This Saturday, DJ, drag queen and ballroom producer B. Ames will be giving her first official DJ gig in Houston after returning from NYC when she performs at Trust Me Daddy 4 alongside a roster of underground talent that includes NYC’s Venus X (GHE20G0TH1K), LEDEF of House of KENZO, and Houston’s own Santa Muerte.
Born and raised in Louisiana, B. Ames got her start in the ballroom scene by making popular mixes that she posted to Youtube. Eventually, she caught the ear of NYC’s MikeQ, and he invited her to NYC to be a part of his famous Qween Beat collective. After five years spent living and performing in NYC, B. Ames decided to take a break and head back to the Gulf Coast for a respite, but that hasn’t slowed her down one bit. Last month, she released her debut album, “BMA,” which has already gotten rave reviews for it’s highly danceable — and vogue friendly — beats.
FPH was fortunate to be able to sit down with B. Ames recently to discuss her new music and her thoughts on the local ballroom scene.
Free Press Houston: How did you enter into the ballroom scene? When did you initially become interested in it?
B. Ames: I got involved with it when I was probably around 15 or 16. Through some close friends, I was introduced to vogue videos. After that, I just kind of fell in love with it. I would see them voguing and I would see people chanting and doing what they do on the microphone and I was like, “What’s all that noise? Why can’t they just let the music play?” And then I started to understand it, and then that’s when I got into the ballroom scene. What attracted me initially was seeing all of the femme queens and the butch queens and all of that when they’re voguing and performing and hearing the music. That would just get me so excited. I would live for that — seeing the way they captured the essence of the beat with their movements. I just lived for them and their looks and their creativity and all of that. That’s one of the things that got me into doing the ballroom scene. I don’t technically consider myself a part of it, though, I just make the music for it. I go to balls every now and then, but there’s just not too much of a scene right now in Houston. I get that it’s trying to build, though, and I would definitely like to be more of a part of it in the future.
FPH: You got connected to MikeQ, who is a huge figure in the ballroom community, and then headed to NYC to be a part of the scene there. Can you tell me how all of that transpired?
B. Ames: I was posting my mixes, remixes and different beats and things like that on Youtube and he discovered my work and he was really into it, and so he asked me if I wanted to be a part of Qween Beat, and I was like, “Of course!” That’s how that happened, and we’ve been cool ever since.
FPH: Did you move to NYC for that specifically for that reason?
B. Ames: No. I was just kind of tired of being in a small town and wanted to do more creatively, and I figured being in New York was the next step, and that’s what I did. And it wasn’t specifically for music. I was already doing my music and ballroom stuff before moving to New York. Once there, I started performing and doing DJ gigs and stuff. I had my own drag show there for a little bit too.
FPH: Can you describe to me what the scene you were in there was like?
B. Ames: The scene I was in was very drag oriented. I started exploring drag while in New York, which is another side of me, and I started putting that together with my music. Me and one of my best friends, we had our own weekly show in Brooklyn actually. I would perform and I would DJ weekly, and that was that. I would do my sets there, and thats when I would start dabbling in it and learning to get better at it. My production was already there, but when it came to DJing, that’s when I started really exploring that more thanks to that show.
FPH: Can you talk to me a bit about where your aesthetic came from in regards to your personal style and your musical style?
B. Ames: As far as my personal style, clothes and outfits and all of that, that just came from not having much of anything and having to just put looks together the last minute — just kind of throwing things together and making that work, making the best out of it. And I think that’s kind of where that came from. It just kind of evolved. I don’t know specifically how I would give my style a name or anything like that, but that’s where it came from and that’s where it just evolved from. As far of my music, it just came from a mixture of ballroom with a little bit of pop. It came from a mixture of things I listened to and me wanting to create my own sound. It’s obviously very ballroom influenced, and it just developed with my voice because I started playing around with music. My own voice is in beats and things like that. That’s kind of with a character, and it kind of helped mesh my drag persona with my music, so it all kind of started coming together.
FPH: You just released your first album about a month ago. Can you talk to me about what that whole process was like?
B. Ames: Yeah, I released it last month and it’s been doing really well, so I’m really excited about that. It’s kind of like my baby. I recorded some of the album in Louisiana and some of it in Houston. Most of it was written and recorded at home with my little desktop microphone and my laptop, and I just made my beats and recorded it that way. It started about a year or so ago. One of my best friends actually gave me the idea of doing an album. He said it was time for me to do one. I’ve always wanted to do one, but I was in a little bit of a rut for a bit. When it came to music, I was just creatively blocked for a little bit, but he just kind of pushed me. He gave me a list of titles of different tracks and told me to make songs based off of those titles. It was kind of like a challenge, and that’s where all of it started. A lot of the songs that I came up with I didn’t end up using on the album, but I ended up with most of them. I just revamped them and added stuff to them. That whole time period and process was kind of an evolution for me and my work because I was going through so much personal stuff, and I was finally able to put a body of work together and finish it. And that how BMA came to be.
FPH: Since being back, you’ve DJed a House of KENZO party. What was that like? What do you think about what they’re doing for the vogue scene in Texas?
B. Ames: They’re very creative, intelligent minds. They’re just really, really cool people to be around. It’s cool to see how they come up with everything they do. I think what they do is awesome.
Trust Me Daddy 4 throws down this Saturday from 10 pm to 4 am, location TBA. Tickets for the event, which will have an open bar, are $20.