We could introduce Jesse Walker as "cherished, local D.J.", but that would hardly do this sensational human justice. Instead, we'll start with "Idaho-born, widely-traveled, richly-cultured, intellectually-curious music magician and shaker of bodies". Jesse's an activist of positive change -- the archetypal soul that we want filling our city. For years, he's been trying to stitch together the various corners of our city and give the string a unifying tug. Needless to say, he's impacted a vast number of people in SLC. His life and blog [NewCityMovement], alike, serve to inspire those of us that appreciate good design, local life and general fun times. Jesse's also a major spoke in the Salt Lake Creative Mafia -- and with good reason...
Your place is amazing! Tell us about it: Why, thank you kindly. This is Casa Mark & Jesse 2.0, you could say. We lived in a converted auto-body shop for 10 years before this, and sometimes our Bauhaus-inspired town home feels like a compartmentalized version of that in some ways. We're careful collectors of things. Our aesthetic is basic, raw design. Materials for their own sake. History, past and present, re-purposed.
What 5 records would you save in a burning fire? You had to start with that one. Don't you know I'm a Libra who can't make decisions without weighing all the options first? I have, like, 3,000 records. This could take days,if not weeks. I do know first on the list would be my 180-gram, vinyl release of "What's Goin' On" by Marvin Gaye.
What advice would you give to a D.J. wannabe? I say that anyone who makes even a mix tape for someone else is a D.J. If you're sharing music, or setting a mood for friends, you're a D.J. in my mind. If you want to get technical about it, check out "How To D.J. Right" from the library and combine that with a make-it-up-as-you-go-along mentality. The most important thing you can do is not fuck up (according to my friend, Vanessa). Also, there are no rules (according to my early idol, Chris Sick, a.k.a. D.J. Mechanized).
You are the force behind one of the most established and interesting blogs in Salt Lake, the New City Movement. How did you get started? Tell us about your blogging passion: Oh geez, well, NCM, even in it's current form is...yes, a blog…but it started out as a html website that I coded on my own in 1998. When blogging first came about, I figured it was a great way to keep things current without having to mess with stuff constantly. Now, I just feel like we're middle-management compared to all the hotshot, fancy-pants happening in SLC right now (theCOLLECTIVE…ahem!). The real story is that I wanted to provide a place on the net where people could find out about the real Salt Lake, intertwined with my view of music, culture, architecture and fashion. I'm trying to set an example, I guess -- just like I was taught in church.
You D.J. parties, dance clubs and art galleries all over Salt Lake. Have any favorite or particularly-stellar venues/events you've played? The Depot really has the best, serious concert system in the city...no holds barred. Urban is a close second for CBGB-style live shows. W. Lounge is my home away from home because they give me so much room to experiment, have fun, and just be real with music. They're really the main reason that house music is alive in Salt Lake right now, and that's worth recognizing. Imagine if you couldn't go see a good jazz concert in a decent-sized city. Also, I'm loving the Garage right now, too. It's an actual edge-of-town roadhouse with a great bar and food; they cater to all kinds of people, but they've made a real exception for my events. Coming from a place like Idaho, growing up with country music around farms and church...somehow, it feels like a perfect fit.
Who or what inspires you? Olafur Eliasson, the Danish-Icelandic installation and sculpture artist. I've only seen one piece at the Tate in London years ago, but everything he does with color and the elements makes me swoon. Musically, I'm a synth-pop/shoe-gazer turned raver at heart, so if I could see My Bloody Valentine or Ride open up for Depeche Mode, I could probably die and go to heaven. That's not to say I don't find just about every other music style inspiring in some way. I'm open to everything and anything. We're all telling stories.
So, why Salt Lake? I grew up coming here for conference as a young Mormon. My step-mom did business here and traveled a lot of other places, as well. I had some troubled times in high school and ended up moving here with my girlfriend when I was 18. I've been around the world and back, but I've always felt like this was a great place to be. I love the people and the energy here.
Who is your style Icon? Rodney Cuellar, Gary Vlasic, Andrew Yang, Jesse Trentadue, Vanessa Welsh...all friends of mine who've taught me that style comes from within. Women, specifically, need to learn that beauty is confidence. Stop obsessing about everything. Life is too short.
What book(s) are you reading right now? The Hunger Games. Never jumped on a bandwagon like this, but I'm feeling it. Let's go!
Do you follow any blogs? Tell us your 3 favorites:
The Morning News (news/awesome stuff)
Coudal Partners (design/awesome stuff)
Notcot (all around design awesomeness)
cityhomeCollective (homes, people, substance)
GrassrootsModern (design, home, object, realness)
Gavin's Underground (nothing escapes this man)
Salt Lake Magazine (the cream)
Jamie Gadette (SLC's best morning D.J. and Twitterer)
When you close your eyes, you travel to...Berlin now, New York in the 70's, Brazil or Cuba in the 60's.
How do you view success, and how do you strive to reach it? Success is a fine balance. I want to feel like I'm doing what I love and making enough money to be happy, but I don't want to see others suffer. Shared wealth is my vision of happiness. Those who aren't being destructive with their choices deserve happiness. Those who are deserve a helping hand.
If you could design anything, what would it be? I cannot say this enough: a nightclub that has sound coming from all four corners of the room. I've had it up to here with projection sound for dance-music events. You should be able to close your eyes and hear music coming from every direction, you idiots! Graphics-wise, more music-industry logos, album covers and posters would be super fun. Interpreting other people's art is the jam.
Anyone you know that inspires courage in you? Mentors? Idols? My husband, Mark, who pushes me and everyone around him to believe in truth, justice and our own humanity. He's the smartest person I know, and he's always supported my art and work. Also my friend, Gary Vlasic, who's let me be part of so many great projects with him over the years, commercial and artistically. He is a unique person to Salt Lake, in that he's keenly aware of how things operate, but continually pushing himself and surprising the public at every turn.
Share a pivotal moment of your life: My little brother, Dylan's, suicide in the early 90's changed everything for me. It made me value life and my own potential in a whole new way. I miss him still today, but will never forget the time we had together. There's plenty of others, but that's number one.
What is your favorite drink? Old Fashioned, Sazarac, Moscow Mule, New Age (semi-sparkling wine with twist of lime) for summer. Champagne or a local brew any time, of course.
Do you have a favorite room in your house? The office, which looks out to a beautiful park that I don't have to take care of. We can see the capitol, as well. Need to keep an eye on that...
Describe your favorite place you’ve ever lived: Always and forever, it will be the converted auto-body garage we lived in for a decade on the west side of SLC. So many good times with all kinds of people -- really, unlike anything you can imagine. I've been so lucky in so many ways. I'll never be ungrateful for that.
(Self-imposed question) What are some weird things about you that nobody knows?
My parent's met when they were exploring Scientology in Los Angeles, and I was born subsequently in Cedars-Sinai in 1975.
I got caught shoplifting when I was, like, 14 at Sam Goody in Idaho Falls. I had the cassette single of Duran Duran's "All She Wants Is" and something by Milli Vanilli, but I can't remember. Yes, I've blocked it out.
I shower in the dark almost every morning. It's the closest thing to a natural delivery for a grown adult greeting the day. I'm really light-sensitive, too.
Do not like shiny metal. Maybe I have Aspergers, but something about shiny, metal doorknobs and water faucets makes me think about germs and stuff way too much. I use my shirt and coat to open most doors if I can help it.
Listen to Jesse's PechaKucha speech here - PechaKucha | Volume 7 Videos
Jesse's site, for all things local and keen - NewCityMovement
Jesse's design business - Contact Design