Despite his, well, boyish appearance, Texas-born Sebastian Villa has been haunting parties since the glory days of New York dance venues. And now with a potentially exciting new age of nightlife in our grasp, the newly-renamed DJ Boyyyish will be leading the way to all tomorrow’s parties from the DJ booth.
Boyyyish: It was an incredible day! We had our first special surprise guest [recording artist] Slayyyter perform, which was epic. Her and I talked about how the party feels like a rock concert and festival dance party all rolled into one.
You and Erik Izquirdo were often in the booth with Ty’s initial monthly party “Love Prism” at 3DB pre-pandemic, which has now evolved into this weekly “Ty’s Tea.” How did you all first come together for these?
It all started in 2019, when Ty kind of forced me out of DJ retirement and told me I should start playing again. He wanted to start this trio called Love Prism with myself and Erik.
Ooh, an attempted retirement! We’ll get to that in a bit!
So where are you from originally… and was music always a part of your life?
I was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas–home and final resting place for Selena is what we’re known for. My parents owned a dance studio, so music and dancing was pretty much my life from day one. I played piano as a kid, and eventually fell into singing in high school.
Did you dance, too?
I did! Didn’t have much of a choice, lol! I was also an only child, so the dance studio was pretty much my daycare. There was even a time in between houses when we actually lived there.
Wow, so you were literally surrounded by music!
Haha, yeah… my path was set pretty early!
Tell us about how you began as a DJ, and as a New Yorker.
It had always been my dream to move to NYC and become a film director, because I’m a huge movie nerd. But I ended up going to school in Ithaca in Central New York, which is about five hours away. I had some friends from home who lived here then, so first chance I had I would take the bus down and honestly spent almost every weekend of my freshman year here, leaving Thursday night and coming back Monday morning. It only cost $55 round trip back then!
I think the first party I ever went to was Avalon Sundays at Limelight, which blew me away. I was also only out to my friends in New York, and they were all straight–so I’m very thankful they let me drag them out with me. At that time, what we call blog house was really taking off… and even though I wasn’t in NYC as much after freshman year, I felt like I was still connected to it through music and nascent Facebook.
By my senior year though, I was a full-on dance music junkie–going to dance parties like Annex in LES, or Don Hills, or Studio B in Williamsburg. I had a friend in college who was a DJ, so I think that inspired me to teach myself; I would start little DJ pop-ups my senior year. After I graduated, I made another DJ friend at Cornell, and he really got me into it more. I would play with him at the one club by the school, as well as his frat house which was basically like a giant club. There’s not much of a dance music scene in Ithaca, so I was pretty much just throwing house parties for hipsters and frat boys basically.
You mentioned, though, that you had retired from DJing at one point.
Ah, yes! So after college, I stayed in Ithaca and was DJing the frat scene while working in a restaurant… and then I ended up opening my own restaurants, which I had for five years. Once I closed them, I moved to NYC where I continued working in food. It wasn’t until a bad breakup five years ago that I started going out to clubs, and fully dived into being a club kid again. That’s how I met Ty four years ago, and we’ve always been friends first. He knew about my past and my love for nightlife and music, which thankfully led to him nudging me.
For about five minutes there, it looked like maybe the Limelight was going to reopen recently! What were you thinking at that point?
I was so excited. But I always say, memories taste better… so I’m cautiously optimistic about reviving the past.
I concur! Much about club music and the nightlife scene has changed since you got here, but it looks like there’s a chance that big dance floors might find there way back to NYC. That’s exciting!
Yes! I’m also happy for any and all Manhattan moments as well!
During the pandemic you were regularly spinning sets via your weekly Newton Radio show “Breakfast with Boyyyish,” which is still going strong (Fridays, 9am-11am). How did you like doing that, compared to serving live crowds on the dance floor?
I actually kind of loved it; it gave me the freedom to play whatever I want without the confines of adhering to genre or party vibes, or even any of all the other drama that comes from working the party that can be distracting sometimes. It was kind of serendipitous that I started my radio show in February, and had all the equipment and know-how for livestreaming, so that when March hit I suddenly became in-demand for everyone’s digital events.
Of course now that everything is back, there’s nothing like feeding off the energy of the crowd. It’s funny, because Sundays I play to a thousand people And then only 100 feet away [from 3 Dollar Bill], on Fridays [at the station] I play to just myself.
What are you living for right now, music-wise?
I started playing with a new DJ during the pandemic, and we both shared a love for UKG, so I’m super into what’s going on in the UK scene right now with funky, hard drum and jungle. ‘m obsessed with Denham Audio, Breaka, Bailey Ibbs, the entire Trick label output.
Did you only recently start calling yourself Boyyyish?
Yeah! I’ve always been into monikers, or creating a separate personality when doing art. When I started, I played mostly French house… so I called myself bastien. “Boyyyish” was something I wrote down once as an imaginary song title, kind of playing on both gender standards and the fact I look very young for my actual age, lol!
Have you had an all-time favorite gig, or DJ moment?
This is easy! There’s two. I got play “Birdcage” for my birthday July 2019, which meant so much to me because Le Bain is like my home and Christina Visca only books legit New York DJ legends for that party; I was one of the youngest people to ever play it. Her support meant the world to me.
That, and this last New Year’s Eve I played Susanne Bartsch’s apartment at the Hotel Chelsea where she had a private party with all the usual Bartsch Babes… which was pretty fucking iconic. I’m pretty much beyond honored to have played for the two legends I adore, knowing they’ve seen every DJ in the world… and here is little old me.
You collaborate a lot with Queen Bartsch! I believe you were a DJ for a recent showcase she did at Sony Hall, featuring a cadre Bartsch Babes performing onstage.
Yes! I DJ for her, but also do a lot of behind the scenes work for her as well.
Do you have plans to collaborate with Bartschland again in the near future?
I’ll be playing this Friday for her first real, in-person, full dance party in lieu of the usual cabaret show, which is on hold this week. But, we’ll be back next week and future Fridays. Then once [her weekly party at Le Bain] “On Top” comes back, I’ll likely be a part of that as well. She is a real treasure to work for, and beyond hard working.
Truth! And there’s another exiting thing happening Pride Weekend that you’re gonna be a part of: the grand opening weekend of The Q, care of Frankie Sharp and a fab foursome of celebrity investors. There hasn’t been this much buzz and excitement regarding the nightlife beat in ages! You’ll be DJing there on one of the four floors on Friday, June 27th.
I am so excited to be playing opening night! I took a tour earlier this month, and it’s going to be so incredible… I don’t want to give too much away. One cool thing is, it’s a showroom for the latest Pioneer equipment… so as a gear head, I can’t wait to play with all the shiny toys. On top of that it’s just four blocks away from my apartment, so I can walk home—which I can’t even put into words how happy that makes me feel.
Anything coming up for you that the children need to know about?
Oh man, there’s so much in the works right now–feeding off all the amazing energy everyone has right now–but I can’t say too much yet! Big things coming from Ty… and something special for my birthday at the end of July!
Exciting! Okay, lastly… who do you want to see in concert, as soon as you are able to?
We’re on board for all of that! Thanks, Boyyyish!