New York’s JADALAREIGN was introduced to the wider world in June last year with ‘Floydian Slip’, an unfeigned and righteous response to the murder of George Floyd. The track, just shy of the four-minute mark, lays out a rugged beat, battle-ready bass and rousing vocal sample, courtesy of Kelis. Around a third of the way through, the agitated yet relatively sparse production yields to a desolate, drone-filled terrain, making space for those iconic lyrics: “I hate you so much right now”.
“Everyone was feeling really angry around that time and just fed up,” JADA tells DJ Mag. “It felt nice to have my first track be something really intentional with a powerful message behind it.” The New York native followed this up with ‘2B2S’ — short for ‘Too Black Too Strong’ — and ‘Chemistry’, both released on the Haus of Altr compilation series. She also dropped a jungle edit of Tweet’s ‘Call Me’, remixed WTCHCRFT’s ‘The Callers’, and joined the Nowadays’ booking team. A lot can happen in a year.
Before the pandemic, JADA was firmly established in her city’s DJ circuit, with residencies at Good Room, House of Yes and Jupiter Disco. In addition to this, her skillshare workshop series for women, non-binary and trans people of colour was attracting press coverage, and her regular party, Perk, had just celebrated its first anniversary. Her star was very much in the ascendent, but what’s less known is the number of false starts it took before landing her dream job.
JADA played the acoustic bass and dabbled in the piano and guitar throughout her teenage years, but she initially eschewied her creative pursuits and signed up to a liberal arts degree. A soul-destroying stint in fashion and time spent working on an entertainment blog put to rest any doubts about her music career, which she finally returned to a decade later. By 2015 she was DJing out, learning through trial and error, and slowly making traction. Conscious of the many missteps people make in the early parts of their career, she was keen early on to empower others.
“When I got my footing in the industry I wanted to give back,” she explains. “2015 wasn’t that long ago, but I feel like when I started there was just such a lack of resources and mentorship. The industry is intimidating and can turn a lot of people off from pursuing things that they love as a career,” she continues. “It almost did that to me.”
In 2019, JADA held a donation-based DJ and production workshop for women, non-binary and trans people of colour. What was originally meant to be a one-off morphed into a regular series after it became clear how much of a demand there was. The sessions covered DJ and production basics, from turntablism, CDJ use and rekordbox, to fees, contracts and invoicing.
In September 2020, she took things further, launching In Sessions, an online production series, along with two other friends. The first week-long virtual camp taught production from start to finish and attracted some 300 individuals from around 35 countries. Chicago-native and R&B sensation KeiyaA taught a recent sampling masterclass. JADA has another music project planned for early 2022, but for the time being, her key concern is to continue arming under-served identities in the music industry with the skills and knowledge needed for a life-long career.
“We should be empowered to pursue the things we love and be able to sustain ourselves,” she tells us. “And I want other people, especially other women and queer people, to know that that’s a possibility, as long as you’re investing in yourself, working hard and staying committed.”
Listen to JADALAREIGN’s Fresh Kicks mix below – 50 minutes of “sweet, sexy ‘90s house and rave sounds” from New York, Chicago and Detroit.