out of all the others. When I’m dancing, I feel renewed, and when I’m listening to it at home or on the go, I feel energized and happy. As a symbol of a fighting spirit, it stands out as a platform for the free expression of people when I consider its roots and the impact it has had on the world, especially for Black and Queer people.
What are some of your current or long-time sources of inspiration?
At the moment, I’m inspired by people. In particular, the many ways in which we demonstrate our humanity. Sometimes we aren’t kind or generous, but even in those moments, compassion and courage shine through. A source of inspiration that never goes out of style is music. As I am continuously in awe of what we are capable of creating, it never becomes mundane for me.
Amongst other projects, you head the South African chapter of shesaid.so and run your own women’s-focused label Bae Electronica. What inspires you most about the work you do to increase access and representation for women and other minorities in the music industry?
In these different environments, I am inspired by the selflessness, collaborative spirit, and audacity of the people I interact with. Humility is a necessary quality for working with people of varying backgrounds. I continue to learn, not only about myself, but also about the world around me. Even if I won’t live to see the world in full colour, I’m inspired by possibilities. There is a glimpse of the future, no matter how fleeting, when there are small victories.
What issues within the music industry do you want to see more awareness and work around, both locally and globally?
From inequality, racism, sexism, and discrimination, the answer is endless. However, in light of COVID 19, I have been thinking a lot about the working conditions of people in the music industry, like artists, events staff, promoters, etc. Music workers have little to no rights or security and we operate in a deeply unequal and exploitative system. From that perspective, I’d like to see more attention paid to music workers rights and concerted efforts made by those who have power to change the environments we work in.
What does a safer, more inclusive music and nightlife industry look like to you?
Anyone can exist, dance and love as they are with full freedom.
What do you hope is in store for the future of Bae Electronica?
There will be more music! As a label we’ve been away for a while, so I’d like to do more digging around and unearthing gems like I used to do. I would also like the work of Bae Electronica to be multiplied on the continent of Africa, and for more women to do what we do.
Are you currently working on anything exciting?
Desiree’s debut EP just came out on Bae Electronica, I’m very excited about that. It’s a pivotal release for the label because we’ve been part of her journey from the beginning. From a shesaid.so South Africa perspective, our chapter has a very special partnership with Rocking The Daisies to present the Oasis, a safe space for women and LGBTIA+ festival goers. We’re working extra hard on that right now and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of and excited about.
“Even if I won’t live to see the world in full colour, I’m inspired by possibilities. There is a glimpse of the future, no matter how fleeting, when there are small victories.”
What up-and-coming artists should we be listening to?
Emmavie and Gina Jeanz. They are my favourite producers right now. Both are extremely good at blending the classic with the contemporary. It’s R&B/soul with Emmavie and Gina Jeanz shines when she injects 90s house motifs into her cuts. Their range of production is so dynamic and refreshing.
Finally, how did you select the tracks for the playlist?
I looked back at the tracks I’d been listening to on repeat the past six months. Normally, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about mixes or mixtapes, thematically, as well as how to situate the listener in a particular time or place. In the beginning, that was the plan, but then I asked myself “what am I listening to?” I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few classic tunes on there, the Dear Friend DJ SPinna remix is an all-time favourite. Although it’s recently out, I’ve been listening to Desiree’s track for a while now, I love it so much, obviously lucky enough to get dibs on that!
Jackie Queens is a Zimbabwean-born artist and entrepreneur who aims to challenge the status quo of the music industry’s perspective on minorities. Alongside her list of credentials as a singer-songwriter, Queens is founder of independent electronic label and agency Bae Electronica, and has further leadership roles within NGOs promoting the accessibility and support of minorities such as Bridges for Music and shesaid.so. Reclaiming space for women and underserved communities inspires Jackie Queen’s goal to make the realm of music burst into “full colour”.
Photography: Andy Mkosi
Interview: Anastasiya Varenytsya
Text: Isabelle Moulding