Arielle Luna, AKA DJ Perfect Puppy Princess in the mix for a half hour, plus an additional interview:
Brendan: Can you give a bit of an introduction to yrself and yr music?
I’m a 20 year old trans girl from the philly area, now living in massachusetts for school. i’ve been making music for a while but i only started djing at the very end of 2013/beginning of 2014. my djing project is called dj perfect puppy princess and it focuses on emotionally intense, physical dance music oriented towards processing gender dysphoria and loneliness and otherwise playing music that makes me dance in the hopes that it helps others do the same. i also have a separate non-club music solo project called foreign body, which is for the songs i write and sing.
Can you speak a bit about the impetus for a song like "Protect and Heal”?
protect & heal is a song about four trans girls who i became friends with on twitter. they all live very far away and i consider them my sisters. the song was an attempt to reach out to them as they are dealing with rough irl situations, wanting to love and protect them, dreaming of a future we can make together where we can live and grow on our own terms. it’s a rough demo right now (hence my shaky vocals) but i’m pretty proud of the song and i’m excited to share it! it’ll be on the foreign body EP that i’ve been working on slowly for the past year, tentatively called NEW TECHNOLOGIES OF HOPE.
Your mix is amazing - can you talk a bit about yr process for making it?
this mix is called BLESSED ARE THE CRACKS CUZ THEY LET THE LIGHT IN, which is what scout niblett sings at the beginning (paraphrasing leonard cohen’s “anthem,” which is a song that my friend annie mok loves). i recorded it live in my dorm room (hence the messiness), lying in bed with my laptop running traktor and my cheap, falling apart dj controller next to me. it doesn’t necessarily have an overarching theme but i found myself drawn to much faster and more varied tracks for this set, trying to break out of the tempo and genre constraints that i’ve felt a little limited by recently and playing tracks that make me move in different ways. music for other lonely girls who are too dysphoric to leave their rooms most nights and who feel unloved or isolated sometimes… we’ll be strong together.
Are there any elements of characteristics of certain kinds of dance music that stand out for you as important?
i’ve been thinking about that recent mask magazine interview with dj kilbourne (a brilliant dj, producer and friend, two of whose tracks i included in this mix). she talks about being drawn to dance music that has a sense of trauma in it, with a messiness and volatility that connected to the messiness and volatility of feeling trans, and how that was therapeutic for her. that definitely resonated with me. i’m interested in music that expresses trauma, or works through trauma, or helps listeners and dancers work through trauma. tara hillegeist writes really beautifully in her brief eulogy for frankie knuckles about how the house music she discovered in college soothed her and gave her a sense of queer connection across time and space as she struggled with her own dysphoria and depression, and that is something i’ve experienced too. a lot of what i find so beautiful about dance music has as much to do with the experiences of the listeners as it does with the intentions of the producers or even the djs. music tends to be misinterpreted and reinterpreted and recontextualized and reimagined and that can be beautiful and politically generative too. there are certain sounds that i love with certain connotations and emotions embedded within them, but i don’t think those feelings are entirely “in the music,” at least for me. they come from us too, and that is valid and important. i am continually inspired by dj sol nova, a close friend who i recently had the privilege of playing with for the first time, and by dj deep brandy album cuts, who is secretly the best dj in scotland. hopefully that won’t be a secret once everyone else catches up.
And finally - what's next for DJ Perfect Puppy Princess?
i hosted the first edition of what will hopefully become an ongoing party series in december, and i’m looking into making it bigger and better for the next round. i have a few other big prospective parties coming up during the next few months, so i get to be upsetting in front of even more people. i’m also hoping to start playing elsewhere once i turn 21 at the end of september and can actually play most parties (boston, new york, philly: call me). working on the foreign body record and hopefully finishing it this semester. doing school now, starting hormones in the fall. watching pretty little liars with my partner.