J.Phlip Talks Vinyl, Her Surprise Detroit Movement Set, & Verboten Show
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 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 eurotechno 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 Verboten New York 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 got to close out the Beatport stage at Detroit Movement last month after Boys Noize had to cancel at the last minute. How did the opportunity come to be and what was the 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 than playing sets you’ve been billed in advance for?
J.Phlip: Gosh. Well I’m not really used to being on such a huge stage and whatnot in front of that many people—I mean I’ve done it before but it’s not a regular thing. 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] I was so overwhelmed and not expecting that reaction. I just stood there like, “Whoooaaaa is this happening?”
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: “Say My Name” came out a few months back. Are you working on any new material at the moment? What’s it sounding like?
J.Phlip: Yes. 809 and 909 techno and electro on my new Roland TR-8. Some trippy acid bass stuff. I’m taking July off to make music. I have never taken a month off ever in my life from DJing or any job ever. 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” is coming out July 7 on Kompakt!
DJ Times: You still play vinyl occasionally, correct?
Yeah, but I’m on a break from traveling with it again at the moment mainly because I’m playing mostly in the US and the decks over here are rarely working right. I had a weekend of 3 shows where the turntables weren’t set up right or something was wrong with them at all 3 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: Gear-wise, what’s your preferred live setup?
J.Phlip: I like to play on CDJ-2000s, Technics, and an Allen & Heath Xone:92.
DJ Times: Do you prefer DJing or producing? Why? Which did you do first?
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.
DJ Times: What’s the weirdest story you’ve experienced with the dirtybird crew?
J.Phlip: Gosh, there are so many stories. I’ve been brainstorming this one for a while. We’re always getting into so much weird non-sensical business. One time in Miami they made me go on this party bender with them. It was my dirtybird bootcamp initiation. They left me sleeping by the pool at the standard to go to some DJ gifting thing. When they came back they had picked out a dress for me. It was so ugly! It was like this button up military cut dress, but it was hot pink. They made me go put it on and when I came out they were like, “Ew that is so ugly! We don’t care how long you have been raving in your other clothes. Please go put them back on.” [laughs] Yeah, drunk dirtybirds will not be picking out my outfits ever again.
That’s definitely not the weirdest story. I should have been keeping a book of these things! Maybe I should start!
DJ Times: You’re playing at Verboten in Brooklyn tomorrow. What can club goers who aren’t familiar with your sets expect at the show?
J.Phlip: Yeah! I’m so excited to play the new club for the first time! I have a hard time putting my sets into words. All I can say is to expect cool shit between 123 and 128 BPM. Some dancey, some weird, some dark, old school, new school, bass, beat changes, and moments of Mmmmm.
DJ Times: What differentiates New York’s club scene and fans from the rest of the world?
J.Phlip: New York is poppin’ off! It seems like it has one of the strongest scenes in North America right now. From what I hear a lot of the new clubs are proper and the undergrounds are thriving. I notice really quality bookings. I have a hard time comparing scenes though. All I know is from what I see at my own shows and from taking to my friends.
DJ Times: What’s in store from J.Phlip for the rest of 2014?
J.Phlip: Studio time. Gym. Yoga. Vodka sodas. Snacks. Still looking for a home in San Francisco. More summer festivals in North America: HARD Summer, Shambhala, North Coast. Dirtybird BBQ dates in San Francisco, Detroit, and Toronto. A European tour in the fall and a proper North American headline tour backed by dirtybird in late fall/early winter with my talented homie Monty Luke joining me on the road! Sleep? [laughs]
Listen to a preview of J.Phlip’s single “Say My Name” below and go here for information and tickets to for her performance at Verboten.