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Arielle Lana LeJarde Wants to Put You on to What Real Electronic Music Heads Know

The music journalist and event programmer champions diverse lineups and tells us what shows are coming up.

(Courtesy of Arielle Lana LaJarde)

I'm sorry to have missed Arielle Lana LeJarde's music journalist meetup this Wednesday. LeJarde, in addition to being a reporter for Resident Advisor, is an event programmer near the center of Brooklyn's underground electronic music scene, and she seems to always be trying to organize these communities in ways that promote diverse personalities.

Balancing music writing and putting together events is not easy, though. "As a freelancer, you have to be constantly pitching, and there is just so much logistics that happens before going into the party," she told me. LeJarde also runs a Substack that has weekly events listings, which shares the name of her booking practice, Heads Know. "I just don't really sleep a lot. It's not healthy. I wouldn't recommend it," she said. "I think what helps me balance the two is that I have the same mission in both, and that's always to put people on."

LeJarde told me that she used to have a day job working at a booking agency, but was also freelancing on the side. "That's how I got knowledge about what goes on on the live side," she said. "When I got exposure as a booker, I was like, this is an avenue where, if I'm unhappy with how the lineups look, maybe I can do something to change it." She started pushing for more women DJs and producers, and women of color specifically, to be on show and festival lineups. Then she got asked to throw a party by Brooklyn-based music collective Half Moon (Purp was on the first show she booked). "It all feels like it happened at once," LeJarde said.

"I knew John Barclay from Paragon and Bossa Nova Civic Club because a tweet of mine went viral and they posted me on the Bossa Instagram. I literally DMed him and said, I'm thinking of throwing a party. Would you let me?" LeJarde recalled. "And he said yes." 

LeJarde told me the first music scene she was a part of was the electronic dance music scene, which she didn't quite find satisfying. "The crowds are diverse, they're just very segregated. But I did notice a lot of the performers were white and male," she said. "But when I got into the underground New York City scene, I realized there is electronic music that is diverse, and the crowds mix more. It's not just like all the Asians are in one place, all the white people are in one place. And I felt more comfortable and welcome. So that's why I went away from EDM and into the underground music scene." 

While she says she does have haters, she has found that scene to be much more welcoming, especially as more women have become prominent in the last few years. "My main supporters were women and femme, queer people," she said. "And I was like, oh, this is what community is supposed to feel like." 

"You would expect New York City to be very competitive, and for everyone to want to see you fail because they want their party to succeed. But it's really not like that," she said.  

This is something I've found to be true in New York today: For all our anxiety about snobs and scenes, no gatekeepers are as unforgiving as time and money. For example, the influential collective Groovy Groovy recently posted on Instagram that they lost $9,000 on their most recent event, and have never made more than $2,000 of profit on a party. LeJarde told me she paid for most of her initial events out of her own pocket. "I had people like QRTR listening to me cry because I was so overwhelmed, and people like nextdimensional, who pulled up even though I'd never met her in person, and was like, let me teach you how to DJ," LeJarde said. "The scene is definitely femme, queer, and super supportive. If it wasn't, I wouldn't still be doing this."

I asked her what New Yorkers who want to be heads who know should check out in the coming weeks.

Thursday, March 14: HEADS KNOW at Paragon, 990 Broadway, Brooklyn ($28.55+)

"If you like MF DOOM—and I know he's such a prominent figure in New York—we're celebrating 20 years of 'Madvillainy' with Daedelus, who was sampled on the album, which is so amazing. I feel like we never get these LA producers and DJs in New York, in this cool space. They never come here anymore! People are calling it the Brooklyn Low End Theory."

Friday, March 22: Drumcell at BASEMENT, 52-19 Flushing Avenue, Queens ($22.00+)

"BASEMENT is just an institution and it's really fun to be in there, it's a beautiful venue. I've never seen Drumcell, so I felt like this is something that I'd want to go to. The rest of the lineup's really good, too."

Friday, March 22: Laurel Halo, keiyaA, and WTCHCRFT at Market Hotel, 1140 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn ($34.30)

"They're three of my favorite artists that are very different from each other, so I think it's really interesting that they're on a lineup together. I've never seen Laurel Halo live before, but I love 'Hyperdub,' so we need to celebrate 20 years of 'Hyperdub' and support her."

Saturday, March 23: River Moon at Bossa Nova Civic Club, 1271 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn (Free before 10pm)

"I've never even seen River Moon yet but I have a lot of their edits, and I bet that they go hard live. And I love Bossa Nova Civic Club. I think Bossa's my favorite club, so everyone should go."

Tuesday, March 26: Herbie Hancock at Lincoln Center, Lincoln Center Plaza, Manhattan (Sold out)

"I don't know, I contain multitudes, and those multitudes love jazz. And I've never seen Herbie Hancock, but we need to support the legends and give them flowers while they're still alive, so you've got to catch him, and so do I. And Lincoln Center's a good venue, too. No one ever goes there, including me, because it's mad far."

Saturday, April 6: Hudson Mohawke x Nikki Nair at Elsewhere (with HEADS KNOW in the loft), 599 Johnson Ave, Brooklyn. ($33.99)

"Hudson Mohawke is one of the reasons that I'm into electronic music. So this is a full-circle moment, because I've loved him ever since I used to love electronic trap music, and I wrote a cover story on him in 2022, and now we're good friends, and I'm friends with Nikki Nair, too. They were kind enough to allow me to curate the loft, so I'm bringing two of my favorite people and DJs: Nadus, who is another person who I've loved forever, and then nextdimensional, my DJ teacher. And I'm DJing too! It's such a good lineup, because Black Rave Culture is also in Zone One. There could be more women on it. You can put that in there."

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