The Brooklyn 100: Michelle Lhooq

Michelle Lhooq
As the features editor for VICE’s dance-music vertical, THUMP, and one of the programmers at the Lot Radio, Lhooq is a powerful as well as empowering voice for women in Brooklyn’s thriving electronic music scene—and beyond.
How long have you been at THUMP? Why did you want to join the team?
Since a little before we launched in April 2013. I’d been writing for VICE already, and one of my editors was like, “Hey Michelle, you like dance music and raving and shit, why don’t you do this?” I never considered writing about electronic music for a living until that point, but I knew that I’d have the creative freedom and resources to do things at THUMP/VICE that I might not have at other music publications. Plus, my team here is dope AF.
What would you say are some of the most difficult parts about being a woman in music journalism (especially within dance music)?
Online harassment is an everyday reality for many female journalists, who face a disproportionate amount of gender-based threats compared to our male peers. I’m glad that women in the media are speaking up about this—we need better resources for how to stop this abuse, which should not be accepted as part-and-parcel of doing our jobs.
Female journos also face the same implicit biases and outright sexism that women in every industry have to deal with, like being seen as less authoritative than our male peers, unequal pay, and sexual harassment. Dance music is a technology-fueled genre, so there’s also that tired cliche that women are less competent or authoritative when it comes to writing about (or working with) technical gear. And of course: creeps at the clubs. But I’ve become really good at swatting them away.
What would you say are some of the most rewarding parts of your job?
Helping important, underrepresented communities have their voices heard. I’ve also had the chance to meet and exchange ideas with some of the most talented people in the game, and am super grateful for that privilege.
How did you get involved with the Lot Radio? What excites you about that project?
A couple weeks ago I threw a party called Vapelandia in the back of a fried chicken deli with 23 DJs going back-to-back till 8AM. My friend Chris Cherry—who also manages a sweet music venue called Trans Pecos—loved the music at my party and asked if I wanted to help bring in exciting DJs and record labels to the Lot. Now I curate our regular programming along with the owner Francois Vaxelaire, Chris, and the DJ Lloydski.
During a recent trip to London, one of the coolest things I did was visit the Radar Radio office, where a bunch of my friends have shows. I walked in and found a group of grime MCs rapping in a corner while everyone was drinking beers and talking about music or which parties they were going to that night. I remember thinking, “something culturally important is happening here—why doesn’t Brooklyn have something like this?” And now we do.
What do you think has been the cultural impact (in Brooklyn and beyond) of some of the pieces you’ve written about sexual assault and gender discrimination in the dance-music world?
I hope that these articles bring more awareness to deeply entrenched issues that have been ignored or swept under the rug for a long time. Over the last year or so, I’ve witnessed a growing revolution happening in the dance music world where women are forming networks of support for each other and not being afraid to call out bullshit aspects of the status quo—like the staggering lack of female representation on festival and club lineups, which the Female Pressure collective has done an excellent job collecting statistics on.
What are some other pieces you think have been particularly impactful?
Jessica Hopper’s epic Twitter thread where she called for women and other marginalized groups to share their experiences with discrimination and exclusion.
These Björk and Grimes interviews came out a while ago, but they’re still rich with powerful quotes that I come back to over and over again both in conversation and writing.
NPR’s profile on Discwoman, a female DJ crew and booking agency that I’m affiliated with, really helped to boost the profile of this growing feminist movement in dance music.
Also, this interview with Arca and Shayne HBA, who are among my favorite DJs, gives great insight into the relationship between dance music and queer sexuality—which is different from the gender discrimination issues discussed above, but still extremely relevant to understanding the powerful identity politics driving BK’s underground music scene.
Who are some other people in Brooklyn (in music or journalism) doing cool, inspiring things right now?
For music: Feminist DJ collective + booking agency Discwoman are doing phenomenal things for female DJs. The queer kids at the Spectrum ran the best damn secret club in Brooklyn until it closed on NYE—I miss it so much it hurts. The KUNQ DJs are bringing minorities and marginalized voices into dance music in a really smart and punk way. AdHoc, GHE20G0TH1K, Unter, Bossa Nova Civic Club, Purple Tape Pedigree, and Tygapaw’s SHOTTAS! are where I go for cutting-edge music and tight-knit communities. And The Lot Radio, a new internet radio station and coffee shop run out of a Greenpoint shipping container is gonna be LIT.
For journalism: Three VICE alums just launched a potentially game-changing video site called Nameless.tv. The Front, a media platform run by women “dedicated to bringing a strong feminine presence to the forefront,” is so necessary and needed. 4Real’s Clone Zone is deep-trolling the journalism in a really interesting, disruptive way. The New Inquiry is where I got started and those smartie pants are still killing the cultural criticism game.

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