INTERVIEW: The Spinsters Union of Louisville discuss their purpose, DJ culture in Louisville & more!

I really appreciate the concept behind The Spinsters Union of Louisville, a collective of DJs and producers that in their own words are “here to claim our space, kick ass, and make every room feel safe and sound perfect.” In other words, they’re like the Voltron of Louisville’s DJ community. Each of them is a powerful force on their own, but as a cohesive group they become a supreme entity that ultimately has one goal: rock the fucking party with no apologies.

Be sure to catch The Spinsters Union at Waterfront Park as part of the Fourth of July celebration which will also feature performances from RMLLW2LLZ, Carly Johnson and The Pimps of Joytime. For more information on the event, go here.

To get better acquainted with The Spinsters, I reached out to founding member Kim Sorise for an interview. Thankfully, she and a few members answered a few of my questions…

Never Nervous: Tell us about The Spinsters Union. What exactly are you up to, and how’d the initiative come together?

Kim Sorise: The Spinsters Union Of Louisville came out of a need within the local DJ community. I have been DJing for 23 years + as well as regionally for the last 18, and I could count on one hand the number of times I had spun records with other women or non-binary DJs. This may be partially due to the circles I work and hang in, but for my experience, record collecting and DJing has generally been dominated by men and it’s a bit of a “boys club”. Very rarely do I hear of women making the same ranks and lists, or receiving equal kudos as their male counterparts; it speaks very much to the patriarchal culture in which we exist.

The Spinsters Union was founded by myself and Sara Alice Wood. She saw similar issues for women and non-binary DJs and wanted to put her efforts towards event production, booking, and pay equity. She too wanted to build a collective that could plan events and help create more inclusive spaces in our city.

When The Spinsters had our first initial meeting of interest in January of 2018 – we began with 7 folks – most did not know each other. Our next meeting included 14 potential members and we introduced even more women and non-binary DJs, producers, and beat makers to each other. Then it grew to 16, and I remember someone saying, “I had no idea there were so many of us in Louisville. . .” With the response, “There are and more!” I think this is very exciting that we are a force as women and non-binary DJs and not only in music, but in a determined effort to be inclusive, collaborative, and empowering to all – including our male allies. As part of our mission statement reads: “We are here to claim our space, kick ass, and make every room feel safe and sound perfect.”

“I remember someone saying, ‘I had no idea there were so many of us in Louisville. . .’ With the response, ‘There are and more!”’

NN: What does your roster look like? How many of you are there?

Blythe of the Ball
– Host of Rock Sexy on WXOX 97.1FM & ARTxFM.com – Thursdays from 10pm to Midnight
CamJam – Spinning the finest in Rock and Roll badassery
Danielle Martin – Chapter 25 photography, is our “Spintern”, Photographer, & Social Media Guru
DJ Alli – Producer / DJ / Performing Artist
DJ Bombshell: The Trillist Southern Belle – Host of The Trill Party at Highland Taproom and WCW Mixshow on 93.1FM, Derby City Roller Girls Team DJ
DJ Kara – Host of Parallel Universe, Tuesday at Midnight on WXOX 97.1FM & ARTxFM.com
DJ Power Trash – Host of Power Trash on WXOX 97.1FM & ARTxFM.com – Wednesday from 6 to 8 pm
DJ Sangmeister – Artist / Co-Host of Sun Revolutions on WXOX 97.1FM & ARTxFM.com – Sunday from noon to 2 pm
DJ Samosa – Host of Slow Jams & Conversations, Wednesday 8-12am at Virtue
DJ Syimone – DJ, VJ, and Musical Activist; hosting weekly events at Chill, Nowhere, Limbo
FILO – DJ & Video Artist specializing in Techno
Ghouligan – Host of Ladies Night Thursday at Play & our most amazing Spinster web designer
Kim Sorise – Co-Founder / DJ / Radio Host on WXOX & WFMU, and Spinsters Union Music Curator
Lisa Foster – Co-owner of Guestroom Records; spinning whatever her heart desires
Regale – DJs House and Techno
Sara Alice Wood – Co-Founder / Spinsters Union Events Producer
Scz – DJ / Producer and co-founder of Rhythm Science Sound and LouiEvolve
Yuri Bae (Formerly CAVE DWLR) – Producer, Beat Maker, and Performing Artist

In addition The Spinsters Union also hosts 3 weekly gigs at Limbo, Pizza Lupo, and Decca, as well as spinning for various parties and events throughout the city.

NN: What do your collective of DJs bring to the party that others in Louisville don’t?

