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The Black Madonna
The Black Madonna
Photo by Aldo Paredes

The Black Madonna Brings Her Message of a Better World to Club Space With Honey Dijon

Fifteen years ago, Marea Stamper and Honey Redmond were just two DJs hustling to hone their reputations and getting in Kentucky bar brawls for standing up for their beliefs.

But today, thousands of dance music fans have grown accustomed to screaming their new names — the Black Madonna and Honey Dijon — in packed clubs and fields around the world. They are among the most beloved and well-respected DJ/producers presently working and often receive top billing on festival and event lineups.

“The very first time that Honey and I played together, we didn't know each other back then... [We] might have exchanged a few words that night,” Stamper tells New Times by phone from her former home base of Chicago, where she’s visiting for a brief pause from the madness of nonstop touring. “To make a very long story short, my ex and I were stopping — there's really no other way to say this — a hate crime against someone who was a gay guy, or a guy that was perceived to be gay.”

“And that was my first experience being around Honey,” she says with a laugh.

Though it's hoped there won’t be any homophobia-fueled scraps when Stamper and Redmond coheadline a late night and early morning at Club Space Saturday, October 6, the same convictions that led them to step into a “massive” bar fight will be readily on display behind the decks.

Their growing popularity in the past decade-and-a-half has had as much to do with their peerless abilities as selectors as their championing of decency, compassion, and inclusivity in dance culture. The Black Madonna's name has become synonymous with great parties: Besides reliably busting out selections from acts such as Kraftwerk, Carl Craig, and Daft Punk, Stamper is well known for throwing curve balls at crowds — she'll shamelessly slip in Talking Heads songs and cult indie-dance cuts among choice house and techno numbers.

What’s more, Stamper is bold enough to close a set with selections from Hair. She’s given serious crate-diggers and casual clubgoers alike plenty of reasons to love her.

Stamper has no reservations about referring to Redmond as a “force of nature.”

“I'm glad Honey is there, because she's got tremendous energy and that's definitely something that I've seen Miami respond to,” she says. “And every time I've seen her there, she's just been so... resonant with the Miami crowd. I picked a good teammate for this one.”

Earlier this year, Redmond’s performance at Melbourne’s Sugar Mountain Festival went viral because of her inclusion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in her mix. Stamper has been similarly recognized for her continued willingness to speak truth to power, having been referred to as “an activist DJ” in a November 2017 interview with the New York Times.

According to Stamper, her ongoing advocacy for social justice in dance culture and the world at large isn’t solely for the sake of ensuring shared human dignity; she isn’t afraid to admit that that element of her work is in service of throwing the most memorable events possible as well.

"I have often joked with the idea that wanting more women — and wanting more diversity on lineups — that it was a philosophical point of view. And of course it is to a degree, but also... it's just those are better parties,” she says. “If you're leaving out everybody except for one kind of person, and you love music, then you're missing that much of the story. You're only hearing the story from one character or only playing the violin with one string... Take any genre of music and then take the women out, and it gets real weird, real fast.”

Stamper’s ideals of a more diverse, inclusive dance floor and society have meant she’s always felt at home in Miami. “There's no other place like it in America,” she says.

“I've been coming to Miami for a long time, not just as a DJ but as a partygoer. I attended Winter Music Conference for many years in its previous state,” Stamper says. “One of the things about Miami that is so special is that it's never just people from Miami. Because it is such a destination, you always have people from all over the world, and it feels a little more like Ibiza or somewhere like that in that there are lots of people who are there visiting for various reasons.”

Miami is also the spot where the seeds for Stamper and Redmond’s current We Still Believe U.S. tour were planted, beginning with their first back-to-back at the All Gone Pete Tong Pool Party during the 2018 edition of Miami Music Week.

“It was her idea! She was like, ‘We've got to do Black Honey!’ And I was like, ‘OK, we'll do it someday,’" Stamper says, recounting the origin of her and Redmond’s artist moniker when they DJ with each other. “It's a really natural fit for us to do this together. She's a great friend; she's funny and intelligent. I respect her so much, and I respect her mind and her creativity.”

Besides their common irreverence and possession of “dirty minds, dirty mouths,” Stamper and Redmond are ultimately united by their shared, unshakable faith in the power of dance music. As her ongoing party and de facto motto “We Still Believe” implies, even in the face of an increasingly cruel world with dire prospects for social change, Stamper still has faith in dance music’s power to redeem and liberate.

“No matter what, dance music has always had a connection to resistance, and it's always had a connection to struggle, going all the way back to the real and deep, deep foundations of dance culture,” Stamper says. “It's like James Brown being so deeply tied to the black liberation movement; disco being connected both with civil rights, gay rights, and even women's rights and sexual liberation! There’s no time in dance music where those things don't somehow find some kind of common thread.”

The Black Madonna & Honey Dijon. With Thunderpony and Ms. Mada. 11 p.m. Saturday, October 6, at Club Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 786-357-6456; clubspace.com. Tickets cost $11.25 to $22.50 via ticketfly.com.

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