Rising from 2020’s Ashes, Dirtybird Icon Worthy is Reborn [Interview]
Iconic DJ and Dirtybird Records co-founder, Worthy, is famous for breaking barriers in house music with eclectic mixes and a one-of-a-kind sound. Last year, while many artists channeled 2020’s chaos into new music and virtual sets, Worthy stepped back from music to focus on herself and coming to the realization that she’s transgender.
“I didn’t know that I was,” said Worthy, who reflected with MP3 MAG about the moment she discovered last July. “I was going through all these mental changes, and to come out as trans after being seen as a male DJ for so long. I didn’t know how fans would react. It was scary.”
For over a decade, Worthy’s been known for “booty shakin” tracks like “Rusty Hoe” and “Beat Mover.” Raised in Washington DC, she was in awe with American rave culture and made her way to New York City in the early 90’s. She eventually moved to San Francisco in 2001, where she befriended fellow DJs Claude Von Stroke and brothers, Justin and Christian Martin. In 2005, the quad teamed up and co-founded the electric, underground label Dirtybird Records. In 2007, Worthy released her breakout hits “Irst Tea,” and “Tric Trac,” which were co-produced with Eats Everything. Worthy released her debut album, Disbehave, in 2014 and found Anabanic Records to give herself more freedom to experiment with new sounds, while signing new artists along the way.
While the world was trapped at home throughout 2020 and COVID-19, Worthy and the Dirtybird crew helped quarantined ravers dance away with virtual livestreams and sets. “Worthy Wednesdays” became a night of musical freedom and exploration. Off the air, however, Worthy was discovering her gender and identity.
In May 2021, Worthy reintroduced herself to the world.
If there’s anything we learned during the pandemic, online festivals and fundraisers, it’s that the electric and underground music communities support each other as hard as they rage. Worthy, who was perhaps most nervous about the announcement’s reception, received genuine messages of love and support from fans and artists alike.
“I reached out to DJ Longstocking in Seattle, along with Baby Weight, who’s in DC,” Worthy said. “She [Baby Weight] opened for me a couple times, and started transitioning herself around the same time I did, so it’s really cool to share that experience. Transitioning is really hard, so she’s been able to help when I’ve been struggling. I’m really lucky to have them, both.”
A few days after, Worthy played her first live set since the start of the pandemic at Dirtybird’s CampInn festival in Orlando, Florida, on May 14-17. Her set was also the next chapter of her DJ career, performing and dancing as her true self, and connecting with fans in a way she never had before. Worthy’s set, as well as her IG comment section, radiated love.
“Was really awesome to see you smiling, and becoming more and more comfortable in your skin throughout the course of the set. Also, you absolutely killed it. Incredible groove,” a fan commented. “Opening doors for people in the DJ community, breaking barriers. You go girl!,” said another.
“It felt so great to get out in front of the Dirtybird family as myself for the first time and play my music. Thank you all for seeing me and calling me by name,” she wrote in another post. “See you on the dancefloor.”
Worthy’s freedom of expression in her personal life is now beginning to echo the mentality she takes to mixing. On Twitch, the producer gives herself more freedom by diving into her collection of disco or indie house tracks. While she wouldn’t normally play these cuts at her tech-house friendly live shows, this deeper music is just another layer that fans are getting to now.
“I feel like I’ve put restrictions on myself before,” said Worthy. “It’s cool to expose people to other music I enjoy. Stuff that inspires me.”
As the world reopens in 2021, Worthy is more than ready to get back on the road to unveil this more free expression both artistically and personally. Ironically, her next set will be an “interactive virtual experience.” Worthy has partnered with Beatport and Wave for BEYOND to create an “amazing experience in the metaverse” alongside nine other artists, whom Worthy will be performing live with as an avatar in the virtual space on June 17 at 6:30 PST(You can find more info and watch here).
“[It’s] a crazy universe they have created where we will be able to interact in some of the craziest ways ever and #GoBeyond the regular streaming experience,” Worthy explained.
Worthy is not only coming alive in her music, but her own skin. Needless to say, we’re excited to see what kind of booty shakin’ she has in store for the rest of 2021. While Worthy prepares for more live shows, Worthy Wednesdays are still going strong every week at 6 p.m. EST., on the Dirtybird Records’ official Twitch Channel.