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Pariah Is DJ Jana Rush’s First Album in 21 Years

The DJ discusses her hiatus from music, being an outsider, and her upcoming show at The Hideout.

Photo: Courtesy of Jana Rush

Up next in our series of interviews with notable, in-the-know locals: DJ Jana Rush, who recently released her first album in 21 years, Pariah, and performs at The Hideout this Saturday.

You began your career as a teenager, then took 13 years off. How’d you get back into music?

For 13 years, I was trying to get back into it, but I just didn’t have time. I had bought a couple pieces of equipment, and I made tracks, but I wouldn’t say I was producing. I was exploring, trying to figure out how my equipment worked. I was talking to [the late footwork DJ] Rashad in the early 2000s. He wanted me to get back on, even back then, but I knew I didn’t have time to commit. I got back into it seriously around 2016 because I started getting projects. Lara from Objects Limited sent me an email through SoundCloud, and she started hooking me up with projects. That’s when I really started taking it seriously again.

Why is your new album called Pariah?

I’m the outsider. I’m pretty much the rebellious child. I don’t feel like people in the footwork genre get me just yet. I’m on the outside, and I’m okay with that. I’m not looking to impress the whole world. My creative process is still evolving. I have a general workflow, but I’m always tweaking it, and I spend a lot of time experimenting, which sounds sexier than it really is. It comes with limitations—you take a chance that people will either not understand or not be game for your work. But I do want to take that chance. To me, music is getting kind of boring right now. I’m very low on inspiration.

What are you listening to, then?

A lot of crazy music that, on a first pass, doesn’t make sense. But if you keep listening to it, it starts to make sense—the way that they arrange the tracks or the meter they write in or the ways people are applying music theory. I like four count, but I feel like there should be a level of complexity added to a 4/4 track. Everybody can write a four-count beat—but what are you gonna do with it?

Right now, I’m listening to Venetian Snares. I’m trying to study his music. I can’t listen to his stuff and do a first-pass analysis. It’s a work of art: you have to study it, you’re not gonna just pick it up. I listen to a lot of Japanese music. I like jazz, bebop specifically. I like when they do crazy things, or change the meter in the middle of the track. You never think of bebop as a fast type of music, but it is.

How do you feel about your upcoming show at The Hideout?

I’m excited. A lot of the people I’ve heard the most from about the Hideout, they have nothing to do with footwork. I won’t feel like I have to do and play certain things. I’m not very good at being a program DJ, I guess. I’m not very good at having a program performance. I’m definitely gonna play tracks from my album, and some new stuff. But I like to do different things, not just go there and kill everybody with footwork all night.

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