The dancefloor is an arena of rituals: it is found in the swaying of hips, the wiping of sweat, and the cycle of connecting and reconnecting with one another. Octo Octa’s ‘She’s Calling EP is part-love letter, part-artistic representation of the sanctity of human connection beyond traditional communication. Now five years since Maya Bouldry-Morrison came out as a trans woman, her music has shifted from the deep introspection and deconstruction of anxiety on 2017’s ‘Where Are We Going?’ to the unabashed joy found in the ambiguities of clubs and dancefloors on ‘She’s Calling’.
House music has long been a medium for the exploration of queer identity. The genre was birthed out of underground clubs in Bouldry-Morrison’s hometown of Chicago out of necessity to protect the city’s predominantly gay Black and Latino population. Openly gay DJs such as Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy began experimenting with disco music, sequencers, and drum machines to create a music phenomenon that has stood the test of time. Likewise, seminal queer trans house producer DJ Sprinkles has taken a more radical approach to the politicisation of the genre; her 2009 album ‘Midtown 120 Blues’, cited by Bouldry-Morrison as a turning point in her transition, corrects the whitewashed history of the genre with deep ruminations of race, gender, and trauma.
- ‘She’s Calling’ is a marriage of the two approaches to house music, extrapolating her deepest emotions and conflicts, juxtaposing them with unabashed joy. ‘Goddess Calling’ is a euphoric breakbeat opening into the delirium of a night out, with the choppy percussion and shaky synthesizers swirling together. ‘Find Your Way Home’ is aptly titled, morphing from an upbeat 90s house homage into an ambient trance meditation on identity; the vocals emerging from the background are both ethereal (“
Your mind, your body
- ”) and joyous (“
Let’s do it!
- ”). It’s hopeful, light-hearted, and a reclamation of the body and soul throughout the track’s linearity. Similarly, “Spell For Nature”, the EP’s closer, is a poignant reflection on the transformative effects of dance music and the multiplicity of existence within oneself.
Octo Octa serves as an extension of Bouldry-Morrison, allowing her to deconstruct and reinterpret the sacred space of dancefloors into the wider world. ‘She’s Calling’ is a pulsating disco light at the end of a dark tunnel, leading to the never ending process of self discovery. It replicates the warmth of human connection, even in a time where it feels so far out of reach.
- Release date: February 5
- Record label: T4T LUV NRG