Doing the dirtybird: J.Phlip on Playing Vinyl, Detroit Movement, & More
Acid techno, booty shaking, and filthy basslines: these are just a few of the things that anyone catching J.Phlip’s live sets is sure to experience.
As part of Claude VonStroke’s dirtybird label, J.Phlip (aka Jessica Phillippe) has emerged as a dark horse of sorts with a white-hot heat streak of demolishing festival stages and clubs over the past year. She’s applied that same energy to her productions as well, including the high-energy Euro-techno of 2013’s “Coefficient” and the commanding tech-bass of this year’s “Say My Name.”
We caught up with the San Franciscan ahead of her show at Brooklyn’s Verboten to talk about her huge surprise set at Detroit’s Movement Electronic festival, as well as her upcoming projects and vinyl sets.
DJ Times: You closed out the Beatport stage at Detroit’s Movement fest after Boys Noize had to cancel at the last minute. What was that experience like?
J.Phlip: From what I understand, Paxahau got a list of DJs who were in town, but weren’t booked at the festival this year. I guess after going through it, they choose me! Pretty freaking unreal when I got the call about it just a few hours before the set. It was literally the best day of my entire life. I still get a mix of goosebumps and a hint of sappy teary eyes when I think about it. The experience was, well, the most fun ever! An absolute dream come true.
DJ Times: How was playing that set different from playing sets you’ve been billed in advance for?
J.Phlip: I’m used to more intimate clubs and underground parties. But I still felt very comfortable when I was playing. The cheering and chanting that went on for minutes afterwards was something I have never experienced quite like that. I’ve seen some videos and I look totally confused [laughs]. For the actual set, I didn’t have much time to plan. I was feeling pretty confident in a lot of the music I had dug up recently. I used that material and filled it in with some of my favorite tracks/blends and some of my favorite nasty techno and acid bangers and it worked out! It was really fun actually to not have the time to freak out about the set—I really needed that. I’ve been planning a little too much with my sets lately. That’s why I miss vinyl sometimes. It’s so much more random.
DJ Times: Are you working on any new productions at the moment?
J.Phlip: Yes, 809 and 909 techno and electro on my new Roland [AIRA] TR-8, some trippy, acid-bass stuff. I’m taking a month off to make music. I’m really excited to just get my head into tracks and not have to think about gigs. Also, my remix of GusGus’ “Obnoxiously Sexual” just came out on Kompakt.
DJ Times: You still play vinyl occasionally, correct?
J.Phlip: Yeah, but I’m on a break from traveling with it again at the moment, mainly because I’m playing mostly in the U.S. and the decks over here are rarely working right. I had a weekend of three shows where the turntables weren’t set up right or something was wrong with them at all three venues, and I got frustrated with carrying the wax. Lately I’m ripping a lot of my wax to digital—both old stuff from my collection and stuff I’ve been buying recently. There’s so much cool stuff out there on vinyl that you can’t even find on sites like What.cd. It’s one of the ways I try to keep my sets unique from other DJs that ignore vinyl.
DJ Times: What’s your preferred live setup?
J.Phlip: I like to play on CDJ-2000s, Technics, and an Allen & Heath Xone:92 mixer.
DJ Times: Do you prefer DJing or producing?
J.Phlip: I love DJing—mixing is my true passion. I’m better at it than producing and it’s how I started in this whole music thing. I love being in that grimy club environment—that’s like home to me. And it’s the only thing I enjoy doing in front of a crowd. I love digging and everything that goes along with DJing. Producing is a love-hate. It can be really fun and really tough at moments. I love nerding out about production stuff—learning about gear and making noises and messing about with drums. I can get lost in it for hours and hours, but the actual aspect of finishing a song—especially a song that I like and I will play out—doesn’t always come natural.