Succubass, known off the dance floor as Jess Duran, is a long time resident of the Pacific Northwest underground dance music scene. Recognized in the community as a singular selector, and curator of well-beloved parties, Duran's appearances behind the decks are a sought-after dance floor experiences.
After sets in recent months including several supporting Ben UFO, helping to usher in Kremwerk's new room Cherry, and a proper warehouse party in Portland, not to mention an incredible archive of mixes, Duran's perspective is one we had to share with all of you on the other side, even if there isn't a set to accompany the interview.
Through High + Tight and Bloom, to the warehouse party in Portland just a couple of weeks ago, only to name a few, you've been curating events in the PNW for years now. Tell us about your experience, and what you're looking towards.
To clarify, Odessa Swan is the curator of Bloom, but sadly that party has ended because she moved to Berlin to pursue music on a larger scale.
My personal experience as a curator, especially with high & tight (and crew), ensures that our guests have fun and feel safe. We are showcasing the artist that we are bringing (by typically having them play open to close in a warehouse space 11 am-6 am and cutting off the time people can arrive to make confident our dance floor is thriving while they are here) while providing the elements of the party - sound, space, decor, and lighting are top-notch. I think people can take their parties too seriously, and folks stare at the DJ, talk with friends off the dance floor for the whole party, and the vibe can be off at times.
Parties in Seattle have been less expressive than, for instance, the party that I played in Portland a few weeks ago. I think different demographics of people that create the overall population of the party are pivotal to a party feeling good, for me at least. This means there need to be queer, black & POC folks; otherwise, it's not a party. (IMO)
Especially in Seattle and Portland, I feel as though I've seen growing support for events like those you've been playing, as well as other exciting, forward thinking dance music parties. And not just in touring artists, but also local talent and curation. How do you see people interacting with dance music right now?
I see an emergence of younger folks coming into the fold, which I love. I've noticed that they enjoy higher BPM/energy and a range of genres. For instance, during the 8th Krem anniversary, WTCHCRAFT was going off, playing such an intense hardcore set, and they loved it. I also think clubs being closed for two years shifted people's priorities; folks are taking a break that I used to see at shows in my eight years in Seattle. I think people are focusing on self-care, still getting their rave legs back, or can't catch a vibe at the club.
With the opening of Cherry at the Kremwerk complex, and many other venues returning to regular programming, there seems to be increasing infrastructure for music also. Of course, this comes with its losses, such as the recent annoncement from Cascadia. Talk about some of the changes you've seen and experienced over the years.
As I said, some people prioritize themselves over the cyclic nature of clubbing, especially here in Seattle. I know Micheal Manahan is still planning on doing something similar to Cascadia - I recently saw something on socials when Cascadia announced they would be no longer. Things grow and wither away like life, identical to these new clubs popping up and closing.
As for Cherry - I think it's a great space, but I wonder about the staffing at Kremwerk and the quality of events at the time. Having three clubs on a busy weekend only has one entrance causes major backups, and folks have difficulty getting in. Otherwise, Kremwerk has treated me well over the years, but they are still figuring things out after the pandemic.
One can only assume the programming you've been associated recently can only be indicative of what is to come. What have you got coming up you're looking forward to?
This Friday, I have lots of fun things in the pipeline - Mor Elian and Syd Woz in Vancouver, BC. Lots of parties during pride weekend here in Seattle. I play Konnextion in Idaho (festival) at the end of July. I'm also headed to NYC to play Wrecked (a music first queer party) curated by Ron Like Hell and Ryan Smith at the Basement on August 6th. I'm also in school right now studying Social Work and Nutrition - so parties and music are, unfortunately, a lesser priority for me. I think saying no versus playing every chance I can take is best for me.