Joey LaBeija has long been known in New York's underground as a DJ and producer of rowdy, jagged club music, as well as fourth generation member of the (vogue house) House of LaBeija. Affiliated with friends and collaborators like Bbymutha and LSDXOXO, his mixes generally reach for everything from ballroom to reggaeton to edits from forward-thinking club producers like Lotic and Rabit. So when he messaged The FADER to say he'd made a debut album that he described as being like a "movie score," and attached a collection of glimmering, shape-shifting productions, we had to know more.
Read on to find out how LaBeija came to make a deeply introspective debut record—via heartbreak, Bjork, diary entries, and the realization that it might be time to leave New York. Meanwhile, listen to Shattered Dreams as a continuous mix via the player below, and get it as a limited edition 12" vinyl on Purple Tape Pedigree this fall.
You’ve described Shattered Dreams as being like a movie score. What would happen in the movie?
Shattered Dreams is a story inspired by the last year of my life, which was this erratic and melancholic journey of confronting insecurities, letting go of the past and discovering my self-worth. This project serves as the soundtrack/background music to the conflicts and self inflicted nightmares that took place in my head through my daily struggle, as opposed to what was actually happening. When shit hits the fan, life always feels way worse than it really is because it’s so hard to look at your situation objectively.
Why Shattered Dreams?
I decided to title the project Shattered Dreams because at the time, it felt like my life was spiraling out of control and felt helpless to change it. I had just been dumped; was still coping with the death of an ex from 3 years ago; ended a friendship of 15 years, in addition to my daily struggle of making money and trying to figure out what I wanted out of life. It was a very dark period for me, but in retrospect, I realized that hitting the bottom and feeling like you’re fighting a never-ending uphill battle by yourself is imperative to becoming a stronger person. I feel like it catalyzes creativity.
Making dance music is something that comes all too naturally for me at this point. It was really important for me to push myself and produce something really meaningful as my first body of work.
What did you turn to for inspiration?
Does my diary and the mortifying poems/entries I wrote in it count? Besides my diary, my biggest influence would probably be Bjork’s Homogenic. It was what I listened to every day to get me through my rut and I’ve always been really inspired by how timeless and current the music on that project sounds even though it is 20 years old. I was also really inspired by a plethora of movie scores, sad breakup movies and horror films.
You’re a fourth generation member of the House of LaBeija. What’s the ballroom and vogue scene in New York like right now from your perspective?
Seems like everyone and anyone wants to throw a ball or play ballroom music these days...the culture is deeply appropriated. But it’s not just here...it’s happening all over the globe.
What’s next for you?
I’m temporarily moving to Kansas City, Missouri at the end of September to start writing my next record away from the distraction of New York. I constantly need to put making music on hold so I can make money and I’m also really uninspired with what’s happening here right now. It’s a rat race to mediocrity that I want absolutely nothing to do with. Oh, and all the men here are completely undateable. Being in love, being inspired by that love and honing in on my talent is all that matters to me right now...and I’ve got all of that waiting for me in Kansas City. I’m so excited to move out of New York for the first time in my life.
Shattered Dreams tracklist:
2. Shattered Dreams
4. Scrub (It's Not Me, It's You)
5. Joey's Inferno