Gabrielle Kwarteng (US)
New York-born DJ and Lot Radio resident Gabrielle Kwarteng is on a steady, slow-burning rise upward. Her guest shows won her a Mixcloud Online Radio Award and a regular slot, which garnered her a loyal following and led to bookings across NY and beyond.
Gabrielle Kwarteng’s journey so far is one of passion, dedication and the occasional strike of fate. Born and raised in New York, Kwarteng’s name has recently risen in prominence throughout a challenging time for dance music and club culture. A DJ, radio host and curator, her sets have recently enchanted Panorama Bar in Berlin (four times in less than twelve months, no less), equally vital club spaces such as NYC’s Nowadays and Manchester’s own White Hotel, as well as a span of festivals including Love International, Glastonbury, Melt and Dekmantel Selectors.
Listening to Kwarteng, whether in a cavernous rave hall, a sweat-soaked underground club or making intimate selections on the radio, is an experience that feels at once familiar but always energizing. Kwarteng’s diverse taste and open-mindedness lead first, allowing her to fluidly slip through a mix of heady 80s and 90s NY house, disco interpretations that traverse diaspora and eras, percussive passages alongside boldly broken beats and, as the lights get lower, an undeniable acid undercurrent. In an era of everything at once, Kwarteng weaves stories for the dancefloor that often look to the past, but always focus on possible futures.
Kwarteng arrived at this position via a mixture of study and circumstance. Born in Brooklyn to Ghanaian parents but raised in the Bronx, her childhood was soundtracked by a mix of first-wave Highlife, Afrobeat and disco. Outside her front door, in a thriving neighborhood of diverse American experiences, entire sounds and scenes expanded and exploded as pop-culture began to mutate in new ways, both online and off. Crossing to Manhattan for school, the tempo changed entirely as rock, hip hop and experimental music filled Kwarteng’s ears while she studied intensely.
Her academic focus was paramount, but Kwarteng couldn’t help but drift back towards the beat. First, from sciences to arts, where, at an esteemed upstate New York university, her dedication to trawling music blogs rendered Kwarteng the de facto DJ for house parties. She also began broadcasting on college radio; her daybreak show was a particular hit with professors arriving to work early to mark before lectures.
Bouncing back to New York, Kwarteng continued to present a show on the burgeoning online radio station The Lot. In 2017, she was presented with the Mixcloud Online Radio Award for Best Eclectic Show, an early and completely unexpected acknowledgement of an instinct for music that traversed genre expectations. In parallel, Kwarteng played each and every Saturday night in the majestic ballroom of the SoHo Grand, amassing vinyl for a residency that helped define the uptown musical scene with her own downtown sensibilities.
Now based in Europe, Kwarteng continues to criss-cross not only genres, but continents. Overcoming her inherent introversion to nervously approach Giles Peterson at a record store in Paris proved fortuitous; so impressed was the storied DJ by Kwarteng’s show on local station Le Mellotron, he invited her to appear at his own festival, Worldwide. Appearances at suitably open-minded spaces in Madrid, London, Bristol, Copenhagen and Kyiv soon followed.
Wherever she performs, Kwarteng’s expertise serves to not only continue the championing of Black American genres such as house, techno and disco, but equally, to explore the continuum of global dance music as a whole. Having laid the foundations for a unique musical journey, it’s a level of respect that’s tangible on any dancefloor. In these increasingly sacred spaces, Gabrielle Kwarteng’s personal passion translates into collective ecstasy. The dig continues.