Passion projects, no matter their size and scope, tend to survive due to an unquantifiable formula of luck and stubbornness. Chemynne Perlingieri understands that better than most. The lone driving force behind Juice Drum n Bass, one of the longest-running club nights in the United States dedicated to the electronic dance music subgenre, she’s been flying her particular flag for close to two decades.
“It’s a case of having to consistently reinvent every single year,” she says, taking a rare break to catch her breath at Broken Robot Coffee. “I don’t think you can do that unless you are wholly dedicated to that item that you’re working on.”
Perlingieri’s flexibility and keen eye for the shifting tides within the drum-and-bass community has allowed Juice to survive a move from Bend to Portland in 2009 and pandemic lockdowns. She and her crew of regular DJs shifted to Twitch, the streaming service that began as a hub for gamers but became a lifeline for DJs unable to spin in public due to the coronavirus.
Juice tapped into the global community of drum-and-bass heads with thrice-weekly sets by Perlingieri, her husband, and a revolving cast of local and international selectors, which it is keeping up even today. The channel now boasts nearly 7,000 followers and provides a decent supplemental income stream that gets funneled back into in-person events.
On the gray afternoon when I meet up with Perlingieri, the next party is dominating her headspace. This coming Friday’s event at Holocene will celebrate 18 years of Juice Drum n Bass with an impressive lineup of heavy hitters in the scene.
Visiting from the United Kingdom are Artificial Intelligence, a duo that adds gorgeous washes of ambient sound beneath the genre’s signature double-quick beats, and BCee, a producer and DJ whose music has a harder edge to it and stops by as part of their first tour of the States. Rounding out the bill are Germany’s MC Fava, L.A.’s Reid Speed, and a pair of locals: MC Questionmark and Praderz.
Excited as she is about what’s on tap for this 18th anniversary party, Perlingieri can’t yet see past all the little details that need to be taken care of before Friday. That’s what comes from having shepherded Juice from its beginnings as a monthly gathering at The Grove, a bar in Bend, in 2005 to its online presence to its current home at Holocene.
“There’s renting equipment that they don’t have,” she says. “We bring in big sound because we just don’t fuck around with that. That’s one of the biggest things that people that come to our shows will be very critical about. So we have two or three sound people. I bring in someone from lighting. It just piles up. I also bring in Brett McConnell for lights and lasers as the newest member of our team.”
The hard work Perlingieri and her team have put into every event and livestream that carries the Juice name has resulted in a jaw-dropping historical timeline. Their efforts have brought some major talent in the drum-and-bass world to Portland. Last year alone, Juice welcomed LTJ Bukem, a U.K. artist whose work leans heavily on the influence of jazz, for their 17th anniversary party, and Goldie, an iconic figure in electronic music whose 1995 album Timeless hit the U.K. Top 10 and who has collaborated with David Bowie and Noel Gallagher from Oasis.
The latter event was a particularly powerful one, Perlingieri remembers. Goldie arrived just a few days after the death of his father and, during his set, let his emotions pour out, jumping off the stage to hug members of the audience.
“Emotions were super high,” she says. “I remember at one point, once he stepped up onstage, I just sat down on the stairs and it was such a relief. I felt like, ‘OK, my work here is done. Now y’all have a good time.’”
Apart from those brief moments, Perlingieri doesn’t leave herself much time to rest when it comes to Juice and her boutique booking agency for drum-and-bass artists BassRoutes. She’s already cooking up the lineups for the next Juice events and continues working the phones for her various clients. She keeps so busy, in fact, that the reality of what she has achieved over the past 18 years hasn’t really sunk in.
“I think I have trouble sometimes seeing that accomplishments have been made and milestones have been met,” Perlingieri says. “I’m always striving to do more, to get better exposure, do bigger shows. Even at this milestone, there’s still a lot of people who haven’t heard about our night. I need to see it enough to appreciate the fact that I’ve taken this thing down the road quite a bit. But I guess I never get too comfortable there. And that way I’m always striving for more.”
SEE IT: Juice Drum n Bass plays Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., 503-239-7639, holocene.org. 8:30 pm Friday, March 24. $20-$35. 21+.