Bass notes: Space Jesus DJ action at DC’s U Street Music Hall

DJ Space Jesus is the brain child of Jasha Tull, a producer who specifically focuses on the bass line of electronic music.

DJ Space Jesus, aka Jasha Tull. (Photo courtesy of the artist)

WASHINGTON, December 7, 2015 – When it comes to shows revolving around DJs, there’s always a lot of anticipation One usually encounters a combination of hanging around waiting for the set and then perking up as something seems about break as the buzz filters through the room. This was exactly the kind of atmospherics the audience experienced when Brooklyn’s Space Jesus performed recently at the U Street Music Hall.

Space Jesus is the brainchild of Jasha Tull, a producer who specifically focuses on the bass line of electronic music. He deploys loops of hip-hop, electronica and various relevant samples heavily mixed with bass – part of the title – to create a consistent heavy rhythm that pulsates throughout the crowd. Operating as Space Jesus, Tull has created a number of tracks and albums that have served to entrench his dominance of this style.

Listening to him both live and via recordings, you begin to notice that the sound he’s creating can become infectious the deeper you enter into it. For wall flowers, it’s easy to pick out the different styles and samples he uses to create specific effects, which he does by layering them on top of one another. The way each track is laid out and then performed is quite intricate whether you hear it on an album or in a club like UHall.

Often in the world of electronic DJing, the original music in and of itself isn’t necessarily new. In fact, a lot of previous material is used and very little of it is created from whole cloth by the producer. But then, crafting something out of thin air isn’t quite the point. Rather, the idea is to put a new spin on something you already have. As Space Jesus, Tull is not so much trying to create new music as he is trying out new musical ideas, putting out his own perspective spin regarding his own of what music is. What he shared with the UHall crowd during his recent gig was his current take on sound from his point of view.

This is why picking apart anything Space Jesus performs can seem like a tedious exercise. On a certain specific and nuanced level, that’s not really the point at all. Likewise, it’s not why anyone shows up to encounter Space Jesus, either.

Producer/DJs are all about the audience and the atmosphere. True, the act of performance is important too, as these artists are not just there taking up space but are creating something like a bubble into which they can lose themselves for anywhere from a moment to an extended period of time. For Space Jesus, this kind of fulfillment comes from the transference that occurs between the audience and its reaction to what he’s creating.

What makes this give and take even more fascinating is how UHall was set up to accommodate both the audience and Space Jesus as well as other DJs. For a regular concert, bands will perform on the stage closest to the entryway of the club.

But the DJs will set up on the opposite end of the space where the sound equipment is. They survey the scene from an advantageous perch eight feet from the floor where they can easily view and get a feel for the audience.

This opens up the front of the stage for all manner of extracurricular sideshow the audience doesn’t necessarily expect — anything ranging from light-infused gloves to glowing hula hoops. The result is the kind of freeform, unpredictable atmosphere Space Jesus seems intent on fostering.

The musical world Space Jesus occupies is something different. There are strains of the familiar, with recognizable sounds that resonate like known, familiar quantities. But eventually this DJ’s sequencing becomes more important than anything else. As it all unfolds, he’s constantly watching the crowd play off the ebb and flow of the music, and constantly adjust his output accordingly.

As Space Jesus, Tull shape-shifts into strange hybrid of creator and voyeur that proves hard mimic in any other type of environment.

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