Peace Portal is back with the 48th installment this month from the heat of quarantine. Despite the unprecedented times, Jenn Green and I sat down the other night and dug in to some of her experiences as a DJ, radio host, and avid music goer, and dove in deep about what's up in Seattle. Although her tastes represent a diverse spectrum of music through her own shows, Jenn has become known in the Seattle dance music scene for her four-on-the-floor house and techno mixes at Krewmwerk, ReBar, and more. I'm very excited to share this conversation with one of my favorite Seattle selectors.
Where does your love for house music and dance music come from?
My love for house music, dance music, electronic music comes from my experiences in the midwest. I am from Detroit, so that’s a very close tie to Techno music, Detroit is the birthplace of Techno music. And I had the privilege of being 18-24 years-old while living in Chicago. I learned a great deal about Chicago House, house music, footwork, blues, jazz, and even indie/alternative rock being that Detroit is a pillar in rock music also. But being from the Midwest was my first taste of electronic music, once I heard techno, house music, kuduro, hip-hop, listening to the radio - I was all in!
Where did your career as a DJ get started?
Although I’ve been in radio since I was 16, I never wanted to be a DJ. I only applied to universities with radio stations as a part of their curriculum or degree in radio. So I’ve always just had my hands in a lot of different music, building an eclectic collection, and developed a huge music library, and since 2011 have been hosting radio shows, mostly online, engineering, and producing those all myself. I moved to Seattle late 2014 and began interning at KEXP, going to various clubs/venues, and once people caught wind of my show, they encouraged me to pick up DJing since I already had the music library. And that’s how it happened. I picked up a $40 USB controller from someone online in Queen Anne, and that was my start.
Describe your take on the scene in Seattle, especially with your perspective from Chicago and Detroit.
It’s a smaller city for sure, but it definitely has a lot of fight. It’s a really great hub for hip-hop, for rap, punk, metal, noise. That’s all still alive and well, but Seattle has a really great underground dance music scene. Whether you’re more of a house person that goes to Re-Bar or Monkey Loft, or if you’re looking for something more textured or underground, there’s Kremwerk, Timbre Room, Pony, Vera Project, Substation, PRUF Cafe, Woodsky’s featuring more local DJs. Seattle has an abundance of things though. I had never experienced a house show before coming to Seattle, and seems to be a really sort of West Coast thing, and a lot of people are supporting each other, and there are a lot of people who are teach you.Something that I really miss from the Midwest though are the dancers. People who are just the life of the party, and who bring as much energy as the performers.
I feel like that’s something you get in a smaller city. With as many shows as there are, and the diversity of it all, it’s often less about the music for the audience, and people are in their own worlds.
Exactly, yeah. I was really lucky actually, my first experience with Seattle was covering Decibel Festival for a blog in 2013. I flew out, and I’m someone who likes to explore, so I couch surfed, and since none of the Decibel showcases were until the evening, walked all over the city during the day time by foot, and got to spend my time hopping from the Crocodile to the Market, then up the hill to Q Nightclub, Neumos, etc.. During that trip I even got to go to ETG, which was an amazing, amazing little gem. Then when I moved here, I got to go to Decibel 2014 and 2015 until it was no more, which was foundational, moving out here, and immediately having all these friends, being that Decibel Founder Sean Horton is too from Detroit and understands the cultural institution that was DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival) now known as Movement., having that festival made it feel like a little slice of home right away.
Tell me about Greenhaus radio, and your other experiences with radio.
Greenhause Radio has been a thing since 2013, and I’m planning to LLC my baby this year. It’s a two-hour prime time radio show mostly electronic-based house, techno, left field, dub techno, ambient music, whatever I’m feeling honestly. I run Greenhaus like a typical radio show with a rotation, but I’m constantly looking for new music, so I’m bringing days-old releases into rotation all the time. I’ve got a lot of friends who are great DJs and producers, so this allows me to host them as well. When I’m feeling more productive I’ll feature a guest mix sometimes. I’ve discovered that mixing live and talking at the same time is sort of difficult to do, so sometimes I’m more on the mic, and other times I’m just chasing the beat. Previously Greenhaus was hosted on RWD.FM from 2013 to 2018, but we as a station decided to discontinue, so the show is now hosted on VPN, or Virtual Public Network Radio. My first experience on air though was for a nonprofit station called Party 93.4 that broadcast on 94.9 FM Hudson Valley New York, and the actual server is in Juliet, Illinois, and it was really cool to broadcast with those guys and have my first experience actually be on an FM dial. That show was called “Galaxy Green”, and it is absolutely painful to listen to those shows, my taste was not nearly as refined, and the guy who ran the station had this idea of what he wanted to play, and I didn’t necessarily feel that I had creative control over my show.
hat have you got lined up for your mix? What have you been listening to lately?
For the mix, definitely a good mixture of house and techno stuff, I have some heaters from some friends, and a lot of tracks from artists that I really think are massive. There are a lot of artists pushing really interesting sounds out there, and if you listen and look into the cracks you’ll find them. Everyone has their own process when it comes to digging, and so I’ve got my own ideas of what DJing sounds like. I don’t like to stick to the key, and I like playing slower songs at faster tempos to mess with the speed, and I like to have fun and experiment. I think that’s a huge part of DJing new music and preparing mixes.As for what I’ve been listening to lately, I’m really liking the new album from Discwoman from one of the agency co-founders, Umfang, called Riven. Very moody, layered, a dash of techno of course. Music that Beatrice Dillon, Valesuchi, Beat Detectives, Guillermo de Caminos, Jay Daniel, Urulu, Tristan Arp have been making. I’m mates with Brian who runs West Mineral Ltd, and they release a lot of beautiful, experimental, and ambient releases like Pontiac Streator, Ulla Straus, uon, Exael, etc. But right now my favorite stuff I would definitely say comes from people in New York. I think people in New York have the right attitude about how aggressive you have to be when it comes to creating and sharing your art with the world. I’m always impressed with the work ethic of Akua, AceMo, MoMa Ready, DJ Swisha, I can hardly keep up with them! Akua, Shyboi, Bearcat and Jasmine Infiniti are absolutely killing it when it comes to club music, techno to energy and selections by far!I actually got to check out Dweller Festival this past February in New York which is an all black electronic music festival. During the evening it was like Decibel, which panels and discussions on things like “How to Make Techno Black Again,” and “Who Does Techno Belong To?” The entire lineup was DJs of color at the hottest clubs in New York, Bossa Nova Civic Club, Nowadays, Elsewhere, all bowing down to this festival. It was a really great creative, expressive celebration being surrounded by a lot of tastemakers and music goers who were people of color. And that festival really re-energized me to come back to Seattle and crank out some really great DJs sets.
Do you think that Seattle does a good job at being representative in the electronic music scene?
Yeah! I was surprised and shocked when I finally came out here, because I had asked this acquaintance of mine where to go out, and she had said that there was no music scene in Seattle. So it really wasn’t until I came out for myself that I was aware of anything going on, and I found out right away that Seattle has an abundant music scene!I find that I’m often talking to people about Old School Seattle and New School Seattle, because obviously there is always the surge of new musicians and DJs in the area, and then there’s old school Seattle who have been around and you can spot them on the dancefloor or reach out to them for collaboration or musical insight. There's a niche for everybody, and I think it’s a really cool community once you submerge yourself in it.
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