"Britney Spears Mashup" w/ CABIAS

 
 📷:  Liv Jonse

📷: Liv Jonse

Are you ever just really jealous of how good someone looks in pictures? That’s how I feel about Cabias. Every time I see a photo of him he looks immaculate, like a Renaissance painting. But he’s much more than a pretty face. Cabias Thomas is an Orlando DJ, model, graphic designer and promoter of the reoccurring women in hip hop night Femme Hop. Previously, we had casually talked at local events and admired each other’s work, but I really wanted to explore all of his interests and find out how he always looks so good.

 📷:  Jacob Bailes

Matthew Warhol: I wanted to start with modeling. It’s something I’m not super duper familiar with and I’m interested in it. I imagine that it takes a lot of confidence to do it, to present yourself. Have you always had that confidence in you?

Cabias Thomas: No. [laughs]

Matthew Warhol: It’s something you’ve developed over time.

Cabias Thomas: Definitely, when I was a kid I was interested in the whole aspect of … I would say stardom. I never really thought modeling. It was more so anything entertainment-wise. I never really got into modeling until maybe like 2014(?). And I started doing smaller shoots with a friend, Paula, the one I mentioned earlier from Full Sail. I was just helping her out with projects.

Matthew Warhol: So she approached you. You hadn’t thought about it?

Cabias Thomas: Yeah. And it wasn’t anything where she said, “you should do this.” It was literally just helping her out and overtime we continued to do that. We started to do our own creative shoots, just for fun. And I can even remember telling her, “I’m not a model. I don’t want to get into that shit.” I felt like there was some type of system I needed to go through to be a model, but really it was just meeting local people. And I didn’t really start taking it seriously until 2016. I did a shoot with Liv [Jonse] and she asks me, “Why don’t you take it seriously?”

 📷:  Jacob Bailes

Matthew Warhol: How does someone get good at modeling? You were saying that you feel more confident in it now. But why? Do you think you’ve gotten better?

Cabias Thomas: I think so and I think it also comes with knowing yourself, knowing your angles, knowing how to read a camera—in a sense. I’ve talked about it a couple of times with people and it doesn’t make sense. I just kind of knew from people bringing it up to me, and I’ll look through some of my work and I’m like, “this is good shit.” I just had to convince myself that what I was doing was valid. I know I’m a model and I know I’m great. Plus, getting compliments and opportunities to work with people helps.

Matthew Warhol: How did you get to that place with yourself where you felt more comfortable in front of a camera?

Cabias Thomas: Hmm… I don’t know. My mom did family portraits and shit. Even in high school I remember trying and taking pictures with a digital camera and thinking I was the shit, but not really liking what I saw. When did I get to the point where I was okay? I don’t know.

Matthew Warhol: Overtime, especially with people giving you positive reinforcement.

 📷:  Jacob Bailes

Cabias Thomas: Opening my mind up more too. I’m from a city where that type of creative space necessarily wasn’t—to me, I didn’t see much of that until I moved here.

Matthew Warhol: I don’t think many people are going to Mississippi to model.

Cabias Thomas: True, but my aunt’s wife is a model and she’s a damn good model. Not to sound sexist, but it’s usually easier for women to get into modeling. You know, as a black guy, skinny as I am, and I have back problems. But I think most of it stemmed from my own self doubts.

Matthew Warhol: Do you think it’s helped you in some sense, having to look at yourself? You either go one way and you never do it again, or you go, “I’m attractive. I look good in front of a camera.”

Cabias Thomas: It hasn’t made my head explode thankfully. I don’t want it to.

Matthew Warhol: [laughs] No? But you said you wanted to be a superstar.

Cabias Thomas: That’s what the kid wanted. I don’t necessarily be a superstar anymore. I think now, as a kid what I really wanted was to leave a mark. But I don’t want that superstar shit where everyone is in your business. Everyone is analyzing your tweets.

Matthew Warhol: But you like that kinda stuff though—you like looking at it. It’s something I’m super interested in, thinking about famous people and what it’s like to be almost like a deified, god-type person.

 📷:  Liv Jonse

📷: Liv Jonse

 📷:  Liv Jonse

📷: Liv Jonse

Cabias Thomas: But I also think about how miserable it must be. And I say things now that I’m like, “Oh I hope nobody saw that.” Deleted that tweet. Or I’ll post certain things that I know are trash, but I can say this because my followers will get it.

Matthew Warhol: Is that fascination with idols, popstars, is that what drove you to do something like Femme Hop?

Cabias Thomas: In a sense. To me, it was something I did on a whim. I posted a status about it and two weeks later the party happened. All I said was that I want to have a party with strictly women and femmes who rap. That’s all I want hear. Normally, when I go out the songs are mostly men. That was around the wave when Cardi B was coming up and I was discovering all these women and femme rap artists who were the shit. And I felt like I would never get the opportunity to hear them if I hadn’t have done it …

Matthew Warhol: … someone like Cupcakke. You don’t even really hear Azealia Banks out.

