I'm not quite sure what DJ Citizen Jane’s real name is. It could be Jane, though I don’t think so. I could just ask, or do a quick Google search and probably hit the answer rather quickly. But to be honest, I prefer the mystery. It’s kind of like not knowing a superhero’s secret identity.
Even with her alter ego unexposed, DJ Citizen Jane is a shy, humble woman with dark, swept back hair. While her laid-back demeanor does not command a room when she enters it, she more than makes up for it when the beat drops. A skilled musician gifted with the uncanny ability to read a crowd, she is able to magnify her sound to the delight of those who come to listen, dance and let go in the music. You can hear her long before you see her. She is the girl who can play for any crowd, anywhere and is guaranteed to bring the house down.
We meet during a photo shoot in Fort Lauderdale at C&I Studios. She first stands in front of a large backdrop, taking up only a fraction of the space. Later, when we sit to chat on a couple of worn-out couches, she tells me that she’s actually spun at this converted warehouse space before — last year’s Miami-Fort Lauderdale LGBT Film Festival after party. It was for the showing of Liz in September, starring model turned actor Patricia Velásquez. She could probably name drop dozens of places around town like that. She has played at Dream, Bongo’s, The W Hotel, Nikki Beach, Macarena, the Setai, the Vagabond Hotel, Catalina and on and on.
Born and raised in Miami Beach, the girl behind the decks is a home-grown talent whose beats can regularly be heard at local clubs. Her musical career has taken her all over the country and around the globe to Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Spain, but it’s always Miami where she returns.
“This is my hometown,” she says. “I don’t see myself living anywhere else, other than maybe California one day. I can never just completely leave.”
Music is in her blood. Born to a Cuban-American family, her brother, father and grandfather are all musicians. “I grew up with a lot of Latin culture,” she explains. “My background is Cuban, so I’m very proud of my roots. I have no problem delivering that wherever I go as a piece of me, as a piece of my flavor and my music.”
That is not to say that her set is comprised strictly of Latin music or songs with Spanish lyrics — by no means. That’s just one of the weapons she can wield on a whim. In fact, that versatility, that inability to stay put, be defined or remain constant is precisely the way she’s able to break down sound barriers. This has proven to be particularly useful in an area as diverse as South Florida.
“When I do house music, I put a lot of tribal, a lot of Afro-beats and different things like that,” she says. Not sticking to a single niche or sound gives her the freedom to play anywhere and anytime. She is known for mixing in the moment and is not afraid to download a song on the spot to weave it into her playlist.
“I’ve pretty much found how to wiggle my way around and be able to please everybody,” she says. “I just want to see people on the dance floor. That’s my main goal. If I don’t have people on the dance floor, then I’m not doing my job right.”
Over the years, DJ Citizen Jane has become increasingly labeled as the people’s DJ. A winner of several well-regarded awards, she was most recently recognized with a Pink Flamingo People’s Choice Award for Favorite DJ — two years in a row. This reflects the public’s appreciation as well as its understanding of her and how she plies her trade.
She isn’t the kind of performer that simply plugs in and plays a two-hour set. She’s all-in, fully submerged in the music and feeling the crowd. She’s not afraid to leave the booth and jump head first into the party, nor is she against her fans approaching her.
“I like to keep that communication with the people that come out and see me,” she says. “I don’t want to be distant like ‘you can’t reach me.’ They [can] come to my DJ booth and come talk to me. I totally love that… That’s how you keep people following you.”
Surprisingly, this DJ started out singing folk rock. Deep within her Instagram feed you can find a throwback Thursday picture that offers a glimpse into that former life. It depicts a teenage girl with short, spiky, bleached-out hair. She’s leaning into a microphone with a bright scarf hanging from its stand, an acoustic guitar tightly in her grip.
She’s come a long way from when she started her musical journey, but this year, Citizen Jane is determined to retrace her roots. “I plan on writing my own song, remixing it and producing it with my own vocals to make it my own,” she says. “I’m a singer myself, so I’m going to start with myself and take it from there.”
She doesn’t have to explain how excited and anxious she is about her new project. You can hear it in her voice. It’s a big deal to her and a big step toward her dream of one day producing music for some of the world’s top artists.
Citizen Jane is often on the road between March and October when she’s busy touring the Pride circuit throughout the U.S. She has been a headliner for Gay Days Orlando, Gay Days Arizona, Atlanta Pride, Vancouver Pride, New York City Pride, Calgary Canada Pride, Austin Pride and the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland, Ohio. In the case of the Atlanta Pride, she broke barriers by being the first DJ to perform on the main stage in that event’s 43-year history.
As in previous years, she’s scheduled to headline a number of events in 2016. Gigs like this year’s Folsom Street Fair are confirming what many locals already know; she’s scheduled to play at Magnitude — dubbed Folsom’s “Official Saturday Night Dance Event.” While historically it has been a predominantly male event with women rarely invited to play, getting booked for this kind of party solidifies Citizen Jane’s status as a crossover artist.
Her next big goal, aside from writing and producing her own music, is to break into the European and Asian markets, which is a feat. Far from not liking her style, the challenge with those markets lies in the high concentration of talent between France, Amsterdam and Germany. It’s tough to get a foothold, unless you’re a superhero.
On the Road
Catch DJ Citizen Jane in South Florida and across the U.S.
throughout the summer. Also, make sure to check out her Facebook and Instagram accounts for the latest updates on special appearances and tour dates.
June 2–5: Girls in Wonderland, Orlando
June 16: North Jersey Pride
June 24: Seattle Pride – White Party
June 25: New York City Pride – Pier Pressure
June 26: New York City Pride – Femme Fatale
September 9–10: Womenfest, Key West
September 24: Folsom Street Fair – Magnitude, San Francisco
September 30–October 2: Plezzure Island, Galveston
October 9: Atlanta Pride