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Jana Rush

Jana Rush, sometimes known as JA Ru, is a veteran of Chicago's house and juke/footwork scenes. Initially active during the 1990s, when she was billed as "The Youngest Female DJ," she released a handful of rough, pounding house tracks before dropping out of music and concentrating on her professional life. She returned during the 2010s, making increasingly abstract music informed by footwork, but focused on personal expression rather than dance battles. She released her acclaimed full-length debut, Pariah, in 2017, and followed it with the darker, more experimental Painful Enlightenment in 2021. Rush started DJ'ing in the early '90s, when she was ten years old -- she visited radio station WKKC and was trained by Gant-Man, who was the same age as Rush but already had a considerable amount of mixing experience. At WKKC, she befriended DJ Rashad, DJ Deeon, DJ Nehpets, and other producers who would go on to be innovators in the Chicago dance music scene. After a few years of DJ'ing, Rush began producing her own tracks, heavily influenced by Chicago house pioneers such as Paul Johnson, Robert Armani, and Cajmere, although she felt more of an affinity with techno than house. She made her recorded debut in 1995, collaborating with Houz' Mon under the name X-Men on an EP titled 2000 A.D., issued by legendary Chicago label Dance Mania. The following year, Dance Mania released a split EP between Deeon and Rush, who was billed as "The Youngest Female DJ." Another EP, Wicked, appeared on Contaminated Muzik in 1998, but Rush stopped making music in 2000, as her mother forced her to earn a living. She began working as a chemical engineer and a CAT scan technologist, and also had experience working as a firefighter. Rush finally began releasing music again during the early 2010s. Instead of the raw, pounding ghetto house she was previously known for, her sound had evolved into a complex permutation of footwork, informed by jazz, drum'n'bass, electro, and several other styles. She appeared on digital compilations alongside other experimental footwork producers such as Jlin and DJ Earl, and her music made its way throughout the international footwork community. In 2016, Rush's EP MPC 7635 (named after her sampler of choice) was released by Objects Limited, a label run by Lara Rix-Martin focusing on female-identified or non-binary artists. A year later, the label issued Rush's debut full-length, Pariah. After contributing tracks to a few compilations, including the 2020 benefit release Music in Support of Black Mental Health, she released her second album, Painful Enlightenment, on Planet Mu in 2021. Self-described as "dark experimental listening music" rather than footwork, the album documented Rush's personal growth through her struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts.
© Paul Simpson /TiVo


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