Jana Rush

Chicago born and raised, Jana Rush started DJing at the tender age of ten. She started producing just three years later, influenced by DJ Deeon, with whom she released with on Dance Mania in 1996 as “DJ Deeon Presents The Youngest Female DJ”. After taking a break from music, working as a chemical engineer at an oil refinery by day and as a Cat Scan Technologist assistant at night, Rush re-entered the scene in 2016.

Her MPC 7635 EP, released on Objects Ltd. that year, received attention for her mind-bending drum acrobatics. She then kicked off 2017 with her debut album, Pariah, which was lauded as one of the best albums of the year by Resident Advisor, The Wire, Crack Magazine and one of the Best albums of the decade by mixmag.

In 2021 Jana Rush returns with Painful Enlightenment, an intense emotional rollercoaster of disfigured samples, quivering electronics and vagrant percussion. As implied by the title, the album is a document of her own personal growth through struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts, a glimpse into a dark period of her life amid learning the art of letting go. Her debut for Planet Mu is euphonic and uplifting, even blissful, yet equally chilling, and at times a difficult listening experience. Jana says “This album is not a footwork album. It’s more like dark experimental listening music, an opportunity to be myself without judgement!”

The album opens up with the pessimistic “Moanin’”, its gorgeous, blazing sax solo pulled back and forth like it was being played through a possessed tape recorder. Baneful bass pulsates over dozens of maniacal vocal samples on “Suicidal Ideation”, an absolutely mesmerizing collage of beauty and terror with a runtime of nine minutes. Moody guitar plucks cry over an intricate bed of micropercussion and erratic low-end blasts on the title track, one of the more sombre moments of the album. At the halfway mark, the record takes a dark, twisted turn, as “Disorientation” well, disorients, with its thick layers of untraceable alien sounds unfolding and contracting back into themselves. Thick layers of time-stretched textures and bewildering rhythms meet masterfully placed snares on “Intergalactic Battle”, featuring Teklife’s DJ Paypal. On “Drivin’ Me Insane”, Jana and collaborator Nancy Fortune stretch three words back and forth and inside-out over the course of three minutes, using every last gasp and sibilance possible. The album closes with Paypal making his second appearance. “Just a Taste” is an encore featuring many of the fundamental sonics that make up the LP, haunting horns and paranoid voices struggle to speak over fluctuating low-end harmonics. 

An established veteran from the world of ghetto house and juke who cut her teeth on Dance Mania records in the late nineties, Jana has the stripes, so to call her an outsider would be fictitious, yet she is a true unicorn within the history of that realm and becomes more and more alienated from formulas and trends on each new record she creates. Painful Enlightenment is full of dense, intricate abstractions, paired with rapidly moving structures and is unlikely to sound the same twice, as every listen exposes new layers of its vibrant, transcendental details.