DJ RQAway on: “The Sound of New Orleans”

New Orleans native DJ RQ Away will be our featured guest DJ at tomorrow’s GUMBO! He has made a name for himself by being able to create a distinct vibe no matter where he spins. His eclectic sound and ability to bend genres has captured ears in intimate spaces of downtown New Orleans, neighborhood bars in Brooklyn and the pubs of London.

For a decade DJ RQ Away’s career has thrived off his unique artistry and leadership. In addition to curating inimitable experiences that strengthen community ties through dance he also operates as Founder and lead organizer of the citywide brand, #AWAYTEAM. His high quality works have made him a beloved household name as well as the go to DJ for worldwide acts and brands like Robert Glasper, The Foreign Exchange, Erykah Badu and Bilal. DJ RQAway recently put together an exclusive mix from the Gumbo crew highlighting the sounds of New Orleans so we picked his brain about the history and happenings of his hometown music scene.


DJ RQ Away. NOLA’s Finest DJ. These are his tees too and you’ll spot them all over the city.

You come from a city with a rich and varied musical heritage. Tell us briefly about the music scene in Nola today?

The music scene in NOLA is as it has always been in the sense that it is a sampling of a hometown interpretation of the many influences and styles that come here from all over the world. It’s hard to give a simple answer as we have so many different things happening here all the time artist like Trombone Shorty and Christian Scott carry the New Orleans’ banner across the world via Jazz and their own tailored version of that and many other genres. Tank and the Bangas are the closet thing we have to The Roots (in my opinion) consistently creating a unique showing of sound via R&B, Rap, Hip Hop, and Poetry. Artist like Dominic Minx create their own sound from pieces of Rock, Hip Hop, and Jazz, while Chase N. Cash and Ciel Rouge carry their own unique interpretations of the classic Hip Hop sound. Artist Like Chris Royal, Stefan Rene(Prosper Jone$), Mykia Jovan, and so many others share powerful sounds from across genre’s all while sharing the love for music that is truly New Orleans. This is definitely a short answer. 

Are there any upcoming artists in the soul/jazz scene we should be looking out for?

Cool Nasty, a band composed of young NOLA bred artist. You can check them out every Wednesday at the Cool Nasty Jam Series


Fresh off the “Couches” stage, Singer Cole Williams and members of Cool Nasty – a sick nu jazz future wave band

What is second line music?

Secondline music, it’s love from a tuba, foot stompin, body bending vibes that travel from drum to horn to random second liner ten people away. It’s a style of Jazz that was once soley know to accompany funerals, and now often without the associated funeral the upbeat drum and brass focused sound calls for crowds of thousand to walk through New Orleans streets on any given Sunday.  

If we had one day in New Orleans, which band do we absolutely have to catch live?

Again Cool Nasty and if there in town Tank and the Bangas.

Tell us about Super Sunday in New Orleans?

The short answer, Super Sunday is a historical celebration around the indian culture shared with slaves years ago. African Americans spend all year crafting hand sewn suits of beads and feathers featuring elaborate designs and colors. Various “tribes” start walking processions in their neighborhoods and walk to meet at different spots in the city. Having “Show downs” via demonstrations of their suits beauty. Super Sunday (St. Joseph’s Day) is one of our largest indian displays aside from Mardi Gras. My brand, #Awayteam, host a yearly bike ride where we travel across the city to meet and see the indians.

What is Nola Bounce?

New Orleans Bounce is a unique genre of dance centered music created years ago by using specific break beats by pioneers like Mannie Fresh. It features 3 core beats, similar to that of “riddims” in Caribbean music culture, that are remixed and used over and over but always with unique results. The sound is fast and exciting and often features sexual lyrics from MCs. Historically the genre was carried by hard, upbeat rap tracks, over the years the genre has been heavily adopted by female and transgendered MCs.

We know about No Limit and Cashmoney but what are the lesser known rappers or crews that have been making a wave out there?

This one could take all year to answer considering all that has happened in our music scene over the years! Jay Electronica, Pell, Paasky, Deep N Space are all great examples of our Hip Hop scene now. But the stories of crews and artist in between then and now are countless.

How was your experience at the last Gumbo Party in New Orleans?

It was great, I had a great opportunity to be myself playing anything that came to mind from disco, soul, house funk and beyond alongside some groovy cats. Hopefully there’s room for that this weekend! 

Is this your first time in Toronto? What are you looking forward to?

Yes it absolutely my first time here and I am interested in getting a peek into Toronto’s famous culture. 

Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. We are excited to rock with you this weekend!

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