There is only one Honey Dijon. Or, to borrow the name of the label she created with Comme des Garçons, Honey Fucking Dijon. Born and raised in Chicago, shaped by New York City, and based in Berlin – for now, anyway – she’s a DJ/producer who fills dance floors from Ibiza to São Paulo. She’s also an artist loved by artists: Madonna, Lady Gaga and Neneh Cherry have all commissioned Honey Dijon remixes.
This Thursday, Dijon brings her immersive show Pandora’s Box to Koko London. Featuring sets from Luke Solomon, Yung Liberaci and a Club 80 x Pxssy Palace takeover, plus a Honey Dijon headline set, she describes it as “a night to release your inhibitions and satisfy your hidden desires”. It’s sure to be inclusive, innovative and inspiring – all qualities baked into the Honey Dijon experience.
As a Black trans woman operating in a male-dominated field, she’s carved out her own lane by blending music, club culture and fashion in a consistently elevated way. When she answers AnOther’s 50 questions about everything from gender to Keith Haring – whose work informed her latest fashion collection – she demonstrates her immense wit and wisdom; Honey Dijon’s conversation is every bit as sharp as her beats.
1. Where are you right now?
At home in Berlin.
2. What will you be doing after this interview?
Sending packages to Paris. They’re samples for my collection, HFD, that I’m returning for approval.
3. What do you do on a transatlantic flight?
Look at movies on my iPad. In-flight entertainment doesn’t have what I need.
4. What was the best night out of your life?
If I had to narrow it down to just one, I’d probably say the first time I walked into the Sound Factory in New York City. When was that? Oh, a long time ago.
5. What makes a great club night?
6. What makes Koko such a special venue?
Me. I mean, it’s a beautiful venue with so much history – I love the balcony and the dancefloor. So, all of that alongside me.
7. Where is your favourite place in London?
I have two: Planet Organic and Daunt Books.
8. Who is the best-dressed person you have ever met?
Grace Jones. Obviously.
9. How would you describe your personal style?
Researched. In that my personal style is a combination of so many subcultures that I come from. It’s really an amalgamation of fashion history and music culture.
10. What would your parents like you to have done for a living?
My parents would have said: “Get a job with benefits.” But when I started bringing home designer bags, they were like: “This DJ thing isn’t so bad after all, huh?” I always say that designer bags change lives.
11. What are you most proud of in your career?
That I survived.
12. Who would play you in a movie of your life?
I don’t think they’ve been born yet.
13. What’s your biggest regret?
Staying in toxic relationships for too long. But when you’re in one, it’s so hard to get out. You know, I was in a toxic relationship and this person had done 500 things that I made excuses for. And then they did the 501st thing, and I was like: “Oh, this person really doesn’t love me.” I don't know if I changed or the situation changed, but it was like I finally got the memo. I had that Oprah “aha” moment.
14. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Stop looking for yourself in other people. We’re often disappointed that other people don’t behave the way we think they should, or don’t live life the way we do. But when you stop looking for yourself in other people, you can take responsibility for your own life instead of blaming others for what they’ve done to you.
15. What did you learn growing up in Chicago?
Everything. My entire musical knowledge was formed in Chicago; it’s the birthplace of house. Chicago wasn’t like New York or LA or San Francisco; it’s a working-class city. And I think when you come from a working-class city, you have time to develop your own thing because you’re not in competition with anyone else. You can sort of create your own world because there isn’t this epicentre of culture right on your doorstep.
“Would I DJ at my own party? No, I’d rather have fun! Everything is not about work. Have we forgotten what the fuck fun is? I think we’ve all become too fucking self-conscious to look wrong, to appear bad and to have fun” – Honey Dijon
16. What did you learn on the New York club scene?
How to contribute instead of take. The thing about New York [back then] is that in order to get into the club, you had to dress well or have great repartee or a great personality. It’s not like now where you just have to be popular. Back then, you really had to have a voice to be accepted within the community, so I learned to develop my sense of individuality and celebrate it with confidence.
