JD Samson is best known for her time as one-third of the electronic-feminist-punk band and performance project Le Tigre, as well as with her band MEN. For more than a decade JD’s career as a singer, producer and DJ has landed her at the intersection of the music, art, activism, and fashion. During that time she has toured the world, produced songs for Grammy Award-winning artists, released multiple albums to critical acclaim, and engaged in direct support with a wide-range of progressive social and political causes. JD’s New York parties have become legendary worldwide and she’s thrilled to be teaming up with ACE Hotel to take them on the road for EVERYONE, an International Pride party. It’s a party and everyone’s invited!
Kate Buckley: JD, you’re originally from Pepper Pike, Ohio. What was it like growing up in small town Ohio?
JD Samson: I liked it, to be honest. I went to a super small public school, and we all fell into our community quite naturally. When I came out, people were pretty much supportive, and I felt lucky to have such a good strong relationship with so much of the people in my town. I didn’t have much to look forward to, because I felt in the dark about Queer Culture in a lot of ways, but after a while I found magazines, and zines, and queer art, and punk, and that led me to my future.
KB: You attended Sarah Lawrence College—that must have been quite a different world! I find it interesting that you majored in film. Is film a big influence in your music?
JDS: I think so, yes. I studied experimental film, and one of the most interesting things about my art practice was conceptual editing, and adaptation of the film medium. I think no matter what I’m doing these days, I’m trying my hardest to “queer” the medium I’m working in, and rebuild a narrative structure into something more abstract. I know it sounds like pop music sometimes, but under it all, I’m experimenting.
KB: And then you joined the band Le Tigre in 2000. How did that come about?
JDS: I knew Johanna, Kathleen, and Sadie from the Feminist art world, and they asked me to help them with their projections for a short 2 and a half week tour in 2000. I took a semester off of college and became their projectionist. During that time, I became one of them!
KB: You worked with some pretty heavy hitters in the industry—Ric Ocasek of the Cars was one name that popped out at me. Any stories you can share?
JDS: Oh Ric. I love him like a dad. He is the sweetest person who has such incredible knowledge of pop music and structure. He is so playful in the studio, I learned so much from him, about being humble and about experimenting with pop music.
KB: When Le Tigre took an extended break in 2006, you formed MEN, a DJ, production and remix team. Tell me about that.
JDS: Johanna and I had been DJing together, and our agent asked us to come up with a name for the project. We decided on MEN and started touring a bunch. That, then turned into an original music project which included a lot of other friends and family.
KB: You’re also a talented songwriter, and have written songs for Christina Aguilera, Junior Senior, and Cobra Starship to name a few. As a writer myself, I’m fascinated by the creative process. What’s yours—or do you have one that you can elaborate?
JDS: My process changes a lot depending on who I’m working with. I’m so lucky to be able to meet such incredible people in the industy that are so amazing at their jobs. I am constantly learning more about music, and making connections and friendships through the industry that I wouldn’t have made otherwise. The process changes so much depending on the relationship between myself and the other writers, and what we are looking for in the process. A hit song for another artist? A good song that we might release ourselves? I usually just want to go to the studio and make a good song. And then see what comes of it.
KB: Which brings me to your current project—a partnership with ACE Hotels’ new international pride party, “EVERYONE,” happening in Palm Springs on November 7th and 8th. EVERYONE is described as “a traveling soiree tying together the vast intercontinental community in an all-inclusive network of gaiety.” EVERYONE kicked off in LA this summer before it headed to London, NYC, LA and now, finally, Palm Springs. How did this come together?
JDS: My agent had the idea in the shower. I had a previous relationship with the ACE Hotel, so it made so much sense. We put out some ideas about the general vibe, and after a few meetings, it was all happening! I have been promoting in NYC for a few years now, and thought it would be fun to do a pan-property event for Pride. It all worked out perfectly and I’m thrilled to have a fun-filled finale this week!
KB: That’s a pretty illustrious four-city circus. How did Palm Springs get added to the mix?
JDS: We worked with the cities that have Pride where there are ACE Hotel properties. And when there were more than one city in one weekend, we just chose the more fun city. Haha. Palm Springs is one of the best places for Pride because it is the last Pride of the year in the USA! Fun times.
KB: You’ll be performing with a special assemblage of friends and family—how did you curate the various DJs and performers? What can people expect?
JDS: House/Disco/Fun Times DJ’s. I tried to pick the DJ’S that have the most positive sets! We just wanna hug it out and enjoy ourselves poolside. Can’t wait to bring our family to the sunshine and share a little love!
If you go: The party in Palm Springs is Friday, Nov. 7th & Saturday, Nov. 8th at ACE hotel, hosted by JD Samson with a killer lineup of DJs curated by JD, and will include DJ sets from JD, Amber Valentine, Victor Rodriguez, W. Jeremy, Kevin Kauer, Seth Bogart, Peggy Nolan and Chelsea Starr. The party is free!
For a preview listen, you can find JD’s EVERYONE mix here: https://soundcloud.com/jd-samson/everyones-mix