Queers You Should Know: Kyrisha Deschamps of Honey Groove Music Festival
Kyrisha Deschamps is an event producer living at the forefront of DC’s queer events scene with a host of parties under her belt. Her annual music festival, Honey Groove is the stuff of legends. We got a chance to connect about how she manages to do it all and produce one of the coolest events in the DMV area.
Photograph via Kyrisha Deschamps
Hey Kyrisha, tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m DC born, but moved around a lot as a kid. I’ve lived in Texas, VA, DC, and MD. I claim MD, Prince George’s County, specifically as home because I’ve had roots there the longest. I have 4 siblings, a dog, and recently bought a house in DC. By day, I work in Staffing helping people with disabilities, veterans, and other barriers gain meaningful employment. At night, on weekends, and sometimes at my day job, I work on producing Honey Groove. I have always believed that my work would impact others in a positive way, but I never really knew how until recently.
That’s awesome, I totally get the side hustle and passion project. Tell us a bit more about Honey Groove, the DMV area’s first music festival for queer artists of color. Can you speak to the event and how it came to be?
Absolutely. I love all art forms and tend to feel refreshed, renewed, and energized after attending a concert, festival, or any art related event. One year I gave myself a concert budget so that I could go to as many shows as possible. During that year, I went to a ton of shows at 930 Club and Black Cat…basically if the show cost less than $30 and I liked the artist I was there. During that time saw Mos Def, Allen Stone, Solange, SBTRKT, attended Afropunk, Trillectro, Broccoli City, and local shows that featured my favorite queer bands BOOMscat and The CooLots. Seeing those shows and attending the festivals made me want to see my favorite queer bands in those spaces as well. Featured on large stages and selling out venues. After talking to folks in the community about the idea made it obvious that there was a gap that needed to be filled. I ran the idea past Lisa Gomes who would host monthly gatherings via Wine & Lesbifriends, Lee Perine of Makers Lab via Yaani Supreme, and T. Jonae Davis that I met while in college. After talking to these folks, I finally mustered up the courage to bring the idea to reality. After two teaser events, Taste of Honey and Hot Cocoa, that were well received by the community, we launched an Indiegogo Campaign, raised over 7k for our first large scale production– it was amazing! Today, I’m proud to say that we are in our third year and growing the festival to what I envisioned, a queer Afropunk and the premier festival on the East Coast that features queer/LGBT artists and entrepreneurs of color.
Photograph via Kyrisha Deschamps
I love it! I can see you taking it all the way. In years past you’ve had a wide range of artists and performers on the roster, can you tell us about some of the talent we should be expecting this year?
This year’s festival will host some DC’s most talented artists and we are bringing artists from Atlanta, LA, and New Orleans. We will have local DC favorites BOOMscat, Be Steadwell, and The CooLots. They have been rocking with Honey Groove since the beginning and believed in the festival when it was just an idea and it’s great to bring them back this year. Carolyn Malachi is a huge addition to hold us down as our Ally and our Honey Groovers will love her! Atlanta-based, Danni Cassette will set the stage ablaze with her singing and energy. We will also have Baltimore-based bands, Black Assets and Eat The Cake Band. Durand Bernarr will be another great addition, he is currently on tour with Erykah Badu and he “has the range!” Big Freedia will be our headliner this year and her presence and energy will take Honey Groove to the next level. This will be our biggest, most explosive party. The energy and good vibes will be overflowing. Honey Groove is a safe space for people to have fun, let their hair down, and have a good time.
We will have 5 DJs holding us down throughout the day. DJ Mim and DJ Jai Syncere will be our mainstage DJs while Baronhawk, Lady Ryan, and Ayes Cold hold down the indoor grooves. Each DJ has a different style and I’m sure everyone will leave with a “favorite” set and hopefully they will fall in love with a new DJ.
WOW – what an incredible lineup. I love how you’re spotlighting old favorites but also making room for some newcomers. I can’t wait to see Big Freedia. Can you clue our international audience in a bit about Dock 5 and what makes the venue so special?
Dock 5 will bring a new feel to Honey Groove. The space has a very raw, industrial feel to it. We will have access to more space allowing us to host up to 2k attendees, a larger stage, and a huge headliner. What will make the venue most special on September 9, 2017, is what we will be bringing to the space. DC is in the midst of a huge gentrification overhaul. We will be bringing in a HUGE stage, 9 performing acts, 5 DJs, 6 live paint artists, food trucks, and 2,000 queer people and allies. We will make the venue special, we will take over DC, and have one of the best parties of the year for queer people celebrating queer people of color.
That’s such a good point – Honey Groove means so much more to the community. I love asking people about their passions because everyone has a different reasoning for loving their craft. What are some of the struggles and rewards of your work?
My current struggle is balancing having a full-time job and planning a large-scale festival after hours, weekends, and holidays. I exhaust a lot of energy at the full-time position and it’s a little frustrating sometimes because I’d like to be putting that energy into Honey Groove. I do want to grow the festival to the point to where I do not need to work my full-time job and it can sustain me and my team.
The reward is the feeling of satisfaction and gratification of all of the small wins. They keep me going and let me know that I’m on the right path and this is what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s great to say that our festival has supported over 60 artists and 20 small businesses – all artists and business are compensated. It’s great to contribute to the community by supporting them, providing exposure for additional sales/support, and help queer people spend money supporting queer artists and entrepreneurs.
Last question, if you had to recommend one thing for travelers visiting the DC area to experience… what would it be?
I would say check out Phat Girl Chic or the events page at Tagg Magazine to see what’s happening in the area. I also love that DC’s Smithsonian Museums are free. They should try to check out my favorite museums, the Hirshhorn Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. They should check to see if artists they like will be performing at Black Cat, 930 Club, or Howard Theater. If they’re lucky, they should try to grab a City Paper, they tend to have a lot of cool events listed there as well.
Want to attend Honey Groove? Get your tickets before they sell out.
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