jessica who on who she is

dJ Jessica Who is a Miamian making international noise. 

 
She tells miami nice who she is, about her sound, why Miami's nice (think baile funk and merenge at the club) and places and things she thinks are nice (Los Perros, Power 96 booty mixes, Joe's Takeaway, Purdy) and some things that aren't nice (the Prince of Zazamunga). But mostly, she reflects, quite honestly, about what it's like to be a DJ of eight years, how to earn the audience's respect and when in doubt... play MJ... 
Jessica Who?  Tell us a bit about who Jessica Who is and what she does. 
Well, I am a full-time, professional dj, and I'm from Miami. I like to keep it pretty simple. I play here, and when I'm not, I travel to other cities or countries and play there. 
 
Can you explain a bit the signature Jessica Who style and sound?
Since I started, before I really knew what I was doing, and the complexities of it, I just wanted people to have fun. That may sound really pedestrian or obvious, but it was always my focus…looking out into the crowd and zoning in on certain people or groups, and kinda 'tending' to them until they were feeling it, and then moving on to the next group. You cannot possibly make everyone happy all at once, and a room of hundreds or thousands of people is really daunting if you look at it as a whole. But to this day, I still take smaller bites out of the apple like that, no matter how big the room is.
 
I've always tried to throw in unexpected things for that surprise factor. I love playing something in that no one would have thought to ask for, but you get that 'OH SH***T!!!' reaction from. If you get that audible reaction when you drop something like that, it's the reward. That’s why I do this job. It's like a pat on the back from your boss saying 'good job.'… because at least in my own head, I work for the crowd, not a singular person. 
 
Eight years as a DJ seems like kind of a lifetime to me. What’s the average lifespan of a gig like that? Is it kind of like being a professional athlete, at a certain age you’re kind of expected to retire or your body gives out (I don’t actually know anything about being a professional athlete, I’m just guessing…)? 
The thing about what we have going here is that nobody really knows, because this is still really early in the game. It's not like people have been doing this for hundreds of years like blacksmithing and we can accurately gauge what the lifespan is.
 
Mostly, it's mentally exhausting. I attribute it to having to make a fairly important decision every 45 seconds, so your brain is just constantly over stimulated. Add all the variables of a mega club-- drunk people, being yelled at because the Prince of Zamunda just bought 7500 bottles and needs to hear Lady Gaga RIGHT NOW, etc…and by the end of the night, your brain is just out of juice, like a battery. 
 
The most important thing to remember is that eight years is nothing. It's a blink. Nobody really gives you any respect until you hit ten -- and they shouldn't. You have to earn it.
 
I'm not sure when, but at some point over the last six years or so, djing became this crazy lifestyle where people want to fly djs out to places and pay them ridiculous money for a few hours of work. I don't know how long that's going to last. I always joke that I’m waiting for the bubble to burst, so I’ll do it as long as they let me. 
 
Do you listen to the radio? If so, which Miami stations do you tune into? 
I have to give a shout out to my friends at power 96, and Mr. Mauricio, fellow skam artist. I played there for a bit but it was hard to keep up with while traveling. But we all know that's a Miami staple. I used to make booty tapes off power 96 when I was in sixth grade. 
 
One of my good friends and Miami legends Konflikt does a two-hour slot on Y100 on the weekends, so I listen to that when I can because he makes me feel really bad about my talent and I’m a glutton for punishment.
 
I used to love 102.7, but I turned it on recently and it became like…almost classic rockish, and 80s stuff. I miss the oldies. 
 
It's not music but if I really want to creep myself out I listen to 610 AM, when Coast to Coast AM is on in the middle of the night. It’s all paranormal, supernatural and conspiracy stuff. Sometimes it's UFOs and ghosts, sometimes its completely batsh*t crazy people calling in to report Bigfoot sightings and possessed pets.
Can you feel when a song tanks with the crowd? What’s your strategy when you realize it’s not the right jam for the jam? 
 
