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What Makes The Glue That Binds Cue?


 

Hailing from the Southside of Chicago and considering herself well-groomed in music, she can be heard spinning house and it’s progeny Juke/Footwork.

Having been featured on compilations from the likes of TekkDJz to the ever-growing Femme Fusion Volumes. She now brings us some of her best work to date on her debut album, Pull No Punches.

This interview will take you a little deeper into the motivation for the album and influences.

As well as, how the past, present, and future all play a part in the life and times of DJ Cuenique.


Let’s start with the name of your album and the inspiration behind the music....

The inspiration for the name Pull No Punches derived from an overall look at my life.  In the English context, if you “pull no punches,” you hold nothing back. In my life, I have never held back from doing the things I love. I stuck with my music, arts, and creativity despite minimal support. I went forward and I held nothing back.

My inspiration comes from growing up in the late 90’s listening to the genres of Disco, Dance, House, Footwork and Ghetto House. DJ Deeon, DJ Sluggo, RP Boo, DJ Clent, DJ PJ, DJ Spinn, DJ Rashad, Gant-Man, DJ B-Man, Jammin’ Gerald, DJ E-Mo, DJ Monty, DJ Milton Slick Rick Da’ Master, Lil Tal, DJ Greedy, Paul Johnson, and DJ Chip was in heavy rotation on the South Side. Jana Rush was the only female I knew of from Chicago at the time who was really making tracks. That is what made me want to get into it. By 2002, I met my boyfriend, DJ Ron {RIP}.  He took me under his wing and taught me how to spin on 1200’s. He showed me how to make tracks and at this time he was using a few machines to get his sound out. Although we broke up, I never stopped wanting to create tracks. When Ron was murdered in 2003, I told myself that this was no longer an option. I had to do this for me, but for him as well. Without him, there would be no DJ Cuenique.  Later on in my life, K. Locke, DJ Acey, Crossfire Mr. Watch’N’Witness, DJ Earl, and my mentor, Corky ‘Traxman’ Strong would further my inspiration, refreshing my ears on how much the sound evolved since I last heard. I have learned SOOOOOOOO much from them.

 

What makes your sound unique?

What makes my sound unique is that it’s my own. I feel part of my sound comes from just living and being here in Chicago. Most times, my tracks come from experiences and moods I feel. I work hard in making sure my tracks don’t sound like anyone else, although every now and again I’ll get one that will say, “You sound like Traxman!” Well he is my mentor, but I don’t think we have the same sound. Same musical mannerisms, yes! Forever and ever AMEN!

 

What do you want people to feel or take from your latest album?

The only thing I expect people to take from this album is that a woman did that.  For it to be my first project, I don’t want people to think I’m just some gimmick picked up off these Chicago streets to be placed in front of the world for attention. I worked really hard with Traxman to make what was once a far distant dream in 1999 a reality in 2016. What I would WANT for everyone to take from this album is that it’s never too late to live out a dream or make it happen.

 

Do you have any favorites on the album and why?

Well, they’re all my favorite. Hell, it’s my album! However, being realistic, I would have to say I have four that are my true favorites. Da DJ Cue is one of my favorites because it’s a track with my voice! I’ve never done a track like that before in my life. Like I have spoke over a track…but this track announces me.  I play that over my mixes and it lets me know I have (at this level) arrived.

My second track that I love is In Da Dark ft. Traxman . That track starts out so mellow and progressively gets going. When we started it, the sun was good and up there in the sky. By the time we finished, we were in the dark, jamming and still adding the right touches to it.

My third favorite track is Wunderdog and that’s because no one has heard it and for those that did hear it, they haven’t heard what changes have been made to it. It’s my secret house banger and the only track that isn’t a footwork track. Saving the best for last, my favorite track off the album is……The End of the Line. This track is my favorite because it was done off pure, raw emotion. It’s not the first time I’ve put my feelings into a track I’ve made but it is the ONLY track that holds grip to my soul when I hear it, mix it, or play it. It’s a stern reminder that there is an end to everything…and by the time you get to the end of the track, you can hear that fight between the beat saying “keep going” and the voice saying “Look, you have reached the end; Time to get off and move on.”

 

What got you into footwork?  Was there a specific track moment or feeling?

What got me into Footwork is the dancing. I used to do a little bit but, I was never a footworker. Don’t get it twisted, I dance. I may even do a footwork basic move or two in a step dance routine, but I can’t hit those moves at 160! =’D  Watching the dancers do works to the tracks put some type of spark in me; Like watching a native dance being performed in the peace circle. Since I wasn’t a good footworker, I decided to be on the sidelines beating the drums.  It wasn’t hard. I figured I was always beating out my own tunes beat boxing, I could make tracks.  DJ Ron’s passing made it something I had to.

 

Beyond this album, what can we expect from DJ Cuenique in the coming months?

Being a Digital Media artist, I have a lot of other skills and talents that I want to utilize. From these ideas comes the birth of The CUEnection.  Videos, blogs, skits, just me being me and of course videos of the bros footworking, and events I attend.  Music and mixes will still be made…that is and always a #1. I will continue to make music in Footwork but be prepared to hear me create Dance, House, and Ghetto House. Other genres may come along later but right now, I’m focused on my first loves!

 

How do you feel about the emergence of ladies in footwork culture overall?

I am actually quite stoked on the emergence of females in footwork culture. Today, I have had the pleasure of befriending and working with females that have a passion for this culture.  Jana Rush and Jlin have been very supportive in this and have been my “go-tos.” I appreciate them for that and forever grateful. DJ Noir has been a great influence, always reminding me to never second guess my talent and to kick ass at all times. Collaborating with Mondaine on the Femme Fusion 160 series was something I never thought I would see in a male dominated genre like footwork. It’s something I enjoy being a part of; a legacy for any young girl who may want to do this but is unsure.

I am also happy to see Diamond Hardiman, Crystal James, and Jasmine Applewhite out here hitting those works. They are out here going hard on them moves. It’s nice to know that they inspire other little girls to want to dance! The emergence has also allowed me to make connections with Anika, Goonie Tiara, Lacey "FreshtillDef" Mundaca, jamfransisco, A.Fruit, Neybuu, Kaoru Nakano, Lilium Redwine, and Nancy Fourtune.


Big ups to Cuenique, a woman who knows who she is in the culture of footwork. She's on a path specifically designed for her. Her vision for her music, mixing, and other elements off her latest album Pull No Punches; and the upcoming CUEnection are a true extension of her life experiences. She'll make you dance, think, and even do a footwork move or two.

But make no mistake about it. She's here to stay and she's right on cue. 

 

Links:

https://www.mixcloud.com/cuenique-smith/

https://m.soundcloud.com/jorita-djcuenique-smith


Written by: IamVictorius/Edited by: JamFransisco