Jen Deveroux Talks Björk, '80s Music, Wye Oak, and the Challenges of Becoming a DJ

If you're a member of the trendy dance music scene, chances are likely you've seen the name Jen Deveroux before. Most likely on a flier for any of the myriad club events, fashion fetes, and hip parties that she's helped promote over the past five years or so.

In recent months, however, Deveroux's made the jump from promoting to performing and stepped behind the mixers to take a stab at selecting. Sometimes its alongside her longtime squeeze Tricky T, like at Red Revolver or the Firehouse in Scottsdale, who's helped school her in the art of DJing. Other times, like tomorrow night at the Rogue for the Shake! seven year anniversary, she's holding it down on her own.

Up on the Sun recently spoke with Deveroux about why she got into the DJ game, the challenges involved, and what she digs spinning.

Name: Jen Deveroux

Where have you performed? I've been at Sticky Fingers and Party Foul. I've also DJ'd with Tommie [Laurie, a.k.a. DJ Tricky T] at Firehouse, Revolver, and Dirty Pretty. And I'll be at the Shake! anniversary on Saturday.

What do you primarily spin? I love the 80s. Anything obscure 80s, indie rock -- of course -- and a lot of electronica.

How long have you been DJing? Around eight months, I'd say.

Why did you to get into DJing? Because I have great fucking taste in music (laughs). You can quote me on that too.

How did you get started? It started like seven years ago when I asked William [Reed], "I want you to teach me how to DJ" and he totally blew me off and said he wanted me to help him promote instead. And since then I kept bothering Tommie to teach me and this past year he finally did. He's helped a lot and taught me how to mix songs and build a set.

So, was there a desire to prove to William that he was wrong? No, not at all (laughs). He just thought I'd be a better promoter at the time. He's letting me play at his nights now and called me up and said, "Jen, we really need a girl in this lineup for Shake!"

There's been a lot of jokes lately about how everyone is becoming a DJ, including that vignette from Portlandia.

Yeah, it does seem like everyone is becoming a DJ. But I say go for it, but you've really got have good taste in music. I don't claim to be like this awesome mixer or a scratcher. I'm not doing it for money, I'm not doing it for any major reason other to get up there and play good music that I love to hear. That's all I care about. It's an opportunity for me to play the music I love and want to hear.

Is it hard getting into DJing? It's a skill and there's a lot of work involved. But it helps especially if you've got a great teacher and have a lot of time to spend learning how to do it. Practice, practice, practice. Like tonight we'll be going over my whole set for Shake!. You have to watch the BPMs, the music has to flow and blend great. You have to know the music that you're playing, know how to transition Anyone who says DJing is easy, I encourage them to get up and try it. Try mixing together two or three songs.

Has being a promoter for the past five years helped your DJing career? Yeah, but I consider myself really lucky because [other promoters] are letting me go out and play at their nights. I could wind up just bomb publicly, but they're trusting me with a set, and I appreciate that.

Any chance you'll conjure up a crazy DJ name? No, because I don't need one. I just want to use my name.

Which bands and artists often work their way into your sets: Let me think. Maybe Princess Superstar, Depeche Mode, and Bauhaus. I really love Larry Tee and Hot Chip.
I'm also big on girl vocalists and all-girl bands, so like Blonde Redhead and Le Tigre. Oh, and Madonna...just kidding.

What's the last song you downloaded?
What's the last one I stole, you mean? (laughs) The last thing I downloaded was "Birthday"/"Double Remix" by The Sugarcubes.

Are you a fan of Icelandic pop then?
Björk is a crazy bitch. She's just so eccentric and the instruments she uses are just fucking amazing. It just blows most bands away.

What's your favorite song of the moment? Probably "Ceremony" by New Order. I can listen to that song a hundred times a day.

What else have you been listening to lately?
Mostly indie depressing stuff like Grimes and Salem, Dead Can Dance, that sort of sad stuff. And Sting's daughter Eliot Sumner and her band I Blame Coco. She's just sounds different. I love also love Caribou and Wye Oak. They're both amazing, you need to check them out if you haven't.

What's better: The music of today versus the music of the '80s? Music of the '80s, definitely. Songs today still doesn't have that same energy as in the '80s and '90s. That could be because I was growing up in those times, I don't know. It's just reminiscent of good times for me.

Favorite album of 2012 thus far? Ugh, I've got so much music. I pick and choose songs out an album usually and don't necessarily like an entire album.

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