Kim Sorise: There a few things that set us apart:
1) We bring a true collective and collaborative spirit; we champion one another.
2) Versatility and professionalism are also key! We can make a room sound great; we can read a crowd and change up if needed. Plus we can move among a cocktail party, art opening, wedding, private event, restaurant or a club with ease.
3) There is really no genre we cannot get down with: our members play Soul, Funk, R & B, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, Rock & Roll, Indie and Alternative, Techno, House, Drum & Bass, Top 40, Hip Hop, Twerk, Bounce, Booty, Glam, Garage, Punk, Ambient, Surf, Lounge, Global and International grooves like Baile Funk, Bossa, Cumbia, Afro-Beat, Soca; Jazz: Swing, Soul Jazz, Free Jazz, Standards; NeoSoul, old school Country, Folk, Psych, Glam, Metal… we can keep going. If it’s great, has a beat or a groove, and moves the audience – we play it.

One thing that sets us apart from other DJ collectives around the country is our diversity in styles, and genres. We have vinyl DJs as well as DJs who work digitally via controllers. Most of the other DJ coalitions who actively promote women and non-binary DJs are exclusive to a sound or genre. The Spinsters Union is not.

“Most of the other DJ coalitions who actively promote women and non-binary DJs are exclusive to a sound or genre. The Spinsters Union is not.”

NN: How do you decide which DJ goes on when?

Kim Sorise: As I mentioned we have 3 weekly gigs at the Limbo on Mondays, Pizza Lupo on Wednesdays, and Decca on Thursday, plus many of our members have regular DJ residencies around town at Play, Meta, Nowhere, Chill Bar, The Taproom, Virtue, with Derby City Roller Girls and radio shows on WXOX 97.1FM and ARTxFM.com. In addition, we also have done larger gigs with the Louisville Ballet, KMAC, The Speed, Wild Accelerator, The Omni, Waterfront Development Corporation, Louisville and Lexington Pride Festivals, and Forecastle.

For our weekly gigs, we have regular sign ups, so it is a rotating cast each week often in pairs. We like to switch it up: we get to know each other as individuals, as selectors; how we work through sets; how we collaborate with each other across genres, formats, and technology.

If we are working a larger gig, Sara and I work directly with the client to facilitate their needs and requests. Then we will request members who best fit the bill, work to make all the schedules fit, and to make everyone happy.

NN: How does one become a part of The Spinsters Union? Is there an application process?

Kim Sorise: The process is pretty straight forward. A new recruit will meet up with Sara and I, so we can get to know them, their DJ resume, musical choices, level of professionalism, what their individual and collective DJ goals are, as well as answer any questions about The Spinsters. We invite potential members to a meeting and the rest often sorts itself out. I think folks know pretty quickly if they wish to join or not. Having a crew of independent and creative minded individuals leads to pretty solid intuition across the board. We have grown quickly, accomplished a great deal in six months, and have built a wonderful comradery within this Union. We do have membership dues which allow us to create merchandise and promote.

NN: How would you describe DJ culture in Louisville to someone that isn’t all that familiar (like me)?

Blythe of the Ball: I think the DJ culture is diverse here; there are lots of different kinds of DJs. I like that there are a lot of mainly electronic DJs as well as vinyl DJs. It seems almost any night, depending on what club or bar you go to you could find someone spinning records or someone pumping dance tunes. It’s a small city and a lot of us do know each other, but just by joining the Spinsters I have met so many new people and have been exposed to a scene that I knew was there but had no connection with.
Regale: DJ culture in Louisville is incredibly diverse. We have several different scenes and musical tastes and in any given month you can find and discover all sorts of events from the DJs around town. What stands out most to me about the local DJ culture is the sheer amount of talent, especially in unknown lesser heard DJs, as someone who travels to see and hear DJs, some of the best sets I’ve ever seen or heard have been local. And this isn’t some new phenomenon, for decades now this has been the case.
DJ Bombshell: We are making our marks. No longer do we depend on promotion teams to book us. We book ourselves. We are finding our worth.
DJ Syimone: Louisville DJ culture is very diverse but clicked tightly. The talent here is A1 and because of that, spots are tight and most only want to work with their friends. Louisville and it’s scene can be very open to different groups and often those gatherings help create fan bases and followings, and that is why right now it is time for the Spinsters to take our place and give the culture some female and gender non conforming perspective.

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NN: Who is the baddest DJ outside of The Spinsters Union in Louisville that you really like?