17. When did you realise you were a creative person?
From birth. I think this was just my lot in life. As a marginalised person – as a trans person and a queer person – my life wasn’t valued outside of my own imagination. So I had to be creative to be happy. It’s funny, I often find with creative people that we don’t do it to be monetisable. I know I wasn’t seeking fame or acknowledgement. I was just trying to find peace by creating the beautiful world that didn’t exist.
18. How many records do you own?
How much time do you have?
19. Can you turn any song into a banger?
No. It’s not always possible to turn a toad into a swan. I’m a lot of things, but a magician I am not.
20. Who would you book to DJ at your birthday party?
Derrick Carter. Would I DJ at my own party? No, I’d rather have fun! Everything is not about work. Have we forgotten what the fuck fun is? I think we’ve all become too fucking self-conscious to look wrong, to appear bad and to have fun. That’s because everything is fucking videotaped at the moment. And sometimes being naughty is the most fun of all.
21. What makes Madonna Madonna?
Perseverance. And “I don't give a fuck”.
22. What do you like about Keith Haring’s art?
The vibrant energy. It dances off the page. He’s an artist who was at the intersection of all culture in New York: he would never miss a weekend at Paradise Garage. To me, his paintings are hieroglyphics of the soul.
23. What do you do when you have a day off?
Not go to an airport. A lot of routes were cancelled because of the pandemic so it’s more difficult to get places than it’s ever been. And because of the new protocols and staffing shortages, there are longer queues, too. Travelling is now my idea of hell, even if it’s to the Maldives. Living in Berlin, we have this great new airport, but there’s no direct flight to Ibiza or New York. I have to fly to Frankfurt [first] to get to New York. Which is why I’m moving to London.
24. Where is your happy place?
My mum’s house.
25. What word do we as a society overuse?
“I’m sorry.” I prefer “excuse me”. Because when you say you’re sorry, you’re blaming yourself for something that may not be your fault. I find women are really trained to say “I’m sorry” if they bump into someone or something like that. What are you sorry for? You didn't do anything wrong. “Excuse me” is much better.
26. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Just because someone told you something, that doesn’t make it true. I was given it by my dear friend Max who passed away two years ago; he was a great critical thinker. We talked a lot about belief systems and all of these things that we internalise about ourselves. What it means to be gay or male or female or Black or white or this or that; they’re all systematic paradigms that have nothing to do with us. They exist because someone told us – be that through religion or schooling or a corporation. And that doesn’t fucking make it true.
27. What is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen or heard?
I love old Eddie Murphy movies, so probably the bit in Harlem Nights when Della Reese [who’s playing a madam] says: “I’ve got a girl whose pussy is so good, if you threw it up in the air, it would turn into sunshine.”
28. What was the last book you read?
Trans Figured: My Journey from Boy to Girl to Woman to Man by Brian Belovitch. It’s about a trans woman who re-transitioned [to male-identifying]. Everyone thinks gender is so finite, but this book really goes to show it’s an evolution. If you want to transition or re-transition or not transition at all, it should be self-determined. Other people shouldn’t have a voice in how you feel about yourself.
29. Where is your favourite book shop in the world?
0fr in Paris. I love it because it’s fashion and art and culture and graphics and sex and music and architecture and interiors. It’s just heaven.
30. Who is the greatest dance diva of all time?
Michael Clark. To me, he tied together street dancing, ballet, punk and club culture in such an innovative way. Like, he did ballet to The Fall wearing costumes by Leigh Bowery. It was mesmerising and mind-blowing.
31. What is the best dance song ever made?
All of mine! No, I’ll say Your Love by Frankie Knuckles. To this day, it gives me chills. It’s just so simple and raw and sexy and guttural and lustful. It gets right to the core of your cervix.
32. What song do you never want to hear again?
Finally by CeCe Peniston. Sorry CeCe, it’s nothing personal, but this song drives me nuts because it's been played way more often than it should have been.
33. What was the last film to make you cry?
Making Love. It's a film from 1982 about a married man who’s discovering he’s gay. At the end, he leaves his wife and you can see she still has so much love for him. He’s the love of her life that she can’t have anymore, and that just made me so sad. It’s a universal theme: that sometimes love is about letting someone go and live their life.
