Blue Velvet

Dancing with myself: DJ Code Blue chooses to mix for herself, not the masses

DJ CODE BLUE (a.k.a. Kenyeh Ganda) is the lone woman in the laudable DJ crew the Jungle Vibe Collective, and she's probably the only notable semiprofessional female DJ on the local scene. The 21-year-old, self-described "jungle girl" debuted last November at one of the JVC's regular house parties, and her infrequent appearances since then have been strong enough to ensure that bigger gigs could yet come. But despite Code Blue's intense love for the music and obvious prowess on the turntables (she comes highly recommended by local legend DJ Drone), her passion for playing records remains more personal than entrepreneurial. "I'm not obsessed with being a DJ," she says. "I just don't have these urges to spin in big places. I love to mix, but I mix for myself."

The daughter of a high-ranking UN official, Ganda grew up in London and Tanzania before moving stateside at age 12, first to Boston and then to Madison. Her worldly background has had an obvious influence on her musical upbringing. While Code Blue's prominent local counterpart, DJ Bionic, was in Duluth digging through crates of Night Ranger LPs at the used-record store, Code Blue was checking out London clubs such as Metalheads, where the legendary DJ Goldie spun.

Yet when she moved from Madison to Minneapolis to pursue a speech-communications major at the UM, the Londoner in Ganda was immediately, and positively, struck by the tiny scene's lack of pretension. "When I first saw JVC I was amazed that I could go behind the turntables and tell whoever was spinning that he'd done a wicked set. In London there was no access to DJs. Security would just pull you away."

That accessibility led to camaraderie. Today the gang of beatfreaks is like a second family. The free space on the bookshelves of Code Blue's otherwise sparsely decorated Uptown apartment is taken up by so many pictures of "her boys" in the JVC, you'd think they'd come with the frames. Such social ties are part of the philosophy of "unity for the jungle," which Code Blue espouses with a religious fervor: After years of globetrotting, she might be able to claim that a DJ saved her life. Ask her what she listens to besides drum'n'bass, and she'll briskly snap back: "Nothing. Really, I could sit in my room and listen to tapes all day." And Code Blue has thousands of them; she accumulates and absorbs new music as fast as she can get her hands on it. "I'm married to my Walkman," she says.

In another life she might have been a club-hopping jazzbo or a punk rocker pogoing in the pit. But in 1998 she's a new kind of utterly sincere fanatic, one so "completely smitten" with jungle's deep beats and "moving bass lines" and so faithful to its somewhat insular scene that everything else seems sort of peripheral when compared to the music--including making a career out of it.

 
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