21 Questions: DJ Quiana Parks
Questions and Photos by Cassell A. Ferere
With the many things she is doing, it’s easy to see why Quiana Parks is constantly excited by life, music and, fashion. A survivor, philanthropist, painter, and DJ living in Brooklyn, NY, Quiana has no intentions of compromising her life as well as her wardrobe. We caught up with her during Pride week for a Q&A session to find out the details.
1. Where are you from?
"Patterson, NJ, born and raised"
2. What made you want to become a DJ?
"I really love music and fusion the different genres together and having fun with it. Music is something that has been there for me my entire life. It wasn't until my lowest point in life that it (music) really stood out to me how much I love music.
I started going to meat-packing with a friend of mine who is a DJ; seeing DJ's like MOS and Mel Debarge, and seeing how amazing their transitions were, and how creative they were with it. It was almost like mixing paint and colors, but with music and I was just fascinated. The idea of being behind the DJ booth and filling the energy between yourself and the crowd and being able to control that; I was just in awe. Immediately, I just wanted to do it, and I practiced for 8 hours every day until I got my first gig."
3. What are you most passionate about?
"I'm passionate about both (music and art), equally. My art means so ‘very-very' much to me – that's something that's been with me since I was a kid before I could even remember. I started painting when I was in high school - becoming interested in oil painting my freshman or sophomore year and it stuck with me. I recently started showing them (paintings) in public 3 years ago. I'm an emotional painter 100 percent."
4. What was your biggest win up until now?
"That's a big one! Honestly, as much as I like to take credit for that (surviving cancer) – obviously I had a part to do with it – my Chemotherapy did that for me, my doctors and the support around me, because at one point I was just, kind of, giving up.
As much as I am a survivor of that, I think I'm more of a survivor of self-doubt. A long time after that, and being truthful with myself, I wasn't that confident before. Cancer really broke me. For years, after, I was very depressed about it and very afraid to move on with my life - when I reached the lowest point in my life - and started djing. I remember the moment of feeling myself getting back up. I was suicidal and doing things that were very out of character; self-destructing, pushing people away. DJing helped me. I remember being in the car with my friend Johnny, on our way to Manhattan, thinking to myself, ‘you got back up'."
5. Do remember your first encounter with fashion?
"My first encounter with fashion was, maybe, (in '97) when Gianna Versace died. Also, in the sixth grade, I had a Tommy Hilfiger jumper, with the ‘TOMMY' real big in the middle. My nana was like, "Why are you wearing this man's name on your chest? If anybody's name, it should be your name." She started introducing me to designers around 11 or 12 years old. Learning what fashion illustration was, and I started to design my own clothes. I went to school for fashion and worked in it for years and I didn't like some of the people, so, I was out. I was my uncle styling assistant at 17 and when I started to really work in the fashion world, I found people to be judgy."
6. How do you stay comfortable while traveling and performing?
"I'm basic. I really love to wear my Nike Tech Fit sweatsuit. Nike is one of my favorite because they're just so comfortable. I have arthritis, different ailments and other side effects from Chemotherapy. So, comfort means so much to me. To wear the Nike tech fit is just another level of comfort for me. The (Nike) Vapor max and they're really not the most flattering on my feet but I really love my ALIFE crocs. Those are like my neighborhood and traveling shoes."
7. What's your favorite pair of sneakers right now?
“Classic Air force ones. White. Those are my favorite – honestly – I fucked them up so much but, they've been signed by Just Blaze, in this full circle moment. When I was in high school, his (Just Blaze) mom was my principle. He was raised in and would come to the school in Patterson, NJ for holidays. He would bring different people that he worked with to the school. And when I still did want to be a fashion designer, me and my friends dressed up as the Proud Family, I had air force ones I painted blue so they could look like shoes on Penny or her friend, and he signed them when I was like 16 years old. Then 2 years ago, Nike hired me to DJ the Nike Roc-a-fella shoe they were releasing and I was djing with Just Blaze. This is like my second time djing with him and I had my AF1s on - these are a fresh Roc-a-fella Air Force 1s – I was like, ‘YO! We here - you gotta sign em!’ So, he signed them on both checks - and those are my favorite sneakers."
