Ashe Kilbourne is a hardcore producer and DJ from New Jersey. She plays in a grindcore band called Cicada, is affiliated with the irreverent New York dance music collective KUNQ, and in 2016 released the EP, Sourland.
Sourland showcases Kilbourne’s love for hardcore as an outsider to the scene, and also offers a very personal take on the genre. The EP is comprised of tracks that deal with her own painful experiences – “Men:Parasites” deals with the ghosts of trauma and explores her vulnerability as a trans woman. The track marks her own unapologetic, femme way of responding to violence. Meanwhile, “Gauze” refers to the physical pain of undergoing a vaginoplasty. The “terrifying”, “aggro-fem” sounds she spins to reconnoitre the haunted territories of pain draw from hard dance, bubbling, trance, and cinematic horror (fittingly, this past November she re-scored a soundtrack to the late 90s vampire classic Blade).
Kilbourne was a student at Wesleyan College in Connecticut when she joined KUNQ, a group that formed around a regular queer party in Cambridge, Massachusetts before relocating to New York. The collective, which includes fellow DJs and producers SHYBOI, Stud1nt, Rizzla, and FXWRK, stands for the values of queer, punk, c*nt, crunk, and represent “all the different queers who think outside of the gay and lesbian vibe” (RA). Now they throw frantic, high-octane parties showcasing dancehall, happy hardcore, variations of African house, and “probably a lot of Fetty Wap.”
Kilbourne first came across hardcore, gabber and hardstyle through the radio and through YouTube in high school. Since then, she has played alongside the likes of Ziúr, Lotic, and Juliana Huxtable, collaborated with Besharam and Estoc, as well as remixed and edited artists such as rapper Young M.A. and hardcore figurehead Sei2ure. She reclaims a powerful genre on her own singular, political terms with formidable force.