By Cooper Saver
Jeniluv, the woman behind seminal party series’ Making Shapes & Who Is Jack?, and an incredible amount of starry-eyed late-nights up and down the West Coast (and beyond), took time out of her busy schedule to record an exclusive mix for RN and sit down with Cooper Saver to answer some questions. If you didn’t know already, Jeni is a true local hero that has been sculpting the underground nightlife scene in California for many years now — a veteran raver & life-liver, with more stories than she could recount in one sitting. Take a moment, press play on the mix and read on…
Making Shapes is turning 10 years old — tell us a bit about how the party began and some of your favorite moments looking back. And what’s coming up next to celebrate?
Making Shapes began when my friend Alexandre (Sonns) & I wanted to do something a bit different for LA in the underground – our idea was to combine the classic LA underground with the emerging Hollywood underground music scene. Hollywood artists like Thee Mike B, Acid Girls, Paul Devro, The Cosmic kids on line ups with J Disko, TK Disko, Solar, John Tejada, Mark E Quark, Justin Martin – and bring in International talent like Simian Mobile Disco, Thomas, Benoit & Sergio, Ewan Pearson, Ivan Smagghe, Mark E and the list goes on.
This kind of large line up mix was not happening in LA underground at the time. We wanted a bigger production so we found a friend’s warehouse space, it had two rooms, a bar area and a small indoor “pool” we turned into a laser filled hot tub swim area. We arranged Turbo Sound in both rooms, large DJ booths, lasers, and projections all throughout the party. The first Making Shapes had about 400 people attend. The second had about 700 and from that point on we could rely on at least 2000 people showing up. We had to rent parking lots a couple miles away and city buses to shuttle everyone to our secret location. I had never seen anything like it before. It was great!
My favorite moments looking back were every party at that original warehouse with the pool. We have continued the Shapes tradition of bringing in cutting edge talent mixed with our older roots and have collaborated several times with Lot 613 for legal events and the Diversion outdoor street party.
Recently we had DJ Nobu from Japan come play for us in the underground and he stayed with me for a week, his birthday landed during and we had the best time together record shopping, eating, drinking, dancing, talking and becoming good friends…
So guess my favorite thing about Making Shapes, is spending quality time with our artists – having a unique person, like-minded, international family really makes me feel safe and loved in this world wherever I am.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on how the LA underground has evolved since you first moved here from SF – you’ve been heavily involved since then.
It has evolved in a lot of ways. Socially expanded, especially through social media. Many layers of electronic music scenes have their parties. SO MANY artists coming through LA now, it’s amazing. The ideas, colors, images and branding of the events have been really fun to watch happen. We are a vast land of promoters now, but when the shit has gone down I’ve seen everyone come together to inform each other of how to stay safe, continue our work – keep the underground thriving for our community. A lot of local Los Angeles underground artists are being recognized worldwide for their DJing, production and labels as well – now more than ever.
What’s the story behind Roam Recordings? You’ve joined the family over the last year or so, what are you currently working on?
Roam is an independent dance music label that’s been a part of the San Francisco scene for about 17 years now. First launched out of FRESH (an SF afterhours and studio institution) a storefront studio/ live work space next door to The Top on Haight St.
JP Soul & his friend Chad Mitchell come from the East Coast and spent much of their young raver lives “roaming” the country for solid parties – hence the name. Roam focused on local talent, putting out almost every great artist to come out of San Francisco at least once, their discography is a San Fran house music history lesson.
They took me on last year to re-brand, curate artists and do some promotions in hopes to reach a broader dance floor audience. I had never worked with a label before but I was up to the challenge, JP and I have been good friends for 20 years and I wanted the label to succeed. I believed in its promise to deliver quality music on vinyl records.
You’ve been highly regarded as a selector for many years and as of the last few years you’ve been focusing a bit more on production – did you ever feel much pressure to make music in the past or is it something you just feel more comfortable with now? Any exciting projects you’re creating at the moment?
I never felt pressure to make the music, I was always so focused on DJing and collecting music. I play instruments enough to jam out with a band or in the studio. I went to music production school and learned studio basics, programming, equipment… I am putting together one now finally, and I feel good behind the controls – its a very emotional space for me actually creating the sounds. I look forward to indulging in all my ideas for this next phase of my dance music career.
Currently I’ve had access to the Roam studio in SF with JP Soul and we love working together. The tracks are good and we have a lot of fun, so we became JP & Vulinej. We have remixed Que Sakamoto’s “Lalo” and it comes out this month with another remix by Magic Touch. We are working on an EP and I also have some productions in the works as Vulinej (which is my name backwards).
Apart from Making Shapes, you work on a few other conceptual events. You mentioned before that you’re going to start focusing a bit more on live acts?
I do the Who is Jack events, which I started 7 years ago as a solo project. The concept was to play who influenced me throughout my early years as a raver and DJ. It has that old school “Jack” thing but it has become much more – I see it now as a true underground party for LA where i can throw up a sound system and play whoever I want from DJ Funk to Dorisburg live.. if the music is good I will play you, and I like to focus on local LA DJ’s.
I have this idea to do a live series with Who is Jack, more so than I have done/ have seen it done in LA – so I’ve curated a few live upcoming shows including Tevo Howard, Bezier, Woolfy vs Projections and more…
And as far as the gigs go, where can we see you in the near future? Some exciting local appearances and big travel plans in the books yeah?
I have my first “all night” 7 hour DJ experience in LA on Feb. 11th which this mix and interview will run parallel with promo on! I am very excited to have this opportunity to give to myself in Los Angeles, I see and dance to DJ’s all around the world doing just this and I hope it inspires other local selectors to do the same – on a big system with all your friends and more. I’ll come.
A Club Called Rhonda has asked me to play so I will be making my debut at one of my favorite parties in LA soon!
I will be going out to Rainbow Disco Club in Japan for my 40th birthday, a festival my old SF rave partner Carlos Gibbs helped launch. A very unique festival in the mountains. I’ll be traveling Japan for a month, and playing with DJ Nobu in Fujisawa on May 13th as well as some Tokyo gigs that are lining up now…and drinking sake, eating sushi, sitting in hot springs and searching for death metal techno disco.
Catch the Jeniluv ALLLL NIGHT LONG, on Saturday, February 11th at her party JACK — RSVP is open now, and presales are moving quickly.