Vashtie Played A '90s Set For Rule Breakers That Proved You Don't Have To Stick To One Genre
Everyone knows that a dance party isn't complete without a few solid '90s hits, but what happens when a DJ's entire set is not only filled with '90s jams, but is almost exclusively only songs by female artists? Vashtie's 1992 Party at Bustle's Rule Breakers event gave attendees the opportunity to answer that question. The DJ, director, and designer spun tunes from a female-centric 1990s playlist, and it was the greatest start to the Rule Breakers all-day event. Va$htie was a perfect DJ for the Rule Breakers lineup, not just because she played nostalgia-lovers' favorite songs, but because she herself has broken more than a few rules in her life.
"I break the rules in my life by just doing what I do. I come from a family of working class immigrants and my parents never really thought outside of the box, because they weren’t allowed to," Va$htie tells me during our chat inside of her trailer at Rule Breakers. The Indo-Trinidadian DJ shares that she has always tended to defy people's expectations of her. "[For my parents'] generation, it was about providing a home for our family and a future — [it was] what they did forever for me and my siblings when they moved to America," Va$htie explains. Since she always knew that she wanted to be an artist, she went to film school before going on to direct music videos, including Justin Bieber's "One Time."
Va$htie didn't stop exploring her creative inclinations with film, though, and now as a DJ she considers herself a rule breaker in new ways. "Most people have seen me as a woman of color and they see me in the art world, so they assume that I just play hip hop and trap. For me, I love all kinds of music. Billy Joel to Future, to Drake, to Tom Petty, so I don’t ever want to stay in one lane," the DJ said. During her set at Rule Breakers, Va$htie played a wide array of genres, including a remixed version of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams." It was about as cool as you could expect (read: incredibly cool).
In addition to Stevie Nicks' vocals, Va$htie's Rule Breakers set included a lot of other musical rule breakers, like Alannis Morissete, P!nk, and Annie Lennox. Those were all woven in among the '90s singers you would hope to hear in a set called The 1992 Party — like Missy Elliott, TLC, Mary J. Blige, Destiny's Child, and of course, Britney Spears. Mixing genres is important to Va$htie because she believes that a lot of young people don't necessarily realize how much hip hop samples other musical genres.
"I played Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, which is like a group from the '80s, but they’ve been sampled so many times in hip hop, so it was cool to be able to play her song," she says. For example, Alicia Keys and A$AP Rocky's song "Blended Family (What You Do for Love)" samples Brickell's "What I Am." "There are so many artists that don’t come from the hip hop world or the African American world who have influenced our music and so I like to play samples... so people get the sense of ‘oh that’s where that came from,'" Va$htie explains.
While Va$htie makes sure to use music from multiple genres and generations in her sets, she explains that DJing requires a lot of flexibility because the technology changes so frequently. In fact, Va$htie explains that she finds greater biases against certain technologies used in the DJ world rather than gender biases. "[If] you started and you were a DJ and you were using a controller, a DJ using records and literally carrying crates of records to play records pre-laptop — they would look down on you because that was [considered a] shortcut," she says.
But because Va$htie learned how to make videos using real film, she understands why some DJs take issue with the more modern methods. However, that doesn't mean she's resisting the change. She currently uses turntables, CDJs, and even the most modern: a USB stick. "We’re moving so quickly towards the future that we need to embrace everyone that’s there," she explains. "I want to be able to do my job properly and create a good vibe and make people happy," she says. If her Rule Breakers performance is any indication, mission accomplished.