Florida's Bass Queen and D.C.'s Princess of Darkness sparkle as they chat animatedly, flipping through record bins at DJ Hut on a brisk October evening before their gig at Club Five's Halloween party. Although in street clothes, just having flown in from her native Orlando, Fla., veteran breaks DJ/producer Baby Anne (aka Marianne Broadaway), is quietly regal. Conversely, Jen Lasher, a hyperkinetic breaks and industrial DJ/producer from Annapolis, Md., is sweetness and effervescence despite her rock-star outfit and shocking red hair.
DJ Hut co-owner James Graham and Sam “The Man” Burns, local DJ legend and house music buyer, are gracious hosts to the touring DJs. To Broadaway and Lasher's delight, DJ Hut has the new Baby Anne & Jen Lasher double mix-CD set called Assault & Battery (System, 2005) on display; it shows the duo caricatured as superheroes against a fiery backdrop. “Assault,” Baby Anne's sixth mix CD, is a deep-groove funky breaks set featuring three original tracks. Jen's mix CD, “Battery,” is her first national release, a dark industrial/electro mix that features her striking single “No More Tears” with her own blood-curdling, dissonant vocals, which System released on vinyl on the flipside of Baby Anne's haunting “Dementia.”
Broadaway met Lasher when she was a 17-year-old aspiring DJ, through mutual friend DJ Icey. “Baby Anne has always been one of my favorites,” Lasher says. “I had one of her early mix CDs.” They met again at a street party in Orlando, where their friendship cemented. “The club was open, and I had my records because I was playing the street stage,” Broadaway recalls. “Jen felt like playing so I brought my records inside, gave them to her and went down on the dancefloor with friends.”
In the past couple of years, Baby Anne's once demure persona has morphed into a dominatrix for Mixtress (Zone/System, 2004) and now into the sex-kitten superhero of Assault & Battery. “I'm still the same,” she says with a smile. “I'm not ‘The Mixtress’; it was just a costume. Same with this. I was going after an Elektra look. In the past, I wouldn't be caught dead doing something like that. I'd be like, ‘People will think I'm doing that just to sell CDs.’ Now I don't worry what people might think.”
Outside of the sexy character she plays as a DJ, Broadaway leads a pretty low-key lifestyle with her live-in boyfriend, a promoter from New Orleans. “I DJ every weekend, but I'm so boring,” she says. “I do yoga, read, garden. I have a tropical yard with hibiscus, an angel trumpet tree, birds of paradise, every color of petunia. I have two dogs and a psycho cat. I'm also in gemology school.”
And aside from traveling the world to DJ, Lasher is like a lot of other 23 year olds. She plays video games, reads, watches TV (sharing an interest in jewelry shows with Broadaway) and hangs out with her cat, Storm, and dog, Boots. “I live with my mother in an apartment above the garage, work part-time in my dad's dental office and travel pretty much every weekend,” Lasher says.
Hooking up with Broadaway, a DJ veteran, has helped Lasher's career immensely. “Being up-and-coming, you need advice,” Lasher says. “With every new thing that comes along, it's good to have someone experienced in the industry who can guide you. A lot of people can't relate to life on the road, so it's nice to have good friends who can. Also, I try not to pay attention to negativity. The most negativity I see is on the Internet. If people don't have to show their faces and don't even have to use their real names, they'll often be mean. Marianne and I have very friendly crowds. At the shows, there's a lot of love.”
It's the anonymous negativity that makes Broadaway hesitant to talk about other producers' releases. “I'm not comfortable reviewing other people's work,” she confesses, and she never reads reviews of her own, she says. But after much coaxing, she is finally persuaded to say a few words about some new breaks tunes she's feeling:
“Midnight” (Against the Grain)
Great male vocal in this nugget of explosive energy-fueled breaks from the UK, with a bit of vocoder thrown in for an electro overtone.
“8 Bit Style (Rennie Pilgrem's Hum Remix)” (Beat Industries)
Been a fan of Rennie's since his days in the old-school hardcore band Rhythm Section. Here he's getting all noodle-y on the remix duties, delivering a fine piece of dark funk.
MOVE YA AND STEVE LAVERS
“Rock Me” (Audio Bug)
This tune drops the funk hard with a female rap that sounds like a throwback to the New York '80s.
“Let's Party”/“Forget About Dre-ad” (Cut 'n Run)
On this naughty little bootleg label that turns out some fun tunes, “Let's Party” uses a 50 Cent a cappella, and the flip side samples some reggae with cuts in a party style. Great production.
Next up, the more talkative Jen Lasher, with her trademark enthusiasm, reviews her mixed bag of finds at DJ Hut:
A. SKILLZ & KRAFTY KUTS
Finger Lickin' Presents Freshtraxxx
“Ain't It Funky (Fort Knox Five Remix)” (Finger Lickin')
This is a very smooth, groovy tune that rolls along slowly at about 112 bpm. One thing that catches my attention is that I can't classify it as house, hip-hop or breaks; it's a combination of many styles. Some of the most creative and amazing music is that which I cannot immediately classify in my head. I have bought tons of great breakbeat and house tracks from Finger Lickin' over the past six years or so. I picked this up because I was interested to hear the Fort Knox Five remix, since they're from my hometown. It warms my heart to see old friends doing so well and making such incredible music.
BOOK OF LOVE
I've already downloaded this off of iTunes and have been playing it at Alchemy. It's nice to find it on vinyl because I prefer mixing records to CDs. Good, mellow synth pop for the industrial crowd — a classic as well. I love the melody. It's one of the most relaxing songs I've ever heard, almost a dance music lullaby. The lyrics in the song say, “It's not my fault; I'm not a boy.” I'm sure the writer meant for it to be interpreted differently, but I feel this way myself sometimes, working in the music industry. It often seems like a man's world.
MYLO VS. MIAMI SOUND MACHINE
“Doctor Pressure” (Breastfed)
Seeing a “Rex the Dog” remix on this, it was not a hard decision to pick it for a listen. He's got this really different, signature-style electro house. I like that real chunky, glitchy, special sound. I was already a fan of the original Mylo “Drop the Pressure” and have played that out for quite some time. The Rex the Dog remix does not turn out to be my favorite on this EP, but his wild sounds bring me back to my Nintendo days, reminding me how much I have loved his past remixes. He's done very fun house remixes of the Prodigy, The Knife, Soul Wax, Depeche Mode and Client, all of which go into my record bag on the road.
PRINCE AND THE REVOLUTION
“Kiss” (Warner Bros.)
A no-brainer, a total classic which every DJ should have … all '80s music lovers, anyway. I've always wished I could find this on vinyl, and here it is. This and “Erotic City” are my two favorite Prince songs. I could definitely throw this into an '80s synth-pop set for my residency at the gothic industrial night Alchemy in D.C.