Name: Judnick Mayard
Born & Raised: Brooklyn Bay Bay
Current Residence: The Do or Die Stuy
What’s your astrological sign and is what they say true?
I am a Cancer cusp (last day before Leo), which means I am a huge ball of controlled emotions (a shell) that flows effortlessly through my own dramatics. So yes, it’s true. I will ignore you for 98 minutes when I meet you until your energy feels like something I want to be a part of [laughs].
Explain your featured look:
This look is basically my whole wave. It’s very Missy Elliot video dancer, which if you know me, you know Missy has inspired my whole life. She’s the queen of playing with illusions and costumes. My loverboy says my closet looks like a costume closet in the best way. I have a very deceptive look because I look 16 but I’m 30, so most of my style is about deception — the babygirl buns; baggy clothes, even though I am very slight.
I am a boygirl, so I wear mostly men’s clothing and not much else. I think its sexy to wear just an oversized men’s jacket as a mini dress, underwear, and some kicks. Unfortunately, I forgot all my own clothes for the shoot, so I’m happy someone had a bra to lend me to wear… because when it comes to bras I use the Rihanna rule: it’s either a top or there’s no use for it.
What are you known for/as?:
Partying a lot and being real as hell, definitely. I’m currently the program director at Kinfolk, which means I book all the parties and shape the culture at our venue. I’m a writer, event producer (small to large scale corporate). I dance like a twerk team founder and I’m Judnikki, the host with the deep voice [laughs].
You were down with The FADER during it’s prime days. What was your position and how was it working with them during this time?
I started at The FADER as the events intern, then came on full time as the advertising assistant (assistant to the publisher), then became a Marketing and Events Project Manager. I also wrote almost daily for the site, had my own column for a few months, and would do a bunch of artist’s interviews, which is how I started to realize I get along well with very talented people. The editorial team that was there when I started is my favorite of all time.
They changed the way I listened to music. I mean, I got a job at The FADER because I saw BUSY SIGNAL on the cover and was like “Who the hell are these people?!?!”. All of them nurtured and pushed me as a writer, and I had a thing I loved about each of their voices, whether it was their wit, nerdiness, or shade. I learned from simply reading everything they wrote; it really solidified in me the need for personality in media and writing. There is a need for honesty in culture because it is the only true diversity. I will never lose that and I will love them forever for that.
Although you had a non-editorial position, you also would contribute stories to The FADER‘s R&B/Soul blog, Suite 903 (RIP). Tell us more about this:
Suite 903 was such a dear dear project. It was a site dedicated to R&B and Soul at a time when everyone had basically pretended the genre didn’t exist or was some sort of nostalgic obsession for nerds. It was important. Though we were not it’s original creators (Shout out to Kristen and OP!) Treats (my editor) and I did our best to find and showcase R&B from those who had grown up with it and had running deep cuts on the brain. In hindsight though, it was short-lived, but we were on to something so strong before everyone decided R&B was worth talking about again — ironically. That was my first actual writing gig. Eventually the site was rolled into a column that I did weekly and I remember getting such anxiety about picking topics and research, but in the end, it all came from within.
What are some of the most memorable artists, tours and productions that you have worked with and on? Give us a memorable moment:
[Laughs] I mean, I think my Bobby Brown at the Cheesecake Factory story is probably everyone’s fave tour moment. I once made a hologram of Janelle Monae and MIA so they could perform together in different cities on the same night. However, touring with Rocky, Tyler, Vince Staples and Danny Brown basically saved my life. I made lifelong friends on that tour and I have so many memorable moments from that run it’s extremely hard to pick. There were two separate times at Camp Flognaw and Art Basel where Rocky decided to walk in the gen pop and we ended up running from fans Uzi style. At Basel, his car got trapped up the street in traffic and security was trying to covertly walk him to the venue. Unfortunately, he has the most recognizable smile in America, so people caught on immediately. All I heard was “NIKKI! Go!”. I basically had to flag him into this insane parking lot in Wynwood and we had to full on sprint like half a mile to backstage when fans realized it was him. We laughed a lot after and it kinda highlighted a trust between us that feels very cool when it’s you and the big boss. Also, I got on stage with Wiz Khalifa in Europe and literally bodyslammed into him midstage during “We Dem Boyz”. I have it all on video. You hear our bones crashing.
Kinfolk is a stable venue for a specific music and culture scene in NYC. How is it being the new face?:
It’s so much fun. I’ve loved Kinfolk since the day it opened and being able to create safespaces in NYC nightlife has long been a dream of mine. As a black woman, a queer woman, a daughter of immigrants, safe spaces are my most important priority. I’ve long studied how to get people to have fun and it starts with the space. The venue is very much like family, so it’s nice to be part of a cash business that still cares about its own community and its patrons. People think parties are vain, but forget that this is how people shake off their stress of the work week and where people connect with new folks they don’t usually meet. I’m working hard to make it a landmark of this cultural scene, but also I have to learn to sleep first at some point [laughs].
You’re also now moderating discussions and doing more show/party hosting. What has that been like since most may know you from behind the scenes?
Hosting has been a huge transformation of self. I hate the sound of my own recorded voice — like even in snaps [laughs]! It’s an insecurity from when I was young. I’ve always had a deep voice and people would mistake me for a man on the phone. Even though I love looking like a man, the gag is that I’m really a woman, so I would shun listening to myself. But it turns out people really like my voice. I also hate when people interrupt the song when I’m dancing, so at first I would never get on the mic as a host. Then one day, I saw Guru and Lowkey transform the crowd and I understood the point. The host is to ease everyone else’s insecurities — about dancing, about connecting, about whatever. You own the mic and you own the crowd and that was awesome for someone like me. I broke out of my shell in another way.
Moderating is the work of black women in my life. I’m a great mediator and I communicate quite effectively, so moderating is a great practice in listening and connecting folks. I think Solange is probably the biggest culprit in my newfound moderator gig; Saint Heron has fostered that in me in a major way. Seriously, Black women who know me and love me are always pushing me into new things. I mean, look at this project as a great example!
Highlight career moment?
An oldie, but when Erykah Badu explained my dreams to me. I think about what she said to me almost every single day though this was like six years ago. That, and when Mister Cee shouted me out on the mic earlier this year and told me I was a great host. I almost died on stage. I also never stop tearing up when i see my GHE20G0TH1K write up that i did for Red Bull Music Academy. It was in print and some of the words were used for marketing in the subway. To see my words on the subway was like WHOA.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next 10 years?
Oh, that’s easy. I’ll be the top artist manager in the industry and all because I’m a fucking AUNTY black woman who gives my artists stern looks from across the room. I’ll be simultaneously ghostwriting Beyonce, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj’s autobiographies while keeping a vigorous pen pal relationship with Kanye for fun.
What’s a rare fact about you or a hidden talent?
I’ve been singing my whole life and sing very well, but I taught myself to whistle on key so I could stop belting songs every time they played on the radio and ruining it for everyone. I also learn an entire song’s lyrics within 3-5 listens. I’m such a freak.
What’s a song and/or lyric to describe your glow?
“I been bad since sticky hands, now all these bitches is Nicki fans.” 😉
Photographer: Hannah Sider
MUA: Raisa Flowers
Hair: Kessia Randolph
Style Consultant: Jordan Page
Creative Director: SHABAZZ