Cabias Thomas: No, but every time we play her at my events, people gravitate whether they know it’s her or not. It’s just music. And I definitely like the path that it’s opened for me because I didn’t DJ before that happened.

Matthew Warhol: It was the first time you DJ’ed?

Cabias Thomas: Well, we had one in January that was a house party. I didn’t have anything so I just told FIONA, “Yeah, we can through this party, but let me DJ. I don’t DJ but let me make a playlist.” And he was like, “I don’t care as long as it’s good music.” So I just had a playlist and hit play. But at the second one, which was April 2017 …

Matthew Warhol: … the one at Henao?

 📷:  Liv Jonse

📷: Liv Jonse

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Cabias Thomas: Yeah, there’s only been three. The third one just happened. But [the second Femme Hop] was my first time DJing. And I learned how to DJ two weeks before that. I had told myself after the first one that when we do another one, I want to spin.

Matthew Warhol: But you said that you always had an interest in putting sounds together, or even putting clips from movies together.

Cabias Thomas: I’ve always been intrigued with that but DJing …

Matthew Warhol: … it’s in front of people that’s the obvious.

Cabias Thomas: Yeah it’s more on the spot. When I used to do mashups, I just did that for fun. I just liked to hear songs that I knew and liked in a different form. And it was cool because I made it. And watching popstars like—sorry, no, not sorry—Beyonce and just watching her tour DVDs, and how she would mix songs together and play things different is what gave me inspiration for it.

Matthew Warhol: Do you remember the first [mashup]?

Cabias Thomas: I definitely did a Britney Spears mashup. I don’t think it was the first one, but it was a mega mix where you would combine a slew of their songs into one. And I did one for Ciara. I was just a really pop obsessed 11-year-old in my computer room. I do know there is a YouTube video for “Diva” by Beyonce that I made that has 2 million views.

 📷:  Liv Jonse

📷: Liv Jonse

Matthew Warhol: I’m going to look that up.

Cabias Thomas: I can send it to you. It kind of sucks but .. [laughs] it got 2 million views. I do remember the first illegal album I downloaded was Beyonce’s I Am Sasha Fierce. I don’t know if that’s legal to say but it was the first leaked album that I was like, “How do I download this?”

Matthew Warhol: Do you think that looking up to or getting inspiration from these really strong women … how do you think that’s affected you? Is it something that you’ve always been drawn to?

Cabias Thomas: Yeah, growing up, my mom has five sisters—well she has way more, but five on her mom’s side and four plus on her dad’s side, no brothers. I have an older sister. I have two older cousins who are girls. I just grew up around women, black women at that. My sister is six years older than me so when she was on her high school shit I was in elementary. As I got into my middle school era, she was at the age where people are buying music and was always hip to so much rap music. She pretty much raised me on Trina and I just grew up watching all these black women. I was obsessed with Janet Jackson as a kid—that was my go to crush so I didn’t have to worry about the gay thing. I was like, “No, I like Janet Jackson, though.” When really I was just obsessed with her aesthetic and look and music and bad bitchness.

Matthew Warhol: I’m curious, as to why you don’t hear [women who rap] out more. Why did you have to create Femme Hop to fill that space?

 📷:  Jacob Bailes

Cabias Thomas: I don’t know. There’s still a public that consumes it. There’s a crowd that has the same ear as I do.

Matthew Warhol: Do you think it’s because most DJs are men?

Cabias Thomas: That’s true too. When FIONA reached out he was like, I have so much of this genre that I never get to play. To me, that rang a bell. And of course I had to bring Vanessa on board because she was starting to DJ and I knew she was going to kill it. Women DJs are definitely scarce. There’s some at the gay clubs, but even going out to the gay clubs, I don’t care for the music. It’s just a bunch of “unns, unns.”

Matthew Warhol: Something I’ve noticed to, and I’m sure it’s happened before, but with the whole Cardi, Nicki thing. People are pitting women rappers against each other. People think there can only be one big woman rapper and I’m not sure why that is. And I hope that’s over soon.

Cabias Thomas: It probably won’t be.

Matthew Warhol: What gives me hope is that there are so many more coming out. Me and you bonded over Rico Nasty. There’s people like her, Bali Baby, Asian Doll, or …

Cabias Thomas: Junglepussy.

Matthew Warhol: I have hope.

Cabias Thomas: There’s a lot. If anything, it won’t die down because of the internet. And that’s where I go back to the whole stardom thing. It’s really not the level of success, it’s more so having people fawn over you and, as much as people want to act like the internet doesn’t fuck with their minds, having people comment negative shit or pit you against someone. To me, that’s where the whole Nicki vs Cardi thing stems from. Or maybe they do have beef. I don’t know.

 📷:  Jacob Bailes

Matthew Warhol: It’s been inflated by people.

Cabias Thomas: And that’s the scary thing. When it comes to stardom, do you want people to be in your comments and know your business? … Most of the time people want a reaction and they get it. I’ve gotten a little bit of it before.

