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ELECTRIC PUNANNY: Luv Punanny Bad

Nightlife. A scene that in theory is filled with fun and dancing, that has been quite lackluster nowadays. People watch each other from across the room and hardly dance. DJs Jasmine Solano and Melo-X were tired of this, and brought about the party called Electric Punanny; a musical mélange which focuses on the energy of music and dancing. Here is their story.

Words by Andrea K Castillo
Images: Tone, Courtesy of Electric Punanny

Jasmine Solano and Melo-X are in the building. Together they make Electric Punanny. Let’s just start from the beginning….

So Jasmine, tell us a little bit more about how you started in music with dj’ing/ I know in Boston you had a radio show and won awards…

Jasmine: And all that nonsense…

You moved to New York, started your DJ thing here and grew a lot, especially in the downtown scene.

Jasmine: Yes

And eventually began rapping…

Jasmine: It’s funny, I was actually rapping before I was dj’ing. I was rapping when I was about 15 or 16; doing a lot of spoken word and open mics, back in the day, when Neo Soul, spoken word, and Def Poetry Jam was so cool. I still think it’s cool. But then I started dj’ing on the radio when I was 17, bought my first pair of Technics when I was 18, started hosting shows, and radio was where I learned a lot about interacting with people, and knowing my music all around. And then, [I] came to New York, was working in production and dj’ing, not sleeping. Decided to strictly focus on making music and dj’ing, and that’s around the time where I started a weekly called The Jawn, cuz I’m from Philly, so I thought that sounded cute. Melo was a regular DJ at that weekly, and he came up with the idea, in 2008, that we should do a party together that mixed Dancehall and Dance… Such is the birth of Electric Punanny. Since then a lot has gone on. I dj’ed for Wiz Khalifa in 2010 [for] the Deal Or No Deal tour. I just recently dj’ed for Beyoncé, the queen of everything. A lot of stuff in between that.

So you’re busy, to say the least?

Jasmine: Yea, it’s great.

So Melo, tell us your story….

Melo: How do I approach that? [laughs]

We got Brooklyn in the building!

Jasmine: You’re from Flatbush, first of all…

Melo: Flatbush raised…my story is kind of the same as yours [Jasmine]. I’ve been doing music my whole life. Producing–I started that in early high school, even a little bit before that, but seriously in high school. Also doing my own music, emceeing, doing open mics, poetry. I actually got a little scholarship from high school for speaking in front of the school doing poetry and performing.

Jasmine: That’s the Mustafa in him.

Melo: That’s the ‘Stafa in me. So yea, when I started coming to the city, I went to the Institute of Audio Research, so I started meeting more people in the city, getting gigs in the city. But I started blowing up more as a DJ in the city—as a DJ and a producer, but I’m always an emcee first. After building my clout and my name, I took on to my own music full force. In between all that time, I met Miss Jasmine Solano, had this great idea for a party and came to her with the idea and kind of a name I had, and she said, “How about Electric Punanny?” I said, “Perfect.”

It’s funny because those that are familiar with the jargon of Jamaican Patois (for me, growing up in a Belizean-American household), when I saw the name I said, “WHAT?! Can they say that?” [Punnany is a slang term in Jamaican Patois for vagina.]

Jasmine: There’s just enough people in the world who know what that really means for it to work. And the people that know what that word means, know what kind of party it is. It’s perfect.

It’s like a bashment party in Brooklyn.

Melo: It’s funny cuz on Facebook today, I don’t know if you had seen it, there’s this party in Berlin now called, well I actually forgot the name of it, but they were like “So we were thinking of names, and we know about this great party in New York called Electric Punanny. We want a name like that.”

Jasmine: Well Jovi Rockwell, who’s an artist from Kingston, she’s the new face of Puma, we just had her perform at our last party. She’s on the Major Lazer album.

In all my research and following you guys, I downloaded the mixtape and when I listened I thought, “Oh snap! This reminds me of all these Dancehall mixtapes I would have when I was younger during the early ‘90s. It’s one continuous stream of music. Was that a part of your inspiration, the old-school Dancehall vibe?

Jasmine: We have a bunch of new songs on there and electro songs, and we have a few artists that Melo put me onto from London.

Melo: The UK Funky stuff, like Donaeo.

Jasmine: We wanted to package Electric Punanny in—

Melo: In one musical form. You listen to it and you’re like “Aight, this is what’s going to happen when I go to the party.”

Jasmine: Yeah because the parties were so wild and we were like “A) We have to make a mixtape, and B) It has to represent exactly what the party is.”

In all this time that you’ve been having these parties, in regards to attendees, who comes out?

Jasmine: Honestly, Tone is the third part of Electric Punanny.

All the visuals?

Jasmine: Yeah, and he’s very important because he’s been with us since the very first party in 2008. He’s the only person that shoots our parties.

