Felton Cortijo aka Xiorro has been making earthquakes in the techno underground. Since co-founding ALKHEMY & The Black Hole back in 2016 with his partner Christina Hernandez (Adrestia), he has proven to be one of the genre’s most exciting new artists, as well as one of the most genuine people you can expect to meet in this hyper-competitive industry. He is usually found between his hometown of Boston, New York, and Berlin, where he is resident DJ at Griessmuehle.
We caught up with Felton ahead of his debut at the legendary “afters” at Corsica Studios, Jaded, to talk about diversity in electronic music, as well as his latest release—a split EP of raw, relentless techno with Buzzi entitled Double Dragon. The cover art was designed by techno legend Alan Oldham (aka DJ T-1000) and echoes Cortijo’s statements about the need for younger DJs to start levelling with the progenitors. The tracks are no doubt some of the grittiest frequencies you’ll hear all year, paying respect to the past while defining a new style of techno that is currently emerging from the depths of Brooklyn. A nice touch is the beat-em-up video game theme, which evokes the cultural cross-pollination between Japan’s postwar consumer electronics (Roland, Korg, Yamaha) and the black American musical pioneers of post-industrial Detroit, who re-appropriated these new technologies to create the music we know and love today.
Before we begin, is there anything you’d like to say about your DJ name?
I’m Puerto Rican and I identify as Afro-Latino, so sometimes people will hear me say that I’m black, but there’s some history behind that as well. Xiorro was the slave last name of an enslaved African in Spanish Puerto Rico during the early 1800s who attempted to overthrow the Spanish government and the plantation owners. He led the revolt, it wasn’t successful... but obviously it’s the effort is what matters in the story.
Photograph by Hecha NYC
Are there any projects that you’ve been working on that are on the forefront of your mind right now?
Buzzi, who is our resident DJ, him and I have worked on a couple of musical projects together so we decided to do a split EP, which we dropped in July. It’s nothing that we’re making into a big label but we’ve released it under The Black Hole’s umbrella Whirlwind Trax, and it’s inspired by the sounds of our party.
The Black Hole resident and member of the ALKHEMY collective, Buzzi
So there’s been a lot of discussion recently around issues of representation in club culture. Do you feel that there have been some positive changes happening?
I do think that there are some positive changes happening in the scene, with a lot of club bookings taking into consideration booking more women, booking more people of colour. There are collectives that are leading the charge within their respective areas of what they’re pushing for—like Discwoman pushing for more women, the queer community pushing for more queer DJs, and then I feel like our collective ALKHEMY, we’ve been leading the charge and conversation for booking more people of colour, especially for bigger shows and putting them in a type of spotlight that they normally wouldn’t on a day-to-day… I mean, not a day-to-day, but for the most part whenever you hear of a hype DJ, they’re not really black. Except for the older cats. It’s time that the younger generation starts to get looked at with the same eyes as the older cats are being looked at, or were being looked at when they were young as well. There’s a new generation of black DJs coming up in Brooklyn that are really making noise, just to name a few: SHYBOI, Akua, Dee Diggs, Ace-mo, MOMA Ready, and myself. We’ve all been really leading the charge, making sure there’s representation and that we’re… you know, strongly representing [laughs].
You can catch Xiorro at Corsica Studios’ Jaded this weekend, tickets here.
Xiorro & Buzzi - Double Dragon EP
Out now on Whirlwind Trax (Digital)