A whirlwind of emotions via Incienso's DJ'J.
One of the minds behind the inimitable NYC label Incienso, Jenny Slattery aka DJ’J is a curator at heart, carefully sculpting the look, feel and sound of the label she began with Anthony Naples back in 2017 while establishing her own blueprint as a top-tier selector of deep dance rhythms from around the globe. She’s also one of the three DJs behind the wonderful down2earth mix series, a local music hub with a heavy focus on emerging talent from New York City and beyond.
Immerse yourself in hour of chunky grooves and mysterious moods with plenty of freshly sliced cuts from the Incienso inner sanctum alongside some bonafide UKG and rave nostalgia!
Hey Jenny! How’s things with you? I know you had a busy end of ‘22 with trips to Europe and India, how were those experiences and what were some of the most enjoyable places to both visit and play?
Doing well, thanks! In Mexico as we speak but after this trip, I’m trying to spend more solid time in New York. I really love travelling and planning trips but I know I can also get sucked into them. I’m looking forward to focusing on what’s happening in New York and the label for the next few months.
Some of the favourite places we visited were Ikaria in Greece and the north of Spain. In both cases we were driving around, surrounded by beautiful and dramatic nature and spending time in areas that were quite secluded with very strong cultural identities. It’s funny, we did come across some Aussies on that trip. It was the last thing we were expecting to run into other DJs/producers in this tiny village on top of a mountain in Ikaria. We were there for a Panigiri which is a village party with music and food that often goes on ‘til the sun comes up. Anthony happened to see Reptant there and stopped him to which he answered “are you fucking Anthony Naples?!” – he was there with Kia and their crew. We were meant to meet again but couldn’t find them and assumed they had left. We left at 4:30am but I later found out they were still there and looking for us too.
In terms of playing out, I would say Golden Pudel was my favourite gig of the trip – I felt that way the last time I played there. It’s just such a welcoming place – I love the space itself, the size of it, the diverse and unexpected crowd that shows up and the feeling of being immersed in the party when you’re playing. Anthony and I also played back to back that night which happens very rarely and it was so much fun – I think it was a nice surprise to see how in tune we were with each other’s music and vibe after so many years of listening and enjoying music side by side.
As for India – it was a dream of mine to go and it truly did not disappoint. To me what made it unique were the constant surrounding sounds marrying into each other: the call of prayer, temple chanting, wedding sound systems, distant sounds of flute, animals, traffic etc., how visually everything coexisted and intermixed alongside one another, and lastly I was really touched by the genuine hospitality of the people we met along the way. The whole trip was personally a very deep and somewhat enchanting experience. I’m also so glad to have had the chance to play at Magnetic Fields. I was quite nervous before starting as I was wondering what the crowd would be into (something that always occurs when I play in a country I’ve never played in before) but as soon as I got on, I had all my ladies at the front who were so encouraging and made me feel like I was doing something right.
Alongside Anthony you two are the dual driving forces behind one of our absolute favourite NYC labels, with Incienso regularly pushing the sound envelope, specialising in some brilliantly forward thinking and often genre bending electronic music. Tell us a bit about how the label has evolved since its inception (DJ Python’s incredible debut release in 2017), and what have been some of your personal favourite releases and artists to work with so far?
Well, thank you! I’m honestly so happy to be able to work with so many talented people – whether they’re the producer, mixer, designer, video maker, photographer, PR strategist, etc. It’s just so great to have an ecosystem of our own, where collaborations and opportunities are made possible at our own scale.
Funnily enough the idea of starting a label together came about as we wanted to re-issue a song with some remixes. Sadly we were never allowed to put that song out but the idea of starting a label together was born. This was right when DJ Python was finishing his album Dulce Compañia and instead of putting it out on Anthony’s previous label Proibito, we decided to do it together.
Since then, we’ve been working with a lot of friends, many New York based, but have also been expanding. It’s important for us to have a connection with the people we’ll be representing for the years following their record so even if we don’t know them at first, we’ll always try to meet up with them whether that’s in person or virtually.
One thing I’m really happy about with the label is that we never restricted ourselves to one genre, format or visual identity. Something which at the beginning might have seemed unusual but in actuality, has been incredibly freeing and has enabled us to keep on growing.
Tell us a bit about your own artistic journey.. I know in addition to running the label and DJing you are a photographer and visual artist, and have worked on some fantastic album covers in recent years for artists like Call Super, FIO and Anthony Naples. What kinds of places do you find and seek inspiration for your art, and how does your own visual approach interconnect with the aesthetic you’ve created for Incienso?
I went to art school but after graduating I don’t think I had the confidence or the mindset to have my own art practice. I never stopped being a visual person though, and continued working in the arts but for other artists, assisting them and helping them fabricate their works. I also continued a photography practice but didn’t really know where to place these photos. So when I started working on the label and doing some covers, I was finally able to have a creative voice and found it quite liberating working within the context of design.
I think what I’m generally attracted to are suggestive and enigmatic images but when it comes to the visuals of the label, my role and Anthony’s too is mainly to creative direct. I worked on a couple covers but I think I prefer having professional designers do the bulk of the work and later can come in and collaborate with them. We like to give our artists as much freedom when it comes to the artwork. In many cases, we will work with our super talented in-house designer Josh Abramovici – aka. downstairs J, however sometimes an artist has someone specific in mind they want to work with. There are no real rules with the artwork but I guess there is a general sense of aesthetics we’re going for and we’re here to guide it.
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve recorded? I know you often like to blend a variety of dancefloor oriented rhythms from around the globe, can we expect some of that here?
Yeah I guess I do! It’s never really on purpose. My mixes and sets are for the most part an amalgamation of all the recent music I’ve bought but I guess I pool from a pretty diverse selection of labels and artists which in turn makes the result quite varied. I think I’m also generally attracted to sounds that are new to me so that’s what I like to buy and play for others.
After gathering the songs, the fun and challenging part for me is finding a way to weave these different rhythms and styles in a cohesive way whilst creating a dynamic narrative.
In this mix, you’re definitely thrown into a whirlwind of emotions but I think for the most part it’s within a state of deepness, mystery and playfulness with different levels of it along the way.
I see you guys recently released the latest Incienso EP from London artist Facta, tell us a bit more about that one and how it all came about, and what else do you have coming up this year that you’re excited about?
I think Oscar sent some Wisdom Teeth promos to Anthony and was expressing being a fan of our label. Supposedly DJ Python said Wisdom Teeth is like the UK version of Incienso which we found very funny and in turn Anthony replied that we were actually the US version of them.
In any case it was great to make that connection as being long time fans ourselves, we were thrilled when he sent us some demos. Because he’s already well established and has his own label, I think certain people were surprised to see us put his music out but I really like how this record turned out as it still very much feels like a combination of the two of us.
We have a lot of exciting music coming out this year – it’s going to be a busy one. It will be a mix of releases by artists who are already on the label, some friends we haven’t had the chance to work with yet and some new ones for whom in one case, it will be their first release. As usual, a whole variety of moods and sounds.
We’re actually announcing one this Friday – to give you a clue it’s a sequel by an artist we’ve put out before and their artist name starts with the letter B.