Earlier this year a friend sent me a message that said “Check out this new, dope Neon Steve mix.” I put it on and it was decidedly awesome. But something didn't sound right. Turns out the fantastical futurefunkydisco mix was the work of one Jennay Badger, the release of her set from the first instalment of the quarterly party “Neon Steve & Friends.” A glaring example of my , at times, surprising musical ignorance, I've come to find out that Badger is a fixture in the Vancouver Island bass scene. Her masterful DJing skills have kept her appearing all over the place to deliver her tasty, funky delights and her even more masterful (?) dancing abilities led her to founding INFLUX Dance Troupe, the finest of dance troupes I've come across. “I created Influx after I had tried out for a couple of different dance troupes. I was, you could say 'reading in between the lines,' I don't look like your typical gogo dancer, but what is a gogo dancer even suppose to look like anyway? The words of rejection really hit home & I'm not going to lie, it hurt like a bitch. I decided that that wasn't going to stop me,” says Badger of the formation of my favourite dance crew. “I don't believe that a person's body type/sexuality/gender defines how strong of a dancer they are. I couldn't sit there and do nothing, because I love to dance. That's when Jamie Gib and I got to talking, he also doesn't look like your typical dancer. He tried dancing with a number of different groups himself, and we both didn't really feel at home. I've also noticed that almost no groups at all have taken on any men full time. That's when we made the decision to go ahead and form our own team, and while Influx started as my vision, Jamie helped me bring it to life.” Influx is the next step in the natural evolution of Badger's ever-growing presence in the West Coast bass community. With that in mind I decided to eschew the traditional opening question and just jump right into the heavy stuff...
1. If you could only choose DJing or dancing for the rest of your life, which would you hang onto?
Fuck you. <laughs> Some people might say, “First and foremost, you're a DJ,” but that's just because they don't know my dancing background. I've been dancing ever since I was a child. My mom used to take me to music festivals when I was literally 2 years old. She used to drive me all across Canada in a school bus that she made into a kitchen. So, it was a kitchen, my bedroom and my home, all in one. We did that until I was about 6. I'd go missing and I'd sneak up onto the stage and she'd turn around and I'd be up there. I remember one time I was about 6, I was up there with some big black Louisiana woman and her band. They were holding me in their arms while they were performing. So, I've always been into dancing. I couldn't afford to do dance class, but there was dance teacher in Campbell River who saw that I was really good at dancing, so she offered to have me come to the studio and do hip-hop classes every Sunday for free, which was fucking amazing. I'm super grateful for that.
Around 2007, my mom actually took me to my first rave, in Cowichan. My mom and my uncle used to live on this property in Cowichan Bay where the was a Rave venue called The Barn, that was really well-known in the scene here. That's where I started going when I was 11. My mom would keep an eye on me. I had to be home and in bed by 10, but my mom brought me because I loved dancing so much. I was just going for the dancing and eventually, when I was around 14 or 15, I started DJing. I was just around it all the time. I love DJing so much, but I love dancing so much. Through DJing, I get to express my more masculine side. I feel like I'm The Man up there. Dancing brings out a little more femininity in me. I don't love either DJing or dancing more than the other, they're both one for me.
2. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?
I'd love to tell you something really cool but it was probably something dumb like the Backstreet Boys or N*Sync. I'm pretty sure it was N*Sync Dirty Pop. I'm so guilty of jamming to old boy-bands every now and again when I have a few beers.
Hey, whatever. A jam is a jam is a jam. I was dancing around to “Backstreet's Back” in my kitchen last Saturday.
My roommate and I were drinking wine, listening to Backstreet, N*Sync, Aqua, some Nickelback...We were pretty drunk at that point. Some Gwen Stefani.
Gwen Stefani is in a different category than those other things? I think? Maybe?
Eehhhhh. Maybe the older stuff with No Doubt.
3. If you could spend the day with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
Living or dead. Hmmm. I'm just thinking of people who are dead.
You can pick one of each if you'd like. Some people have done that and I'll allow it again.
Dead, I would probably pick Michael Jackson. I would make him teach me how to the Moonwalk properly and just pick his brain about music and dance. He really did it all.
Living, <long pause> Probably Paula Abdul. She's another great influence in the dance community. She's done different dance numbers for Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez...pretty much the whole roster. We would dance. Same kind of thing, I'd just make her teach me all of her stuff.
4. When's the last time you did something for the first time?
The last time I did something for the first time was when I went to Uvic for salsa dancing lessons. It was kind of doubled with harm reduction.
Wait, what? Dancing and harm reduction?
It was a Harm Reduction Salsa class. There was flyers and pamphlets about how to drugs safely and what to do if there's an overdose. Information about resources and stuff. Then after we talked we all did salsa dancing together. It was awesome. There was about 30 of us. I went with a partner of mine. We thought that we would just be each others partners the whole time but every time the bell rang you had to switch partners. It forced us to get out of our comfort zone and meet strangers. You learn the moves with one person, get comfortable and then you switch and start over again.
5. What's your favourite household chore to do?
The dishes. I love doing the dishes. I like the warm water, it's a sense of meditation for me. Putting on some tunes and just relaxing, going over how my week went while I rinse and wash. Sometimes I put my own my recorded sets and it helps me pick out transitions, if I need to adjust levels, what else needs to be fixed. It's really easy to get lost in a mixtape. The warm water and everything helps me get to that point.
6. The guest question comes from powerful Steph of the New Groovement...What is your worst hangover experience?
Oh jeez, there's so many of them. I think it was when I was 19, I went over to Vancouver by myself after a bad break up. I got a hotel room by myself. There was no shows going on, nothing at all, I just needed to get away. I went to Red Room and there was a Latin night. A whole bunch of Cuban people and this awesome, raw, sexy atmosphere. I was so consumed by it. I fell in love with the people and the culture and the dancing. We don't really have anything that raw or authentic in Victoria, and that blew my mind. I had way too much to drink by myself and I ended up walking to the hotel room. On my walk I met this gay guy. We were both hammered and we started talking. He walked me back to my hotel. I was so sad when I got there by myself that I just kept drinking and drinking. I actually didn't sleep and I caught a cab back to the ferry, got on the ferry, then caught the bus from the ferry to a friend of mine's in Victoria. I just died all the next day. It was the most horrible thing ever because I wasn't just horribly hung over, I was extremely emotional as well.