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Get To Know: Jackie Hollander

Get acquainted with Jackie Hollander, the San Francisco-based melodic house and techno producer whose thumping tracks have landed on labels like Nervous Records, REALM and There Is A Light

Jackie Hollander walked into 2023 with a Hail Mary mindset. “I only had one New Year’s resolution,” she tells DJ Mag on a morning video call from her apartment. “I said, ‘I just want to give this a chance for a year, really dive back in, learn and see what happens’. And then I had the craziest year ever, so now, I’m like, let’s go!”

The San Francisco-based producer is on a hot streak. She set a goal to sign three songs over that 12-month period, and smashed her own expectations by landing on nine labels, among them Nervous Records, There Is A Light, and REALM, the imprint helmed by Gorgon City. Last November, she opened for the UK duo during their Bay Area performance, marking a fresh pinch-me moment for the rising techno and melodic house producer.

It’s hard to believe that before this recent come up, she’d considered tabling her musical aspirations altogether, deciding instead to take a sales position at a cyber-security company to pay the bills. “And I just felt so lost, not happy, and not like myself,” she says of working a job that failed to spark her passion.

She credits her creative rekindling in part to the house producer Justin Jay, a fellow University of Southern California alum whom she considers a friend and “a huge mentor”. Hollander’s first release, ‘Tell Me’, hit Jay’s Fantastic Voyage Records in November 2022. Shortly after, she enrolled in his production bootcamp where she created ‘Tiya’ — a bubbly, left-field gem, driven by a playful synth line and a tripped-out vocal sample. It highlights Hollander’s unexpected sound, which can flit between four-on-the-floor fun and more mysterious auras.

“He told me, ‘In your first few years, I think it’s really important to get a bunch of music signed and establish yourself as a credible artist, then you can kind of do your own thing,’ so that’s what I’m going by,” she explains of his helpful advice. “But moving forward, I just want to start creating my fan base and my community, and doing bigger shows that are really meaningful to me.”

In her opinion, a perfect outing includes a bill where the opener is as exciting as the headliner. “Those are the best nights,” she says, with the lens of an attendee as well as a direct support act who’s experienced this firsthand. Hollander’s love for electronic music spans close to a lifetime. She tinkered with decks at summer camp and took family vacations to Europe, where body-moving rhythms dominated the airwaves.

“I feel so lucky — that’s when I really discovered this music. I was very young, like 11 or 12, at dinner with my parents always listening to it,” she recalls of the overseas trips, asserting that these early exposures went on to shape the sounds she builds today. “That’s my heart and soul — I love trance music. I love techno. I love, I would say, more European styles of music,” she smiles, before revealing she got her West Coast fix by sneaking out to raves in Oakland during high school.

She took up piano lessons at eight years old — another outlet that continues to influence her sonic output. “I think it’s why I’m very melody driven,” she continues. “That’s how I start a track, always — either with a vocal or melodies that I write on the piano with different synths.”

This approach fosters productions that are emotionally charged, and refreshingly intense. Her aforementioned REALM release, ‘30th Street’, is the latter — a dark techno heater with a cutting spoken word sample on top. In line with the former is a sweltering rework of Leena Punks ‘OOO (Out of Office)’ for which Hollander won a remix competition last summer — another triumphant moment from her exciting breakout year.

Our subject speaks of 2024 in a modest sense, but it’s off with a bang already — a swirling and percussive new groove called ‘The Afterparty’ is out now via There Is A Light, then there’s her forthcoming Insomniac debut, ‘Freak’, with chugging textures that should ignite listeners’ wild sides. Finally, a featured selection on LP Giobbi’s annual Femme House compilation is slated for March. Soon though, Hollander will head over to the UK to run sessions and hone her craft on the continent where she originally fell in love with dance music, and despite the demanding schedule, she speaks through a relentlessly positive lens. Perhaps it’s because she knows this outcome hinged on a leap of faith.

“I love performing, that’s what gives me so much joy,” she says happily. “After finding this niche, I was like, ‘holy fuck, I need to do this!’ Being able to perform your own music and just create your own experiences... it just all makes sense now. It’s everything I want to do.” Get it, girl.