8. What's the first choice piece from your wardrobe?
"My (personally designed) t-shirts. I had an idea and I went down to Opening Ceremony one day and ask them to embroider my art to a t-shirt. I kept going and it was a kind of addiction. So, I have a bunch of t-shirts from Opening Ceremony, custom with my own artwork. I'm obsessed with them and I love to where them. I love making my own clothes and having things customized for me. I also get the hoodies too. I love to wear them when I'm djing or when I'm painting. I wear them wherever."
9. What's your favorite accessory?
"My neckless. I have a few silver ones that I wear."
10. What trends do you want to stay?
"Honestly, I'm not the much a trendy person. I'm just a person of habit. I like my necklaces, I like my t-shirts. But, I don't consider these to be trends. My mom never taught me to dress like that, it was always quality over quantity, classics over trends."
11. Who is a big influence on your style?
"I think… When I first found out who Vashtie was, before she was my close friend, I really admired the fact that she went everywhere wearing whatever she wanted to wear. Cause I'm a tomboy, and I used to love wearing my Jordans and my little shorts wherever I went, (She) kind of gave us the stamp for all of us to be ourselves. When I first started djing - that was one of the big things - I hated wearing tight dresses to the clubs. Not that I don't love wearing tight dresses, because I love wearing tight dresses."
12. How do you choose your outfits each day?
"I'm a minimalist. If I don't wear something for that season, it's out. If I have to look over something a few times and I don't want to wear it, I give it away. I like to have very little clothes in my closet. It makes things easier!"
13. Can you think of some fashion gems you want or own?
"My ‘Tabbies'. Maison Margiela Tabi boot. My Martine Ali cage purse."
14. Where is the most stylish location you can visit in NYC?
"Honestly, Everyday People; it's filled with the most stylish beautiful black people. Anywhere there are beautiful black people you're going to see some good fashion. We're not even the trend, because we are classic. We just create the trends."
15. Whose style do you think is the best? (Brand or Person?
"Pyer Moss is on a whole other level. His (Kerby Jean-Raymond) designs are, literally, a work of art – each piece (garment). I can take one of his pieces and frame that motherfucker. Not only are the bodies or the design of the pieces, itself, incredibly detailed, but also, the statements that he places on them. Whether it's art by Derek Adams, or, a statement saying, "Stop Calling 911 On The Culture." I feel like his pieces mean so much to us, in our culture. And if there are people in our culture that don't know who he is, they need to be on it, ASAP. He's telling his own story and his own blessings, going beyond the runway, creating short films – he is the artist that he is. I'm in awe of him."
16. Why is music such an important aspect of fashion, you think?
"They go hand in hand. Every form of art is definitely a cycle."
17. How does your DJing influence your style?
"Because I'm silly on the turntable, sometimes I can be silly in life. I still love going to Spencer's and Hot Topic. Sometimes I like to wear Hello Kittie and I still play Britney Spears! I can be very nostalgic when it comes to my fashion or when it comes to my music."
18. What goals have you set for yourself in growing as a DJ and a sort of brand ambassador?
"Something I'm working on. I actually don't want to say. But, when it happens it happens."
19. What made you want to paint originally?
"I'm obsessed with Picasso. He was my first influence when it came to art, and he's still my biggest because everything that he stood for. I think about him quite often when I make certain choices and what he did with his art and the longevity of it. He was not a sellout, he believed in his work 100 percent. He knew his worth and a lot of artists think their worth lives on Instagram and it really doesn't. "
20. How would you define your style?
"Very Classic. Very Tomboy. Classic-Tomboy-ish. Sometimes I like to dress up and when I do – I'm still very simple. I like it to be simple in detail. I'm not a flashy person."
21. Is there anything you are most vulnerable about, allowing you to learn yourself?
“I started to really dive into my own sexuality - a few years ago. I decided to start dating women, and came out to my my mom last year. So this year I’m actually celebrating my first Queer weekend. And I’m really excited about it. Not that I was ashamed of it – it was just that it’s new to me. Because it’s so new it just leaves me - open.”