MUSIC: Liquid Sound Lounge’s Jeannie Hopper Keeps Rockin’ the Boat (Pt. 2)
SOULFUL ON ALL FREQUENCIES: Q&A WITH JEANNIE HOPPER (NYC)
Liquid Sound Lounge is celebrating its 20th anniversary in style with the annual Summer Dance boat ride tonight (Aug. 23). Continue reading part two of my interview with its longtime host, DJ Jeannie Hopper, who insists “radio is at my core.” Trust me, it’s deep.
NOTE: Don’t miss LSL’s annual Summer Boat Cruise (Friday, Aug. 23). Partial proceeds to support WBAI-FM. Visit www.LiquidSoundLounge.com for details. Photos courtesy of Jeannie Hopper, unless otherwise noted.
TFM: We’ve seen strides in the electronic dance music industry but it remains a male-dominated field, particularly among DJs. Were you ever discouraged enough to consider something else?
JH: Even for me with all my her-story, it’s still difficult and a struggle. It’s also difficult when my main focus has been to break music and expose new music. I do have to continually remind the industry newbies and mainstays why it’s valuable to support the radio show which is still extremely viable in giving exposure. Even the founder of Pandora‘s research shows that still over 80 percent of how people get turned onto new music is via the terrestrial radio dial … and is in the process of acquiring a terrestrial license.
I know I’m skirting the question a bit, but it’s one I just don’t have the answer on. There are many female DJs for sure, but this distinction of ‘female DJ’ being unique … once we drop the ‘female’ part and can get the dialogue on simply ‘DJ’ male or female will help, but the field has changed for both. The ticket is getting more women into production and the technical side, I believe. Technology can have the ability to level the playing field which we will see the fruits of sooner than later … that’s my prediction! And, I will support as best I can via radio and in my club sets without a doubt. Regardless, it’s about talent at the root first.
TFM: If it wasn’t for this career path, where would we see Jeannie Hopper?
JH: I was a journalist reporting on popular movements and human rights abuses in Central America in the late 80s and the Gaza Strip in the early 90s prior to being given the opportunity to create a show that supported the underground music communities into social dancing on a grassroots level and all that encompasses it. This scene was my solace from the heavy reporting and immersive embedded work I was doing in creating greater documentaries. I’m almost certain I’d be in the crossfire still as the struggles continue, however, not as safe for a reporter these days as the game has changed especially since Sept. 11 in terms of legal rights and protection for conscientious reporting that adheres to the ethics in journalism, but Pacifica Radio continues to adhere to it without a doubt, which is why it is so important to continue. I find it interesting how the HBO series, Newsroom, touches on it and the Netflix series, House of Cards, a bit.
I was offered an amazing opportunity in 2004 that I chose to put my DJ touring and record label on hold for, however, I’ve been able to take all my talents to another level in bringing them to ARTonAIR.org. I’ve been so deep in radio land running an online station I helped to create originally for MoMA/PS1 Contemporary Art Center (formerly known as wps1), which is now ARTonAIR.org Clocktower Radio, an integral part of the Clocktower Gallery founded and directed by Alanna Heiss, who is the founder of PS1 Contemporary Art Center, as well.
Radio is at my core. I produce many shows and radio series including DJ Culture, DJ DB’s electronic/rock/dance genre-bending BLURRINGradio, Béco Dranoff’s contemporary Brazilian music show, “Sonoridade“, Berlin’s DJ Raa experimental electronic focused “Orbital Mash,” my mix show, “In the Hopper” and loads of “ARTonAIR Interviews” and I’m chief announcer, engineer and the list goes on.
TFM: So, what’s the one thing you can’t do without for a DJ set or production? Does vinyl still factor into the equation? Which equipment/software works best for you?
JH: I’m very tactile and have moved into mainly DJing via CDJs and Pioneer, which has remained the most natural for me from the creation of the CDJ1000 to the new USB capable CDJs. I love vinyl … I would stick to vinyl, however, my drive is to support new artists, which means managing promos, which are all sent digitally these days. I do miss record shops, though as they were also a community hub, especially pre-Internet. I’d dig the idea of vinyl interface discs with Traktor, which I do have, but I just don’t like staring at a computer when I have a live audience in front of me.
Radio I’ve warmed up to a bit as I’m surrounded with computer screens and it’s just a very different thing DJing on the radio versus at a club. I approach the radio like a puzzle and the pieces are how can I fit together all the amazing music into a show to squeeze in as many records as possible to support as many artists as possible in being played on the radio as a tastemaker, so to speak. At a club, having done radio for so long, I have a unique sense of time, thus I’d rather have less music than more with me and it’s usually based on my favorites of the moment. However, I do have my seven hour gigs, as well, and do have fun being able to carry more with me, but yes, on CDs. I’m working in Abelton with regard to my band, however, more so for pre-producing some fun tools than manipulate on CDs, more editing and loops. Have yet to be comfortable with all the external looping tools, etc. … not sure why, except I also still like to play a record for what it is in its original form.
TFM: Who are you listening to now? Any acts to keep an eye on for 2014?
JH: Zongo Junction is such an awesome Brooklyn-based band. Captain Planet, as well, is so much fun. They both cover soulful music, but also down tempo grooves. Zongo is a live group while Captain Planet is a DJ, but keeps it very live in his productions and can be found on Bastard Jazz Records, a vinyl label by the way. Tortured Soul is always amazing as they’ve taken House music out of the studio and onto the stage in a live experience as has Louie Vega with Elements of Life, his orchestra. DJ Hamza, of New Delhi, India, whose label Wind Horse is encompassing a lot of talent from the region and beyond in collaborations.
Kraak & Smaak never cease to amaze me and push the bar out of Holland. Scott Hardkiss‘ God Within label and his incredible album, Technicolor Dreamer, and work with some really unique artists was so exciting to watch, but sadly he suddenly passed this year. Tommy Bones has been amazing with releases on KidLoop and Lion1 Music. And, my own band I’ve been working on which is more like a hybrid of DJing and improvising with my main band leader, Jay Rodriguez (sax/flute) and Pablo Vergara on keys to give a shameless plug. We’re called the Super Dupers, which I’m bringing fully on the boat Aug. 23.
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