The Red Bulletin September 2019 (UK)


Red Bull Music Festival London


“Get started at

Wetherspoons, then

go to Pxssy Palace.

It’s a great night”

Shy One

Victoria Sin

& Shy One

The shape changers

Performance artist and drag queen

Victoria Sin doesn’t need to invent

a stage name – the 28-year-old

Canadian’s real one works just fine

for a multi-disciplinary and genderexploratory

artist who offers a

unique interpretation of drag.

“When I was 17 in Toronto, I used

a fake ID to go to drag clubs and

saw this empowered embodiment

of femininity in a way I never had

before,” says Sin. “I was transfixed.

I always wanted to be a drag queen,

but didn’t know it was something

I could do until I moved to London.

I’m trying to express that gender

and identity are constructed, but it

doesn’t mean we can’t take pleasure

in those things. Through a process of

doing drag and putting on and taking

off my gender, I realised I wasn’t a

woman and came out as non-binary.”

Sin’s Red Bull performance with

Shy One is all about queer spaces,

but these opportunities alone don’t

mean the world is becoming more

open-minded. “Trans rights have so

far to go in the UK, and this is why

spaces like BBZ and Pxssy Palace are

so important, because that’s where

I can be myself,” says Sin. “I live in

a country that doesn’t recognise nonbinary

as a legal gender identity, so

what does that do for me?”

Sin also recognises that the way

femininity is treated on stage is

totally different to how it’s treated on

the street. “Femininity is something

you can wield to make space for

yourself and other people and be

loud and proud. Unfortunately that’s

not always possible, because of the

social context we exist within. My

work is about distancing ideas of

femininity from ideas of womanhood.

They are not necessarily related.”

Given that Shy One’s dad is the DJ

Trevor Nelson and her godfather

is Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B, people

assume they know how the 29-yearold

– born Mali Larrington-Nelson –

ended up being a DJ. However, her

mum was the biggest influence: “She

was a raver and big music lover. She

introduced me to jungle, garage and

broken beat when listening to pirate

radio in her car, and also neo-soul

like Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill.”

Having said that, it was Jazzie B

gifting her decks on her 13th

birthday, combined with a mixing

workshop at her local youth club

in Harrow, that led Shy to become

one of London’s most eclectic

underground DJs. “Right now, I’m

definitely playing more broken beat

and jazz,” she says. “Not to look

down on other styles as I play them

all, but there’s a heavy jazz presence.”

Influential on London’s queer

party scene, Shy is part of the BBZ

collective that centres on women and

non-binary people of colour, and

chooses queer collective Pxssy Palace

as her favourite night to be on the

bill. But her eclectic taste extends

to socialising. “Wetherspoons is

somewhere I feel comfortable going

and being able to eat and drink for

cheap,” she says. “I used to take my

laptop and work there. It’s odd that

I, as a queer young black woman of

immigrant descent, often feel more

at ease in spaces you expect to be

most hostile. Line your stomach at

’Spoons and then go to Pxssy Palace

– it’s a great night.”

September 13:

We Know That We

Can Shape Ourselves

Venue TBA

Victoria Sin and Shy One

will be collaborating at this

bespoke event expressing

what it means to be queer

in club culture. Here, they

explain what we can expect:

VS: “This is a meeting of

our worlds, and of the

collectives and artists we

know and love. It’s our queer

London, one we were born

of, met in and celebrate.

Mali does the music that

creates the narrative, and

I activate the words by

performing as this extreme

embodiment of identity.”

SO: “It’s quite cool that

we’re doing the show with

BBZ and Pxssy Palace,

because we met through

their events.”

VS: “When we met, I was

coming into something

that’s unique in London,

which is a party scene that

centres the experiences of

queer people of colour in

ways I’d never experienced

before. Within queer

spaces, places are often

cis-male and white, and if

you’re queer and not those

things, it can be very violent

coming into those spaces.”

SO: “In London, there are

so many of us crammed

into a small scene. There

are a lot of black people

and other people of colour,

and we probably have the

most populous gay scene

in the UK. There are so

many opportunities for us

to have parties.”

VS: “It feels like a moment,

like we’re part of something

special and unique. Queer

people of colour are

realising that not only do

we need and want our own

spaces, but when we get

together we start creating

our own culture and our

own world – and that’s

really beautiful.”

Styling: Hannah Elwell

Hair: Maki Tanaka

Make-up: Emma Williams

Thanks to Copeland Park,

Peckham, for the location

Red Bull Music Festival

London takes place

from August 20 to

September 14. For more

event details, head to

page 93 or


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