Abbey Styles breaks the male-dominated boundaries of the electronic scene, by mixing tracks and working, all while being a mother.
Abbey Styles, a resident of Lackawanna, resides as a stylist at Design Salon in Hamburg. She also has a collection of vinyl, the ability to beat match and a genuine passion for music.
Raised in Silver Creek listening to punk rock she said, “It was a very small town. Never really knew about digitally made music.” Until a friend introduced her and everything transformed. She lived in Pittsburgh for three years and continued to explore that artistic realm.
“I ended up meeting some people that were also into it as much as I was when I lived downtown [Buffalo],” Styles said. “I started seeing other people play out and really just absolutely loved it, everything about it. From house music to drum ‘n’ bass to trip hop to breaks, and all that kind of stuff … I always had that strong love relationship with house music.”
Her sets lean on the side of tech house and funky house.
“Something that people can get down to, but at the same time you can get lost to,” she said.
“I feel like it would be good to expose some more people to it,” adding ideas about bringing a bit of that vibe to the Southtowns.
“I would like to bring house music more to the Southtowns, maybe do it at Woodlawn Beach, or something like that. Do something different. Where is there house music around here: Nowhere.”
She said the closest this area came to having a house music scene was in 2005 when Faso’s was open, where she also met Chris Warner (or Just Dubbs, previously spotlighted for Sounds of the Southtowns). “That’s the closest we really came to it.”
As electronic becomes increasingly more mainstream, there is a generalization about what “house music” means. Styles said she hopes to open peoples minds to the many facets of the genre.
On trip-hop, which is a genre of music that blends electronic elements and hip-hop influences, she said, “I just love it. I would love to just expose people to that ... if you kind of ease it in with trip-hop, it’s a mix of hip-hop, and it has that same kind of flow but it’s still electronic, and then you progressively get it in there. And then you go into deep house and then you maybe get more into tech house ... there’s so much you can do. And I feel like that’s the way that we’re going to be able to up the house music scene — or just the electronic music scene — in Buffalo.”
Ideas are spinning in Styles’ mind. “Actions need to be made versus what we could do,” she said it should be, “Lets do this, lets do that.”
In her years DJing she has been associated with various collectives and crews, but currently runs with NuSkool Pirates and another collaboration of other DJs that she cofounded called Misfit Djs. Additionally, she hosts her internet radio show “Abstyles and Friends” on Wax Museum Radio from 9-10 p.m. on Thursdays.
Between styling hair and mixing tracks, she is also a mother. She has her son, Damian – middle name Danger – in 2008. She played out until she was about five months pregnant or “until I couldn’t reach the decks anymore,” she said with a laugh.
Even now, Styles said it is tough balancing the responsibilities of being a mother and a DJ. “I can’t stay up until four in the morning every weekend anymore. My son relies on me to get him up for school and make him lunch.” Which effects presence within Buffalo’s scene.
“It’s also too, you know, out of sight, out of mind. If I don’t go out as much I don’t get asked to play as much. And it’s hard to get out every single weekend. I cant go out two nights a weekend anymore because it’s just too much.”
The proverbial “scene” that envelops DJs and the party goers is mostly a male-dominated stage. Styles said, “Yes. Absolutely. 100 percent” that this world and culture is a man’s world. Notable female DJs exist — J.Phlip, Maya Jane Coles, TOKiMONSTA, Annie Mac — but the ratio to the men is noticeably uneven. Styles said there are ups and downs to being a female in a man’s world.
“The ups, I’ve got to be honest, are that of course, you’re a female. Your looks. You know, people think, ‘Female DJ, I want them to go play.’ They get them to play but really, they don’t really listen to their music, they think it’s just some female looking good on stage. They don’t really take into consideration what they sound like, if they’re good. Which that of course, is the downs.
“I’d rather someone like me for my music, what I sound like and how good I am versus what I look like. It’s sad. And yes I’ve struggled a lot when I first started. Of course I would be learning to play and doing whatever, but then you have the males coming over twisting knobs in front of you, doing all this kind of stuff. Fixing the levels. And you just go, ‘I know what I’m doing. Could you please get away from me?” she said with a laugh.
Another upside of being a female DJ she said, “It’s kind of sad too but, I would have more of an opportunity.” Adding that she said she feels it is not always a matter of purely liking her music, but choosing because of diversity.
Styles mixes off of either vinyl or CDJs, exclusively.
“It’s such a thrill when you’re mixing your mix. And just thinking, okay, I’ve got to drop it at just the right moment, and your calculations in your head and everything is just going, it’s also the fear of it not being right, that build up and finally it just goes and your whole body just rushes.
“It’s the greatest feeling. I don’t understand how some of these people can’t feel that same way and they feel like they need to hit a sync button, it’s just beyond me. It’s the most magical thing. Such a drug, such a high,” she said.
In regard to what technology is used for mixing a set, Styles said she likes to keep it as organic as possible versus more automatic works.
“To me, it’s perfect to be imperfect and it shows it’s a true thing, like taking a picture of somebody when they just turn at you is the best thing, versus, posed.”
When it comes down to it, for Styles, it’s all about the music.
“It puts you in such a higher plane,” she said. “It puts me in space, literally. It’s the greatest thing.”