The longstanding FADER Mix series presents new, exclusive DJ mixes from our favorite artists and producers.
A couple of seconds into Ushka's FADER Mix, you can hear the indelible clanking of a train rattling past. "MTA Hustle," the Brooklyn-based DJ and producer's collaboration with fellow multihyphenate Atropolis, appropriately opens this hourlong journey through New York City. The track is peppered with other found subway sounds, too, like recorded announcements and live buskers — the oft-ignored elements that add texture to any New Yorker's day. "Living in New York City for a decade has defined how I listen to everyday sounds around me, the range of music I’m attracted to, and the music I like to play," Ushka explains.
What follows "MTA Hustle" is a rich sound experiencing spanning the globe, from Ushka's unique perspective, and featuring Yaeji, LSDXOXO, Br0nz3_g0dd3ss, and more. In addition to her work as a DJ and music-maker, she also has significant roots in immigrant rights' activism and advocacy. Read on for a tracklist and more about how Ushka grounds her club ventures in culture and politics.
What do you imagine people doing while listening to this mix?
I imagine a crew of young New Yorkers of different backgrounds hopping on and off the subway at different stops all across Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx... maybe even taking the ferry to Staten Island and engaging with different communities, food, vibes across the city. Folks should try doing that sometime — it’s pretty wild and you learn a lot about this city and who lives where.
Is there a track in particular that stands out? Why?
The first track, which is a recent production of mine with DJ/producer Atropolis, stands out and helps define the mix. We produced it for the artist Mel Chin’s exhibit at Queens Museum, curated by DJ Rupture. We used archival sounds from the subway — like train tracks, people partying and laughing in a train car, drummers on the platform — to create a sound experience, sort of like bringing the club to the subway or vice versa. Living in New York City for a decade has defined how I listen to everyday sounds around me, the range of music I’m attracted to, and the music I like to play. So I think the first track helps set the journey in this mix.
What music or artists do you turn to for inspiration when you're working on projects of your own?
So many producers featured on this mix are inspirations to me! A special shout out to all the homies who sent me their remixes and productions for this mix. I’m honestly inspired by the community that I’ve created around club culture and because of the internet and social media — so many folks are connected across borders. In particular seeing more femmes and queer folks producing has been amazing to watch and empowers me to work on my own music and projects. In terms of particular sounds, I’m really into what’s coming out of the U.K. right now -- amazing afrobeats, dancehall, R&B, grime, garage, electronic music all mashed up. I’m also really into what folks like DJ Lag and Babes Wodumo are doing with gqom in South Africa.
In addition to your music and art, you work as an organizer and advocate. How does that inform your music-making?
Hmm good question. As an organizer and advocate, I work on really difficult issues - I worked in the immigrant rights movement supporting migrant and refugee communities at risk of deportation for close to a decade and I’m currently working on climate justice issues and really highlighting how low-income black and brown communities globally are the most impacted by the climate crisis and have had the least to do with the problem. I’m also a huge advocate for LGBTQIA rights, as that’s my community as well. It can be really heavy when your communities are constantly under attack.
So for me, DJing, art and music-making is a necessary form of expression that tells stories, that show creativity, joy, even urgency and solidarity. It might be more abstract but it helps to see what we’re fighting for and what liberation looks like in a different way. In the track I produced with Atropolis this year called "MTA Hustle," what we created was very influenced by the real and complex lives and interactions on the daily in the major global metropolis we live in. I guess that informs my art and music-making.
Your party series iBomba has been active for a few years. From your perspective, what is the significance of community-oriented club culture?
Yeah, iBomba will celebrate its 6 year anniversary at the end of this year! I run this party with my collaborator, DJ Beto. Our next party is on November 9 in Bedstuy and our final party of the year is on December 14, so save the dates! Community-oriented club culture to me is about creating very specific spaces where people feel seen and heard, where they know the DJs have theirs backs and where the experience of being out and moving with other bodies feels personal. It’s ultimately about building a network and community.
iBomba in particular is very much inspired by and is for people of color, immigrants, and queer-identified folks. We play club music from all over the world and it’s beautiful to watch what people connect to, what reminds them of home but they are listening to it in a different way 'cause of the way it’s remixed, what makes people dance their hearts out. It’s also been a space to build with other DJs and producers, to provide a platform for other musicians. We’ve kept the party small because the intimacy and familial vibe is important to us.
Ushka & Atropolis, “MTA Hustle”
8ulentina, “Girlfriend x Ugly”
Ynfynt Scroll, “Cochinear”
Tory Lanez ft Ozuna (Merca Bae Edit), “Pa Mi”
Sevaek, “Churiya Challenge”
Florentino, “Colombian Flute”
Deltatron, “Bruised Baby”
Erykah Badu (Kingdom edit), “Phone Down”
Yaeji, “One More”
Lara Sarkissian, “GNUM” ft. Margenrot
Afro B (Ikonika edit), “Drogba”
Eugy, “Tick Tock”
The Heat Wave ft Mr. Lexx, “Walk Out Gyal”
Byrell the Great - “B4” x “Melanisha Crash”
Questionmarc & L-Vis 1990 Remix, “Yeah Yeah” (feat. Flohio & Cassive)
Ase Manuel, “Seasons”
Kelela & DJ Lag, “DJ LAG_ONANON_127 BPM”
A.R. Rahman (Ikonika refix), “Sarsariya”
Bad Bunny (Uproot Andy remix), “Estamos Bien”
Ella Mai (Omar Duro edit), “Trip”
DJ TN CAP, “Gucci Riddim” x “Dis Club Be Poppin Off”
Tygapaw (edit), “Whitney Wid Di Outta Sight Cunt Juice”
DJ NA, “Set Adrift Memory Bliss Club Mix”
Omar Duro x Versarno Laroz (edit) - This is America
Rod Lee (Copout VIP Dub), “Giv'em Some Room”
TAP & SANSAI (PEDRO edit), “MLK BOM”
LORKESTRA, “ É TARDE”
Jojo Marontini, “Sentada Diferente”
Miracles x Mina x Cash from Hash, “Emergency Money”
Br0nz3_g0dd3ss, “Not Ur Average Girl”
Miracles x TenTwentySeven, "Red Light"
LSDXOXO, “Floorgasm Dub”
Alka Yagnik x Ila Arun (Soohan Remix) - “Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai” (Ushka refix)
Akon (Thirspro Jersey Club edit), “Don’t Matter”
TT the Artist & Unique, “Booty Bounce”
Massacooram, “Calypso of Juke”
Asmara, “GOD IS A WOMAN MA LIVE BLEND”
Kelman Duran, “Dead Colonialists”