Melo: He’s captured all the different moments, people and characters.

Jasmine: I think the best answer to that question is to go to ElectricPunanny.com. That’s where we have a rotating screen of past photos. The thing with Electric Punanny is that we have people from every single race, every borough, different countries. We really are a moshpit of different cultures, and that’s why we wanted that mixtape to represent that as well.

Melo: A lot of our earlier parties, after we had been doing it a year or so, we got to meet a lot of the people that were from London, New Zealand, Paris, and they planned their trip in New York, and part of that plan was to go to Electric Punanny.

Jasmine: Australia is on to us. When he was there they said, “We want you to bring Electric Punanny”, so listen, anyone from Australia, you can go to electricpunannyparty@gmail.com. We are ready to go to the land down under.

Where have all of your parties been thus far, aside from New York?

Jasmine: We had two in Denver, that Firelily Concepts presented, one in Paris with French Lopez. Just found out we’re going to be doing a party in Philly with Mad Decent. Hopefully, back to Europe by the end of the year.

Melo: Back to France and London.

So the plan is for this to be more of a worldwide party?

Jasmine: Oh, we wanna be in every major city.

Melo: We wanna electrify every punanny on the planet…

Jasmine: …and known to man.

Melo: Any punanny that like to gyrate, we want to electrify them with our sound and our vision for life.

Jasmine: Oh, that was a great quote!

Melo: It’s a sound and a vision, and that vision is electrified punannies bringing world peace.

[Everyone laughs.]

I can’t even take it!

Jasmine: This is why he won that award in high school for speaking to people, he’s a poet.

Melo: I spoke at my graduation too, just wanna plug that in there.

He’s like, “I’m gonna say this real quick, and you’re gonna listen.”

[Everybody Laughs]

Jasmine: It’s all about love at the end of the day.

Melo: Yes, exactly.

Jasmine: Love, no fighting, more dancing, more grinding, more daggering, more love.

Melo: Yeah, it’s love all around.

What comes to mind when you think “electrifying”?

Melo: Electrifying…

Jasmine: Lightning bolts…

Melo: That’s life. Light, energy…

Jasmine: In a higher speed…

Melo: That’s the spirit, and the punanny is the physical.

And how many BPMs?

Melo: Yeah the BPMs…

Jasmine: It ranges.

Melo: Cause our parties are such a mix. Anytime somebody asks me I’m like, it sounds generic, but it’s a mix. It’s like every kind of music. She’s [Jasmine] been on her Moombahton. That’s a regular at the joints now. I was on my UK Funky stage, so that’s where that all came from. And Soca, Reggae, Dancehall…

And the imaginary flag in the air?

Melo: Oh yeah, always.

How can you not?

Jasmine: That’s what we mean. The last party we did in Brooklyn, our hosts Gitoo and Dutty Dylan, they were like, hanging from pipes daggering girls [laughs]; it was incredible.

Melo: It’s amazing.

Sounds about right.

Jasmine: But you know what? It’s so cool because people just kind of come and let their inner wildness come out.

Melo: A lot of the dancers come out.

I appreciate that you are bringing fun back into the nightlife scene.

Melo: For the tagline, “Bringing fun back!”

Jasmine: That’s a nice compliment though.

Melo: Thank you.

Jasmine: I feel that we represent, I mean, there’s something about me and Melo; we like all the people, we really don’t judge anybody and we really love to DJ. I think those elements come out and we make you feel welcomed, and we make you wanna dance. That’s the whole reason why people get together for a party.

Melo: Exactly.

The point of a party is not to stand and stare at people.

Melo: If you look a lot at the photos that Tone has taken, there are a lot of crowd shots where you can see nobody’s posing; people are on the ground, people are drenched sweating. Everybody in the photos are like sweaty and smiling with a drink in their hand. It’s just fun; good times.

Jasmine: That’s why I told all my girlfriends, “Do not curl your hair. Be careful with your weave. Bring a towel and bring sneakers.” That’s what it’s about.

In regards to your musical stylings, separately, where are you looking to take that as artists?

Jasmine: I will say this. Melo and I are very similar. We both DJ and we both Rap, and sometimes we do that at the same time. And we both kind of come from a Soul background, but we’ve embraced all things Dancehall, Hipster, Electro, downtown. So, I feel like whenever we make music, it kind of represents a new generation. I think it’s safe to say that the music we both put out separately will have that similar tie. It will be this combination of so many things, and so many different experiences, and we’re going to try to showcase that at our parties because we Rap and perform at our parties too.

So this is like one big show?

Melo: It’s basically a one-night show to see me and Jasmine.

Download the Electric Punanny Mixtape, HERE

Follow Electric Punnany on Twitter, @ELECTRiCPUNANNY
Follow Jasmine Solano, @JasmineSolano and Melo-X, @MeloXTRA

Images by Tone courtesy of Electric Punanny.

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