Jen Littlz has traveled far and wide to witness many of the finest talents in underground house and techno. She has been a fixture on Dallas dance floors since the '90s. In recent years she has taken that extensive dance floor knowledge behind the decks with her feet firmly planted in underground sounds. Littlz does double duty as a promoter to accompany her prowess. For this week's Mixtape Q&A, Littlz delves into her journey as a DJ from the perspective of someone that has had a front row seat for Dallas club culture of the past two decades.
How did you get started DJing?
I've been a long time supporter and promoter of our scene, but I didn't make the jump to DJing until recent years. People would ask me all the time, "Why don't you DJ?" because they enjoyed my collection of music. My excuse was always that I'd rather be on the dance floor; still I continued to collect a shit ton of music.
What was your collection like?
I started listening to electronic music when I was 10 years old living in Chicago. At that age it was a lot of Depeche Mode, New Order and LaTour. I quickly started collecting random European house compilations and mixes. Then I moved to Dallas in '92 and discovered Edgeclub. I listened religiously and started making mix tapes for my friends.
How did you get involved in the Dallas club scene?
At that time I was also really into roller/speed skating. I pretty much lived at the skating rink at night on weekends, and it was a place to hear some form of dance music. Eric Estornel and I were friends with the DJ up there. Sometimes Eric would drop some heat after hours on Saturdays. It was fun. I started hitting the clubs and underground parties pretty heavy in the late 90's. I hosted my first party in the backroom of Zubar in '05. (I think it was.) Since then, I've hosted a few parties at Crown & Harp and Sandaga 813.
How long have you been DJing?
I started casually messing around with turntables in 2005. Someone with a home setup would host after hours at the end of the night, and they'd ask me to play. I didn't know what I was doing at the time, I'd just dig through their collection and play. In 2011 I started carrying a book of music around with the intention of playing somewhere at the end of the night. Myles Francis and I would do sunrise tag sessions as "Space Penguin." I give him some credit for pushing me along in the beginning. In 2012 I got a Traktor S2 so I could start recording mixes, and within a couple months I had my first gig. Since then I have had the opportunity to play some of my favorite clubs in Dallas, along with some epic parties around the country including a few gigs in NYC, Black Rock City aka Burning Man, Austin and Shreveport.
How was this mix made? Is there a particular theme for the track selection?
This mix was made using Traktor with my S2 controller. There is no particular theme, but it's on the deeper side for sure. I just hope to take the listener on a journey.
What is your relationship with techno and house?
I really do have an equal love for both house and techno, but my roots are definitely in house. I collect a bunch of techno, more on the minimal side. Sometimes my mixes are a combination of both, or when I play out I'll start with tech house and ramp up to some techno at the end of my set.
I recently got to experience the Berlin institution that is Berghain. The vibe on that dance floor is like nothing I've ever seen. So intense. Techno is definitely a way of life in that city. It's pretty special, and I hope to return soon.
Which do you prefer to play when you're DJing then?
I'm definitely more comfortable with tech house and lean that direction when I play, but I think I'll eventually do more with minimal techno.
Where do you like to dig for tracks?
Most of my digging is between Soundcloud, Beatport and YouTube. My producer friends drop me some fresh stuff they are working on every now and then as well.
What gigs do you have in the near future?
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I'm very excited to be supporting my San Francisco house favorite, Sunshine Jones on his upcoming Texas tour dates. I'm teaming up with the Our House crew to host him here on Friday, 12/18 at that one place. Then we will play Viva Tacoland in San Antonio for the Southtown Vinyl Sound Series, on Saturday 12/19. I've got another collaboration with Our House lined up for early 2016, so stay tuned.
How did the Sunshine Jones gigs come about?
I've brought Sunshine to Dallas a couple times now. We reconnected in NYC after a Dubtribe Sound System show in 2011. I wanted to get him back in Dallas, and promised I could bring the right crowd, so he played my Birthday shindig in 2012. Since then we try to make it a semi regular thing. Earlier this year he connected me with the San Antonio crew that was interested in bringing him down, in hopes of teaming up for two dates. So that's what we're doing.
1. Canson - Kamtschatka
2. Soul Button - Come to Me
3. Enzo Siragusa - As We Are
4. Serge Devant - The Way You Move
5. Bjorn Mandry - When It Comes (Daso Remix)
6. Sascha Funke - Alles In Allem
7. Evan Michael - Fleck
8. Atom & Eev - Wallow It Up
9. Neferiel - Algoritma
10. Bela Brandes - Echo Panama
11. Below Bangkok, Kiano, Ray Saul - 26th of August
12. Tom Demac - Emerge (Phil Kieran Remix)
13. Clarian - Wasting Away Again in Moderation