Interview with Manchester DJ, Atalaya – Sounds From The Other City
Salford's festival of new music and art • 5th May 2024 •
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Interview with Atalaya

Photo of Atalaya sat on a stool in a yellow beret, short kilt skirt & knee high heeled boots

Introducing Atalaya, a multi-genre DJ with a variation of electronic and alternative tracks. They are all about the mixture and blend of genres and tracks, creating immersive and unique music, bringing liveliness and energy to the dancefloor.

Atalaya is a resident at Steam Radio Manchester, collaborates with local artists, platforming queer artists, as well as regularly playing at gigs in Greater Manchester.

Could you give us a quick introduction to who you are, for anyone who may not know?

I’m ATALAYA (they/them), a genre-queer DJ from Manchester. My main creative endeavor at the moment lies in DJing, and I also work as a performer, dancer and vocalist. I am originally from Asturias, in the North West of Spain, and I have lived in Manchester and Greater Manchester for the most part during the last 11 years.

For anyone wishing to hear an image description of myself, I am a six foot one, olive-skinned person with a shaved head and face, I wear silver earrings and a silver septum piercing ring. You can often find me dressing in androgynous attire; I am a big-trousers-small-top type of queer, but also love skirts, dresses, vests and puffy or thrifted leather coats. Oh, and black platforms or heels. My friend Strutty said I always find the perfect balance of fem and butch, and I will live by that!


How would you describe the style of music you create?

The short answer is: anything goes, so long as it makes you want to shake ass or stomp hard. My favourite genres to play in my sets are reggaetón, latin club, ballroom house, hardcore, techno, trance, makina, donk, breaks… and everything in between. I take pride in always focusing on playing and platforming trans, queer and underground artists. In my mixes, I channel different expressions of queer rave euphoria from around the world; these tend to be a varied melange crafted through years of being an avid club-goer, professional gogo dancer and club music enthusiast growing up in Spain, Germany and the UK.

You can expect cross-genre transitions, an ample but gradual tempo build-up, plenty of percussive elements and cross-rhythm, vocals and melodic stuffs. Oh, and I love a bootleg edit.


How does it feel to be back at Sounds From The Other City, two years running? Should we expect a different set to last year?

I am very thankful to Baz The Plug at Plug One for first introducing me to SFTOC, and to Beau Azra for bringing me back! I loved it last year, and I have been very excitedly planning my comeback. As for my performance this year, you can expect a lot of the new music I have discovered through my radio residency show Traketeo on Steam Radio, in which I showcase reggaetón and latin club music from around the world. Last year I did two shorts sets at The Old Pint Pot; one focused on reggaetón, one on house; my mix this year will be a bit of a mixture of the two, weaving in all this new music.

As I am playing from 10:30PM at the Slow Jamz stage at Porta, I will be moving the crowd swiftly through reggaetón/dembow into faster house classics from my upbringing and my time in the UK, as the night goes on. If you have ever come to see me play at DEEP GAY (SOUP) or the mix I did for Viva! Festival at HOME, you might get the idea!

Who, or what, inspires your music?

It’s always the baddie queer and trans DJs out there, and all the underground and upcoming producers making moves on music platforms. I’m always inspired by underground queer raves that keep inclusion and accessibility at their core, and the music you hear in these spaces.

I love being able to budget for and buy music for my shows. I believe financial support and exposure are both essential if we want artists to keep making art, and neither are easy to access in this industry when you are a working class artist. Radio work is often unpaid, voluntary labour – this is the case for all my radio work. I highly respect and am inspired by the many producers and platforms that make music available for free or as a name-your-price system, and I will always include and reference these artists in my shows, sets and respective promotional content. There is a lot of great music available like this, and I think this is a often reflection on the history where these genres come from, like underground clubs and free raves.

As I mentioned above, my upbringing in different places is also very influential on my music choices. I have recently found a lot of joy playing old classics I used to listen to in the car with my mum: Brazilian batucadas; Spanish and Latinx noughties pop and house; charts music. I have done a fair bit of research on the history of ballroom culture, and its music always inspires me.


What was the adjustment between Spain and Manchester’s music scenes like, and how did both of these places influence your music?

I grew up in a small city called Oviedo, in the rural region of Asturias. I did not have access to queer or inclusive music spaces at the time, and used to listen to a lot of commercial and charts Latinx and Spanish music going out as a teenager. Also a fair bit of British and Spanish indie music. Moving back to the UK and Germany for Uni, and then coming out and starting to explore queer and inclusive club spaces, I fell in love with club music like never before.

I have danced since I was 12 years old, and this carried on when I was in Uni. When I was first introduced to voguing (specifically vogue fem) this style of dance spoke to me and my femininity in ways that all the other urban dances I had learned couldn’t, and I became interested in House and Ballroom Culture, its music, people and spaces. My love for the club started with Ballroom House and the Techno I started listening to while living in Germany and infatuated with a hot techno DJ (cliché who?)


How would you describe the queer music community in Manchester?

Varied, vast, growing, magical and essential. There are always so many gorgeous queer nights to go to. Ones you can go to and see big established artists, ones that support the upcoming artists. Ones that nurture community in such wonderful ways. The queer music scene in our city never ceases to amaze me.


Are there any Manchester musicians you would like to collaborate with?

I’ve been listening to a lot of the stuff that Florentino is putting out, and I love his music a lot. He’s a really talented DJ and Producer based in Manchester who has been collaborating with queer and gender diverse baddies a lot and I admire this. He makes gorgeous reggaetón, neoperreo an latinx club music. It would be a dream to have him join me in my residency show, and play in one of his nights at Club Romantico (SOUP). I would definitely recommend listening to his playlist on Soundcloud called ‘Curated by Florentino’. As written on the playlist description, ”Latin heritage encapsulates so much in terms of who it represents, many of us have a different connection to what it means to be latine & often, what it means to each individual can vary massively person to person”.

What’s next for Atalaya?

Currently I am focusing on curating a varied roster of upcoming DJs as guests in my monthly radio show Traketeo on Steam Radio, which I created to showcase the vast range of reggaetón and latinx club music created in Abya Yala (Latin America) and around the world. I am working to platform latinx, fem, trans, queer and local artists first and foremost, and I have a couple really exciting DJs lined up! In my show there is a spotlight called the Fuegote Segment, showcasing exclusively trans and queer artists making reggaetón or latinx club music, so I am working hard to make Instagram content to let listeners and followers know a little more about the artists behind my music.

My show is online at Steam Radio, 6-7PM every second Saturday of the month! You can keep up on my Instagram, @atalayafuego.

Next in my journey will be making events that are accessible and inclusive, centering queer and trans people, particularly those in latinx, black and global majority communities. In the meantime, I am also learning music production by myself, and looking to make more international bookings while trying at making a good contribution towards a thriving and diverse, queer-centered reggaetón scene here.


Don’t miss Atalaya at the Slow Jamz & Garage stage at Porta at 10:30pm on Sunday.

Enthusiastically supported by: