DJ Ultraviolet Sees Trap as the "Missing Link" Between EDM and Hip-Hop
Trap music has exploded on the rap and EDM scenes in the last year -- but local DJ Eva Lee, aka UV or UltraViolet doesn't seem fazed. Whether she's throwing a monthly party called Trap City or coming out with various trap mixes and an upcoming original EP, Eva deals heavily in trap's lurching, hip-hop-derived rhythms, rattlesnake snares, and trunk-thumping bass. Beginning her musical career in the late '90s in the jungle and drum 'n' bass scene, she later started the dubstep collective Redline and opened for E-40 and Mary Anne Hobbs. We recently spoke with UV about original trap production, the Trap City party, and her upcoming tour. Trap City takes place this Saturday at 1192 Folsom with Trap-A-Holics, Ultraviolet, Napsty, and more.
Your career started out with you playing only drum 'n' bass. How have you seen the local scene evolve in the past few years?
I started DJing drum 'n' bass here in the Bay in '97, and at that time it really was one of the most exciting bass music genres I've ever seen in a club. There was so much energy, and the scene really did have its own style as well as fashion. I've only been booked once in the last couple years to do an all-drum 'n' bass set, so I've definitely seen the scene become quite a bit smaller over the years. But I know there are still some superfans out there.
What inspired you to start your Redline crew?
I started the crew with a few of my DJ friends because there really was no avenue for dubstep music at the time except for a couple random nights in the Bay here and there. We wanted to play more, and since there wasn't the scene to support us yet, we needed to help build one. I pulled together some of my best friends and favorite DJs at the time, and within about a year we were throwing some of the largest dubstep events in the Bay Area.
Nowadays, you're known for throwing the party Trap City. What inspired you to start a party dedicated solely to this style?
Trap music has been around for a long time, and I've always loved it, but the tunes were not really engineered or made for the EDM crowd. Over the last few years, a lot more electronic dance music producers have gotten into the game and made it more accessible and tuned towards the dance music scene. I had been playing a lot of it in my sets, especially in the last year, and threw Trap City originally as a one-off, sort of as an experiment to see if we could get a crowd. There have been DJs in the Bay doing trap parties a lot longer than us, and we definitely respect them putting in the legwork to set the tone for the scene that we have now.
What kind of artists do you usually like to book there?
We like to book a variety of trap-based music producers, DJs, and MCs. We've been trying to book a combination of artists that are hot in the industry or have been putting in work to push the genre. We're looking to book the best DJs and people we see really making waves, or who also have been working hard to come up. I'm also always really excited when I get demos from females for our night, because usually it's one female sending in a demo for every 30 or more male DJs. I like to be able to feature them, too, and not always have it be a dick-fest.
Derek Opperman's recent review of the party described quite a diverse crowd. Why do you think trap appeals to a variety of people?
Well, everyone loves hip-hop. And since trap is so influenced by rap and hip-hop music, it's able to appeal to a much wider audience than bass music genres that have come before. I see it as sort of the missing link between the hip-hop scene and EDM that wasn't as prominent before. It's sort of exciting to watch it happen as sort of a craze across the nation.
What's your response to those that don't take the style seriously?
I think that with any form of music, there are always going to be the big supporters of it and then the people who don't like [it]. Maybe some of the negative attention comes from the fact that trap has been around for a while and recently became a lot more popular. Some people see it as replacing dubstep or the traditional trap music that was not being played in the EDM dance clubs until more recently. For me personally, I saw the same sort of backlash against dubstep when it first came about. So I learned to take a lot of that negative energy with a grain of salt. I try to not focus on what a few people have to say when I look at an event like Trap City and see hundreds of people having the time of their lives.
Share with us an original track that's on your upcoming EP.
I featured one of my new tunes, "Uptown Hoez," on our recent mix:
TRAP CITY SESSIONS VOL 2.
Trap music has many different influences. How do you strive to make your tracks original?
I'm influenced by rap music, bass music, shiny stuff, occultism, mermaids, really strong butane hash, and the Internet. Hopefully these influences will somehow help me keep it fresh.
Next year, you're starting your UltraViolet: The Trap City Tour. What city are you most looking forward to playing?
I'm most excited to visit Anchorage, Alaska. It's a place I never thought I would visit on my own, and the party is being held in an indoor water park, with the DJ booth set on top of a pirate ship in the middle of a wave pool. [I'll be] playing to a thousand screaming teenagers in their bathing suits. How could I not be excited about this one?