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An Interview with Run Like Hell DJ Esme

For the first time ever, Run Like Hell 5K participants will warm up to tracks spun by a live DJ! Get to know DJ Esme below in this interview by HOF’s Mary Fernandez and Parker Hilly.

First, tell me a little about yourself.
I am a queer, Peruvian-American hairstylist and DJ in Atlanta, Georgia. I helped create La Choloteca, a queer Latinx party that has traveled to NYC, Miami, Chicago, Birmingham, and more. I’m a huge horror fan as well as anything macabre.

Who are some of your musical influences, past and present?
I grew up listening to the classics of my culture. So lots of salsa, cambia, merengue. As a teen, I started listening to a lot of goth/new wave and experimental indie. As I started leaning back into my roots as an adult (thank you assimilation and colonization mindset!), I really got into neoperreo because it was a new movement of perreo led by femme and queer people. It mixes the old-school sounds of perreo with a new, cyber-goth sound. Very much the soundtrack to any alternative heathen.

What do you hope to accomplish through your music?
I like bringing a new perspective to audiences with the music and artists I choose to mix. It’s important to me to educate my audience on the queer artists coming out of the global South who don’t have the same mainstream platform as other artists. I also hope that people can reimagine what a club night can sound like. I don’t like staying in one lane and like to keep the audience on their toes.

What are your thoughts on sharing one’s culture through music?
I think it’s all personal. I enjoy showing my culture to people because even in my Latinx identity I’m still more alternative and experimental. As for others, that’s their personal choice. Our cultures are important to our identities, but we also don’t owe it to anyone either. I feel like a lot of times you can get put in a box because people think you only play Latin music or music from Asia, etc.

How did Choloteca come about?
Choloteca was borne from a lack of space for queer Latinx people to enjoy their culture while feeling safe and surrounded by community. It was very important to always put our most marginalized at the forefront because we have a long way to go to create a world that keeps them safe and loved. Our musical taste and choices were also very unique because Josephine (co-creator) and I had so many different influences from the music of our youth. Blending in classic Latin sounds with punk or perreo with hip hop. The biggest point was to also highlight Latinx people in the deep South because we are so often left out of conversations. People have preconceived notions about the South, but we are here, and we are loud, and we have a unique experience that no place in the U.S. can hold.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone struggling to become their most authentic self?
Just go for it. You may lose people along the way, but you’ll find your family and tribe that lift you up and celebrate you. Always live with that sense of self-love because you will attract the right people for yourself.


Featured image: @shethinkshecutetho on Instagram

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