There’s something truly admirable about a person who has let their passions in life lead them in all the right directions. For Brooklyn-based DJ Jasmine Solano, a.k.a. JSMN, her love of music has taken her all around the world and back to spin for high profile brands (DKNY, Apple, Nike and Topshop, just to name a few), and celebrities (including a little artist known as Beyoncé…) alike.
But it’s not just her incredibly diverse taste in music that’s impressive; the Philadelphia-native and one half of the DJ party duo Electric Punanny has the kind of work ethic and intelligence that would make any workaholic jealous. While in college, Solano created her own major, “music activism quest,” which was basically a triple major in music production, marketing and socio-politics. Then later on in life, she was inspired by her non-stop work schedule to create and host MTV Iggy’s Scratch The Surface. The show documented her efforts to discover something new and interesting in every city she finds herself in because, for her, music is anthropology.
The Rhapsody couldn’t help but quiz the world class DJ to get the lowdown on her musical past and present.
TR: How did you first encounter music?
My first encounter was through my mother playing strictly classic soul in the house. I was 5 years old listening to James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. Classic soul connected me to music. With that being the first genre I was ever introduced to, it set my standards pretty high. My musical taste varies, but it always has to have soul.
TR: Who gave you your first album?
JS: The first album I bought must have been Aaliyah’s “One In a Million” on CD [“Hot Like Fire”, “Got to Give it Up” and “A Girl Like You” are my favourite tracks]. I idealized her in the 90s as a lot of young girls did. I cut my hair like her, bought the Tommy Hilfiger tube top, everything. When that album came out, I played it relentlessly – I could recite every word.
TR: If your life didn’t turn to music, what was your plan B?
JS: I would have been a pro tennis player (watch out Serena!) I played tennis from the time I was 9. I was #1 in the Tri-State at age 12, and competed non-stop throughout my teens.
TR What’s your karaoke jam?
JS: It’s gotta be Janet Jackson, “Love Will Never Do” – favorite verse:
“Other guys have tried before
To replace you as my lover
Never did I have a doubt
Boy it’s you I can’t do without”
TR: How do you discover new or old music?
JS: Discovering new and old music has been my life’s journey! It comes with the territory if you’re a DJ or a music junkie. I learn about new music from word of mouth, my family, the internet, record digging, festivals – everything!
My favorite DJ/Record shop is Turntable Lab in NYC. It has everything a DJ needs, from records, turntables, audio equipment, headphones and more. My fav album I recently bought there is Soul Tropical Disco Hustle Vol. 2.
TR: What are your most recent (old or new) musical discoveries?
JS: Years & Years – found through a video I watched on Youtube; Nao – found through BBC1;
Marilyn Barbarin & The Soul Finders – found through a record store in New Orleans.
TR: What are your go-to tunes for:
– Getting out of bed and seizing the day?
JS: Aretha Franklin “Groovin’”.
– Hitting the gym/spin class/going for a run?
JS: Gappy Ranks “Baddest”.
– Hyping up as you get ready for a night out?
JS: JamieXX ft. Popcaan “Good Times”.
Listen to Jasmine’s interview mix here.