5 Questions with DJ Jen Lasher before her show at Envy
The turntable was invented to emit music, not sex appeal, but the latter is a side-effect of being a DJ that's as unavoidable as it is welcome. Nine of ten guys who splurge on their first pair of Technics did so to get girls. Bad Boy Bill has admitted it. So has Armand Van Helden. Since house and hip-hop's earliest days, ladies have flipped for the guy behind the decks. It makes sense the same is true when a woman's the one spinning, right? So why am I so reluctant to write about DJ Jen Lasher's allure?
Lasher's not one of those silicone seductresses who got into DJing because they thought the headphones look hot and double as a cute headband. Her passion for and unique taste in music (industrial, bloghouse, breaks & new wave) coupled with her disarming exterior has her well on her way to infiltrating the boys club -- especially of late. "D.C.'s Dark Princess" is expanding her horizons and adding her vocals to tracks by lauded veterans Dave Aude and DJ Icey. Her most recent collab with Oh Snap! was picked up for a remix by Italy's bloghouse champs Crookers, and she even sang at Coachella this year during Christopher Lawrence's set. She's hot, yes. But Lasher makes waves without having to oil up in a bikini before trainwrecking bad hardhouse tracks at unearned gigs. She stands on her own. We caught up with her before catching a flight to Minneapolis for the weekend and here's what she had to say.
Gimme Noise: It seems that no matter what DJs of the female gender do, they will always be referred to as girl DJs. Agree? Disagree? Expound.
Jen Lasher: Maybe, but to be a female DJ mistaken for a guy would be worlds worse. Thankfully I don't feel any prejudice or mistreatment due to the fact I'm female, but I will say this job is and should be about hard studio work, great performances, and lots of time on the road (I should have a travel size inflatable mattress for how much I sleep in airports and on planes). Female and male alike, touring musicians work very hard, even harder since music has recently become free at your fingertips and longjevity of hype for an album, band, or single feels like a thing of the long since past. The ADD generation is here in full effect-- only option is to join in the madness.
GN: We're in. You just put out a new song with Oh Snap! that the Crookers just remixed. Tell me about that and how it came to be.
JL: I met Mickey aka Oh Snap!! some time ago in our hometown of Baltimore. His cheeky hip-hop captured my attention at a live show, and we've been working together, touring, and having a blast ever since! The fun music we make is a refreshing change from some of the more serious studio projects I work on, laughter is truly the best medicine. After a few original tunes we were asked by former Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera to collaborate with he and his wife who produce under the name Mixhell. I phoned a Brazilian friend of mine to learn every dirty Portuguese word and phrase in the book, chose a few that fit, and sprinkled in some English to make a song all about chasing booty. Fittingly the song is titled Boom Da which means booty, bum, rump, ass, behind, ect. The label found some amazing talent to remix Boom Da-- Crookers and Le Petits Pilous to name a few.
GN: Bootiful. So, we noticed you ditched your trademark fire-engine-red hair. Any reason?
After years of dealing with sweating and dripping pink, the red had to go. I was a terrible house guest to say the least. Pink in the shower, on the towels, bedsheets, it would even leave the occasional small round drip stain on the floor when my hair was wet. Not to mention the horrible faded look after only a few washes. It was so so very high maintenance it was unbearable! I'm glad to be blonde and burden free but truth be told am a redhead at heart. Loved the look to death, if only it were natural!
GN: So say you can only listen to ONE band for the rest of your life. Who do you pick?
JL: Did I just mention the fact that I've aquired horrible ADD? That being said, it would not be humanly possible to listen to one band for the rest of my life! It seems like my "favorite band" changes by the day. I have great appreciation for the constant flow of quality music, new exciting artists are popping up all the time! We're so lucky to live in a generation of worldwide exposure to ANY music, at any time. A few of my all time favorite bands are Gogol Bordello (best live band EVER), the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Shiny Toy Guns, a recent fave Santigold, and Tool, who actually dissapointed a bit last week at Lollapalooza but they certainly helped me through my highschool years. There are so many quality bands though, it feels wrong to say just these few.
GN: We're going to see you at Envy on Saturday night but what happens when you go back to Baltimore? What's next on your horizon?
Oh Snap!! and I have a new single coming out this month titled "So Dynamite" on Australian label One Love and are leaving to tour there in November to promote the release. Some great remixes from Sound of Stereo, Breakdown, Hostage and more. Also, have been working on quite a few remixes myself, one of which was for a personal favorite band The Sounds. It's due out this month on their "Beatbox" single. I started a monthly residency at Ampersand in New Orleans, very excited about this as these people know how to throw a party, not to mention they have the best food in the country. In the beginning of September, I'm flying to London to work on a new rock electronic project with good friend Pablo Decoder -- this thing is so new we haven't even come up with bandname yet!
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