InspiHERed By spotlights phenomenal women in the Black queer and trans community—everyone from artists to activists whose personal journey and individual craft inspire us to dream bigger, laugh harder, and love deeper. This month ELIXHER caught up with Brooklyn-based DJ Rimarkable.
ELIXHER: Tell us a little about yourself.
DJ RIMARKABLE: My name is Mariaelena Garcia. Most people call me “Maria.” If you are a good friend I’ve know for more than five years, you probably call me “Ri Ri” or “Ri.” If you’re nasty, you call me “Ms. Garcia.” I am a multi-medium artist from Detroit, based in Brooklyn. I play several instruments, sing, act, orate, write, as well as produce music and stage performances. I’ve worked professionally as an artist for the past 19 years.
ELIXHER: What led you to DJing?
DJ RIMARKABLE: I come from a musical family. My mother is a classically trained pianist. All five of her children sing and/or play instruments. Knowing music was not a choice growing up. I’ve always collected music. I also made “pause mixtapes” from the radio by the time I was 10. Making “pause mixtapes” was also my first introduction to producing. Making those tapes wasn’t easy. You had to have patience to sit by the radio, and wait until your song came on. You had to hit record, and pause it just right. When I look back on that, it was amazing. When my best friend’s 14th birthday party was coming up, she asked me to bring my box of tapes. I did. The party was a success. That was the first time I DJ’ed. I could go on and on about what “led” me to DJing. All in all, I will say, it is one of those things I was just born to do.
ELIXHER: From your experience, what makes a “good” DJ?
DJ RIMARKABLE: This is a spiritual thing for me. A good DJ is an alchemist. An alchemist who uses music as a tool to create a channel for the transformation of the emotional state of a dancer. This process is all so emotional. A good DJ is emotional. There is lots of vulnerability in this. A true sign of a good DJ is bringing them there and keeping them there. If you don’t allow yourself to empathize with the dancer, you are not connecting. You are not having a conversation. You are talking to yourself.
Talking to yourself in this respect is not DJing. And, hey, that’s okay, too. Nowadays, it is normal to pay to go see someone who is playing for themselves, and allowing you to bare witness. In my opinion, this is selecting, and not DJing. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these “Selectors” are dope. I’ve definitely paid money to see some.
ELIXHER: When you DJ, it’s not uncommon to find you grooving along–in photos of you during your sets, you look like you’re having the time of your life. What does music do for you? What do you hope it does for others?
DJ RIMARKABLE: As a DJ, you must create trust. When you see me dancing, I am subconsciously offering the dancer permission to be free. It’s such an emotional process. It’s such a raw and real act of service performance. You don’t know what people bring with them to the dance floor. They are there because they need something. Ever since I was a small child, I’ve studied music and the way the body responds to it. It has become a muscle memory for me. Music offers me everything I need emotionally. I hope others on my dance floor get what they need emotionally as well. I hope they leave my dance floor different than when they came. I hope I am playing a significant role in them becoming who they want to be. At the very least, I hope this is all joy.
ELIXHER: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not spinning?
DJ RIMARKABLE: I love gut-busting laughter. I look for it everywhere, and find it whenever I can. I am usually the one laughing the loudest. Besides creating, listening, playing, or dancing to music, it is the closest I get to feeling free.
ELIXHER: What is something most people don’t know about you?
DJ RIMARKABLE: I can cook my ass off. I was a professional chef and restaurateur for about six years. I hate to cook professionally. The love gets lost in the stress.
ELIXHER: What makes you proud to be a part of the Black queer community?
DJ RIMARKABLE: In the face of double oppression, we’re still here, and stronger than ever.
ELIXHER: What are some areas for growth for our community?
DJ RIMARKABLE: It would be great to get rid of those pesky hetero-normative gender role assignments. When the lights go out (or on) none of that shit should matter.
ELIXHER: So what’s next for DJ Rimarkable?
DJ RIMARKABLE: I’ve been on and off the road, touring since the end of February. I plan to keep it going. I am in love with what the experience of travel is offering to my craft. It’s insane how much I’ve changed in five months. I also have a lot of fantastic cards in my deck to be played. I don’t want to speak on them yet. You won’t win a game of spades if they know you’ve got both jokers in your hand.