34. What’s the key to getting the most out of social media?
Avoiding it. You know, being born before social media and having to live with it now, it’s complicated for me. I miss the fact that I used to have to go out to engage with culture, find a good restaurant or get laid. I actually had to go to a different city to experience it, whereas now I just have to scroll. So I’m trying to get back to that: living through exploration instead of scrolleration.
35. What’s your worst habit?
Procrastination. I’m learning to live with it. At some point, you have to stop trying to fix or cure or therapise everything you dislike about yourself. Sometimes you just gotta throw your hands up and say: “This is me, and I gotta live with this shit.”
“[Heteronormativity is] a faulty default system. It doesn’t even work for heterosexuals. I’ve told my boyfriend how overrated it is. My boyfriend identifies as cishet and I’m like: ‘How is that working for you? It’s very limiting and antiquated, isn’t it?’” – Honey Dijon
36. Do you ever fully lose your temper?
Yeah, but it takes me a long time to get to that place. But when I do, you do not want to be in front of me. Because I become merciless.
37. How would you rate your vocabulary?
Excellent. Don’t you agree?
38. What is the most overrated thing in the world?
The iPhone. Because everyone’s living their lives through this small piece of technology. But the real world is a big one.
39. How would you explain the concept of gender to an alien that just landed on earth?
It’s not explainable. When we’re born, we have no concept of gender. We’re all languaged into it based on systematic oppressions and belief systems. “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag”, in the words of a famous person. You know, I often ask myself “who am I?” in an existential way, because we only know who we are from the language and tools that we’ve been given. And if we strip those away, who would we be? I don’t fucking know. These tools were not determined by me; I’m fitting into boxes that weren't even created by me.
40. How do we end heteronormativity?
By realising that it’s a faulty default system. It doesn’t even work for heterosexuals. I’ve told my boyfriend how overrated it is. My boyfriend identifies as cishet and I’m like: “How is that working for you? It’s very limiting and antiquated, isn’t it?”
To what extent have I changed his mind? Well, he’s with me – there’s the first part. He found something he wasn’t looking for and realised he was looking for it all along.
41. Is bigger always better?
It depends where it’s going.
42. What is the campest thing you’ve ever seen?
43. Are you a tidy person or a messy person?
Oh my God, I’m a super-tidy, organised and anally retentive alpha female bitch. You have to be when you’re self-employed. And here’s the thing: people of colour, queer people, women and other marginalised people are held to different standards than others. All of our ducks need to be a in a row and all of our Is need to be dotted. In every situation, we have to be better than the most average person. Because so little is expected of us, we have to make sure that our shit is together.
44. What is your most treasured possession?
My health. You know, I write in my journal every day the things I’m grateful for, and my health is always number one. I couldn’t do anything without it: I couldn’t be an artist, I couldn’t travel. So I really value the vessel I was given and try to take care of it as much as possible. I respect my house.
45. Of everyone you’ve met, who had the most star quality?
I recently met a trans woman in LA called Dangerous Rose who is so unapologetic and charismatic and carefree about her sexuality and who she is. I was like: “She’s gonna be a star.”
46. What makes a legend?
47. Who is the most rebellious person alive?
Indya Moore. She’s dismantling a lot of patriarchal ideals in her own way and taking a lot of shit for it. I find her to be very rebellious as well as incredibly beautiful and talented.
48. How would you describe Honey Dijon?
A proponent of joy, researcher, critical thinker, bon vivant and survivor. Lustful, funny, authentic, rebellious, spirited, stylish and beautiful. Oh, and wicked.
49. How can someone be a bit more Honey Fucking Dijon?
They can’t. They only made one Honey Fucking Dijon. I’m more of a role possibility than a role model.
50. Finally, did you enjoy this interview?
I loved it. Didn’t you?
Honey Dijon’s immersive show Pandora’s Box will take place on Thursday 19 May 2022 at Koko London. For tickets, visit here.