JERSEY CLUB KWEEN UNIIQU3 on the scene going international
Talking Jersey Club Politics, hometown pride and not being lit enough for Berghain
Text by Shane Gormley / Image by Nest HQ
Jersey Club Kween UNIIQU3 is easily one of the nicest artists I’ve ever met. In a tent in the forested grounds of a 1740’s castle, at a dance festival home to “jugglers, fire breathers and magicians,” UNIIQU3 was about to play her first set in Ireland. Obviously this wasn’t an average show for her, though I guess the meaning of “average show” has been morphing with the ever rising popularity of the genre she champions.
Talking to UNIIQU3, her energy was 100% and her enthusiasm for what she does was contagious. While some DJ played psytrance remixes of The Prodigy nearby, we chatted by the festival’s lake to talk about touring, Jersey Club politics and why squad should be spelt SQAD.
GRAPE - You're on tour in Europe right now, how is it?
UNIIQU3 - I love touring. I can't wait until I can tour with my friends and make it this big thing. My friends need to experience the shit that I experience too. It'd be super cool. My dancers and my skaters and all of it, all of it... the whole shebang. That's the goal.
Do you have a certain routine when you get to a new city?
Oh yeah, definitely. It's funny, usually if it's a festival the liaison is like “you want to get some rest?” and I'm like “nah dude, I'm about to go change real quick and we're about to go see shit.” I'm always for it. I'll be the one to break off from everybody and be like “I need to go see stuff.” I don't get to see this stuff at home. Europe's a little bit older so it's like you guys got a mix of cool old shit and cool new shit. That's my thing, I got to go see shit.
And now I've been getting my disposable camera, polaroid shit on because I always loose my phone… or it gets stolen. It's terrible.
You started shooting film photos because of touring?
Yeah, I need something physical. When I'm grown, I can't show my kids an iPad. “Yeah look what mom did” and they're scrolling through shit, like nahhh.
Do you've a favourite place that you've been so far?
Aw man, I think Manchester is always my fav, they just go in so hard. Definitely Manchester. Berlin is always turnt too, can't get mad at Berlin. I went to Berghain for the first time and BRO... that's all I'm going to say. I wasn't lit enough for Berghain.
How do you find that Jersey Club goes down outside of Jersey?
Yeah I feel like for the most part, everywhere people just know that it's turnt up and it's time to dance and party. Even if they don't really get it, I make sure that I translate that to the crowd, we're here to just have a good time. At the end of the shows I always get in the crowd and get down with everybody.
For people getting into Jersey, what should they be getting into? What's the best way to get into it authentically?
I would say go on youtube before you go on soundcloud. I feel like youtube is a better introduction, because you get to visually see what we're doing and how we do it. You get a more of feeling from the visuals, rather than just hearing it.
I would just say go on youtube, look up Jersey Club dances, look up Jersey Club parties, look up Newark. The whole thing. You'll just see mad videos, it's crazy.
One of my favourite things about what you do and the scene in general, are the edits and the DIY aspect of them. What is it about a track that makes you think “i need to make an edit of that.”
Oh man, I don't know. It's just if something about the song that like sounds out to you. I can't really put a thing on it. Just when you hear something and think like “damn, I could take that and manipulate in a totally different way.” It's just a feeling.
You're known for your shows and your performances and your energy, who do you like to see live?
Oh that's a toughy. There's a bunch of people I like to see live. I like seeing Tyler, The Creator live because I like how real he is, he just talks to the crowd like “yo guys.” I think it's so real and that's cool. I love seeing Tyler and Odd Future live. They're funny as fuck and they’re really themselves on stage too. I love seeing SZA, she's from Jersey too and her live show is really dope. She's definitely blossomed into her own.
There are so many. I'm more into seeing artists live, than seeing DJs live sometimes, because it helps me with my live show. I used to be a stage brat, so I'm into that theatrical shit.
Yeah, you started out as a vocalist and performer, how did you get into Djing? What made you make that transition?
My boyfriend was a DJ and I was like “you’re always doing that cool shit, I want to learn.” So then I learned and when I used to just fuck around on the turntables, guys were like “yo you’re actually kinda lit. You should be a DJ.” So I’m like “aight, maybe.” Then, I just started doing that.
In Jersey you have to make your own tracks to get booked. People book you based on the tracks that you’ve put out, like “oh I want to hear them play their shit” so they book them. I didn’t have any tracks, so that’s how I got into producing.
Then, circling back around into it, I’m like “man, I’m going to put my vocals on my own shit, and then perform that shit and then DJ that shit. Why not?”
That’s so cool. I never knew that about the Jersey scene.
Yeah, it was such a thing. That’s why Sliink would always get booked, ‘cause Sliink had such a huge ass catalog. Like, if we want to hear Cartel Music, we’re going to go to a Cartel party that day, or we’re going to book Sliink.
It really makes the producers and the scene mad competitive, like “damn I gotta put out some hot shit so I can get these bookings.”
You’re touring internationally now, Jersey Club is now spreading far beyond Jersey, how do you feel about that?
I think it’s fucking dope. It’s crazy ‘cause like some places I’ll go to, the kids that have been on it are like “I’m surprised it’s not THIS big...” and I’m just like “dude not many of us have been over here yet.” I feel like maybe by next year, we’re all working to put out more videos and shit like that so it’ll be like more of a thing, you know? It’s like, this is my first proper UK and European tour, this is my first time in Ireland. Same thing with Nadus and Sliiink, it’s only been us three over here really. So wait until like... if I could bring my squad on tour. Aight then... that’s when we’re talking!
So, if you’re a booker reading this, bring the whole squad.
Yes. Bring the squad. And it’s S-Q-A-D, squad without U, because it’s not about U, it’s about we. Haha. No, I’m so serious.
Last question. Who are people not listening to enough of? If it’s just you, Nadus and Sliink that have been getting over here, who else should we be listening to?
Check out my boy IQ. Check out TRICK$, Check out KAYY DRiZ, Check out fuckin’ FIINE$$E. Damn, there’s so many. Check out $JAYY, $JAYY’s new on Cartel, he’s so lit. Check out YUNG KIIDD too. Me and YUNG KIIDD made that Skepta Gang Remix. Aw lit. That one’s a tour exclusive.
Shout out to my 135 Lit Squad and my 67 Brick Squad. Yeah, shout out to the sqad.