Earlier this year I was sent a promo from a stranger with fascinating artwork and an even better story behind it. It was “Legendary Runway,” a song featuring (and from a documentary about) Pat Cleveland, iconic fashion model known as “the Josephine Baker of the runway.” It was even better when I heard it, because “Legendary Runway” managed to pack almost everything good about house music into one single track.

The track is by One A, aka Gehno Aviance, a Spanish-Caribbean DJ and producer whose story is intertwined with that of the renowned House of Aviance. And while “Legendary Runway” is new, Gehno has been DJing since 1992, a fixture in the seminal Washington DC and Baltimore electronic music & rave scenes which played a far more important role in shaping American dance music culture than is commonly recognized. At the end of the decade, Gehno moved across country to the Bay Area, developing a variegated musical style rooted in a house music that embraced techno, acid, garage, breaks, hip hop, jungle and Caribbean drums.

Of course Gehno does (and has done) far more than just this, and far more than just music. Many thanks from 5 Mag to Jeremy Bispo from As You Like It in San Francisco for setting up this feature and our cover mix.

Let’s start with what I know first. You released a track earlier this year called “Legendary Runway” and it just blew us away. Everyone here loved it, which is kind of a rare consensus. There was also an animated film about supermodel Pat Cleveland. How did you get involved in that project?

It was a stroke of luck, and perhaps some magic, that brought me and Pat Cleveland together. While working remotely with her for months via video conference, I finally met in person at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival, where the film I edited and created the soundtrack and screenplay for, The Girl from 7th Avenue – Pat Cleveland and the Runway Revolution, was awarded two International Fashion Film awards. We recorded her vocals at the iconic Coronado Hotel in San Diego.

The track itself is a nod to the moment in time in 1973 at the Battle of Versailles in Paris. This legendary fashion show and fundraiser was the first time anybody ever vogued on a fashion runway. It was not Madonna, and it happened almost 20 years before her.

Over the last 10 years, I have been involved in the creation of fashion films and shows. I have acted, created soundtracks, and more recently, edited. Most of the work I have done in that field is with my house son Antonio Contreras Aviance. He and I have been working together on and off for almost 15 years.

The first film I edited was at the beginning of the pandemic. The film’s name is Exuberance. We were down an editor, and Antonio asked if I wanted to give it a shot. I said yes, and we ended up winning Best Sound Design and Best Documentary! The next film I edited was The Girl from 7th Ave., Pat Cleveland, and the Runway Revolution.

Was the reception or at least reactions like ours to “Legendary Runway” a surprise to you?

I was actually very surprised by your review. I think that for the majority of my life, I have been surrounded by such incredible talent (for example, Jimmy Page is a personal friend of mine) that in the past, it was very hard for me to feel worthy. It is something that I have been working on over the last 10 years. I spent almost 20 years supporting, propping up, and financing other DJs and artists but minimizing myself. In the past, I would put a lot more energy into other people than myself.

Over the pandemic, I lost my father and almost lost my own life, which really changed the way I see things. I now embrace the cliché of “the time is now.” And know that if I want people to hear my music, I need to find some way to share it with the world. The old me would have felt that I do not deserve any praise or accolades, but the new me is grateful and accepts any Love the Universe has to send me with open arms. Thank you!

Who was the first DJ that inspired you, and who and where were you when it happened?

That is a loaded question. I cannot name just one. The first DJ that I think left a mark on my psyche was GLOVE. He was Ice T’s DJ. I’m talking about 1982 or ’83. Back then, I used to breakdance in the streets of Washington DC, Buenos Aires, Argentina and Panama City, Panama as Papa Smurf of the Smurf City Rockers. There was a breakdancing documentary that we would watch over and over again. The film was called Breakin’ and Enterin’ (1983) where I saw Ice T rapping and GLOVE DJing. I think he was the first DJ I knew by name. The only other name in Hip Hop that I knew back then was Fab Five Freddy.

Something really incredible and magical happened in the DC/Baltimore area at that time. Anyone who was a part of it knows it. I am blessed to have experienced it. When I’m sad, all I have to do is close my eyes and think of those days, and I get chills.

Then, in high school, I became part of the House of Aviance. My brother, Jean-Philippe Aviance, DJed at a legendary party called Kindergarten at The Vault in DC (1989/90). I would go every Sunday to watch and hear him and observe the interplay between the DJ and the dance floor. It was fascinating to me. I had just discovered psychedelics as well, so everything was so new and fresh.

And last, but not least comes Scott Henry. I first met Scott when I was in high school. A few years later, the rave scene exploded, and Scott was at the center of it. Thanks to him, not only did I become a staple in the DC rave scene but had the pleasure to play Buzz often.

I’m glad you mention that because DC / Baltimore was such an amazingly influential place in dance music and it never seems to get those props. You roll out with Ultra Naté and the OG Basement Boys, and then Spen and Karizma joining. Scott Henry and Charles Feelgood were two of the best-known American DJs in the rave scene and spreading “Fever” everywhere like Johnny Appleseeds. And then you had an untouchable ballroom scene that I’ve only heard about, with personalities like DJ Sedrick. What did you experience about that era of DC music? What impact did it have on the course of your life?

