Is it eclectic booty-ghetto tech, Miami Bass, Baltimore club, breaks or electro? Is the ferocious DJ is best known for her dubstep, grime, ragga, dirty south, hip-hop, ’80s electro or freestyle? Depends on who you ask.
I am trying to figure out what it all means when Ottawa DJ Jas Nasty arrives late and flustered for an interview. Sitting across the table, she is a burst of colour in the mellow coffee-shop with bright hoodie, vibrant red hair and big smile.
Laughing, she gestures dismissively at the genres.
“All I know is that I know what I like. I know it when I hear it which is why I’m always exploring new music. The only thing that totally defines my music is that I only play what I love! So it’s totally eclectic, and hard to pin my style down. There was a time when I thought I had to choose a style and stick with it. But it just didn’t work for me.”
Jas Nasty is a local DJ, who, though born in Ottawa, only returned to the city a couple of years ago. In the brief time she’s been back, Nasty has earned a name for herself spinning with DJs CPI, Cyan and Mr Bump. Bringing the beats for events like Ladies night, Fresh Meat and the new monthly dance party, Wind it Up, Nasty’s latest adventures include deejaying a hot bathhouse party hosted by Gay Mafia.
She’s certainly got her queer bona fides, but unfortunately for us the fiery DJ is not gay.
“No, not lesbian,” laughs Nasty where she sits across the table in her bright retro hoodie and scarf. “But totally gay-friendly. Totally, absolutely queer-friendly.”
Nasty’s queer ‘in’ has been her versatile beats which could go either way, diva-pop for the gay boys or bass-thumping bootygrind for the lez crowd. Between that, her penchant for queer events and her entourage — which includes her model brother, Jesse Reynolds — Nasty has driven her beats into the hearts of Ottawa’s queer community.
For the most part, Nasty earned her stripes in Peterborough, graduating to the competitive beats in Montreal. She brings her gritty sound to Ottawa with a dark, dingy groove.
“I think the reason why my music is so eclectic. Why I get a kick out of playing lots of different styles is because I started out on radio. I had a radio show at Trent University, and I all I did was play the music I loved. It was an awesome experience and I got a ton of exposure to great music.”
Leaning forward conspiratorially, Nasty laughs:
“I don’t know if I should tell you this, but after I was finished my shows in Peterborough — because I was the last person of the night and I closed up the station at like midnight — I’d stay late and put together mixes! But that’s how I got in to this. It was a very personal thing. Just me in the studio playing with beats.”
Nasty returned to Ottawa with a style that can’t be described, other than to say it is definitely hers.
“All the labels don’t really matter. What matters is what people like. I walk in with my record case of like, 80-100 records – all stuff that I love. And I go from there. I actually really like playing in this city.”
This is when ears perk up. Mine, at least. “You do?”
“Yeah. I really like the energy in Ottawa. I found people in Montreal were spoiled and partied out. In Ottawa, people are dancing at 10:30pm. It’s awesome. The problem in Ottawa is getting people out during the week. But the weekends are great.”