DJing at a stack of club venues and festivals, Luen has recently returned from presenting and selecting on main stages across Groovin’ the Moo’s National Festival tour, playing at Splendour in The Grass festival and has previously played Strawberry Fields, Secret Garden Festival, Tasmania’s Dark MOFO and more.
Luen’s likewise known to many as one of triple’s j’s lively hosts – a long-time member of the jjj’s family; she’s currently a weekly late night presenter, and has filled in for the station heavyweights on Good Nights, House Party and Weekend Arvos. Luen is digs deep to source fresh talent; her consistent finds have built her a reputation of being a woman with great taste and found her throwing parties for companies such as VICE and Ableton. Founding the online mixtape series and management company Hand Games, Luen hand-sourced over 300 of Australia’s most forward-thinking bands and producers for monthly compilations.
Hey Luen! So glad we can catch you in the middle of your Australasian headline tour and the upcoming Claptone: The Masquerade Ball! You’re a dedicated DJ, how do you manage to stay on top of everything?
Luen Jacobs: Hey! Dedicated woo, perhaps! I guess you just fall into a rhythm, I don’t like to look too far ahead so usually i’m prepping for the weekend coming up! This weekend is Newcastle, Wollongong and Sydney, I’m super excited about Pavlova bar which is on Sunday as it’s a 6 hour set so I’m going to really concentrate on getting all my music together, categorising it, buying some new interesting tracks and ensuring I’ve got all my favourites too!
And will there be anything Luen will be doing differently in this tour compared to last year’s national tour?
LJ: Just new music and a bigger smile! The longer I dj the more I enjoy it.
You have come a long way, from starting Hand Games, writing for Noisey, curating events for Vice Magazine and curating your own parties through Taxx! And now you have presented on FBi, triple j, opened for Honey Dijon and played at Australia’s biggest music festivals! What has been the best project that you worked on?
LJ: I really love making zines with my friends and am working on a new one now, so far we have articles from Nabihah Iqbal (a rad musicologist, producer and radio presenter) and Ewan Jansen, my current favourite producer, he runs Red Ember Records and all his releases are A+. I’m working on that with up and coming dj/ Canberra legend Genie.
…and to follow up, what has been the best DJ gig you have played?
LJ: Well, the first time I played Pavlova Bar it was a dream come true as it’s always been my favourite place to go dancing in Sydney and was also my first 6 hour set so there was that challenging aspect. I also had friends and family there which made it a really communal which is missing from shows sometimes. But a close second was supporting Peggy Gou because she had this heaving crowd who were hyped as fuck, she started late so I got to play to the crowd for an extra hour. It was full blown craziness + she’s a lovely human so meeting her was a pleasure.
You obviously have a knack for this industry, but has it always been an interest? Where did 16 year old Luen think she’d be now?
LJ: 16 year old Luen, hmmm. My Favourite subject when I was 16 was film and television and thats what I went to uni for as well. I loved editing but I’ve lost that talent a bit now. Or maybe it’s just lying dormant ;). I think I’d be dreaming of being a big time indie film maker.
Your music is very diverse – dance, experimental and traditional from every corner in the world. How do you find your music, and where did the interest in this broad genre come from?
LJ: I started out being obsessed with Australian music and all of it’s diversities, electronica, hip hop, ambient, rock, psychedelic, house and techno, punk and garage and when I started djing I just pulled from this existing knowledge and looked outside of our own backyard. First exploring the roots of the genres I already loved and then learning more about dance music. I’ve only been listening to dance music for about 5 years so I’m still learning every day! I listen to Dj’s in the club and ask them for track ID’s, follow record labels on soundcloud, ask my friends for suggestions etc. Also I find presenting a radio show holds you accountable for finding new music constantly because you owe it to your listeners to be showing them new and exciting music in every episode. If you want to check any of the shows I’ve presented recently they are on the Beats Of No Nation Soundcloud.
Has your taste/focus in music changed since you started DJing/selecting music? Or has it always been part of your brand to stick to a similar style?
LJ: I have gone through many changes, I started as a beats and hip hop dj then started to explore traditional music from around the world and am now excited about dance music (house, techno, acid etc) while still pulling from my previous influences.
Who is your dream b2b?
LJ: Honey Dijon.
What are five tracks you love to play in as many DJ sets as you can?
Arto Mwambe – Noh Ngamebo
Justin Herbst – Traces
Farley Jackmaster Funk – Love Can’t Turn around
Mr G – Blessed
Akwaaba Music Rocky Marsiano – Psycho Baio
What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
LJ: I’m training for a half Marathon and then my husband and I are going travelling around South America for a year in July. Going through the US first and will hopefully pick up some shows around the states before going trekking in the amazon and drinking my weight in tequila in Mexico!
Finally, what is your favourite movie soundtrack and why?
LJ: Man, my mind was blown watching Birdman and listening to the soundtrack for that. The whole film has solo Jazz Percussion and is unlike anything I’d ever seen or heard before in a big motion film.