Blythe of the Ball: John Penn Browning.
DJ Bombshell: DJ Kaos, he is a legend. And DJ’s for a legend. DJ Empty Beats, he is the most technically fluent DJ I have ever witnessed.
DJ Syimone: I love Jay Kay and think he is the baddest because he has helped get me into places that normally wouldn’t hire a trans woman . He is pro female, helpful and has made an impact on the culture here in louisville. He is the reason I became a DJ. Also John Penn Browning.
FILO: John Penn Browning.
Kim Sorise: I think we have amazingly talent in Louisville from the original lady DJ The Black Madonna to DJ Kaos and Trevor Lamont to Dwight Johnson, DJ DS, Matt Anthony, and JP Source. Plus I, too, adore John Penn Browning’s sensibility behind the turntables.
Regale: John Penn Browning. From his shows on WXOX to all his various gigs around town, he always brings his A game. Besides being so skilled and having an ever growing collection of some of the finest and also newest dance music vinyl, he is incredibly kind and always welcoming. That sort of combination is extremely rare. He gigs around town several nights a week, and somehow still finds the time to support others events on the nights he isn’t spinning. A true DJs DJ.
Scz: DJ Empty Beats, to echo Bombshell, and then Yared Sound, Khudosoul and DJ SpringBreak
Yuri Bae: I think we’re the best.

NN: If the crowd you’re DJing for looks to be a bit lost or bored, what is your go-to song to get shit back on track?

Blythe of the Ball: I’m a rock and roll DJ at heart so if I see people looking bored I might play something by David Bowie or a Ramones song that everyone would recognize.
DJ Bombshell: In a private party setting? “The Wobble”. In a club? Any twerking song.
DJ Syimone: “Don’t Stop Believing”, “Shots”, “Get Low” and “Party In The USA” are tracks that get the kids going when they are lost or bored.
Ghouligan: 50 Cent’s ‘Disco Inferno’. Folks get hella ratchet when this comes on – it’s like the ultimate high school dance throwback song when you thought getting nasty was doing some light grinding on a classmate.
Kim Sorise: It completely depends on the gig, the space, and the crowd. It is a feeling and my job is to create the best atmosphere I can. Though I do agree with President Obama’s sentiment that if you want to start a dance party start with Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady”.
Regale: In the sets that I play, I revert back to a classic. Something that stirs up nostalgia or is a sing along. Maybe Crystal Waters “Gypsy Woman” Boris Dlugosch “Keep pushin'” or Hardrive “Deep inside”
Scz: Depends on the crowd/venue House party/club: Remix of Knuck if you Buck or DJ Sliink (Missy Elliot – Work It R4 Remix). If it’s more of an international crowd: Wizkid Ojuelegba (or a remix of it). If its a queer-centered space: MikeQ Formation
Yuri Bae: Anything with heavy AF low end.

NN: Aside from Nazi punk, are there any genres that The Spinsters WON’T play?

Kim Sorise: See above, but I do not play music that is disparaging to anyone’s race, gender, ethnicity, religion etcetera. That being said each of each one of us walks in with our own experiences, our own levels of comfortability with the language and content presented in the music we play.

“I do not play music that is disparaging to anyone’s race, gender, ethnicity, religion etcetera.”

NN: If you were going to DJ an introduction for a pro wrestler, who would it be, and what would you play?

Kim Sorise: I just remembered that Never Nervous loves wrestling. Thankfully, I watched some as a kid, and my partner still spends Monday evenings watch wrestling, so I will take this one for the team. If I think back to the WWF days, I remember Ric Flair using “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Junkyard Dog using Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”; I guess this was before licensing fees. I remember wondering why Junkyard Dog didn’t use George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” – I think that would have been a better choice.

NN: What is your favorite portrayal of a DJ in a movie? Mine might be Omar Epps as Q in the Tupac fronted Juice.

Blythe of the Ball: I like the DJ in The Warriors. She was like the omniscient narrator and just really cool.
DJ Bombshell: I agree with Omar Epp’s character in Juice.
Ghouligan: The best for me would have Daft Punk’s cameo in Tron: Legacy. They didn’t even need costumes to feel like an organic part of that world – it was the best. Plus, ‘Derezzed’ is such a good track.
Kim Sorise: Because I have such affinity for the medium of radio, I will go with Don Cheadle as “Petey” Greene in Talk to Me, Christian Slater as “Hard Harry” in Pump up the Volume, Samuel Jackson as Mister Señor Love Daddy in Do the Right Thing, and Clint Eastwood in Play Misty for Me.
Yuri Bae: The dude from Human Traffic who spins random shit in his record shop.

NN: Lastly, as a DJ, if you could re-soundtrack that infamous party scene from Revenge of the Nerds with a track other than “Thriller”, what would you choose?

Kim Sorise: I never remember making it through Revenge of the Nerds even when it came out in 1984. I much prefer the party scenes in movies like Beat Street which came out the same year. Wouldn’t it be have been bad ass if the Rock Steady Crew showed up at the Nerds party instead of the Omega Moos, plus the music was tops.