Truancy Volume 213: Juana

Born into an artistic and musical family in Chicago, Juana’s passion for music began early in childhood with the sound of her dad’s guitar, a gifted record from her mother, local rock radio stations and wedding reception dances. Turning this early enthusiasm for dance music into a full-time job, Juana now moves and inspires others through genre-hopping DJ sets driven by powerful acapellas, original edits and unique blends. Since moving to Washington, DC 15 years ago, Juana has found a home for her ecstatic sets, drawing the attention and admiration of both local dancers and international promoters. A fixture in the DC electronic scene, Juana delivers dance music with contagious energy, often closing out nights for more well-known, European headliners.

As part of the SEQUENCE underground collective of DC-based DJs and promoters, she can be found on the roster at any one their weekly parties around the city. In addition to her involvement with the local nightlife scene, Juana is part of the growing and impactful DISCWOMAN roster, and has recently taken her thrilling sets to more international dancefloors. Despite her growing profile, Juana remains one of the most kind and humble in the business, content to focus on sharing her lifelong love of music with others. Her Truancy Volume for us epitomizes that sentiment, and is a warm embrace of a mix that is sure to have you dancing. In the following interview, we talk about her early musical experiences, current influences, creative outlets, production methods, the state of the DC scene and her upcoming summer plans.

Hey, Juana! Feels like summer already here in DC. Have you been enjoying the warm weather? How do you spend your free time? “I like the heat and humidity. I’m a lizard of some kind. Favourite free moments are spent reading, being grumpy about politics on Twitter, or with friends hangin’ in somebody’s backyard or a park, or just playing records of course.”

What were some of your earliest experiences with music? Do you remember the first records you collected? “Always been surrounded by music. Earliest memories: Dad covering Strawberry Letter 23 on his guitar; my mom getting me a copy of Stevie Wonder’s “Hotter Than July” to start my record collection at age 4; getting into rock via WLS in Chicago with my aunts Jada and Julie; jackin to house music for the first time at my cousin Jackie’s wedding reception.”

How have your musical tastes changed over the years? Has this impacted your DJ sets? “It hasn’t really changed, and my love and appreciation for everything shapes me all the time. For example, I love to throw JC Mellencamp’s “Crumblin Down” in a house set. (Just trust me lol.) I grew up in a really dope family and I’ve learned from some really amazing DJs, collectors, and party people that it’s not what you play but how you play it. Lots to learn.”

How would you describe the electronic music scene in DC? Have you seen significant change over the years? “Scene is growing, but not like a nice garden; like wild flowers or some shit. Kind of random and mysterious but really beautiful. It’s always evolving and exciting; the city’s a magnet for amazing minds.”

Are there any venues you particularly enjoy DJing at? What do you think makes for a good party? “Nope. Just make it dark and fill it with good people who let you be you.”

Anyone in particular who’s inspired you lately? Any single record you can’t stop playing? “Too many to name but locally I am mad about Rush Plus and some guy named Furtive. Sylaa/Rene Hell’s track “Incredible” makes me batshit.”

When did you start producing your own tracks? Do you have plans to release your own music? “I’ll release something when somebody steps correct. Low key I am making music all the time.”

How do you approach making a mix versus preparing a DJ set? Do you find that producing music fulfills a different creative outlet? “They both have a similar creative process, and yes, producing is a whole different ballgame but also pretty similar. When I mix, I do lots of lil live edits and fuck with acapellas and pre-edit tracks that I really enjoy so I can try to give people something special to dance to. I try not to just blend but to make a whole new song out of other peoples’ shit lol I dunno I just have fun.”

How do you go about finding new music? Do you have a favorite record shop? “I dig everywhere. Beatport, Bandcamp, Broken Crayon, Juno, Gramophone. No fave.”

Anything you’d like to share about the mix you’ve made for us? “I was tired of making the same kind of mix. So I made a track and then built it around that.”

Any upcoming shows you’re really excited about? Do you have any big plans for the summer? “Going to play Canada (Montreal+Toronto) and the EU (Lisbon+Amsterdam) this summer! Plus a trip or two to go tackle hug my fam and squish my amazing nephew’s giant cheeks!”

Fred P. – State of No State (Original Mix)
Walt J – Reborn 1 (DJ Qu’s Journey Towards Birth Remix)
Fred P. – State of No State (Original Mix)
Juana – LKTMMNDFLTNGWY (raw and unreleased)
Shawn Rudiman – Ruffcut (Original Mix)
Kitkatone – Ears Burning (Original Mix)
Setaoc Mass – Left Behind
Rush Plus – A2 – Rebirth
The Electric 10 – Ex-Pr (Original Mix)
ElitrickKids – Shadows (Original Mix)
He/aT – Into The Snake Pit (Live)
Oliver Way – Lucky Dip (Original Mix)
Phil Moffa, Anthony Parasole – Atlantic Ave (Original Mix)
Charles Fenckler – Raven (Original Mix) + K-1 – Face Your Fate (Acapella)
Alignment – Confession (Original Mix)
Fiedel – Substance B (Original Mix)
Electric 10 + Kerri Chandler (Juana’s edit and smush)
J Velez – Lost Highway (Original Mix)

Juana: Soundcloud, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

Photo by C. Zlomek

Taylor Trostle