Matthew Warhol: You have? Who would do this to you?

Cabias Thomas: I don’t know. They don’t hate in the light.

Matthew Warhol: Do you feel like the internet version and the real version of you are the same person now?

Cabias Thomas: I feel like I can be the person I am online in real life.

Matthew Warhol: It sounds like by doing everything you do, you’ve created that person. Whether it’s modeling or DJing, you’ve pulled it from the online space and made it who you actually are.

Cabias Thomas: No, that actually is accurate. It’s like a milestone. I’ve never really thought about it. The internet was a growing process to me. It really gets on my nerves sometimes but I definitely wouldn’t have the friends I have. I wouldn’t have the artistic outlook I have. My former friends made fun of that, having friends online. I’m like bitch, I have connections. I met Rihanna because of the internet.

Matthew Warhol: What? You met Rihanna. When? I didn’t know this. Tell me about that?

 📷:  Liv Jonse

📷: Liv Jonse

Cabias Thomas: 2016? Can I show you the video?

Matthew Warhol: Do you do this with everyone?

Cabias Thomas: Hello, I got receipts.

[video]

Cabias Thomas: Okay, so she followed me on Twitter in 2011. I think I was her 228th person that she followed. So she followed me and we would have smaller interactions through Twitter. She’s tweeted me a few times. A lot of the mutuals I have on Twitter are through her. She followed most of us at some point.

Matthew Warhol: Is she still following you?

Cabias Thomas: On my old account, yes. I locked that account because it was problematic as a bitch. That was my high school Twitter days and I was reckless. So when I had a spinal fusion in 2012 …

Matthew Warhol: What is a spinal fusion?

Cabias Thomas: Okay, so I have scoliosis. So they went into my back and installed metal rods and straighten my spine a bit. My back is still not fully straight. It’ll actually be six years on Friday. The last class I had at Full Sail—I think it was a psychology class—the teacher had us work on a project that we maybe had been sleeping on and been thinking about. I came up with this idea to make a digital campaign for scoliosis. Because one, when I found out I had it I didn’t know what it was. And two, as I did more research into it I found it was more apparent in teenage girls. When I looked online to find out stories or groups about it, it was mostly geared towards girls. I wanted to see people that looked like me or someone who didn’t get me a testimonial that didn’t make me want to ball. … So when I was doing the project I had a slew of verified Twitter accounts that followed me. I just DMed everybody like, shoot your shot! On that account Paris Hilton followed me, Kelly Rolland, Missy Elliott … I think Brandi. Trina. Trina responded to me too. And I messaged Rihanna and I think it was a few days went by and I had gotten no responses from anyone. Then she sent me all these messages telling me how inspired she was and how inspiring it would be for other people. Then I was like, “Screenshot bitch. This is going in my project.”

 📷: matthew warhol

📷: matthew warhol

Matthew Warhol: What did that do to you?

Cabias Thomas: To go back to what gave me the confidence to model, around the time that I put out project scoli—that was the name—that was when I was first getting into modeling. This was two years after my surgery, but I was still getting used to having a weird ass back and feel confident with that. And putting out the campaign …

Matthew Warhol: … that was a big part of it?

Cabias Thomas: Yeah.

Matthew Warhol: If you don’t mind me asking, what is your story behind having scoliosis?

Cabias Thomas: I had never really dealt with any traumatic body experiences. I just thought I was a skinny kid. It wasn’t until I got really sick in high school from the flu. The doctor felt my back and that was when I found out. I didn’t know what it was. I went through the whole process of wearing a back brace, which was this big, white, chunky-ass, hard-as-a-rock, body piece I had to wear in high school. It was horrid. That’s why I had to have surgery, because I didn’t wear the back brace. I had to wear that 23 hours a day. Looking back, I know I was just being a brat, but it was embarrassing. I had to wear oversizes shirts. When people would notice it, I would break out into sweat. People really don’t know much about it. … So my whole point of creating the campaign was to put people on to what it was. It wasn’t anything deep. To tie in the Rihanna story, she messaged me in 2014 and after we launched and I sent it to her like, “It’s up. Thanks for your words.” She even responded then with like, “Yes, that’s that shit.” Something with the word “shit” in it. I had never had any other interaction with her, but when I went to her show in 2016, we were leaving the show the uber fairs were insane. So we decided to wait. We saw a crowd of people behind the stadium. We were like, “What are you waiting for?” They said, “We’re seeing if she will come out.” We waited for two hours. Five minutes before we were going to leave was when she came. I was flustered as fuck and didn’t know what to say.

Matthew Warhol: Did you tell her?

Cabias Thomas: Yes, she came out and was saying hey to everyone. My former friend was like, “Say something. You need to get her attention.” I was just like, “Ri, Ri! Do you remember me? I sent you messages about my back and scoliosis.” She literally pulled me past the barricade, gave me hugs and asked me about my family and my health.

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 📷:  Jacob Bailes