Jovon Eldridge, aka DJ Jovi, is one of Philadelphia’s most in-demand DJs and is quickly becoming known throughout the industry following appearances on cable-television shows.
Jovi, 30, regularly spins at Vango Lounge and Sky Bar, Tabu and Stimulus parties at Voyeur. While this article might be more appropriately titled, “Night in the Life of,” PGN caught up with the Springfield, Mass., native one afternoon to also see what went on when she wasn’t behind the booth.
“Believe it or not, when I am not DJing, I am following my other passion — shoes,” said the Temple grad.
Jovi reviews and writes about shoes for the mega-site kicksonfire.com.
“I have a collection of over 300 pairs of shoes. I know them like the back of my hand,” Jovi said, sporting what looked like fresh-out-of-the-box custom Vans. “Writing for kicksonfire is kind of my ‘day job.’”
Jovi is often sent new shoes directly from manufacturers to review and is regularly invited to release parties. Her go-tos are Air Jordan IIIs and Supras. She has even competed and won competitions at sneaker trade shows, and her collection has appeared in magazines and documentaries.
“It took me a while to realize I get paid to write about sneakers and to play music; not many people can say they are doing what they love and are making a good living,” Jovi said.
While writing about shoes is essentially a full-time job for Jovi, she still finds plenty of time to work on her music.
“I listen to a lot of music. A lot. Especially the radio,” Jovi said. “Some DJs might scoff at the radio but, for me, people are very programmed. They don’t really want to hear the music until they know it. So I listen to the radio to find out what’s popular.”
From there, Jovi does some digital crate digging to find the song and various types of remixes.
Using a MacBook, she imports the song into a program called Serato, where it is broken down into sections that a DJ can manipulate to create original content or play with the click of a button. Songs are also catalogued and compiled into playlists.
“There are five queue points for each song that correspond to different points in the song,” Jovi said. “I choose the queue points and am able to launch the song from them. That’s how we create remixes and special effects and put our own spin on it.”
In addition to her laptop, Jovi utilizes a mobile Maschine-brand production studio that acts as a remote control to the software on her computer, as well as a portable turntable. Some venues already have this equipment, though at others, especially private parties or functions, she hauls the equipment with her.
Jovi exhibits a mastery of the technical aspects of the profession that gives the illusion that she has been doing this her entire life. However, after five years in the industry, Jovi said she still has a long way to go.
“Five years is still considered young in the game,” she said. “I’m on the right track. I’m doing everything you’re supposed to do.”
Jovi said her next step is to get more into the production side.
“I want to make my own original music and get into the creative side of things. Most of the DJs you hear about — Diplo, Steve Aoki, DJ Mustard — are producers. They started off as DJs. That’s the first step. Then they went on to create their own music.”
According to Jovi, there are two types of DJs — the technical ones and those who just have fun.
“I can do the technical stuff, scratching and cutting and all that — which is more exhibition-style — but I lean more towards the fun side,” she said. “I like to create more of a vibe and just have fun.”
Jovi said sometimes she controls the party and other times she lets the crowd determine what they want to hear.
“You, the DJ, are the party,” she said. “I usually go with the flow and feel the crowd out. I may have a set list of songs going into the night, but I usually end up not playing half of them and just improvising.”
Another component to the job is talking about and promoting the club that night.
“I deal with people and random requests. Lots of drunk people of course,” she joked. “I also sell every aspect of what’s happening that night, drink specials and all that.”
Observing such a competent professional, it’s difficult to imagine that Jovi became a DJ by accident.
“I was working in the advertising department at the Tribune and got laid off. I took some time while I was on unemployment to figure things out,” she said. “My friends and I would have dinner parties all the time and I was always the one who brought the music.”
Friends joked that Jovi should DJ. She said she remembered creating an ambiance that people really responded to.
“One day I thought, Maybe I should try this. There was no master plan,” Jovi said. “I just liked music so much. I took my unemployment and bought some equipment. I didn’t even know how to use it. I had to watch YouTube videos.”
Then Jovi DJ’ed her first party for friends in 2010 and has been working nonstop at it ever since.
“Once people were like, ‘Oh, you DJ?’ it was party after party,” she said. “It was trial by fire. I just figured it out.”
Jovi went on to make appearances on BET’s “106 and Park” and MTV’s “Made,” and is playing her first international gig in Barbados this summer.
“It feels good to be able to add ‘international’ to the résumé. I love to travel,” Jovi said. “But I have just as much fun playing for clubs here in Philly and New York, especially the gay clubs. The gay crowd, they just have a good time. They come to dance. It’s a blast.”
Such success didn’t go unnoticed by her parents, even though they may not have realized just how big of a deal their daughter was becoming.
“When I decided to DJ, they were like, ‘Oh OK,’ and have been supportive of me,” Jovi said. “I’m the child in the family who is like, ‘I was hanging out with Diddy today,’ and they are just like, ‘Oh cool,’ and they go back to their business.”
Jovi, who dates women, said she doesn’t like to label herself as lesbian.
“I’m a pretty private person. I don’t necessarily identify as a lesbian. I don’t really like labels,” said Jovi. “I date plenty of women. I don’t hide it; I just don’t wear it on my sleeve. Plus, I haven’t been in anything serious, so there hasn’t been a real need for people to know.”
Jovi said her family doesn’t really get involved in each other’s personal lives either.
“In my family, we just don’t ask about that stuff. With my friends, though, they’ll see me. They know,” she said.
Jovi stressed her privacy about such things had nothing to do with her industry.
“It wouldn’t hinder anything, career-wise,” she said. “People love it, actually.”
Despite keeping her private life private, Jovi works many of the events within the Philadelphia LGBT community. As gay producer extraordinaire Josh Schonewolf’s go-to DJ, Jovi frequently finds herself at Tabu and the like.
“Josh produces almost every gay production in Philly,” Jovi said. “I do all of his stuff. We had Battle Royale on Tuesday. Just finished Mr. Everything, which is a 10-week competition. Before that, it was Miss Everything. They have some stuff starting in July. I stay busy in the community.”
With everything she has going on here in Philadelphia and elsewhere, Jovi said she’s happy to see her hard work paying off.
“People know me, they’re paying attention. I get a lot of calls about different things and projects,” she said. “I’m just working now, though, and focused on producing content. I want to be able to go to my website and see that I have all this content. I’m getting all my ducks in a row.”
For all the information on Jovi, including music samples, videos and contact info, visit www.djjovibaby.com.