Warriors in their own words
Jenifa Mayanja talks to Lady Fingers ahead of the Sound Warrior 005 double vinyl release due in summer 2016.
Seems like an obvious question but why did you choose the name “Lady Fingers” as your production name…
I was just brainstorming monikers with my close peep Johnny one day, and he actually came up with it. He has been pushing me to keep making music since he heard some of my tunes years ago, so it was as much a thank you to him for believing in me as it was me liking the name and finding it fitting. I have been asked if my name is a tribute to Mr. Fingers… no, but I am a huge Larry Heard fan.
Do you have a process that seems to work best for you when making a track?
Often I work with a loop method. I get into a groove by creating and then adding parts to a loop, parse it all out and crescendo it by means of LFO’s, filters, sustains, etc., and if all goes well, it turns into a track. I experiment with arpeggiation based on chords to a degree to form melodies and basslines post the realization that an arpeggiated line does not necessarily equal trance. I am also learning some jazz techniques if they can even be called techniques anymore once called jazz? But freely being able to flow with where a track seems to want to go is more and more becoming my goal.
Which came first for you the djing or music production?
Music production actually.. in the 90’s, I lived in Cincinnati where I lived amongst many creatives and had access to a studio with a Nord Lead, some other random synths and samplers and the old school version of Logic Audio.. my tunes were sort of ambient house back then. Always the four on the floor. My first track ever came out on a compilation from a promoter in Detroit. It was a really small diy release, but I remember how exciting it was and having that deadline was what motivated me to finish a track. DJ’ing came in the 2000’s when I lived in New Orleans. I never realized that I would so love bringing the music I have grown up on to people who may have never heard it. It has been such a rewarding experience to witness people on the dance floor feeling the music the way I do.
Living in North Carolina how do you think that affects your process as an artist?
The area that I am in, close to Chapel Hill, has an amazing little scene of old school house heads who still play out as well as newbies who who truly appreciate quality music. We have a spot called the Nightlight owned by a revered record store called All Day that houses parties where artists can just do their thing. A huge reason why I relocated to the area was because of the acceptance and encouragement of musicians and producers to really work their beats out in front of an extremely attentive and danceable audience. It has made me want to keep doing what I do.
Tell us a little bit about your contribution to the latest sound warrior release.
The first contribution is called To Be With You. I specifically like the direction I took on this one because I really let myself just play sans much quantization. As the human element is where the real feel is in many of the tracks that I love, my goal with this one was to bring that out more.
My second contribution For the Night, began with me messing around with an 808 sample kit that had been recorded onto cassette. Then the pitchy quality of the stretched out sub I made really added impact. I contrasted the grit and bass depth with some bittersweet lyrics and melodies and got really piano chord happy in both of these tracks in fact, so subconsciously it seems I was going for a classic vibe.
Anything else you want the good people to know about you.
We are hearing more and more about the women behind so many significant accomplishments who have been hidden from the world. I intend to play my part in the movement to eradicate the condescending attitudes and ignorance around women in general and more specifically women in music and to contribute to bringing our skills and talents to the forefront.
In early house music, women were thought to strictly be the “vocalists.” This notion is finally being challenged as women are coming forward as producers which benefits all women in electronic music. I am a big advocate of asking women not to downplay their talents and to instead share it with the world. I am honored to be a part of Sound Warrior and am grateful for collectives like Discwoman, Sister, Born N Bread, and more popping up.
I am also grateful for the men who are helping us with our cause. DJ Shiva made stickers that say “Women Make Music” and guys like Aaron Clark from Pittsburgh’s Honcho are sporting them. I played a fundraiser for the San Francisco Disco Preservation Society a few weeks ago with about 99% male attendance and felt so incredibly welcomed by DJ Justime, Steve Fabus, Sergio Fedasz and others. This is real change. We are making a difference.
You can find out more about Lady Fingers here: