Patrixia reigns supreme in digital clubspace. It’s where the 29-year-old DJ feels empowered to be her spookiest, silliest Latinx self. Locally, she’s known for DJing goth and industrial parties at venues such as Berlin and House of Vans, but online she has a rabid Twitch following who tune in three days a week to hear her blend reggaeton and cumbia with industrial and techno. What started as an eleventh-hour attempt to make extra money during the pandemic has become Patrixia’s full-time job, and she expects digital performances to become the future of clubbing.
Patrixia was born in Chicago, and her DJing draws on her emotional journey growing up in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood—which led to a love affair with all things danceably macabre. Now she shares that passion with people across the world, performing in games like Final Fantasy and Animal Crossing. She also has a less formal music project, Choke, with her partner, Garrett Vernon of Replicant.
As told to Micco Caporale
I was always fascinated with synthesizers. When I was little, I fell in love with Selena. She was my idol. To this day, I love Selena. A lot of her music has synthesizers. My dad’s side of the family were Tejano musicians, which is that same genre of music. So synthesizer music was always around me. I’ve always loved Depeche Mode, and by high school, I was really into bands like Ladytron, CSS, and the Faint. And that set me on a path for minimal wave and goth. I didn’t find Wax Trax! until I was 25—which I hate admitting, but it’s true!
When I was about ten, I got into emo, and I was in an emo band in middle school. I played bass and sang. It was hard to keep a band going that young, though. Our guitarist moved to the suburbs. We couldn’t find a drummer. As much as I wanted to keep being in a group, I really couldn’t.
Growing up, it was just me and my mom. My older brother and sister had moved out. We didn’t have a lot of money. I started experiencing depression around 12, and when I got to high school, that was hitting really hard. I was in AP courses, so I was swamped with homework all the time. I tried to keep my schedule full so I wouldn’t have any time to think.
Patrixia x DJ Baby Berlin
Thu 8/18, 8 PM, Sleeping Village, 3734 W. Belmont, free, 21+
Other acts and cover charge TBD. Thu 8/25, 10 PM, Berlin, 954 W. Belmont, 21+
I think my mental health was so bad from living in poverty. Belmont Cragin is a predominantly Latinx neighborhood. It’s poor and working-class. A lot of us grew up very fast. We saw friends get hurt or die from being in gangs. I didn’t have a good relationship with my dad. . . . I had a lot clouding my mind. I also didn’t have the means to find new bandmates. I couldn’t just go out looking for people or jump across town to practice. If I couldn’t access it through my school or neighborhood, it wasn’t going to happen for me.
I went to a vocational high school, and me and my friends would sit in our graphic-design class listening to Pandora. That led me to this whole world of electroclash. I found Peaches—Peaches was so influential on me! Like, I was a virgin listening to “Fuck the Pain Away,” but it was just such a jam!
This was around 2007. The only dance music I had heard was house, footwork, and Detroit techno. This was such a different sound. It just exploded my brain. I’d sit there trying to pick stuff apart, like, “OK, what’s making this sound?” And then, “Ooh, this sounds like this.” Those were some of my best days as a kid.
When I was 22, I graduated from UIC and got a social media internship at JBTV. I learned how the music industry works and met my mentor, Greg Corner. He was the music director and programmer at JBTV, and he was DJing an indie night at Beauty Bar at the time. I remember dancing there one night, and I was already imagining mixing what I was hearing into other songs. I approached Greg and was like, “I want to be a DJ.” And he was like, “Yes!” In 2017, he got me a Wednesday-night spot at Debonair, and I learned as I went.
It’s funny. I was never super confident in my DJing and never expected to support myself with it. I thought I’d always be a behind-the-scenes music worker. After my time at JBTV, I started working in music, doing pretty much anything that’s part of concerts. When COVID-19 hit, I was set to go on tour doing merch for a band. Five days before shutdown, our tour gets canceled, and I lose all my DJ gigs. I was like, “What am I going to do?”
