From Goth's Black Magic to, Uh, "Magic"
Most people know Justine D. as one half of the Motherfucker DJing duo. Along with Michael T., she's been one of the most visible local DJs and promoters in the city, at the helm of one of our longest-running and most successful parties. May 27 marks a double victory for Justine (last name, Delaney) and Motherfucker: The event's seventh anniversary celebration will also serve as the record-release party for Justine's solo mix CD, Rvng Prsnts MX5, out on a label called Rvng. (Yes, that's revenge without the E's.)
Awkward spelling aside, it's a surprising collection for those only familiar with Justine's sets at Mofo. On the 23-song disc, Justine's inner goth girl comes out, with Nitzer Ebb's "Warsaw Ghetto" and Ministry's "All Day Remix," standing shoulder to shoulder with the Orb's ambient techno favorite "Little Fluffy Clouds" and Hot Chip's "No Fit State." The CD is the fifth in a series that has already included mixes by other well-respected locals such as Mike Simonetti and Dan Selzer, as well as Justine's talented boyfriend , Tim Sweeney of DFA fame. The Rvng label is run by Matt Werth and Dave P, Justine's occasional cohort over at Philly's Making Time party. They've only pressed a thousand copies of the CD and placed them in small specialty shops around the world, like Colette in Paris and Rough Trade and Picadilly Records in London. So far the response is positiveeven the ever-cynical Pitchfork gave the mix a 7.4.
In her remaining downtime, in addition to indulging her affinity for knitting and quilting, the 30-year-old New York Cityborn-and-bred pretty lady (as I like to call her) is busy sharing booking duties at Studio B, which has fast become the venue of choice for discerning indie and dance music lovers, its Greenpoint location not being detrimental in the least. I called Justine up to give her the second degree. (She's too nice for the third.)
How long have you been DJing?
Why did you decide to do a solo record?
I thought it would be a good way to really show people what my tastes are. A lot of people in New York know me as a certain type of DJ because of Motherfucker. A lot of my tastes are kind of eclectic and not as mainstream. It's much weirder and darker, and I can't play that stuff at a party at 3 a.m. Most of the tracks I put on there stem from my high school years, what I wanted to put on a mix if I knew that hundreds or thousands of people would hear it. I was clubbing in New York then, so I put a lot of goth and industrial on there. People don't play that out that much anymore.
Why haven't you broken out on your own before?
I guess because the opportunity never came up. A lot of the male DJs who, you know, really want to establish themselves as a traveling DJ and put out mix CDs and produce musicthat's not what I want to do. I just approached it as a bunch of my favorite songs not necessarily to spin out on the dance floor. The DJs that put mixes out that are dance-heavyit's not what I want to do. My mix isn't a resume. It's more like, this is the other type of music I am into. Maybe you haven't heard these songs, so have a listen.
How many records do you own, and how many rooms do they take up?
A thousand. I haven't counted in eight or nine years. It's all vinylabout a wall and a half.
How do you have your records organized?
There are three categories: dance music, old school hip-hop and disco stuff, and the largest section is everything elsethat goes from new wave to rock to new indie stuff. Everything from Fad Gadget to Judas Priest to, like, Air. That large section is the biggest, and it should be in alphabetical order, but it's not anymore. I can't really find anything right now. I also collect a lot of 45s, which are on top of my record shelf in 45 boxes.
What's your most prized record?
Michael Goodstein, who used to be a DJ on WFMU, gave me an original copy of Arthur Russell's "Let's Go Swimming," which he got for a dollar and which is now actually a pretty expensive 12-inch.
What is the first record you ever bought for yourself?
Do you remember Columbia House? My brother and I were allowed to choose a tape of our choice every time my parents would order. The first record I willingly chose was New Edition. I was 6 or 7 years old. One of the first records I bought with my own money when I was a teenager was Bauhaus' The Sky Has Gone Out. I was 14. I went to Sam Goody on Queens Boulevard and I bought that tape. That record helped change my life. I had never heard anything like that before.
What was the first record someone gave you?
My dad used to buy me records. One of the first records he bought me was an Olivia Newton-John greatest hits record. I still have it. I really like "Magic." I used to practice my penmanship on it. I would put it on the table and put my paper over it, and practice my penmanship, and I would look at Olivia Newton-John's face because I thought she was so pretty. If you look at the sleeve in a certain light, you can see my penmanship as a little girl. She's amazing. She was so big in the '80s, you couldn't really deny her. It's a predominately white cover: She's wearing a white knit shoulder shirt and super-tight white stretch cotton pants. The fonts are in purple and pink, and I remember loving that. She had like frosted hair and beige makeup. Michael and I talk about Olivia Newton-John a lot. We both enjoy her.
What's your favorite club in the city to play?
I really liked playing at Love that one night. The DJ booth and sound system, while it was so intimidating, it was so exciting. If I could play on that system every night, I would want to DJ more. I think a lot of clubs don't focus on good sound, which is such a shame.
What do you listen to at home?
Nothing, 'cause I sit in silence. I think because at night I work in this crazy nightclub, and it's usually pretty loud.
If the world were to end, what is the song you'd want to hear?
Probably something by Bowie. Probably "Heroes."
What question do you wish people would ask you but never do?
"How are you?" People always talk about themselves off the bat. I never get asked, "How are you?" Especially in a nightclub environment. People are always talking about their latest release, where they are going to next, where their career is going. Just "How are you, Justine?" That's what I would like to hear.
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