Introducing: Introspekt

Get to know Introspekt — the American queer futurist who is reimagining the sounds of UK Bass.

9 min
Introducing Introspekt
Feb 28, 2024
·
By
Henry Ivry

If you had any interest in syncopated rhythms and bad boy basslines, then there was a name that kept popping up in 2022 – Introspekt. The then LA-based producer and DJ seemed to be everywhere as lockdowns eased and DJs slowly started packing away their livestreaming gear. She was a tour de force dropping records on labels like Breaks ‘n’ Pieces and EC2A, demonstrating an encyclopedic knowledge of all things British and bass as she traversed genres from dubstep to grime. As the music journalist Andrew Ryce put it, “[The] best UK garage is coming out of Los Angeles.”

2023 was even bigger. Introspekt released the game-changing Temptation EP of speed garage that touched on bassline for Eris Drew and Octo Octa’s T4T Luv NRG. She toured Europe for the first time, including stops in the UK which, as she explained to me over Zoom, felt like a “sonic homecoming.” Introspekt occupies a singular place in the dance music Venn Diagram. A champion of the queer underground and a porter for the latest generation of New UK Garage DJs and producers. She’s one of the few people who will share the decks with someone like Main Phase one night and turn up at Berlin’s preeminent queer party, Room 4 Resistance the next.

Check out Introspekt’s latest Beatport chart.
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For the casual listener, it might have felt like Introspekt emerged out of nowhere. But, behind all that creative energy and momentum, was a long and studied apprenticeship. Back in the early ’10s, a teenage Introspekt started reading the fabled Dubstep forum, learning about Track IDs and slowly making her way into Facebook groups where she eventually worked up to meeting with some of the posters IRL. That Facebook lurking paid off. At 15, Introspekt went to her first in-person meet-up with her online friends, heading over to Touch Vinyl in Santa Monica where she connected with the people who ran the party B-Sides, LA’s preeminent bass, dubstep, and soundsystem party. By 16, she was playing clubs, her first gig was opening up for 140 royalty, Joe Nice. As a debut and an entrance into the scene, this was a statement she only built from there.

Through the B-Side crew, she was not only booking gigs, but also fell head over heels in love with the culture surrounding these dubby strands of British dance music. “When I first started DJing, I was only playing vinyl,” she explains. “If I wanted to play my own tracks, I would cut dubplates.” This aspect of physicality and building a real community was vital for Introspekt in wayfinding through the murky world of dub and its offshoots. It also became something of a religion for her. “I was so enamored by vinyl, I would save my lunch money that my parents would give me and at the end of the week would just buy records.”

This description of a love of vinyl culture isn’t totally unique, but it’s a more familiar narrative of someone growing up in South London at the turn of the millennium rather than someone in South LA in the early ’10s. But when I ask her about this, she points to how she felt a natural affinity with the sounds.

“The strains of dubstep I was into were sonically reminiscent that I would hear in my neighborhood,” she explains. “I grew up in Leimert Park — a very African and Caribbean neighborhood. Every Sunday there would be a drum circle and the Rastas out with their soundsystem playing dub. Sonically, it felt natural to me.”

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But what was also undeniable about these early days of DJing was the cis, heterosexuality of this scene. “At the time I wasn’t out and hadn’t transitioned,” she tells me. “I always felt a little bit different moving through those spaces. I think at the time, I thought it was me being younger than everyone. I definitely think a big part of it was how male and hetero-centered, but there were queer women in the scene that I gravitated towards in my local scene and I befriended and that experience looking up to these women DJ kind of colored my tastes and my sensibility.” Introspekt was trying to tap into the latent queerness that lurks in the music and it was something that drew her to the scene more generally: “​​Because it wasn’t mainstream music, there were places for weirdos – growing up as a closeted trans woman I felt like a weirdo.”

While UK garage may have gone through a straight-washing in the early ’10s, it’s impossible to deny its lineage in queer, Black spaces across the US. And, as she explains to me, the music itself still held that alternate acoustic vibration. “I always gravitated towards records that had a sexier vibe — tracks that drew you into dancing sexier or with more feminine vocal samples. Tracks that didn’t feel quite as macho.” I ask her if she can think of any examples and she quickly lists J Da Flex’s “Straight to tha A” and Mala‘s flip of Alicia Keys. These were tracks that tapped into a queerness, channeling something more intimate than the shoes and champagne culture of UK clubland.

That said, after her teenage years in clubs, Introspekt took a break from DJing in clubs for six years. During that time, she transitioned and honed her craft, but it wasn’t until just before the pandemic that she started tentatively venturing out again, playing gig and sending demos to labels. But caution quickly went to the wind as word started getting out that no one was making garage more slinky, dubstep more wobbly, jungle more sharp, and grime more icy than Introspekt.

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Before long she was quickly getting tapped by UK royalty like Eliza Rose for mixes and, a bit closer to home, building a robust queer community, releasing an EP with the Bay Area’s Bored Lord, before also getting mentored by Drew and Octo Octa. It was Drew who invited her to Corsica Studios to play her first-ever London show alongside Angel D’Lite in April 2023, and that marked a turning point.

The summer of 2023 was pivotal. She toured Europe and did a full festival season in Australia, finding herself thrown into a completely overwhelming world, but also one that underlined the importance of community and helped spur her latest move to New York. This past November, she finally left behind her LA home and moved East. Part of this was to make touring internationally easier, but it was also for that sense of surrounding herself with people: “I have a lot of good friends, especially for trans folks in the City there is a strong-rooted sense of community. It feels very homey while LA often felt very isolated.” But no matter what she is in the world, it’s clear that Introspekt is bringing together her own unique community as she continues to make magic out of all things UK bass.

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