TaiwaneseAmerican.org recently caught up with Jenny Shu, known in the club scene and among the Burning Man crowd as “DJ ShOOey.” Perhaps one of the coolest and most colorful DJ’s out there, she’s definitely all about using her talents to promote non-profit organizations and to increase awareness about various issues. Originally from Chicago, she can now be found in the San Francisco nightlife scene rocking the house at odd hours of the night. I recently sat down with Jenny Shu for a lunch interview to hear some of her perspectives on the world DJ’ing.
H: Hi Jenny! Thanks for taking the time to share a little about yourself with the audience of TaiwaneseAmerican.org!
J: Thanks for having me Ho Chie!
J: The friends I hung out with in college were rock n’ roll kind of kids so I think they influenced much of what I listened to. It wasn’t until after college that I was introduced to electronic music through a friend. When I lived in Dallas from 1999-2001, I spent a lot of time researching and collecting electronic music but being a DJ still seemed like such an untouchable feat. When I moved to SF in 2002, I discovered there were so many talented local DJ’s and discovered that most of them shared a similar passion for the music and dance. When you are dancing on the dance floor, you see the high people get from the music and I wanted to be the one up there making people want to dance.
H: You’re known on the scene as DJ ShOOey. What’s the story behind that?
J: My nickname in college was Shuey, and a friend of mine came up with a slight variation of that, shOOey, representing the two O’s in the middle as records.
H: What kind of equipment do you use?
J: I started with two vinyl turntables (Technics MK2’s) and a Vestax 17A mixer, which I bought used off of Craigslist. About three years ago, I added a pair of used Pioneer CDJ-1000’s (CD turntables) to my setup and replaced my mixer with a Pioneer DJM-600 mixer. Of course, I use whatever equipment the venue provides when I’m playing out.
H: Times have changed since the earlier days of 12″ vinyl… To date myself, I still have quite the collection! What’s your format? And what kind of music do you specialize in?
J: About three years after playing records, I felt I had proven, at least to myself, that I could spin on records and I decided it made more sense to switch to CD’s for several reasons. I could buy about five digital tracks for the price of one record, so economically it made much more sense. I don’t live in a huge place in the city, and CD’s physically take up way less space than vinyl. Records usually have limited pressings and not easily replaced, so if anything ever happened to your vinyl, say damage, theft, etc., it can be devastating to lose parts of your music collection. When I’m playing out at a gig, I like to have more of my library on hand, rather than be limited to just the records that I brought with me. I enjoyed collecting the records and I plan to keep my vinyl and have occasion to play them when CDJ’s aren’t provided at a venue. Music-wise, I’m not your typical wedding DJ and don’t really take requests. That said, most people come to gigs expecting the DJ to play a set that will make them dance and adjust the sound to what the crowd wants to hear. In the beginning of my career, I started playing progressive house but the general sound of the scene has since shifted. You’ll typically find me playing electro and tech house, as well as funky breakbeats.
H: I’m intrigued that you actually enjoy DJ’ing for the benefit of organizations and causes. Tell me a little bit about some of your passions.
J: I’m incredibly excited to be able to use my DJ skills and time to give back to the community. It’s not common that people can use their hobbies in that way and it’s great to combine both worlds into one. San Francisco is such a proactive city and very passionate about raising money and awareness for their causes. I’ve been involved with several different events benefiting non-profit organizations, such as La Casa de las Madres, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, National Women’s Political Caucus, Artspan, and Beats for Boobs. One of my good friends Juliana Cochnar started Beats for Boobs, after her mom’s successful battle against breast cancer. Our goal is to educate the community on breast cancer through a collaborative celebration of art, fashion, food, and music. I serve as music director along with a hardworking executive committee and we had our 5th successful event at 111 Minna, raising over $20,000 in funds which directly benefited local groups such as Breast Cancer Emergency Fund and Avon Breast Cancer Foundation. You can read more about our event at www.beats4boobs.org.
H: There are very few Asian American women DJ’s out there, and even fewer Taiwanese Americans. I can really only think of three. What’s it like working in a predominantly male-oriented industry?
J: It is definitely a male-dominated industry, which unfortunately holds true for a LOT of other industries. I think as Asian-Americans, we are generally not encouraged to follow this line of work or hobby in general as it doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of practical or illustrious. However, the public is quite supportive of females DJ’s and the if deserved, respected by our male peers. It’s possible there is a very subtle amount of chauvinism which typically goes unspoken, but I don’t have time or inclination to think about people who carry that attitude. I try not to think about myself as a female DJ, and focus more on my audience and what they want to hear because in the end, all the really matters is the music!
J: Yup! I work in corporate finance doing financial forecasting, planning and analysis. I’ve certainly considered DJ’ing professionally, but I think it’s better left as a hobby. I’m sure as soon as my livelihood depends on it and I had to do it, I probably won’t enjoy DJ’ing anymore.
H: Thanks DJ ShOOey! Keep on bringing the house down and representing the Taiwanese American woman!
For more info on Jenny Shu, aka DJ ShOOey, check out these links:
To hire her for your event, you may contact her at: [email protected]
Back in his day, Ho Chie used to own turntables and 12″ vinyls, too, but he never looked as cool as DJ ShOOey. He’s proud that he owns the old school Asian American anthem, New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle,” on vinyl! Rock the house, people!