When she rolled into the idyllic grounds of the Columbia River Gorge campsite for her Phoenix Festival gig at around 1:30 a.m. on July 3, Brandy Westmore was cranky and in need of a drink. Her DJ slot had been pushed back to 4:00 a.m. and attendance at the tech-house-oriented Rhythm Circuit stage was, to put it gently, sparse.

Once she commandeered the decks, though, the veteran Seattle DJ regained her usual cheerful demeanor. Treating hardcore festivalgoers to her euphonious blend of techno and house, Westmore raised dancers' spirits (and body temperatures) with one of Phoenix's most inspirational sets. Many DJs would be bummed to drive five hours to play in a chilly field to the same tiny circle of true heads seen at every Emerald City dance club during the week, but not Westmore.

"My Phoenix gig was tons of fun," Westmore recalls. "There weren't a lot of people up and about, maybe like 20, and I knew them all. We were just running around like maniacs at that point. I got to play for people I really respect and admire, and they enjoyed it immensely, so, yes, that left me with a very optimistic feeling."

Westmore's optimism is further fueled by regular gigs at Jai Thai, Scarlet Tree, Re-bar, and See Sound Lounge, as well as turntable duties for Reggie Watts' Das Rut group and an Internet radio show with the Plasmodium crew (MissKick, Kristina Childs, and DJ Saigon). All of these outlets allow Westmore to flaunt her smooth mixing skills and crowd-rousing yet sonically challenging records from labels like Perlon, Playhouse, and Poker Flat. While her early sets used to range all over the map, including new-wave and rock platters, Westmore's found her niche within tech-house's roomy parameters.

"Everything else is just too slow; I want people up and moving," she says. "Besides, I can't afford to buy everything, so I chose house--or 110-125 bpms rather. I don't play new wave and rock, but a lot of stuff I pick up is heavily influenced by those two genres, almost to the point of not sounding like house music at all.

"Right now it's all about Jai Thai," she enthuses about her Friday stint at the Capitol Hill bar/restaurant. "It's probably the most fun and relaxed night I've ever had. People come down for the music, cheap cocktails, and Jell-O shots. We always have a great time."

As her own DJ career keeps ascending, Westmore also feels upbeat about Seattle's electronic scene. "There's a definite feeling in the air. DJs and producers are getting serious. The laptop battles at Chop Suey have been a big success. I think the upcoming Decibel Festival will help build more momentum for electronic music in Seattle. Many long-standing local musicians are adding laptops to their acts, as well. I feel like a lot of the cliquishness has begun to dissipate and people are working together. I'm particularly fond of the live band/laptop/DJ combo. I think we all need each other to keep things interesting." DAVE SEGAL

See www.brandywestmore.com for more info.

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