Darlene Jackson aka DJ Lady D, has been a fixture on the dance music scene for some time now. Besides being a dj, she can stake claim to being one of the hardest working people in the biz. Producer, label owner, vocalist and A&R are just a few of the hats she wears in a days work.
DISCO'S REVENGE had the chance to chat with her on various topics including her start, the changes in the dance music scene and her recent performance at the Lollapalooza festival.
Hey, D for the sake of brevity,can you give us a bit of background as to how you got started as a dj and who were some of your major influences?
I was playing records for fun in a shoestore one Saturday when Chicago's biggest party promoter came in watched me a while and told me to call him. He began to book me almost immediately and it took off from there. I used to watch and listen to Derrick Carter, Diz, Sneak, Ralphi Rosario & Teri Bristol & Psychobitch (they played together back then) for my influences. They are still my favorites to this day.
You were a part of the groundbreaking "SuperJane" collective, how did that relationship develop?
I had been playing for a couple years already when I was approached by Dayhota (Shannon Ialongo) about an idea she said she and Colette and Heather had and was considering starting a collective and they were looking for a fourth member to keep it balanced. I told her I would be down. I already had a collective I had started that was me and six other guys (Jevon Jackson, Mel Hammond, Frique, Matty, E Smoove & Mark Grant) called FSO - For Soul Only, but the idea of a collective of girls was appealing, since I was friends with them already and you know girl power and everything.
It seems that with the advances in technology there are more dj's then ever before. What makes a Lady D set stand out from everyone else?
You're right! So many out there! I think a Lady D stands apart for a few reasons. My playlist being the first as I don't play things most other DJ's are playing. I dig deep to find music that is amazing that no one else is up on yet--why not? There is so much music out there. I shouldn't have to play anything someone else is playing-at least not for the sake of it being popular. I throw in some familiar elements but my music is pretty unique and current! The other thing is my performance level. When I get on the decks it's pure energy and I don't let up until I get off so my performance is dynamic and stands out. Finally, it's what I can do instinctively as well as technically behind the decks. I have enough experience to pump up any room I play.
What changes have you noticed in the underground music scene from when you started to the current state of the biz...both positive and negative?
The underground music scene has undergone some changes in the vibrancy and age of people. I do see younger people coming into the scene now more than a few years ago so that's a good sign. As people get older they get more mature musically. Some of the scene has become more resistant to change or to partying with younger kids. The flipside of that is that there are lots of burgeoning underground scenes with newer people doing newer things. I'm happy that I've stayed relevant with some of these new undergrounds that have been popping up. I make it a point to be open to checking out their parties and getting to know some of the new promoters and party kids.
You recently performed at the recent Lollapalooza festival in Chicago alongside such diverse acts as Scrillex, Kid Cudi, Cee Lo, Eminem, Glitch Mob, Coldplay, Afrojack, Girl Talk and Collie Buddz and one of your songs was included in their annual remix contest. How did your participation in such a prestigious event develop and how was it performing in front of over 20,000 dance music fans?
I went to Lolla in 2009 and was blown away by the whole thing. I was a guest of Thievery Corporation so I had all access and it made me want to be a part of it. I wrote myself an email to find out about playing Lolla. I wanted it to be the next year but as Lolla approached I realized it may not happen in 2010. What did happen was I was invited to a party with the Lolla organizers from Austin based C3 where we met and hit it off. They had heard good things about me and said they were interested in having me play in 2011. In January they kept their word and I got a phone call. That email served as a visualization that manifested itself into the actual thing.
Once I was at Lolla, it was incredible to be an artist. The stage was absolutely massive and the sound was phenomenal and I got a real education on advancing a show as big as that one. I put together a team (production manager, tour manager, PR point person) so I could handle everything that was coming in for the show. I began rehearsing a set so I would be on point and believe me--it was! The feeling was everything I hoped it would be and more.
D'lectable is distributed digitally by a company in Germany called Finetunes. They have relationships with over 140 different download sites. My last release was in June with an artist from NYC named Baghdaddy and because of my summer schedule the next two won't be out until September and October. One is a release by a production partnership called Adam & Jackson. The other release will be my first fully licensed mixed compilation for sale since Naked Kaleidoscope. The tracks will be of the future sound of Chicago with cuts from the house and techno community both of which I work intimately with; including such names as Colette, Green Velvet, Kate Simko, Tevo Howard, Ron Carroll, Gurtz and a whole lot more. I will be touring around the release both domestically and internationally.
Top 5 tracks that are working your dancefloors?
The Return of Disco (Gramaphonedzie Remix) Gene Farris
Muzzaik & Dave Martin - Black Day
Chicago Tribute (MFR Classic Mix) - Mr. V & Julius Papp
Millie Vanillie - Green Velvet feat Russoul
Funky (Obando remix) - Denis Nicola
Best place(s) to find an Italian Beef sandwich in Chicago?
Hahaha! Portillos or Mr. Beef. Please don't even think about Al's. It says No.1 but it will make you no.2. Sorry! :(