CRSSD Fest x IHOS Present: J Phlip
Here we are, less than a month away from all the CRSSD Festival magic with our second installment in the profile series. You can grab festival weekend passes here! With us is San Francisco based Jessica Phillippe, a.k.a the ever-evolving beatsmith J Phlip. J Phlip got her start in the Midwest in a city called Champaign– comfortably situated a mere 2 hours away from Chicago– where she got her roots in electronic, house and underground hip-hop and eventually found her spot mixing vinyl sets at a local club.
The rest is a globe-trotting tale that we will let you read for yourselves as she goes into detail on her constantly evolving style, the cities she has called home, her collaboration with Chris Lorenzo and what we can expect to hear from her at CRSSD Fest and 2015 in general. This is definitely one of our favorite interviews thus far and you’ll see why once you get a load of that charming personality that jumps through those answers! You can catch some of our favorite sounds and the entire interview after the jump!
IHOS: How would you describe your sound to those that are unfamiliar with your tracks?
JP: Tasteful, yet fun, put-your-phone-away-while-on-the-dancefloor music, with moments of UHHHHHHH what just happened??!@#$%^&*
Honestly, I will play anything that sounds dope between 123-128 bpm-ish no matter what the genre. It could be broken beat or 4/4, acid, bass, ghettotech, b-more, house, techno, dark, silly, deep, bangin, fun drops, old school electro, booty, straight groovers, deep…. I’ve even had people tell me that i played some trap or grime tracks… sometime’s I don’t even know how to label it and I love that. I also very strongly believe that it is important to understand the context of the party and my timeslot, and find a way to sound like myself yet play an appropriate set.
Come see for yourself
IHOS: We read that you spent some time living in Chicago and Berlin, how much of an impact did that have on your music?
JP: Music is contextual. Any time spent in any city is going to have an impact — of varying degrees. Being born and raised in Champaign, 2 hours outside of Chicago, the midwest had a big impact on my musical development growing up. I moved to San Francisco where I developed my musical identity even further. Then I took off to Berlin for 3 years.
Berlin definitely shaped me in other ways. I experienced even more electronic music sounds that were fresh to me. Some of them I found really inspiring yet others I found, ummmm well, anti-inspiring? (that’s probably not a real word but you get it – like I found some new music that I knew I didn’t want to sound like whatsoever) Some of the music in Berlin can be very repetitive and serious. Don’t get me wrong, I can get into serious and dark dance music, and even sometimes repetitive music as long as it has elements that make it stand out. Every genre/style of music can have “mind-exploding-goosebumps” tracks as well as tracks that are just “whatever”. Some of the music that people seemed really hyped on, was just not significant to me personally.
But Berlin is a really special place for the techno, rave, club world. I definitely had some “holy-shit-what-is-this-I-can’t-control-my-body” moments with music I had never experienced before. I feel really lucky to have spent the time I did there. It opened me up to an entirely different musical world, just like everywhere! Each city I lived in has been massively influential on my development as an artist.
IHOS: How has your sound evolved from those early years behind the decks?
JP: Man… it has evolved quite a bit… not to hate on my hometown because I love where I’m from, Champaign, Illinois is very special place in so many ways, including musically….. I found electronic music there… and house music… and underground hip hop… and so much music of every genre actually…. but the exposure to electronic was not what you might be able to find in a major city. At first glance it may just appear to be “fratty” college town. But it was actually full of so much culture if you cared to dig for it, as well as many extremely interesting people if you cared to seek them out and meet them.
The house music that was accessible to me at that time was disco house, chicago house, clubby house… but I was making weekly trips to Chicago to record dig. Mind you this was the early 2000s when the more commercial house music was stuff like Basement Jaxx, Armand van Helden, Defected and Subliminal records, Stardust, and even Green Velvet (during the La La Land era). So called EDM didn’t exist. I would bring 4 crates of vinyl out to my weekly nights in downtown Champaign where I would play 4+ hour sets. Parts of my sets were on the cheesy accessible side but I also I tried to make each week different and use the time to explore other sounds. And despite the somewhat “lack of taste” in my early sounds, I became damn good at mixing vinyl, I could mix dem records like buttah. Not trying to sound cocky. It’s something I was proud of because I worked soooooo hard at it. And I’m sure I’m not nearly as good anymore. I miss those days of DJing. Mixing vinyl on 1200s… that right there was the most fun in the whole world.
Anyway, in 2005 I went to WMC in Miami, and started travelling around more and hearing so much outside of my midwest Chicago bubble. That’s when I found my way further out of the cheesy, accessible, funky house and into so much weirder, unique, less melodic, less big room, more interesting house and techno. Specifically the Dirtybirds, Audion, and Dubsided records were my first windows into the next evolution of my style. From there my ear really started to change and I started developing more “taste.”
It’s funny how some of that music was probably always there sitting on the shelf where I usually shopped at grammaphone and hot jams, but I just didn’t quite understand it yet. Often times with music you aren’t able to “feel” it until you have “experienced” it. Everything changed for me around this time. My mind was totally open and I was ready to find “me”.
My sound just continued to get much more unique and tasteful. It is one of my biggest goals when I dig and work on sets to NOT sound like anyone else, and not even sound how I sounded 6 months ago – otherwise I get bored! I go through my own personal trends with the music sometimes, but as far as whatever is the current so-called hype sub-genre or “trend” that the masses love to follow, well I could give a shit really. I try to run the other direction from crap like that. I’m always learning and always changing.
IHOS: We’re seeing more and more women carving their paths in this industry, what advice would you give to budding female producers?
