Inner Circle: Jasmine Solano
by Paul Francois
"Energy! Energy! Flavor! Flavor!.......", those exact words describe Jasmine Solano. Whether due to her versatile selection of music, her commitment to building awareness towards social and humanitarian issues, or her distinct artistic sense and style, Jasmine Solano has established herself as a highly regarded and sought after talent in today's class of deejays.
One half of the world renowned NYC/LA based duo, Electric Punanny (alongside the talented Melo-X), Jasmine's DJ style is concoction of Caribbean vibes, African inspired beats, soulful R&B Classics, and high energy dance jams. We had the pleasure of bringing Jasmine out as our special guest for the 3 year anniversary of The Wave Boston, and she threw down one of the most dynamic sets that we have heard to date.
Before her set at January's edition of The Wave Boston, I had a chance to catch up with Jasmine, and share stories regarding her time in Boston (she created WERS' wildly popular "Secret Spot" while studying at Emerson College), the creation of Electric Punanny, and the progression of her personal brand. Always very humble and very honest, Jasmine also gave advice on what it takes to succeed at one's craft, and how to set yourself apart in the current social media centered climate.
Check out my conversation with Jasmine Solano here:
You mentioned that you are a graduate of Emerson College which is located here in Boston, what was the creative and event scene like during your time here, and what impact did those experiences have on where you are in your career now?
I had a great experience all around at Emerson College. I was on-air at WERS 88.9 for all four years. I started out DJing hip hop on 88.9 @ night, then my final year I was given my own show as well as the Program Director role. I created “The Secret Spot”, an R&B and slow jams show - which is still on air today. At that time we were up on every scene (we had to as a radio station with 25 different shows!). From jazz to reggae, indie folk to hip hop - we were on it. We also produced and partnered with concerts / shows throughout Boston.
Those experiences shaped me completely. I gained so much knowledge on the management / production side as well as the talent side. Between managing 100 student members and DJing on air every Sat & Sun night for an entire year - I really learned how to balance the art of creativity and execution.
The Electric Punanny brand is wildly popular throughout the country, how did the party initially come together, and how did you and Melo-X develop it into the brand that it is today?
In 2008 MeLo-X came to me with an idea to create a party that fused dancehall and electro. He was inspired by a night out at the old 205 Club (coincidentally that’s where we held our first EP party). I came up with the title “Electric Punanny” and the rest is history! The party moved to Sway on Monday’s with Roxy Cottontail - and if anyone knows about that era, it was madness. One night we shut down Spring St with 300 people outside trying to get in. As the years have passed, we’ve grown from a monthly NYC party, to touring internationally, to present day in which release our own music to the world.
MTV’s Scratch the Surface chronicled your musical travels around the world, what are some cities you think every DJ should try to spin in?
Berlin is #1. Be prepared to not sleep from Thurs to Tues.
London is #2. The rawness of the underground scene can’t be matched.
Tokyo is #3. The mix between traditional Japanese culture and modern youth culture is amazing. There's so much history yet so much experimentation.
You are considered by many as a style and taste leader in the DJ industry and have played many fashion and art events. What impact would you say that art and fashion have on your DJ style?
Art & Fashion are creative expressions of your mood, your background, your essence. So is music. They go together effortlessly. Because every moment of mine is taken up by music - I turn to art and fashion as a release, and as another world to gain inspiration from.
At The Wave Boston, you hit several musical different genres and had the energy jumping up to ceiling (all Isaac Blackman puns intended), what inspires you musically, and how do you prepare for your sets?
If a song stabs you in the heart, makes your hips drop instantly or forces you to make that good ugly face - that’s inspiration. It’s always about that reaction. Within yourself and for the people.
To be honest I freestyle 99% of my sets. If I know the crowd is going to like a certain genre, I may prep a playlist beforehand - but the minute I hit the decks, I make decisions off energy and I reference the encyclopedia of music in my brain.
What advice would you give to someone trying to pursue a craft, or build a brand?
Combine both old-school and new-school ways of thought. Study your craft & your industry. Learn the entire history. Study behavior, how business works, the movements of the people, why the economy changes, etc.
And at the same time, act for the future. Try everything. Find what’s never been done before.
Combine all your knowledge, instinct and drive - then make a plan - then DO IT. And finally, know that failure is a state of mind. The typical “failed attempts” get you closer to what will work. Giving up is pointless, but know when to pivot. Stay healthy, it’s your only chance at longevity.
You’ve accomplished so much in your career so far, what accomplishments would you say that you are most proud of and what else is on your to-do list?
My Electric Punanny mixes might be my favorite work of art so far. Getting to DJ in Bali (I’m half Indonesian) and having my uncle come to the club to hear my set brought tears to my eyes. That was a proud moment.
Help further Unity In Color, an artistic humanitarian series I launched prior to the Women's March AND obtain a yacht to sail through the Mediterranean with my closest family + friends ;)
You can keep up with Jasmine by following her at @xojsmn or visiting http://xojsmn.com