On Point With: Jay Essex

With strong backgrounds in music and sound technology, DJ Jay Essex laments the loss of The Q while looking forward to new opportunities on the horizon!

Thotyssey: Jay, hello! Thanks so much for talking to us today! So there are a lot of big music artists touring this spring and summer: Madonna, Janet, Beyoncé, etc.! Are you planning on going to any shows?

Jay Essex: I am a concert fanatic so yes, I will be going to Janet Jackson, Madonna, Depeche Mode, The Cure. Shygirl next Saturday, which I’m excited about.

You’re a DJ, a musician, a producer and an audio technician. What came first, and how did that all evolve?

Musician first: piano, guitar and bass. Then I began creating my own music… so, producer. I became an audio tech in 2018 at Smash Studios, and practice-DJed for many years at home… ’til I ran my mouth to management that I DJ. Then I was booked for my first gig, on Pride 2022.

Are you able to still strike a balance with all those pursuits?

All those pursuits are driven by my love for music. Different gigs come up here and there, but DJing ended up coming way faster than everything else. And I’ve been so lucky to get gigs and work with some of NYC’s best nightlife drag queens and DJs.

Can you tell us a bit about where you grew up, and if music was always a part of your life?

I grew up in Houston, TX and moved to NYC in 2010. Music surprisingly showed up in my life when I had to take piano lessons in elementary school… and for some reason, every thing about music made sense. My first love of music was 90s dance, like La Bouche, Real McCoy, Amber. Also Spice Girls, Britney, Christina, Toni, Fugees, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Bjork, Madonna, Garbage, etc. There’s definitely more!

What do you like your DJ nights to sound like, when you have complete freedom to do what you want?

I like to play songs that go hard, to make people dance like crazy… just depends on the vibe of genre, and where I go from there.

You’ve been spinning at The Q’s popular weekend parties for several months now, but we all just found out Monday that this venue is now closed. Many insiders knew this day would come, but the actual closing still seemed very abrupt. How aware were you that this would go down this way, if you don’t mind me asking?

So the staff was informed on Monday through email that the Q’s doors would not open again, when we were originally told this past Friday that we had a job ’til the end of June.

That’s awful. The Q was a big success when it opened, than it’s rep got hurt after those details (alleged business practices including racist and transphobic door policies, drug use, underage sex and toxic work interaction) from former co-owner Frankie Sharp’s lawsuit. Were you working there before that all came out?

I actually started DJing two weeks before the lawsuit hit social media, Pride weekend. I was the audio tech since November 2021.

So many people at The Q worked so hard to turn that bad press around and create new vibes and audiences. What was the environment like there in those last few months, from your point of view?

There were ups and downs. New Years Eve was definitely a success, as well as other nights. But we all could tell the difference between Before Lawsuit and After Lawsuit. But we were a family. There was stress with the constant changing of executive producers after the lawsuit. But most staff stayed on for a very long time through it, and we had each other’s back.

Were you annoyed or surprised by that leaked anonymous comment in the recent WERRRK article that said the Q should’ve hired more local DJs? Do you even know what that meant? It was a puzzling statement.

I did see that article, and it was puzzling. Many DJs on the first and second floor were local. But there would be high profile DJs for the third floor on Saturday nights, which is what the person was talking about. Another thing I noticed this person said was that DJs would not be paid in a timely manner; I was always paid on time. Many people in nightlife like to gossip… comes with the job.

We’re so sorry for you all, and hope that everyone finds themselves in a better place very soon! At least it’s a good time to get bar work and gigs… many places are hiring this time of year.

Do you have any gigs or projects coming up that the children should know about?

Yes–I will be at Secret Pour this Friday, and Metropolitan on April 8th and the 15th. More gigs will be coming up within the month. If anyone wants to hear my original music, they can type in “Jay Essex” on any streaming services.

And lastly, what’s your favorite thing about DJing?

Putting people in a good mood with music… especially music that I love and grew up with. So it’s kind of a connection between me and random people on the dance floor, which makes me smile.

Thanks, Jay!

Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Jay Essex’s upcoming appearances, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram. Stream and download his music here.

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