We are excited to kick off women’s month in the RVA with an interview and a mix by one of my favorite lady DJ’s – J-Star! Jenni has been crushing the techno for a really long time out of Durham, North Carolina. She and her dj husband – Billy Blaze are Diffuse Audio. They are currently providing some of the most booming sound to parties, raves, and clubs in NC with their custom sound systems. Big love to Jenni for taking the time to answer a few questions for Joanna O. ahead of her guest mix for Frequency this Saturday, March 4th at 10 PM ET on 97.3 FM WRIR. Read on to find out more about this amazing DJ. #girlsrule
JO: How long have you been mixing, and how and when did you get started?
JENNI: I’ve been DJing now for almost 20 years. I’d been in the rave scene since the late 90’s,
and by the early aughts many of my friends in the scene were DJs themselves.
I got my start while being snowed in at a DJ friend’s house over a weekend in 2004 with
a bunch of other DJ friends. I decided I wanted to give the turntables a try, almost as a
I was (and always have been) into more of the hard & dark styles of music, and
electronic music was no exception. To my friends’ amusement and horror, I started
playing their 33rpm progressive house and trance records at 45rpms.
They humored me for a little while, then stopped me and put on doubles of Mauro
Picotto’s “Lizard” and showed me how to beatmatch.
I will never, ever forget that damn song. My friend stood there with me and showed me
how to find the first beat of the song on the record; showed me how to work the
turntables to get the 2 identical records to match up perfectly for an hour. Or hours. Who
knows, because time completely disappeared and I was IN. LOVE.
Soon after that weekend, I took out a loan from the bank and purchased the Technic
1200 turntables that I still have today (and will never get rid of), a Vestax 275 mixer,
these ridiculous headphones that lit up when the beat hit, and a huge stack of techno
records from a record store in town that was sadly going out of business.
Fast forward past almost 2 years of DJing my living room and at friends’ houses, I finally
played my first gig at The Berkeley in Raleigh, NC in 2006. I haven’t stopped since.
I owe everything to those amazing friends who put up with my shenanigans in the
beginning, took the time to show me technique and give encouragement, and who were
generous enough to gift me records from their own collection that I also still have to this
day (and will never get rid of).
JO: Who are a few of your current favorite artists and labels?
JENNI: Every time I shop for tracks before a gig, I log onto Juno (it’s where I bought my first
hard techno / schranz records way back when and I’ve just kept using it all these years)
and just start clicking on literally everything. It takes for-e-ver, but this is how I find all
those little hidden gems from folks I’ve never heard of before, and sometimes since.
Here are a few recent favorites in the techno genre, some of which I’ll include in my mix:
Uto Karem, ^L_, Niki Snow, Manni Dee, The Advent, Teenage Mutants, Tony Ess,
Black Hypnotist, Mark Greene, and one of my all time favorites: the absolute legend that
is Adam X.
JO: What equipment do you mix with now?
JENNI: I use a Pioneer XDJ-XZ along with Serato. It does all the things!
I’d never even considered using a controller until I started DJing weddings, corporate
events, and bar/club gigs in downtown Raleigh around 2015. Previously, I was using
Pioneer CDJs and a Pioneer 800 mixer, so making the switch to something that’s
basically those smushed into one unit was fairly easy and made sense for a mobile DJ.
JO: Tell me about your best gig ever.
JENNI: Oh man, after two decades of gigs it’s impossible to pick the best one ever. So many
incredible gigs to choose from! Instead, I’ll mention a very memorable one: a renegade
in California in the woods on the side of a mountain. For those not familiar with the
term, a renegade is a DIY party in the middle of nowhere where you bring everything
and leave nothing but memories. They’re word-of-mouth so you need to know someone
who knows someone to find the date/time/location. They aren’t, ah, exactly legal so you
do need to be aware and prepared to clear out quickly.
I can’t even remember the name of it. What makes this one stand out is the experience
of the whole thing. The gorgeous setting, the friends that made it happen, and DJing
simply for the joy of it.
Honorable mention: my very first gig at The Berkeley in Raleigh. I was so nervous you
could actually see my hands shaking as I put the records on. However, that room was
packed with all of my friends who’d been supporting and encouraging me in the year
and a half of DJing at home and at house parties. They stayed there with me for the
entire hour, and it really meant the world to me.
JO: Can I get a tip or word of advice for the younger dj’s in the scene?
JENNI: Don’t be afraid to take chances. Explore completely different genres. Take that gig! DJ
a wedding! Finish that track and let people hear it. Do things that scare the crap out of
you and get you outside your comfort zone musically.
We all have that voice inside of us that says “What if I fail? What if it doesn’t work out?”
Well, what if it does? Keep growing and enjoy the ride.
Find out more about J-Star: http://diffuseaudio.com
J-Star on Frequency this Saturday, March 4th at 10 PM ET on 97.3 FM WRIR.
Download J-Star’s techno mix here: https://soundcloud.com/j-star/turnstyle-radio-mix