I got a couple grants for music workers, but by August 2020, I was burning through my savings quickly. I was horrified. I knew a lot of DJs had gone on Twitch, and some of them were getting paid for it. I was like, “Well, I know how to DJ. . . . ”
Before Twitch, I wasn’t a very interactive DJ. I figured I’d spin while people worked from home, then get on the mike and be like, “Drink your water,” “Get up and stretch”—stuff like that. If you have Amazon Prime, you can get one free Twitch subscription per month, but it still puts money in the streamer’s pocket. So I advertised that on Instagram, and immediately I got $50 worth of subscriptions. Then a month later I got to $100 in subscriptions. People would Venmo tips during my sets too, so I made about $200 that September.
In October, a friend hooked me up with a warehouse job. It was part-time, so it wasn’t enough for rent. I’d work at the warehouse, then come home and stream. One day this girl emails me like, “Hey, I saw you on Twitch. I play this game called Final Fantasy, and I was thinking of opening a nightclub in the game and having a DJ. Would you be interested?”
I don’t want to say I was weirded out, but I definitely was suspicious. She was like, “We get together virtually. We’re happy to pay you.” And I was like, “Logistically, I don’t know what you mean, but if you’re willing to pay me, yes, absolutely!” She paid me $150 to DJ for a couple hours on Twitch while her and her friends hung out in the game. I didn’t even have the game.
Fifty or 60 people showed up to my stream, and I was like, “Whoa, this girl brought me a lot of viewers and she’s paying me!” I was playing darkwave and just . . . goth music, and these people were like, “Oh my god, what is this? It’s so cool.” They started throwing down money on my channel. That first night, I made about $400. I was sobbing on camera—just mascara running. And they were like, “This is awesome, do you want to do it again next week?” About a month later, I was making more money online than I was making at the warehouse, so I quit.
Playing for that girl and her club didn’t last very long, but she kept encouraging people to come to my channel and book me for their clubs. Then people who’d seen me play for her would reach out. I’m on a break from playing virtual clubs right now, but gamers have always brought me a lot of viewers, and then some of those become subscribers.
We have a whole community with inside jokes. I’m really interactive on Twitch, like dressing up in different outfits and using props and Snapchat filters. Just being silly. I’ll say, “It’s techno cumbia time,” and that means I’m going to mix Selena’s “Techno Cumbia” with Nine Inch Nails and play this video that mixes Selena clips with Nine Inch Nails clips. I have specific emojis for it and everything. People get really excited. I love mixing Latinx music with darkwave and industrial.
Patrixia plays Sat 8/20 at 4:30 PM on the Fiesta Stage. The festival runs Fri 8/19 through Sun 8/21. Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph, single-day passes $105.74-$260.24, three-day passes $208.74-$620.74, all ages
ARC Music Festival
Patrixia plays b2b with Greg Corner on a day and time to be announced. The festival runs Fri 9/2 through Sun 9/4. Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph, single-day passes $129-$179, three-day passes $279-$1119, 18+
Twitch is my bread and butter now. I’ve had nights where I’ve made $1,000. One time in January, I made $8,000. It still freaks me out thinking about it, because I grew up with no money. Seeing that amount . . . it was surreal. A lot of times I’m only making $120 a stream, especially in the summer. I get more money from streaming during the winter, but this has opened up a lot more in-person opportunities. I’m playing festivals for the first time. A lot of that has come from showing I have over 4,000 followers on Twitch. Actually, I just hit 4.5k, and I have over 500 subscribers.
I feel much safer online. If someone’s acting up, I can just ban them. When I was DJing in person, people would grab me. They’d linger around the DJ booth or try to get my number or refuse to leave. People you don’t know bring you drinks and try to pressure you to drink them. It makes me nervous. Are they gonna be waiting for me outside the club at five in the morning? Will this person follow me home? A lot of shitty things have happened DJing in person, and you can’t always count on the club to support you.
DJing online has opened my eyes a bit. There’s a lot of people who club online for different reasons. I have parents who put their kids down and online clubbing is their night out. Some people have been like, “I have autism, so I don’t feel comfortable at clubs. I club in Final Fantasy.” A ton of people tuning in are immunocompromised, or they live in the middle of nowhere. I’m like, man . . . we should’ve had these options a long time ago.
I think in-person clubs should be aiming for hybrid scenarios, because I think this could be the future of clubbing. Of course, clubs would have to change their infrastructure. There’s a lot of technical aspects and showmanship involved. But places like Lollapalooza and Tomorrowland do big livestreams. It’d be cool to see them utilize that to its full capacity.