By Hollie McGowan
VANCOUVER — The title of her debut LP for L.A. music label 100% Silk may be Between Two Selves, but today Maya Bouldry-Morrison a.k.a. Octo Octa is fully her authentic self. “Coming out made me more comfortable in life overall, and I can only feel that it has translated to my work,” shares Bouldry-Morrison over Skype from her current home city of Brooklyn, New York. “People see someone [in the DJ booth] who is more comfortable and able to express themselves more fully than ever before.”
Earlier this year, Octo Octa took a bold step and publicly came out as transgender in a feature article for Resident Advisor. Not only was this something that she had to do for herself, it also contributed to a larger movement within dance music communities to create safe spaces for all. Returning to the roots of the club where marginalized members of society were free to express themselves in an all-inclusive environment.
“I see more of an effort in general to have more diverse line-ups,” she says. “The thing that’s tricky about it right now is trying not to make it be gimmicky. Just because a DJ is female doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to be put on an all-female line-up. They want to be on a line-up because they want to be recognized as a great DJ, not just a token listing.”
Although open discussions of racism, homophobia, gender inequality and other issues that have infiltrated club scenes and electronic music communities worldwide are beginning to take place, we still have a long way to go. “There is more talk in general about trying to remember the roots of clubbing and not trying to white wash the entire history of it,” she adds. “Hopefully we’ll be successful. We’ll see. Hopefully its not just some trend; it feels very fragile.”
Very fragile indeed. Not too long ago on June 12th, 49 people were killed with 53 others wounded in a hate crime attack in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This was a reminder that although things are slowly shifting, clubs, specifically gay nightclubs, are still places where people from diverse backgrounds still need to be on the look-out for those seeking to destroy what they have fought tooth and nail for.
Yet, along with the tragedy came an overwhelming amount of support for Orlando and the LGBTQ community within the city. The 2016 Pride celebrations across North America that followed were that much stronger. “There’s an increase in visibility, and the only thing that will help [us on this line of change] is if we continue on that path.”
Aside from a larger movement happening around her to bring dance music back to its roots and to support positive change for marginalized communities within electronic music scenes, Bouldry-Morrison is simply happy to continue making house and techno for the sole purpose of letting the spirit soar on the dance floor. “Dancing for me is a very freeing activity; so when I’m out, I want to hear tracks that have emotional content to them so that it moves me,” she says. “Trying to find space for yourself on the dance floor so that you can get comfortable and have an experience with dancing and listening to what’s happening around you is super important.”
On a dance floor, people of all backgrounds and orientations should feel free to be themselves. This is what the house and techno music clubs were originally intended for. Together we can re-build these safe spaces and continue to enjoy music that supports freedom and self-expression. Octo Octa is helping to do just that, one club at a time.
Octo Octa performs at Open Studios on September 10th.BC, British Columbia, LGBT, Octo Octa, Open Studios