Tuesday, November 01, 2005

interview with lady espina

by Chris Milbourn ~ photo courtesy of MinaCapa Productions ~ As one of the most anticipated DJ's in the Midwest, Lady Espina has the curious and investigative nature that breeds new and perhaps foreign concepts behind the decks. A youthful zing allows her to genuinely enjoy perfrming live and in stere-ere-o. And to you ladies who aspire to spin records...listen up. Lady Espina is a dreamer, and I draw the notion that she's not completely content, which is a good thing. Taken from her own web site, Espina says "Never stop believing."

She has aspirations to record a new studio mix with the integration of Final Scratch, MP3's and vinyl before the new year. Bogged down at the moment with work and more work, she relishes the looming new year in which she will be able to "experiment with production here and there, and this area of my life will grow soon as well," and she adds "I hope to DJ and produce more in the spring when my work and school schedule aren’t quite as hectic, which is when I can concentrate on my hobbies more." She has roots in the south...the deep south. But don't ask to take her out for gumbo.

You mentioned school has been kicking your butt lately. What college do you go to?

I’m a lifelong learner. Currently, I’m enrolled in courses in the Spanish department at the University of Iowa; my main area of interest is Spain. I love Spanish history and XVI/XVII century literature. Spain was undergoing changes from a more feudal to capitalist society, and I enjoy reading work in this genre. In particular, Don Quixote by Cervantes and the work Lazarillo de Los Tormes. You could say I sort of geek out on this stuff, but it’s good for the mind. I’ve completed my requirements in the Communication Studies dept and am aiming for double degrees to be completed in December 2005, so just around the corner. My future academic or school plans are to possibly look into graduate studies or in another vein, I’d like to explore either alternative/traditional medicine, culinary arts or massage therapy.

Are you aiming for minacapa.com to be a kind of online magazine?

The plan was something like that. Before I decide to expand in that vein, I’d like to teach myself some more advanced graphic design such as Flash or Dreamweaver. I haven’t had the chance to experiment with other formats so sprucing up the look of my page is my first priority. From there I’d like to work with a format that will be easily updatable and accessible to a public. So I’ll probably go with some sort of a blog or livejournal format so that people are actually reading. Kind of silly to have a site with all this extra info if no one knows it exists. So, yes, I will be expanding Mina Capa Productions into more than it’s current state. My goal is to have this completed by Spring 2006. It’ll be a fun hibernation project.

I listened to your live mix with Terrence Parker and I came away with very exotic undertones. Tell me about your roots and ethnicity.

I was born in Concepcion, Chile and raised in Iowa City, IA. I’m a mix between Spanish and Indigenous blood. My father’s side is of Spanish descent and my mother’s side is Indigenous from the Diaguita Indians of northern Chile.

As far as the mix goes, I wanted to play some tracks that had enough variety for the dance floor. As a warming up DJ for Terrence Parker, it was important to set just the right vibe for him and for the crowd. I love to dance, and usually will end up dancing while mixing as soon as I feel comfortable enough. Depending on how sturdy the set up is will determine if I’ll bounce around very much. There have been a couple of times where I have to take it easy cause I’ll end up skipping the stylus, in the end, it is all in good fun!

How do you approach DJing on the radio as opposed to DJing at a party?

The main difference with my approach to either one is taking into consideration the listening audience. As a DJ for 89.7 KRUI FM, “Iowa City’s Sound Alternative”, I would usually plan my sets out more meticulously and try and find out more about the artist, any news I might talk about, new releases, new projects or collaborations etc. I would play a lot of different styles including IDM, hiphop, various electronica and dance, and try to keep up to date as possible. The environment is different, usually it would just be me, for one semester I had a co-host, Bret aka DJ Glitch, and the rest is just talking into a microphone and messing around. You really never know who is listening.

When I’m playing vinyl out, my audience is right there, and I’m trying more and more now to not plan my sets out at all. It’s important to have general direction, but room for spontaneity is necessary so that you can create a feeling between DJ and the receiving end. It is a reciprocal process really because the DJ needs to feel love back from the crowd in order to perform their best. I think the same would go for anyone in rock group or a band, the way in which your audience responds in part of an important process of communication between both parties. My favorite DJ’s and live acts are with those musicians who are enjoying themselves while performing. I like to see live instruments and movement, not just the musician and their laptop, who knows what they are doing really, they could be checking their email or playing solitaire. Laptop live p.a.’s can sound good and all, and I know it is not easy, I don’t know how to do it, it just isn’t very engaging for the audience in my opinion.

What kind of advice would you give to up and coming female DJ's?

I sort of consider myself and up and coming female DJ still. I’ve established myself in the Midwest, so I guess that counts for something! To aspiring DJ’s in general, you are going to get a bunch of shotty gig’s with some organizer who doesn’t know what they are doing half the time, and you’ll end up playing on some shafty system. I’ve played on all of it, those gigs are sometimes annoying and discouraging, but it comes with the territory. There are tons and tons of DJs out there, the most important thing is to have fun and when you do land that gig that goes smooth as butter, and you play your heart out and your face hurts because you smiled so hard, it is worth all the bullshit you’ve endured. Just do what you are into, and don’t let anyone pull you down.

As far as female DJ’s go, look towards the various female DJ support sites on the web. You’ll be able learn about other women into electronic music, their styles, links to mixes, production information, interviews, bios, etc. My recommendations are shejay.net, hardstepsistaz.com, femalepressure.net, and sistersf.com. Each site features a community of female DJ’s and producers. There are so many women doing amazing things with electronic music, more and more are producing, and have moved into the forefront. Some of my favorite producers are women, such as Bjork, Ellen Allien, Electric Indigo, Miss Dinky and Miss Kitten. I learned of a female DJ from Chicago who rocks my socks off known as SubK. Knowing that other females are pushing particular sounds is very encouraging to keep growing and learning more about techno.

It is a very large world of electronic and dance out there, with multiple facets involved. There are various online record stores, forums, zines, communities and ways to explore your area of interest. It can be overwhelming; it just takes patience, time, perseverance, and dedication. I’m learning new things everyday about who’s making what, new labels, old artists and the roots of the techno movement. Look every which way you can and try not to get lost, never stop growing and learning more, you can only go up.
Finally, out of pure curiousity, what do you think of DJ's in McDonald's commercials?

I’m not a fan on McDonald’s, the food or fast food in general. I eat sushi, lots of fruits and vegetables, buy strictly organic milk and yogurt, and usually don’t make many stops to fast food joints. It’s really hard to DJ after eating a cheeseburger; it makes my hands too greasy.

It’s a tough question what I would do if I was asked to be sponsored by McDonald’s, do it for the money and for publicity, although I can’t stand food, or not do it based upon my strong dislike for the corporation and it’s effects.

DJing is beginning to more and more a part of pop culture in a way. You can DJ together two I Pods, two virtual decks on some computer program, use mp3’s to DJ with time code records like on final scratch, or use two CDJ’s. The possibilities are endless. I’ve seen DJing in candy commercials, fast food commercials, retail commercials (some Sear’s or JC Penney advertisement), it works as a selling device and is catchy, and corporations know this, that is why they use it. If I was asked to be featured in a commercial other than McDonald’s, I would probably consider it.

Don't Miss DJ The Lady Espina, Live at PHALLOUT on November 18, 2005! Check the calendar for details!

To learn more about The Lady Espinay and to download special performance sets directly from her web site,MinaCapa.com!

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