As first lady of the quirky Dirtybird crew, DJ and producer J. Phlip is everybody’s homegirl with an impeccable taste in all things booty bass. Starting her career at the age of 19 in Champaign, Illinois, armed with some cheap belt-drive decks and a mixer, her tenacity and audio-engineering degree eventually led her to a permanent vacation in San Francisco after meeting the Dirtybird guys. Ever since, she’s been busy producing hits like “California” with Claude VonStroke and, more recently, this year’s solo hit single “Say My Name.” We chatted with J. Phlip about her upcoming releases, closing out the Movement Festival, and her favorite SF hangouts. Dirtybird BBQ takes place this Sunday, September 14 at Treasure Island featuring Claude VonStroke, Justin Martin, J.Phlip, and more. The show is sold out but you can still win tickets here.
[jump] Congrats on a successful summer, especially closing out the Beatport Stage at Movement Festival! What was that like?
Thanks! It was absolutely one of the best moments of my entire life. I can't even put it into words really what it was like. People who have grown up going to Movement(previously named DEMF) can understand what I was feeling. It was beyond unreal. It was like something that never happens, but it happened. I wasn't “supposed” to be playing that timeslot/stage yet. But I felt comfortable and natural on the decks there that night, which I don't often feel when I play large stages at large festivals. My mom has always said the stars were aligned the day I was born… ok maybe that's cheesy. But after that shit happened I might actually believe her. Love you mom.
From tiny basements to large stages, is there anywhere you haven't played but want to?
I'd like to play Panorama Bar in Berlin sometime. I could really make a special set for that room. It would be incredible to have that opportunity because I love that club so much. I'd like to play anywhere I haven't played really. The amount of clubs and festivals are just out of control. I can't even keep up with it all. I'd love to drop sets at any of the many festivals happening in Croatia these days. Seems like that's quite the hotspot. I want to see, play, and experience Glastonbury at least once. I love to play small parties too…there's probably some top-secret underground amazingness going on somewhere that I don't even know about! Space Ibiza and Xoyo London seem like places where I would love to get down as well.
We saw that you were holed up in the studio during July. What were/are you currently working on in the studio?
Yeah that turned into a bit of a disaster actually…I moved into one of the very few studio spaces I could find in San Francisco, and was under the impression that the rooms had been sound-proofed, but after spending so much time and money on acoustic treatments for the room I came across the very sad realization that I could not produce music there because of the loud bands practicing in the rooms around me. I tried to work around the bands schedules but it just wasn't possible. Live and learn I guess.
So I moved out and into a new home in SF and my studio is back in my bedroom, and I really love it. I just finished an abstract beatless track for me and Chris Lorenzo's collaboration EP coming out on Safer at Night. I’m wrapping up some new material for Dirtybird. I also got some ideas brewing for other labels that I like. Huxley and I are planning to link up and make a second track together. And I'm always working and digging for my sets!
Will you be releasing a single any time soon?
Yes the Lights and Walls EP will be coming out on Safer at Night at the end of the month. Chris Lorenzo and I wrote those together in my room in SF almost a year ago. I really love the tracks. I play them all the time and I’m very excited to see the being released finally.
San Francisco is one of your home bases. What are three necessary places you must visit when you come back?
Well the dry cleaners, laundromat, shoe repair, alterations/tailor, doctor, post office, grocery store…(laughs) that's some real life talk – but for real, these are all the places I have to hit up as soon as I am home.
But here are some more fun places. I like Kiji Sushi – it's my relax reset button. It’s my favorite sushi place thus far that I have experienced in my life. Kiji the best. Tori is my hairdresser currently stationed at Cowboys & Angels. Absolute genius with color. I will follow her 'til the day I die. Thanks for making my hair pretty Tori! And lastly, my boyfriend’s bed. You know it. And no, you cannot join!
Now how does the Dirtybird crew manage to stay so grounded and fun?
It's just natural and who we are as people. If someone is slippin’ on either of those key elements of our crew we set them straight and then it's game on. The boys have had to set me straight a few times to be honest on some mistakes I have made. We all have our slip-ups but we are really like a fam in the way we deal with issues. A tiny bit of tough love here and there keeps things in order.
How did you manage to become the DJ that's everyone's homegirl?
I just started hangin’ out. I was just there. And I'm just a homegirl by nature. I’m used to hanging out with a bunch of dudes, and girls that are super rad too. Real deal chicks that are down.
Can you share with us a Dirtybird family secret? Or all they all closely-guarded?
Hmm, I don’t know really. I know a lot about the Dirtybird guys current and past lives and embarrassing stories that have come out over the years. They aren't secrets; it's just stuff you find out when you spend a lot of time together. And stuff we won't really share with others (laughs).
It'll be pretty surreal to have all you back for Dirtybird BBQ again. What has been some of your favorite moments in Dirtybird BBQ SF history?
All the BBQs I ever attended were special to me. I can’t think of a particular moment. There were really great times that I will keep with me forever.
What can we catch you chowing down BBQ-wise?
Anything Grillson cooks will be devoured by yours truly. Grillson da bomb!
J. Phlip performs this Sunday, September 14, at Dirtybird BBQ (Treasure Island), show is sold out.