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Copyright © 2018 Shut Up and Listen. All rights reserved.

Published in Bloomington, Indiana


published 8.17

 Jessica Hemesath found her passion for DJing at Mississippi Records in Portland when she was 16-years-old. Her older sister worked at the shop, and while Jessica was visiting she decided to start messing around on the in-store turntable setup.


   “I saw DJing as being really curious and fascinated by turntables,” Jessica said. “On an aspect of them being instruments themselves.”


   Until this point, Jessica had played electric guitar in summertime bands while visiting her sister, but it was never anything too serious. Once she starting DJing, she knew she had found her niche. 


   Back in her hometown of Greenwood, Indiana, Jessica kept experimenting and learning about DJing, watching DMC Championship videos on YouTube, and watching her friends DJ. She saidshe never really thought of it as playing music for people, but instead just wanted to have fun and learn. Soon she received her first set of turntables and never looked back.


   Jessica, 25, now regularly spins records as DJ Little Town. She emphasized that she has tried to not box herself into a certain genre as a DJ. 


   “I think that makes me good as a DJ,” Jessica said, explaining that her diverse music taste allows her to be versatile for any situation. Whether it’s her regular gig, Low Pone, a queer dance party at the Hi-Fi in Indianapolis, or a more low key event like an art gallery show, Jessica finds herself prepared for most occasions.She uses a mix of physical vinyl as well as digital software, Serato, which allows her to mix with MP3s while stillhaving the feel and look of records. Basically, Serato comes with two “records” that are able to connect digitally with the system when played on a turntable like a normal vinyl record would be.


   However when Jessica first started, she was only using records. She still feels like that was an important step because she learned how to touch a record, to slow it down, how to treat it properly. She can remember the first time she beat-matched two songs, a GZA instrumental and a song by Biggie Smalls. In that moment she thought to herself, “Woah, I can do this.”


   She released her first mixtape early on, influenced by Diplo’s Hollertronix records, naming it “Hollerphonix,” and mixing with the tracks off those releases. Since all the songs were the same BPM she was really able to play around with it.

  “I’ve gotten better now at learning how I can play the songs I like and beat-match those, too,” she said. 


   She’s glad that she can use MP3s now, since acquiring Serato. Especially for dance parties which can be unpredictable, the software allows her to no longer be limited within her own record collection. Digital software allows her to work with the crowd and go with what they’re feeling. For more relaxed events, though, Jessica will still bring a crate of records.


   “I think the problem is a lot of people just skip and go straight to Serato,” Jessica said. “I just see a lot of DJs staring at their laptops and using the program heavily and only kind of using the turntables.” 


   She admitted that she’s guilty of this sometimes, but says she tries to stay involved with the turntables. Although she knows some people would disagree, she doesn’t mind if human error slips through when she’s performing -she wants people to know she isn’t just using a computer. 


   “I don’t really care if it’s a loud mix,” she said. “Like if you can tell I just played the next song, or if I scratch it or something, because it lets people know that this is a human thing. I think when I fuck up it’s cool because then people know it’s a record” 


   Jessica explained how through her experiences she has learned that a “DJ” is a broad term to people. While some people see it as more of an art form, others just want the DJ to act like a jukebox. “Both are right in a way,” she said. “I like how versatile it can be.”

   Jessica is currently attending Herron School of Art and Design to finish her Bachelor’s Degree in visual communications. She hopes she’ll be able to get out of Indiana and continue her music career after graduation. During the days Jessica works as a bike messenger, but she still continues to DJ as much as possible. 


   On a recent trip to Portland, Jessica joined her sister to DJ a party after going back to her roots at Mississippi Records where it all began.

What’s DJ Little Town dancing to today?


Princess Nokia - Excellent


Kraftwerk - Tour de France