Florida native DJ Jessica Who owns a commanding style and prides herself on sculpting high energy, happy, and fun parties whenever she is on deck. We recently caught up with the DJ darling to discuss her rise to the top.
It’s been mentioned that you have a musical family. Where did your passion for spinning come from?
It actually came from the fact that I was really bad at playing guitar. I wanted to be a rock star (or an astronaut) when I was a kid, and I got a pretty badass guitar for my 13th birthday. But it turns out that playing guitar takes a lot of patience, and longer fingers. I never thought about deejaying as a career. It just never dawned on me as an option since I wasn't exposed to it at all, but when I had my first ‘DJ moment’ at 17, I thought ‘Oh my God, this is what I'm supposed to be doing!”
How has the city of Miami influenced your style?
Just before graduating from high school, I started going out in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, to whatever indie-dance-party at a crappy-local-bar was going on at the moment. I met a lot of people, and became friends with some of the DJs. Miami is amazing. With a good crowd here, you can do anything. I realized that when I started traveling and I would go to places that aren't as diverse as Miami . . . you can't really play anything they don't know. Just pop and rock and commercial hip-hop. Here, you can get away with being more creative in the clubs . . . I can throw in soul and funk, or samba or salsa, or whatever new indie track I like. It's all about reading your crowd, and I've become really accustomed to Miami crowds.
How do you feel being a woman in this male dominated field? Do you find that you can use it to your advantage? What makes your style stand out from the competition?
I feel good being a woman! (laughs) I suppose I kind of ignore it most times. I don't like to focus on the fact that I'm a woman. I won't do any events that book me just because of that . . . or that insist I dress a certain way, or wear a bikini. If I choose to, all good. But if that's the only reason you want me, get someone else. There are plenty other female 'DJs' with that shtick . . . and way bigger boobs.
I'm used to catching a lot of flack going into a place, and I don't blame people. Like I said, a lot of female DJ’s focus more on their appearance than their skills, and that gives the good ones a bad rap. But if I do my job well I usually surprise people, and I like it that way. If I continue to succeed, or gain a huge opportunity, I want to know that it's because I work hard and am great at my job, not because I'm a girl. It would mean a lot more, so I don't ever want to abuse it.
What are your long-term aspirations? What can we expect in the future from Jessica Who?
I just want to keep doing what I'm doing for now. I'm having a blast, and I really just started. Six and a half years is nothing in this profession. I want to keep learning and getting better, and travel, and then make some music eventually. And when I can't do it anymore, I'll move on to my fallback plan and become an astronaut.
Catch DJ Jessica Who at Dirty Hairy Wednesdays at LIV (4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; (305) 674-4680) and at Poplife presents Saturdays at Grand Central (697 N Miami Avenue, Miami; (305) 377-2277). Visit her website at www.artistrelated.com/djjessicawho.