Half Queen (Image: FIRST / Tina Tiller)
Half Queen (Image: FIRST / Tina Tiller)

Pop CultureMay 4, 2022

When Half Queen met Madonna

Half Queen (Image: FIRST / Tina Tiller)
Half Queen (Image: FIRST / Tina Tiller)

The Tāmaki Makaurau DJ tells FIRST about an intense encounter with pop music royalty, putting on a ‘ridiculous’ club night and more.

First hobby

“I was a little bit of a dancer when I was a child. Shout out to Honey and Step Up and Bring It On. I was in a little hip hop dance crew at my school, we were called the Tricksters. It was kind of embarrassing actually, but I enjoyed it. I had a very enthusiastic teacher and then… I don’t think she was trained, she was just like ‘let’s do a hip hop group’. And so there were auditions and then we came up with the dances ourselves. It wasn’t proper in any way.”

First time you met Madonna

“The first time I met Madonna was on stage at Spark Arena where we did a little dance and shared a little kiss. This is a long story. So during this tour [in 2016] she would always bring someone on during a track called ‘Unapologetic Bitch’, she gets them to come on stage and do a little dance. I was there by myself because no one else my age liked her, and her assistant walked past me a couple times and I noticed and I was like, ‘That’s interesting. Why does this woman keep looking at me?’ And then she was like, ‘Are you from here?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ She was like, ‘Do you know this part?’ And I was like, ‘No, but I was born ready to do whatever is needed to be done. I got you.’ I was just a turbo stan ready to dance with Madonna on stage, naturally. 

So I did the thing, it was ridiculous and phenomenal and I bet you could probably just imagine what it’s like to look Madonna in the eye. Then she was doing her talking on the mic, like ‘Where are you from?’ Blah blah blah. And then she was like, ‘I bet you’re hungry. I’d usually have a gift for you but I only have a banana.’ And so I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll eat a banana.’ And it just ended up being like she took a bite, I took a bite, she took a bite… and then she put her mic down and was like, ‘Let’s go.’ And I was like, ‘Well, say less, I got you.’ And then we kissed. What the hell? After that my life sort of went in a crazy direction, so I cite it as being one of my most life-changing moments. I think anyone would refer to it as that.”

First time you wanted to be a DJ

“I think I decided I wanted to be a DJ when I was a child and I saw this DJ in Baby Bash’s music video for ‘Sugar Sugar’. She was this woman who was DJing, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I don’t know what that is, but I want to do that.’ So yeah, it was always there in the back of my mind. But the first time I ever took it seriously was when I started knowing people who actually DJed in real life, then it was like, ‘It’s accessible to me now, because I know someone who does it.’”

First time you met JessB

“I actually don’t know. People ask me this all the time and I actually don’t know because we grew up in very similar circles in high school, so I always knew who she was, but I didn’t actually… I can’t tell you the first time I met her. I think the first time I ever saw her perform was at a Black Lives Matter fundraiser at Neck of the Woods. I was watching her and I was like, ‘There’s something going on here, it’s amazing, I want to be part of it and I feel like I could.’ And then I was the one who was like, ‘Do you need a DJ? Because I will learn how to do it if you need one.’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, if you learn, then you got the job.’ And then I just went and did it. It worked out very well for me, luckily.”

First club night you organised

Jess and I had experienced a lot of queer nightlife when we were touring, so we kind of just wanted to bring that back to Tāmaki Makaurau because when we were teenagers we weren’t really comfortable enough in our identies to seek out these kinds of places. So FILTH is a platform and collective that is dedicated to prioritising queer and trans, POC and nightlife culture – we try and create opportunities where everyone can come together and sort of celebrate themselves and enjoy their time on this planet, hopefully. 

The first FILTH [in 2018] was ridiculous. I think anyone who was there could attest to the fact that it was the most ridiculous energy in the room at one point. And I don’t think we kind of fully grasped just how powerful that was at the time because we were running around like headless chickens going ’Oh my gosh, there’s so much to do.’ But yeah, I wish I could go back.”

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This epiosde of FIRST was made with support from NZ On Air.

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