Embarking this week on her first full-blown DJ tour of 30 cities, San Francisco DJ and producer J.Phlip of the local Dirtybird Records crew chats about her first DJ gig and where to find her when she’s home in the city.
Her next scheduled local party is at Mezzanine on December 19.
Your first DJ tour just started. How do you prepare for that?
It is so much work. The beginning steps were designing the artwork, then press and now I am in music zone. I have been home digging through vinyl—old favorites that are still relevant and stuff that needs a refresh. I have been downloading tracks, editing and re-editing for the younger crowds.
Where are your favorite cities to DJ?
Portland has been the most supportive scene outside of San Francisco. I had my first gig there after signing with Dirtybird records and I love the Northwest coast in general. There is a lot of really cool music coming out of there. Also, Miami and Chicago because it’s close to where I grew up. I get to see a lot of my high school friends and people I bartended with.
What do you do in SF when you are not DJing?
Sleep. Aside from that, I do the essentials. I go to grocery store, I get my hair done, I get a wax, I get my dry cleaning done, I get my shoes fixed because they get wrecked from partying.
Where do you get your hair done?
I go to Cowboys & Angels and Tori has been doing my color for seven years. I don’t let anyone else touch my hair. She is a color wizard!
What are your thoughts on the current DJ scene in SF?
Honestly, what I know of the scene is from what my friends tell me because it’s rare that I’m home on the weekends. But the Dirtybird parties keep growing every year and hopefully that is an indicator for the scene.
The one thing that never changes in SF is there are so many freaks that just want to dance and get down. I hope it stays like that.
What are your favorite places to go out?
I love to eat in the city. Kiji on Guerrero has their Kiji shooter, which is the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Eating there is my reset button. I love places like Lolinda, Locanda and Berretta. I love tasting a bunch of different things and their fancy cocktails.
I love to shoot pool at Molotov’s or the Page. But now I live in the Mission and try to challenge some of the pool table hustlers who monopolize the tables.
How would you describe your style?
I don’t know how to describe it. I generally play anything that sounds good in the 123 bpm to 128 bpm range, sometimes 130. I don’t care about genres; it can be anything from techno to ass beat, new school or old school. I’ve been told I play grime, but I don’t even know what that is—as long as it’s cool and fits together.
Who have you looked up to in the industry?
I look up to the Dirtbird guys—Claude, Justin and Christian, those guys. Justin was my friend first and I talked to him about everything, then he became my role model. Claude has always given me advice and has been super supportive. I also found out that Claude was the one who convinced the guys to let me be part of the core. They have always been really protective about who they let in, but they let me join because I was just their homegirl.
How did you meet the Dirtybird crew?
We met in Miami at the WMC (Winter Music Conference) held every year. We became friends from there then I moved to SF in 2007 and signed with Dirtybird records in 2008. I don’t know how it happened, it just did. We used to have a weekly show at Shine then we outgrow that venue and moved to a quarterly at Mezzanine.
Did living in Berlin influence your sound?
Yeah, it influenced me on how I didn’t want to sound. I got really bored with the music in Berlin. It was really repetitive, and whatever tech-house, so when something was different it really surprised me. But all my friends tell me that living there effected my sound.
Do you remember your first gig?
Absolutely! I even have a journal entry that is so cute it makes me want to cry. I wrote down the names of everyone that came. It was on a Sunday at a bar in Chicago called Barfly. My set was four hours long and I played only vinyl that I got from my parents and people who didn’t want them. It was everything from classic rock to funk to house to hip-hop, I just kept the genres together. But it didn’t matter because everyone was having a good time. It was really special.
The scene seems to be dominated by men. What are your thoughts and have you encountered any struggles?
Actually, I don’t think it is anymore. DJs like Heidi Van Den Amstel, Hannah Wants, Nina Kraviz and Annie Mac are all super successful all over the world. BBC Radio 1 has many female DJ hosts.
I think as far as the festival lineups, there is a low percentage of girls versus guys, but it is definitely not harder for a girl. In fact, I think it’s easier to standout as a female in this industry. It’s hard work no matter what or who you are.
What else can we expect to see from you soon?
At the beginning of next year I’ll be releasing a new record with Huxley on his new label. It’s been awesome to work with such an amazing producer. I have one track already signed to Dirtybird for my next EP, too.