DJ Jena Red: Q&A
By far not a one-dimensional DJ, Jena Red delivers a blend of hip-hop, funk, and jazz to her crowds, but adapts her sound to any venue setting. Her versatility and passion for music is what keeps Jena one of NYC’s fastest rising DJ’s in the music and party scene. This bi-coastal/global DJ takes some time out of her busy schedule to chat with Inked about everything from her tattoos to what she does in her spare time.
Inked Magazine: When did you know you wanted to DJ? Was it a specific moment/event that forced your hand (no pun intended)?
DJ Jena Red: I have always been in love with music. I’ve always played instruments and just loved music, but I was introduced to a dj through a dj friend of mine. After watching him play and talking with him a bit after his set, I told him I wanted to learn how to play. He replied, ‘Yeah sure. All girls tell me that.’ The next day I went to his place and showed him I really wanted to learn. He was awesome. He wasn’t easy though. He insisted that I learn how to spin with wax or he wasn’t teaching me. I agreed (laughs). There was something about those turntables. The way it made me feel … to manipulate music in a positive way. I just fell in love with how [dj’ing] made me feel and I was hooked. I went straight to guitar center and bought all the equipment with a credit card and never looked back.
Inked: Out of all the tracks you use when spinning, which one never fails to get the crowd going?
Jena: There are so many, but I would say there are two that come straight to mind: Biggie’s ‘One More Chance’ and Tupac’s ‘California Love.’ I also love disco and funk.
Inked: I know it’s hard, but what is one type of music, a “default” genre if you will, that you listen to in your own time (outside of practicing and spinning events)? Asked differently, what is the “last played” list look like on your iPod?
Jena: I kind of got lost for a while in only listening to music for ideas of what to play when I spin; luckily I’ve been able to break from that a little. Just a little though (laughs). Lately I’ve been listening to Frank Ocean’s new album and a bunch of Black Keys. Childish Gambino has got some playtime. Hold on … I’m going to look at my phone right now (laughs). Led Zepplin, Neil Young, Chilli Peppers, Kings of Leon. That’s what was on my recently played.
Inked: You say, “I’ve always had a desire to find new music or even unpopular artists and bring attention to them.” Who are you doing that with recently?
Jena: I’ve been so busy spinning lately that I haven’t heard as many people as I would like, but Alabama Shakes and Ben Westbeech come to mind as people I heard and absolutely loved. They have great followings, but they aren’t commercial/mainstream.
Inked: Who’s throwing the best parties at the moment?
Jena: I don’t know honestly (laughs). I am working all the time. I have a residency at Ryu in the Meatpacking and am there most of the week. Some places I have been on my rare nights off are Griffin and Lavo. Really liked their scene and music.
Inked: When all the partying is over, how do you like to chill out?
Jena: Love to have lunch with friends and mellow out. Enjoy being by myself without any expectations. I always workout and love when I can go to the coffee shop and read. Depends on the day because I absolutely love hanging with friends, but also enjoy my alone time.
Inked: Which is your favorite tattoo and why?
Jena: Tough to answer that. I see my arm as one huge tattoo. I would say my favorite part of it is the dragon on my shoulder that spirals up and looks like a sun.
Inked: Who are a few tattoo artists you haven’t been Inked by, but would like to be?
Jena: I would have to say Kat Von D. She is incredible to me for various reasons, but she is a strong, hot woman and very good at what she does. Kat, if you read this, I want some ink! (laughs).
Inked: What is a crazy moment that sticks out to you that happened in the booth?
Jena: Oh, wow. Probably the night of my first headlining gig here in NYC. My day was crazy hectic and I was a little nervous. I just wanted to do well. So I hook everything up and one of the turntables wasn’t working. It wasn’t the end of the world, definitely not ideal, but I knew I could make do. An hour or two goes by and a friend of mine was trying to be sweet and brought me a drink. Unfortunately the drink spilled on the only working turntable. It was a mess.