I wouldnt really give different advice to female’s vs male’s who want to dj or produce music. Each person has different obstacles, distractions, roadblocks, and learning curves to reach their goals in music. The point is to make those goals and if that is truly your passion you will make sacrifices and give your absolute best to get there. That might mean taking big risks, giving up a part of your social life, giving up a love life that restrains you from your path, re-budgeting your finances to invest in yourself and having to eat ramen noodles everyday hahaha, who knows??? It’s different for everyone! You just do it if that’s what you truly want to do.
IHOS: Congrats on playing CRSSD festival this March. Do you generally have an idea of what you will play at festivals, or do you play it by ear? Is there anyone on the lineup you’re looking forward to seeing?
Sometimes I have a couple tracks I know go well together that I’d like to play. However, sometimes, like when I played the Movement festival this past year… I went in totally blind. Playing off-the-cuff can be really exhilarating. That was one of my favorite sets, for sure.
I’d love to see Seth Troxler’s set… he’s always a good times, good vibes, fun dj, that also digs a lot and throws in weird, off the wall shit. I love that so much. He’s not boring or repetitive. Kaytranada is a genius producer and really does his own thang… stoked to get down to him and find some inspirations! Nina Las Vegas is an important lady…. an eclectic tastemaker from australia who makes all sorts of dance music and beyond go ‘round.
Justin Martin, duh, I’m not sure how one of my best friends who I have known for 10 year still never ceases to amaze me! Wow ok this is looking crazy! DJ Harvey, Danny Daze, Simian Mobile Disco, Roman Flugel, James Murphy… I love Maceo when he goes on his more techno “melt your face” vibe. He’s a genius at sound design. Harvard Bass and Kill Frenzy -I will absolutely NOT miss! Shall Ocin is a mystery man I’d love to check out. I really hope to discover some new people from all the names I don’t know ESPECIALLY!
IHOS: That collaboration with Chris Lorenzo is fantastic! How did the “Walls” EP come about?
JP: Thanks! Well we met in Ibiza in the Summer of 2013 when we had that Dirtybird residency at Sankey’s. He was crashing with us at our very rustic, run down, 3rd world-ish, “camping indoors” Dirtybird villa. Barclay was like “hey Jess, I think you and Chris should make some music together, why don’t you see if you guys get along n’shit.” We all played together that night at dirtybird, the clubbing nonsense escalated, and next thing I know we were after-partying with Fernando in my room, aka “the snake pit”, and things started getting a bit trippy and strange… we were all sitting on the couch swatting bugs flying around our faces that weren’t really there (I don’t think???). And the Lorenzo/Phlip friendship was born.
A few months later he came to San Francisco and we wrote the majority of Walls and Lights together in a week in my ghetto home studio in my bedroom on Haight and Fillmore. Chris is the fuckin’ man. He’s got an ear for a groove that I wish I could steal every other day. He pushed us through when I normally would have hit a wall… or maybe that was just the constant sugar high we had from eating so many sour straws. He brought a lot of things out of me that I didn’t know were there. He has drive and focus like no other. I really enjoyed those sessions so so much. I like to think that he learned something from me too. Like what NOT to do if you wan’t to write a hit track lol. J/K!
Collaborating with Chris was a blast. We would loop the track and he would use his master ear to finetune all the sounds and drums and groove while I would plug headphones into the back of my various hardwares and write new elements to try out – some acidy arppegiating riffs, or some trippy analog background noises, etc… then we’d hit record and just get freaky analog style.
I love those songs that we made together. I actually really really love them more than most of the stuff I have ever written.
IHOS: What are five tracks you couldn’t live without?
The Other People Place – “Let Me Be Me“
Matthew Herbert – “The Audience“
Atmosphere – “Gods Bathroom Floor“
Untold – “Stop What Your Doing (James Blake Remix)“
Radiohead – “There There“
Elliott Smith – “2:45 am“
DJ Dangermouse – “Nas vs Portishead”
Pixies – “Hey“
Paranoid London – “Transmission 5“
Boddika – “Acid Jackson“
Chelsea Wolfe – “Tracks (Tall Bodies)“
Arca – “Walls“
Outkast – “Jazzybelle“
(I definitely would not even exist if it weren’t for music so 5 is just not enough…. the only other love that could keep me from leaving this planet is my cat muschi.)
IHOS: You’ve pretty much played all over the world at this point, is there a spot you can’t wait to go back to?
JP: My studio… and bed…and Detroit.
IHOS: And finally, what should we be on the lookout for from you in 2015?
JP: My hair… its falling out….. if you see it around can you please return it to my head?? If you could be on the lookout for all my lost USB sticks and pieces of my brain scattered around the planet that would be amazing too!
Real talk though… I’m super thankful that my tour schedule is continuing to fill up so much this year. Some of the major shows locked down so far are Holy Ship, CRRSD, Bass Coast, Shambhala, dirtybird @ WMC, EDC Mexico… possibly 8 or more dirtybird BBQs in various cities! An Australia tour in May and a Europe tour in June, including a b2b set with Huxley at We Are Festival! My first ever South American tour is in the works! I get to play a bunch of smaller cities too, some that I’ve never even heard of, like London, Ontario???!?! People might assume that the big cities are always the most fun, but that’s not always true! I’m stoked to see that my music gets to reach all these odd corners of the world.
The collaboration EP with Huxley is still in the pipeline I promise, the release is just pushed back a bit. I’m working on a remix of Riva Starr & DJ Sneak at the moment, which will come out on Snatch! Hopefully finishing this dirtybird EP very soon as well. Speaking of, its time to stop doing interviews and fire up the machines. Later!