Oh, my Goddess. Being a part of the Washington DC/Baltimore rave scene in the early ’90s, I think, is the single most important event in my life. It has shaped me in every way: musically, style-wise, attitude, friendships, and family. It was one of the most diverse, open, and energetic scenes I have ever experienced. Every race, color, creed, sexuality, and economic class.

The track is a nod to the moment in time in 1973 at the Battle of Versailles in Paris. This legendary fashion show and fundraiser was the first time anybody ever vogued on a fashion runway. It was not Madonna, and it happened almost twenty years before her.

I became a member of the House of Aviance from its inception in 1989. I was going to the club and carrying on with the children while Jean-Philippe, T-pro, and Cedric played and chanted. I was also mingling with the goths and industrial kids. And later on, the acid house kids, which eventually became ravers. All of this happened at this incredible club called Tracks, which changed a lot of people’s lives. Another club that was really important to me back then was the Paradox.

Something really incredible and magical happened in the DC/Baltimore area at that time. Anyone who was a part of it knows it. I am blessed to have experienced it. When I’m sad, all I have to do is close my eyes and think of those days, and I get chills.

There are so many great artists in the House of Aviance but I believe you’re the first I’ve had the opportunity to interview. For the very young, uninitiated or square, can you tell us about the House of Aviance and your role in it?

I am one of the original members of the House of Aviance. I have been part of the House of Aviance since August 1989. I was originally born in Spain, of a Caribbean father, and a Spanish mother, and was raised in Spain, Argentina, and in 1988 moved to the United States. My parents returned to Spain in 1989. I came out of the closet and chose to stay in the United States, for a variety of reasons. Those were some very difficult yet exciting days.

For those who don’t know what a House is; a House is a sort of family generally comprised of gay and queer people. The Ballroom scene has its roots in New York City’s Black and Latino gay and queer world. We were not accepted by the mainstream, so we created our own safe spaces in which to help each other grow and be creative. Balls are places where different Houses gather, and generally compete and showcase their talents. They compete in different categories, such as Vogue, Runway, Face, Fashion Design, and many other categories. In the ’90s, I was a face child, which means my category was Face. We pretended to live in a world that we thought we would never be part of.

A House has a mother; it can have a father. It has children, aunties, and uncles. Sometimes members of Houses live together. This was more prevalent in the ’90s. Often, children would be kicked out of their homes for being queer, gay, or trans, and the House was the only place where they could be safe. In many cases, your House family became more important than your real family. Up until recently, I was holding down the fort on the West Coast, representing my House whenever I could. I also help run the record label on the technical side. I also run the House’s website. Some people have called me the father of the West Coast chapter of the House of Aviance, but that is not an official title. Either way, I just moved back to Spain this summer. So, we will see what happens!


5 Mag Issue 210
Out November 2023

HOUSE MUSIC IS A SPIRITUAL THING: This was originally published in 5 Mag Issue #210 featuring Levon Vincent, Gehno Aviance aka One A, DJ Disciple, the breaking of Bandcamp and more. Help keep the vibe alive by becoming a member for $2/month and get every issue in your inbox right away!


I assumed you were still close because I noticed you designed their website. Speaking of which: you make websites. Tell us about Gehno and the visual arts in general?

Wow. My journey with the arts has been a long one. As a child, I played the oboe, trombone, and guitar. Later in life, around 1991, I picked up the decks and started mixing. I started producing music more seriously about 10 years ago, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I really doubled down. In the early 2000s, I was accepted into a program for at-risk youth. We were taught graphic design, web design, coding, and a bunch of other web and graphic-related skills. I started creating websites, flyers, and videos for my parties and friends’ parties; eventually, this grew into what is now a full-blown web design and graphic design business at oneadesign.net. Some of my current clients are Public Works, As You Like It, The Owl Room, DC, Opal, Underground Portland, Midnight Artist Agency, Wicked SF, Underground Ass Off, and Robelyfe Music. My husband is a prolific visual artist and muralist, Javier Rocabado. I would probably say that he is the one that really got me seriously into the arts. In 2006, we opened an art gallery together on Valencia Street in San Francisco. The gallery was called Amaru Arts, and we focused on queer and Latin artists, along with Latin American folk art.

I have also been a choreographer, a dancer, and in my latest incarnation, a filmmaker. My films have taken me to Paris, Barcelona, SF, La Jolla, and hopefully more places. Over the last few years, I have gravitated toward the digital canvas, be it video, motion graphics, websites, animation, and sound.

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Who or what inspires you now?

Musically, I can’t say that I am inspired by any one individual at the moment. However, I have recently heard some inspiring sounds which fuse syncopated beats, ravy chords, and Caribbean and Afro-folkloric vocals. I really would like to move more in that direction and discover more artists that are making sounds like that. I am what I call “Afro-Iberico” or “Afro-Iberian”. I have embarked on a journey of cultural exploration that I hope will influence my future sets and releases.

This summer I went to Sonar (Barcelona) and spent some time in Ibiza. A lot of what I heard was nothing new to my ears and kind of commercial in my opinion. But every so often, I heard some really cool stuff. One of my most memorable moments this summer was being DJ Minx’s guest for Circo Loco at DC-10. I got to hear Seth Troxler, Call Super, and Anz play. They played a few of the tracks that I was talking about.

Outside of music, I find inspiration in travel; allowing myself to not be fully in control of every situation, and letting the emotions of uncertainty and the unknown guide me to something new.

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