One of New York’s most beloved and experienced dance floor DJs, Nita Aviance (from, duh, the legendary House of Aviance) slays us the world over with beats as one half of The Carry Nation and as a solo entity. Today he tells Thotyssey about what’s in store for him, and us.
Thotyssey: Nita, hello! Thanks for chatting with us today! So last month, The Carry Nation (the DJ collective consisting of yourself and Will Automagic) finished their seasonal residence at the Good Room in Brooklyn. What was the best part of this year’s run?
DJ Nita Aviance: Aw man, this year at Good Room was such a blast–it’s hard to pick just one moment. But I’d have to say the closing night B3B with Michael Magnan was such a dream. After working with him all season on the flyers, it was an extra-special way to bring it all full circle. The vibes were absolutely on point from start to finish. Good Room has been such a brilliant club to work with cuz they really let us do our thing, and have been very supportive as we’ve grown over the past three years.
Generally speaking, what’s your favorite type of venue to spin in regarding size or type of crowd?
Each different venue really allows us to explore our sound and bend it to correspond to each. The big, the small–they all have their place in my heart. We played Elevator Club in Shanghai earlier this year, and it was probably the most diverse crowd in a very intimate club with a pumping sound system. They totally let us get weird, and were there raging hard till the lights came on.
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in the suburbs of Rochester, NY. It wasn’t a bad place to be a teenager; there was a thriving nightlife scene where I found other gays and weirdos to get in trouble with at an early age.
What was the first music that really inspired you?
There was always music in my house growing up–my dad made sure of that. His record collection is vast and varied, and he taught me to appreciate all genres. But early on I was very into 60′s pop and Motown. Also, Prince. The first time I remember being allowed to stay up past my bedtime was to watch the 1985 American Music Awards, which we recorded and I studied religiously. Prince was all over the awards that year, as Purple Rain had just come out.
What was the scene like in NYC when you started DJing… and how exactly did you get your start?
When I started DJ’ng in the East Village in the early 2000s, the bar scene was thriving but the bigger clubs were all closing down. The format was changing to more pop and hip hop, so we really had to work hard to keep the dance music alive. That said… it was a serious party, and Michael Formika Jones put me at the center of it playing AREA10009 at Opaline on Avenue A. It was the hottest ticket in town, and I got to cut my chops to a packed room every Friday night.
How did you become a member of the House of Aviance? Are you a voguer at all?
I fell in with the HOA almost immediately when I moved to the city. Spending every Sunday morning at Twilo, I met Mother Juan and Kevin very quickly, and we all just clicked. I soon started coming out in drag, and eventually began dancing backup for Kevin. I wouldn’t call myself a voguer, but I can certainly cut a shape. You’d be hard pressed not to when you’re an Aviance, and your friends have last names like Xtravaganza and Ninja. For me it was all about runway– when that floor opens up and you really get to pump it.
You’ve been in the booth for many legendary parties and venues over the years, but many remember you from Tubway at the iconic Mr. Black, which you headed with another DJ legend Gant Johnson.
Mr. Black was a wild ride. It was completely debaucherous and out of control and we thrived. Tubway taught me how to throw a big party, and my musical taste and DJ style really evolved by being allowed to get buck wild every week. We were fully immersed in throwing that party. Creating a new theme and look every week is incredibly exhausting–thankfully, we had plenty of fuel.
There is a lot of original music out there from you… including a mix called ”Morgan Freeman” which is such a bop. How much have you put out, exactly?
Between myself, The Carry Nation and multiple other collaborations, quite a bit…and there’s a lot more on the way.
Do you have a moment in your DJ career that you are the most proud of?
Honestly, I’m constantly gagged at the fact that I’ve managed to make a career out of something I love so much. We just played the garden at Berghain [in Berlin] last month, which is a total milestone. Also, being welcomed into the Bloc 9 family at Glastonbury for the past five years is an experience that I will be eternally grateful for.
What do you like to spin these days at your gigs?
Anything that’ll get that ass-shaking. I’m a slave to the rhythm, if I’m not dancing how can I expect you to?
Do you generally find at this point that you have a lot of freedom regarding what you can play, or are venue managers regularly trying to get you to stick to a formula?
I think I’ve always been a bit stubborn about playing the music I love, and it has definitely lost me jobs along the way. But here we are now, and I still play what I like… just more people are into it. It’s how you develop your own sound, ya’ know–years and years of trying everything out. It’s our job as DJs to expose people to new sounds… something they aren’t going to run into necessarily on their own.
What do you think about the state of gay nightlife today, still being so driven by Top 40 pop music?
Save it for your Spotify, kids. Get out there and experience something different. There’s a reason dance music started in gay clubs, it’s FOR US. People forget that the pop machine is driven by straight white men looking to make as much money as they can. Not that I don’t love me some pop, but 100% all the time all night every place you go out… that’s not the type of experience I’m trying to have.
So how was The Carry Nation formed, and why do you think you and Will work so well together?
I’ve always admired Will as a DJ, and after working together in the scene for years I called him up one day and told him it was time we made a record… thus, “This Bitch Is Alive.” It was only fair we started playing together to back it up. We were on our first tour before we were truly friends, even. But I think it’s our mutual love of the nightlife and music that drives us; we have a similar vision for how we want things to feel, and it just works. We argue like any relationship, and that helps keep things moving forward. We’re always trying to create something fresh–it’s our respect for the past, and eye on the future, that really ties it all together.
Lets talk a little about some upcoming New York gigs this week, starting with Thursday, July 26th: Floorgasm, featuring yourself and DJ LSD XOXO at Bossa Nova Civics Club in Brooklyn.
Super excited to get down with LSD XOXO. He is absolutely brilliant, and I’ve been pulling some extra special gags for this one.
Friday, July 27th: Full Moon, featuring The Carry Nation alongside DJs Mike Swells, Mira Fahrenheit and David Kiss at the House of Yes in Brooklyn.
This will be Carry’s first one playing at the new HoY. And on a full moon, you can be sure this one will get wild.
Saturday, July 28th: Mild Fantasy, featuring yourself with DJs Rogelio and Elle Dee at Mood Ring in Brooklyn.
This venue has such a cool, intimate vibe, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it pops off.
Anything else to mention?
Check out The Carry Nation’s new single “Prism” featuring Alissa Briana. So proud of this one–Alissa has such a beautiful voice, and she wrote us a banger!
Okay, last question: What’s your best advice for a DJ who wants to make it in this city?
Stay true to you. No one else has done “you” before, I can guarantee it. If you don’t see what you want out there, create it. Study the past, dream of the future, and never stop dancing!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for DJ Nita Aviance’s upcoming gigs, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud and iTunes.