Queer Careers – Seven Ultra Omni, DJ (and Voguer)
Queer Careers is an ongoing series featuring ‘out-and-proud’ professionals. This time we speak to Seven Ultra Omni also known as Orlando Haynes Jr., an Amsterdam based DJ. This rising DJ and voguer originates from the Caribbean, but has made Europe his home.
Introducing Seven Ultra Omni
Where are you from/where did you grow up?
“I grew up in the sunny Caribbean, on a tiny island called St. Martin. My dad’s from there, and my mom is Dutch. We had a very modest upbringing. There were financial struggles at times, but we were always provided for. My dad basically built my family home by himself.”
“With that said, my childhood was absolutely amazing. I spent most of it outside, playing with the other kids in the neighborhood, or inside with my Legos. On the weekends we’d go to the beach, which was a ten-minute walk away. To this day, the smell of the ocean still instantly reminds me of home.”
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What inspired you to start a career in music? How do you describe yourself? DJ/Producer?
“I wanted to be a DJ since I started clubbing. I was about 22. Have you ever been out dancing at a club and you hear a song for the first time, and it just touches your soul? You just dance your ass off, and you make this face like you just bit into a lemon wedge. The first time I experienced that, I knew I wanted to make other people feel that. It’s like that feeling when you turn a friend on to a song that you’re already obsessed with, but magnified by a thousand. I love it!”
What excites you the most to create and work in music?
“Ok, I’ll give an example… So last summer I was playing at Club NYX, way up in the little toilet section. Some of my fellow voguers were around, but my floor was half empty at first. Suddenly my friend Zelda shows up. She’s a ballroom MC, and she starts chanting, rapping and singing over the music. Within two minutes we were literally swarmed by people, and EVERY SINGLE PERSON was dancing their asses off and making those lemon-faces, including myself. And that level of energy persisted almost until the end of my set. The DJ decks were completely covered with my sweat drops, and I could literally squeeze the sweat out of my shirt afterwards… It was magic… It was a moment… I live for that shit…”
What’s gay life like in The Netherlands and on St. Martin?
“Well, St. Martin is tiny, so all the gays know each other. There’s no real ‘scene’ to speak of, except for one tiny hidden gay bar which is only open on Saturday nights. Nevertheless, it’s the only ‘safe space’ on the island. I think that’s important because even though violence is rare, acceptance and support for the Rainbow community are still lacking on the islands.”
Which would you prefer?
To be a gay in Europe or The Caribbean?
“I’d love to say that gay life here in Amsterdam is much better, but recent events have been sobering. I recently participated in the “March for the Right to Be Yourself,” in reaction to a recent wave of gay bashings, specifically, a 24-year-old guy who took a brick to the skull. I was never one for activism, but I felt like I needed to do something, even if it was just showing up and walking along.”
Are you single?
“Well, I’m polyamorous, which can make my love life a bit complicated.”
What would you like to be doing 5 years from now?
“Making as many moments as possible, in as many places as possible.”
Can you talk to me a little about your career, how did you learn to promote yourself, target a particular market, etc.?
“Well to start, DJ’ing isn’t my main hustle, as I also have a day job. But when it comes to the music business, it’s all about who you know. When I started DJ’ing, I was super introverted and had no real ‘network’ to speak of. So I just faced my fear and started emailing event organizers, telling them that I would be a good addition to their lineup. I got some small gigs that way, and my network and confidence slowly started growing.”
“I’ve only started to take self-promotion seriously when I started voguing last year. I started to tailor my sound more to that scene, after which, bookings for ballroom events started trickling in. Now I’m even getting requests from other countries, which really motivates me to continue to promote myself. Of course, I wish that I’d faced my fears sooner, but I don’t dwell on it. I just keep pushing.”
What’s the hardest part of your job?
“DJ’ing at a vogue ball!!! It’s hard work. At parties, I can just freestyle, but at a ball, the performers are the main focus, so I take my cues from the host. You really have to keep track of what’s happening, and there’s not much room for improvisation, so you really have to know what you’re doing.”
Best Gig Ever?
“I have two faves, one of which was that sweat-soaked story I told you earlier. The other was when I played at Rotterdam Pride, at this alternative techno party called House of Boys. There were like 600 people there, and it was my biggest ever audience at the time. After my last track faded, I expected a small applause, but the crowd just absolutely ERUPTED. I took a shy little bow, but they just kept on cheering. I had no idea how to react, so I just stood there with an awkward smile. It was such a rush… I was in the clouds… And again, it was a moment…”
Future Dream Gig?
“For a long, long, LONG time I imagined playing the Now&Wow stage at Milkshake Festival. But another dream of mine is to organize and headline my own queer or open-minded party. I think that will be my next big step when I feel the time is right. However, if the Now&Wow people are reading this, BOOK ME!”
Talk to me about Voguing.
“I could literally talk your ear off for an hour, so I’ll try to distill it as best I can.”
“Voguing is a part of the larger ballroom scene, which was created by gay and trans people of color in New York in the 60’s. They would host competitions, and balls in a safe space where participants would battle each other in one of the many categories. There are categories for fashion, sex appeal, drag, and of course, voguing!”
“There are three styles of vogue:
– Pop, Dip & Spin, the original form of voguing and the style that I practice. It’s known for its elegant lines and stylized poses. It’s the style seen in the documentary Paris is Burning.
– New Way, characterized by intricate arm movements, extreme flexibility, and contortion.
– Vogue Fem, the newest and most popular style of vogue, known for its exaggerated femininity and the now famous ‘dip,’ which most outsiders would refer to as a shablam or death drop, although we never use those terms ourselves.”
Even more Seven Ultra Omni
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Enjoyed this story? Then be sure to read the previous Queer Career Interviews: