What a time it is to be alive and to be proud of your roots! To walk into a club atmosphere and hear sounds of your Carribean culture infused with today’s hottest beats. It seems as we continue to grow and progress as people, so does the music. Women like DJ Bembona are becoming the forefront of infusing your culture’s favorite sound with today’s hottest beats. Reminding you that you can have both of your worlds in one fire sound. But, how does someone launch a career as an Afro-Latina spinstress. We had the honor to interview this queen about her heritage, her favorite sounds, and career journey.
The Queen Sessions: You found a connection with your Afro-Latin heritage while DJing, could you explain this?
DJ Bembona: The connection was always there but, I never had a name for it. I didn’t think much of it while I was growing up because I felt like it never needed an explanation. What DJing did for me was truly beautiful because it aided in my acceptance of being a Black Latina. Rhythm & Percussion derive from Africa…point, blank, period. There’s no denying your roots when on the dance floor, your body takes over & tells you who you are.
The Queen Sessions: Which music genre or origin seems to be the most inspiring for you?
DJ Bembona: In the present, Afrobeat! It makes me sooo happy that countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Angola (just to name a few), that have been killing it in the Afrobeat, Kuduro & Electronic music game for years, are catching fire over here and bringing back the African representation that we need in the “popular music industry”.
As for my upbringing & why I am the kind of artist I am today? Definitely Salsa Dura & Classical Music. I come from being a student of the performing arts, from playing in a concert band/orchestra for 8 years & from growing up in a household of pure salsa. This is where my love for music stems from. The depths in the composition of salsa dura (which directly connects with classical music & jazz), is one of the many elements that inspire the way I blend, the way I select my tracks…the way I want my audience to feel.
The Queen Sessions: When Djing for different venues, do you feel the love from other Dj’s? There is this negative stigma that women DJs are competitive with each other.
DJ Bembona: The love is always present, it’s whether it is genuine love that is the question, haha. I feel like I am blessed to be a part of a community that wants to see each other shine. Especially, as people of color. We want to see US (as a whole) continue to rise & take over.
This stigma was created (by this patriarchal society that we live in) to do just that…pit women against each other. I can’t speak for other DJ scenes but, I am blessed to continuously encounter & build with women, femme identifying, gender nonconforming DJs & know that we have each other’s backs! We’re most concerned about kicking these lame men out of the game & showing them that we will take over (beyond the DJ field as well).
The Queen Sessions: What are your top 5 songs that never fail when you are on the stage?
DJ Bembona: Ooof! This is a hard one because every stage or space is completely different than the next.
Currently, I’d have to say:
- F Trump by Mighty Mark & TT The Artist
- Bodak Yellow by Cardi B (Original or Remixed)
- Mi Gente by J Balvin & Willy William
- BumBum Granada by MCs Zaac & Jerry
- Pa Que Retozen by Tego Calderon (CLASSIC!)
Gyal You a Party Animal by Charly Black (I also throw the Daddy Yankee & Maluma remix in there)I had to add an extra one in there, haha.
The Queen Sessions: Now, what were the other career options before you decided to be in music?
DJ Bembona: All my life, I knew that I only belonged in the world of the arts. It was forever changing. During my childhood years, it went from wanting to be a poet, to a professional dancer. In my teenage years, it went from being a singer to being a traveling/freelance musician. In my college years, I was a complete mess. I had no idea what I wanted my career to be. I was a visual artist at the time (which I also did as a child/teen) who double majored in Studio Art & Spanish (to get “better” at it). I figured that I could be an international museum curator or teacher of some medium. Then, in the second half of my college career, I decided on music production & the media arts. I am still in love with video production (in all of its stages) & envision getting back into that field soon.
DJ Bembona: There are no limits, just thoughts that stop you from doing what you want to do. We are QUEENS! We can do it all! Don’t be afraid to take risks! If you’re not in love with what you are currently doing, then what is the point? Yes, we have wayyy too many responsibilities but, what is life if we just allow society to tell us how we should be living.
Stop letting time confine you. I want to be *blank* by this age or have *blank* by this age only brings us more pressure & anxiety and stops us from naturally flourishing into the Queens we were meant to be.
Don’t take shit from any “un-woke” man or patriarchal follower. They were conditioned to make sure we fail.
Lastly…The Future is Female. If you truly believe that you cannot pursue your dreams (you’re crazy if you think this) you have no excuse but to push, support & be there for your fellow Queens who are pursuing their dreams (friends, family, loved ones or strangers)!