There’s no denying Vicki Powell is a child of the ‘80s.
“I think I am definitely a product of the ‘80s, heavy on the electronic, the synthesizer,” she says over lunch at the Corner Tavern on Edgewood Avenue, one of the venues participating in Powell’s first Edgewood Electronic Music Fest set for this weekend.
“I love electronic music. I grew up on New Order, Depeche Mode. That sound is popping up now, like The Presets,” Powell adds, describing the music she is drawn to today.
With her Flux parties, she developed a following of fans who share her love for electronic music. Her new party, Boombox, to be premiered in the next month or so, will likely have a similar feel — no Top 40, no Lady GaGa — just some tight, unique sounds coming from bands that also have a love for electronica.
|Edgewood Electronic Music Fest
Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 13-14
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“You don’t want to play what everyone else is playing. [My sound] definitely has a retro feel. I think it’s current but these are new bands and they have a retro sound,” she says.
Powell has been DJing since she was a young girl who loved being at the skating rink and standing in the booth playing all types of music to make the skaters show off their best moves.
She moved to New York 10 years ago and learned more DJing skills before moving back Atlanta in 2004 and going full out to become one of the top DJs in the city. She’s earned many accolades already for her achievements from the GA Voice and Fenuxe magazine. But Powell wants other DJs to share the spotlight, hence the creation of the first electronic music fest this weekend.
“Atlanta has all kinds of festivals but not one that really focuses on or spotlights DJs. Now there is,” she adds with a laugh. “I just thought it was time to showcase some of the city’s DJ talent.”
‘My heart is in Edgewood’
After traveling to such fests in Miami and other cities, Powell says she felt it is definitely time for Atlanta to have its own electronic music fest, because the talent pool in the city is large and worthy of celebration.
The first year is definitely small, with most of the venues providing their own DJ talents; the parties will be held inside the venues. Powell, however, has visions of one day blocking off Edgewood and perhaps neighboring streets for a true street fest with stages, vendors and sponsors.
This weekend’s fest will include some 60 DJs playing over two days. A shuttle service will run from Pizzeria Vesuvias to Sauced to P’Cheen — so no one is forced to drink and walk, or drive, Powell says.
Edgewood is the perfect place for this first-time fest because it is a neighborhood that attracts an eclectic, colorful crowd that has begun to disappear from Midtown, she says.
“I feel like Buckhead is slowly creeping into Midtown and I remember when Midtown was gritty and had all these great holes in the wall, but they’ve been pushed out,” she says.
Edgewood offers an atmosphere that appeals to Powell, including her passion for supporting local businesses.
“My heart is in Edgewood because I have known most of these business owners for 10, 15, even 20 years,” she says. “Either as close personal friends or as DJs in this city. I’ve been a fan of Kieran at P’Cheen for years and Karl Injex at The Sound Table since back in the day and Ria [Pell] from Sauced since I don’t know when.
“Edgewood just feels like home. These guys are some cool cats that I’ve met along the way and they are really keeping Atlanta fresh and I dig that,” she adds. “Edgewood is for the pioneers. The visionaries.”
Powell’s serious DJing began on Edgewood with her popular Flux party that had its beginnings at Shaun’s, which recently closed.
But she learned her skills by standing in the DJ booth at Backstreet during its heyday with her mentor DJ Brett Long, she says. Powell never got to play there (“I wasn’t good enough”) but Long coached her how to count beats and connect with a crowd to ensure they don’t stop dancing.
Anna Riaganatti, owner of Bellissima, gave Powell her first DJ gig years ago. And while Powell played to a mostly empty room that first time, she knew she wanted to keep pursuing her passion.
Powell says she usually shows up to a performance with her two books of CDs (she’s old school and still plays CDs rather than using a laptop). Each book contains about 250 CDs and each CD has about 15 songs. And she knows exactly where every song is.
“The mystery of what next song to play next — the stress and anxiety that comes along with that — I love it. You have to pick up on the vibe in the room. And it’s cool when you drop a song and everyone gets into it.”
Top photo: DJ Vicki Powell will spin Sunday at The Sound Table as part of the first Edgewood Electronic Music Fest taking place this weekend. (by Omar Vega/ovegadesign.com)