From the Illinois cornfields to Dirtybird, we put J Phlip to the test with our quick-fire questions.

Vitali Gelwich Photography Fotografie berlin studio vreeze j.phlip 4

Why music?

It gives my life purpose. It always has.

If you weren’t making music what would you be doing?

Something audio engineering related.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My dad told me to find something that I love doing and figure out how to get paid for it.

What inspires you?

My friends really inspire me the most. Their taste, their talent, their drive, their love for life and fun and working hard/playing hard… They are all seriously amazing.

What’s the next big thing?

My South Africa tour with Justin Martin and Ardalan and my best friend Anu. First Dirtybirds to play in South Africa! And then Europe tour opening for Claude again.

Best club experience?

Panorama Bar shutters opening on Sunday morning. I’ve never played there but it’s for sure one of the best clubs in the world. It is our church.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Working in the cornfields in Illinois was pretty brutal. I also worked at a video game company and I really hated that. You have to give your life to the game… I wasn’t really down with that. Also I was one of the only women there. Either the guys were so nerdy they wouldn’t talk to me, or they would creep into my room and hit on me. It sucked.

How do you know when a track’s finished?

Put it in the oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes… Should be pretty done after that.

I worked at a video game company. Either the guys were so nerdy they wouldn't talk to me, or they would creep into my room and hit on me. It sucked.

What was your last day job and when did you realise you could give it up?

After college, despite having an engineering degree, I just bartended for several years. Bartending allowed me to make quick cash and have a flexible schedule while I pursued DJing and taught myself to produce. My final bartending job was at the Beach Chalet in San Francisco. It’s an awful touristy restaurant. I got fired right after putting out my first Dirtybird record and signing Andrew as my booking agent. I no-showed or was late for too many of my 9am bullshit Sunday brunch shifts. I pretty much blame it on this techno party that used to be in SF called Kontrol. I was usually better off making it to work if I just didn’t sleep. I took it as a sign to go for it with the music no matter how scary it was.

Which song do you wish you wrote?

I joke that I wish I could borrow other producers’ brains sometimes. Some of the ones that come to mind lately are Boddika, Throwing Snow, Dauwd and Ghost Culture.

What’s the easiest way to make it in the music industry?

Be born with money and buy your way in? Or not have to worry about the hustle I guess? I dunno!

What or who is underrated?

THROWING SNOW and all his additional monikers and side projects!

What or who is overrated?

Now that’s getting mean. I’ll only tell you in person.

What are you addicted to?

Gum, chapstick and snacks.

What do you lust over?

A Dave Smith Prophet (any model), a Jupiter-6 or 8, a TB-303, a place to live in San Francisco and a vintage Porsche convertible.

Who's overrated? That's mean. I'll tell you in person.

What is your greatest regret?

Wasting five years in college. OK, maybe not really, but sometimes.

What one thing would most improve your life?

An extra day in the week or any possible way to have more time.

What’s the worst gig you’ve ever played?

DJing in clothing stores is pretty shit.

Collaboration: rich creative experience or pain in the ass?

I usually learn a lot from collaborations. It’s great to see inside other producers’ brains and vice-versa. Once in a while multiple people in the studio can lead to way too much fun and total distraction – Whip-Its, booze and other nonsense.

What one piece of software/kit could you not do without? Why?

I guess Ableton. I did get a chance to try out Logic recently. Doesn’t really matter as long as I have some sort of DAW.  Unless I bought a reel-to-reel, I guess. Also the Waves plugins are totally essential.

Art or money?

Art = heart. But eventually you have to find a balance with the money thang because you gotta eat and live and San Francisco is crazy expensive.

Strangest place you ever wrote a track?

One time I set up my monitors over my bed and wrote a track there. It was fun but I got sleepy sometimes.

Must-read blogs/forums?

What’s your single biggest frustration in the music industry?

Over hype often being more important than actual talent. But part of the problem lies with the majority of listeners. So many of them just listen to whatever crap is put in their face, rather than having an ear of their own.

What’s your favourite label? Why?

Dirtybird, duh! Sense of humour, cool people, down to earth, and fun music with fresh sounds, ideas, and bass of course. The bird’s the word!

What’s the worst thing about making music?

Hearing the same loop for so long. It makes you insane. Or working on something for months that ends up being garbage in the end. It can be pretty heartbreaking.

What’s your motto?

Not having fun is not an option.

Tweet us a tip. What’s the best production advice you can give in 140 characters or less?

Take it to the moon.


J Phlip’s ‘Say My Name’ is out now on Dirtybird. Find her on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.

12th February, 2014


  • very inspirational for me because I’m also trying to learn Ableton by myself

  • Pure inspiration!! I feel obliged to go to her next show in my city now.

  • crap music.

  • crap music my ass……
    go listen to some more Trap you lame.
    JPhlip kills it…..


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