Absolutely you can feel it. Sometimes people get visibly upset. My boyfriend dj Boe coined the phrase 'the aggressive sit-down' for this. When you play something and someone crosses their arms and sits down forcefully like a toddler in timeout. Like I said before, you can't possibly make everyone happy.
 
My strategy when I know I'm about to do something that could potentially go terribly wrong, is just to have my backup ready to go. I mean, it's a life raft, so it's gotta be something that is guaranteed to work. A hit. The catch is not making it sound like you tanked. Just to make it sound like that was the plan all along. But in your head you're going 'AHHHHH JUST KIDDING!!! HERE'S CHRIS BROWN!'. The thing that always works for you is that people are VERY forgiving, I don't know if its the alcohol, or the crowd mentality, but I’ve seen people (and done it myself) make BIG mistakes, and as long as you come back strong, they forget it happened in twenty seconds. And when in doubt, play MJ. 
 
How does Miami influence you? I’m watching that Dove video where you talk about it a bit but I’d love it if you gave us a little more details. 
I love Miami. I used to think that people here were too fickle and single minded, and then I started traveling to much less 'diverse' cities. That was hard on me. It took a lot of adjusting. I realized that half of the stuff I get a huge reaction from here, is instantly not even an option in those places. We have a culture based on a hundred other cultures, and we do have our own music and our own sound. At a regular club here, you can play salsa, merengue, reggae, booty, bass, baile funk, crazy African stuff, old school electro, break dance stuff, all the Miami hip hop, all the stuff that was huge at the house parties 15 years ago…all those little things, and 'hits' from other countries and cultures add up. It makes the night a lot more fun than just playing every top 40 and house song out. 
 
So Purdy Lounge eh? Such a solid Miami spot and the type of place we should probably have way more of. Can you tell me a bit about your story there? 
I started djing at Purdy maybe six years ago. I used to come out on Sunday nights, and I really liked the vibe…somehow I convinced Ray Milian to let me play there once a month, then it turned into every Sunday, then somehow I was doing every Thursday, and random Fridays and Saturdays…It will always be my home.
 
But Sunday will always have a special place in my heart. It was always fun, but it turned into something insane in those three or so years. God bless ray, I gave him 50 little heart attacks every night. He had his vision, and wanted to maintain the integrity and his original plan for the party, and I fought him every step of the way. 
 
I felt like things were going in a different direction musically, in general at that time, so I went with it. That’s when things changed from indie-rock based to electronic, and I was throwing in hip-hop and all kinds of weird stuff. But we had some of the best nights that place has ever seen, and some of the most fun I’ve ever had djing. It was a simpler time...
 
I’m 22 and I think I left my major club days behind when I turned like 20. Oh, Miami. How the heck do you keep up the stamina to club all the time- and work while you’re at it? Many cafesitos? 
I've always been restless, and a night owl.  I never wanted to sleep when I was a kid because I always had this intense feeling that I was missing something. god knows what that was when I was 10, but I still have it.
Alright, let’s talk about Miami. 
 
            What’s your all time favorite club? 
I don't like to play favorites but Electric Pickle since they re-did it is amazing. It’s like a carnival in a barn. I don't know if that's what they were going for but that's what I got. 
 
Obviously LIV. I'm so grateful I get to work at the best club in the country. I’m still in awe walking in there sometimes…especially since they put these crazy new spotlights in…they're pretty much giant light sabers. 
 
            What’s your favorite post-midnight munch spot? 
I love Los Perros but that's dangerous. You definitely can't go there every night. If I’m up late enough, Joe's Takeaway opens at 7:30 am. That’s the dream scenario. 
 
            What neighborhood do you call home? 
I live on the beach. I guess it would be the Lincoln Road 'neighborhood'. I found a really great big house with a garden / yard, which is rare on the beach so I’m happy. I love that all the stores and things on the beach are very dog friendly, because I am too. 
 
            Must have in your purse make-up product?
Poppy King for J Crew lipstick. 
 
            Low key bar?
Obviously Purdy is my second home, but I’ve also been liking Foxhole lately. I like jukeboxes and they have a good one. I also like The Bar in Coral Gables, since I have friends working and djing there.