a conversation with Honey Dijon
The Chicago-born, Berlin-based international DJ on club culture style, embracing her queer and how every day is International Women's Day.
You’d be stretched to find a more booked and busy person in the world than Honey Dijon. The Berlin-based DJ takes a dizzying amount of flights to spread her creativity at a myriad of cultural events that include playing Sonar and Coachella, walking Paris Fashion Week and supporting her hero Grace Jones. ‘If you're at a certain level, the life of a DJ is like being an athlete,' she says. 'You'll find yourself going to fashion shows during the week and festivals over the weekend, then back, so you really have to train yourself.’ When she’s not playing out at the biggest parties around the globe, Honey’s busy recording her own music and hitting the studio with Madonna (‘it was like a come to Jesus moment for me’).
But to Honey, this is less stress, more holistic bliss. ‘They’re like different lovers that require different things,’ she says with consummate calm in that smooth Chicagoan voice. ‘It's all one thing: making music, making clothes, travelling, getting inspired, seeing how different people talk, walk, eat, flirt, seduce, dress and dance. If you're a DJ, or a designer, or a creative, you have to be a part of the world. I don't separate music from fashion, art, or travel. It's all the same beat.’
And never more so than on International Women’s Day, when Honey encourages women everywhere to embrace self-determination: ‘There's not one way to be a woman, there's not one way to be feminine.’
‘There's not one way to be a woman, there's not one way to be feminine.’
‘I'm really excited about the deconstruction of gender, the sexual liberation of the new generation. The deconstruction of the binary, hetero-normativity, homo-normativity, gender and sexual orientation is going to unshackle all of us. Even the last five years have been such a watershed. The new generation aren't really concerned if you're gay or straight, male or female, trans, cis – it's more about the person. And I've actually adopted being queer myself. This new generation are just so open. And it's shocking to me, because when you've been conditioned to stay hidden your whole life. As gay or trans-identified people, we had to limit ourselves in a lot of ways. Queer is an umbrella term for people who are not heterosexual and who are not cisgender. I think queer means being self-determined. I don't think the words odd, strange, unusual, peculiar, bizarre, curious or weird are bad words. I think those are actually words that I'm attracted to.’
ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY
‘Every day is International Women's Day. Being a woman to me also means being self-determined. There's not one way to be a woman, there's not one way to be feminine. At the end of the day, we all want our humanity respected and accepted the way we've chosen for ourselves. Someone that hasn't walked in our shoes has no right to decide who we are. Men that make laws that govern women's bodies is the most absurd thing in the world to me. It's like, how can you govern women's bodies when you're not one? That’s about power and control. Being a woman is being able to be the woman that you want freely, not having to choose to marry, or have children, or fit into this paradigm of the patriarchy of femininity, which is really meant to keep women in their place.’
‘My love of fashion began through music, my favorite artists, how they dressed and expressed themselves with clothing. My two favorite artists in the world are Grace Jones and Sade. Grace was very much well-known for wearing a lot of Alaïa and Sade would wear Gaultier pieces. My love affair with fashion began with seeing Grace Jones on the Nightclubbing album in an Armani blazer. It was art directed by Jean-Paul Goude and the flat top hair was by the hair stylist Christiaan. So I've never thought that fashion was separate from art or music. Growing up in Chicago, clothes were about finding my tribe, and signalling to other people that I was into this music, went to the club, or listened to this band. It wasn't about status, or a display of wealth, or to say that I was part of any society. It was never aspirational for me, it was always inspirational. There were so many tribes of people that went to house music clubs. You would see kids with mohawks and badges all over their jackets and New Wave glasses. But then a lot of the early house music parties were in Catholic high schools, so you had the preppies that would wear white tops, loafers, cropped jeans, and polo shirts. A lot of people were reading L'Uomo Vogue, and Italian Vogue, and so you would see kids come to the shows in Gianfranco Ferré, Versace, and Kansai Yamamoto. That was my education in fashion. I fell down a rabbit hole, because there were so many different tribes within the club culture, and they were all uniquely different, but somehow cohesive. It was amazing.’
ON BREAKING THE BIAS
‘It's continuous work. There are moments when I breathe a sigh of relief, but there's still so much work to do. Because I'm at the intersection of so many ability politics, so to speak, being a person of color, being a woman, being a woman of color, being a trans woman, being an artist, there are so many things that I navigate on a daily basis. And even navigating them in my personal relationships – the amount of education that I even have to do within the queer community about what trans is! Because the LGBTQI normally is focused on sexual orientation and not gender identity. The fact that we are having these conversations, and that corporate entities are aware that there is work that needs to be done, and they're involving people like myself is a step in the right direction. But we still have a lot of work to do. Because it's okay to put women, trans people, non-binary people and people of color in front of the lens, but when we have people like ourselves in positions of power, that's where the real structural change will come, because this is systematic oppression.’
ON HER HEROES
‘Different people inspire me for different reasons. Grace Jones was not traditionally feminine or pretty, and was masculine. So that for me was really a huge inspiration of someone breaking the bias for me. Indya Moore, who's completely stepped away from the fashion industry, when most people are dying to be in it. Her statement the Met Gala and how she felt completely uncomfortable and doesn't think she'll ever go again was really inspirational for me. James Baldwin inspires me, talking about race. Bell Hooks saying self-love is a radical thing. An interviewer once asked Eartha Kitt whether she would compromise herself for a man and for love? And she goes, 'If it's love, what is there to compromise? There's no compromise when there's love.' She says, 'Well, does Eartha Kitt want to be in love?' She says, 'I want someone to experience me being in love with myself.' It’s just so profound. My mother always said, 'You may see my glory, but you don't know my story.' Whenever I would get really down about my life, she would say, 'These are the cards that you were dealt.' And I know for a lot of people that might seem reductive or dismissive, but I find a lot of power in that, because it's like, what are you going to do? Are you going to wallow in what is happening, or are you going to get out there and make it work? That’s an amalgamation of different inspirations that give me the moral platitude to go out in the world and do my thing.’
‘The deconstruction of the binary, hetero-normativity, homo-normativity, gender and sexual orientation is going to unshackle all of us.’
What’s your flight routine?
‘Turmeric teas for my stomach, Reishi teas for relaxing and Berocca for energy. Little electrolyte packets so you don't get dehydrated. And the key is no alcohol. Also, shea butter. I slather my face in it. It's so hydrating.’
How do you sleep after a gig?
‘These amazing plant-based sleeping pills called Unplug. And I have a couple of movies that I always watch that put me to sleep. I often watch The Devil Wears Prada. I must have seen it like a million times, it just knocks me out.’
Your first vinyl purchase?
‘A 12-inch of Bostich by Yello. It's one of the earliest influential house records in the world.’
Last music thing you bought?
‘Teddy Pendergrass remixed by John Morales. I'm a huge Teddy Pendergrass fan.’
If you could share a message with your younger self, what would you say?
‘Girl, just wait. You have no idea where your life is going to go. You're going to be OK.’
Words by Stuart Brumfitt
Photography by Tim Elkaïm
Styling by Clare Richardson
As part of our celebrations for International Women’s Day, Honey has curated a playlist exclusively for COS Sounds featuring an array of women musicians that have inspired her.
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