Jordan Magnuson is the heroine and ringmaster of an unimaginable world.
On the dance floor of the Boom Blap Tour at The Hop! last month, girls in fishnets, Cheshire Cat backpacks and furry pink neon leggings aimlessly dance with one another, eyes fixed to the floor. Boys with matted dread locks and outrageous George Clinton-like hats fiddle with illuminated bracelets and glow sticks.
Fake fog hangs thick like cough syrup in the air, creating a sickly sweet storm that smells like essential oils and armpit.
A hailstorm of purple, blue and orange lights and lasers bathe the crowd of dancers that now suffocate the downstairs room with a red stripper pole at its center.
The dancers are aimless, itching and waiting until the next bass line drops, until the next robotic rapid-fire beats hits, until the next baby doll voice coos into the speakers, and until the next wobble of music sends them into ecstasy.
Magnuson, most commonly known by her DJ name, Thumper, brings her crowd to climax. Her presence is forceful yet unassuming at the electronic show where she alone controls the crowd.
At the flick of her capable fingers, dancers are transported to her psychedelic otherworld.
“I’m really intrigued with the white rabbit,” says Magnuson, referring to the elusive character in Alice in Wonderland. “The white rabbit just kind of keeps popping up. It’s kind of like a wake-up call.
“When I play for people I want to be the white rabbit. I want to take them down my rabbit hole.”
Magnuson, 20, is in the occult business of altering emotions. She arms herself with cans of sugar-free Red Bull, a MacBook Pro, Traktor Kontrol X1 mixing equipment, and two bunny ears she carved out of blocks of Styrofoam.
And electronic music — predominantly dubstep — is her medium.
Her catalogue of music is extensive and obscure, and her ability to flawlessly mix things like Rage Against the Machine with Nicki Minaj is uncanny. Her sets — sets she practices upwards of three times a day before each show — play like beautiful drug drips. Dreamlike. Surprising. Surreal.
Magnuson attended her first electronic party when she was 17 years old. The party, thrown by her boyfriend (known as DJ Dirty Panda), crammed hundreds of kids in a house near the North Idaho College campus.
The music was the answer to something she was missing.
“It was love at first listen I guess,” she says. “I wondered why that type of music wasn’t everywhere. Now, it’s kind of taken over my whole life.”
Today, when Magnuson isn’t working as a barista, she’s browsing music blogs, downloading music and mixing, and then and re-mixing tracks out loud in a small room in her basement.
By this time next year, she hopes to be producing all of her own music. Music in the same vein as artists like iamamiwhoami.
Because for Magnuson, it isn’t just about the party.
“I like my sets to go somewhere,” she says. “To shake people up, bring them down deep, or take them to a place that makes them so deeply happy.”
“I definitely want to expose people to something they need to know, to awake people to an emotion they may not be aware was there.”
She knows that sounds “ravey,” but Magnuson is genuine about her goals as a musician: she doesn’t just want her audience to connect with the music she’s playing — and one day making — she wants them to feel it.
While reading, Magnuson learned about the Solfeggio Scale, a series of frequencies used in ancient Gregorian Chants. The chants and their tones are believed to correspond to the heart chakra and impart tremendous spiritual blessings.
“I’m really into the esoteric and spiritual side of music,” she says. “I want to produce music on this [Solfeggio] scale … produce music people like to dance to, and music that gets the party going, but can also heal people.”
Magnuson wears a black slinky dress — bra exposed in the back — with wedge pumps while performing at The Hop!
She plays with her head down, her olive skin and soft brown eyes illuminated by the Apple logo on her laptop and flickering lights from a mixer and sound system that looks like something straight out of Tron.
Her long brown and pink-tipped hair hangs below her face as she destroys the crowd with samples from Nine Inch Nails.
The audience curiously follows her every high and every low in the set. She guides their night (for some in the audience, their drug trip) and smiles big toothy smiles at those who pass her by.
“I want to play loving frequencies for everyone,” she says. “Deep and dark and dirty and grimy, yet really healing music.”
“My rabbit hole is a good one.”
Thumper plays Volume on Fri, June 1, at midnight at Irv’s.
How We Picked 'Em
Just like we have the past two years, we anchored this issue with the most interesting, groundbreaking, unique Bands to Watch from the Inland Northwest — chosen by a dogged committee of local music fans: Justin East, Patrick Kendrick, Ryan Levey, Jordy Byrd, Jordan Satterfield and myself. We deliberated over the course of a few months over which bands to highlight this year. Choosing just five, like we usually do, wasn’t possible: Six acts had won our hearts. In the next few pages, read about all of them.
And then come to our show — the first-ever Volume Block Party — on June 1 to see those bands and 32 others play live. All of this is just our way of giving the local music scene — from acoustic singers to the most pissed-off metal bands — a big sweaty bear hug. Keep it up, guys. We like you.
– LEAH SOTTILE, Inlander music editor