raised in pittsburgh, pennsylvania, the thriving disco of the hottest clubs, combined with the emergence of hip-hop music (which had found a welcoming home on her brother's turntable), provided the soundtrack for jordana lasense's early years. her father's affection for soul and jazz rounded out lasense's musical appreciation, and inspired an interest in the clarinet and the saxophone. in fact, it was music that provided the first escape for lasense, who struggled with emotional turmoil from an early age. born genetically male, lasense recognized from an early age that her soul was that of a woman. "when i was six or seven, i knew i didn't really fit in," lasense explained in a 1998 vibe magazine interview. "i didn't have any close friends i could talk to, once i knew what was going on. i didn't see any way out." though feelings of isolation and confusion led to suicide attempts, music provided a safe haven and allowed for much-needed freedom of expression.
as lasense matured, her participation in high school bands gave way to performances with local punk bands, causing her to set aside her early instruments in favor of electric and bass guitars. by the late 80s, lasense had developed a taste for the electronic music that she heard via shortwave radio broadcasts of bbc programs. a relatively new form of music, acid house piqued lasense's curiousity and fueled her creativity. in 1991, a growing interest culminated in an epiphany while attending a washington, d.c. rave. lasense describes the music that stopped her dead in her tracks, "there were the odd sub-rhythms from my dad's jazz collection tied in with hip-hop sampling, the aggression of rock, as well as that reggae thing." though she may not have known the name for it, at the time, the music that would change her life was called jungle, and it would procede to change the course of the nineteen year-old lasense's life. born in england in the early 90s, jungle is the product of west indian alchemists who fuse rap and reggae in acid houses. trading in her guitar for a sampler, lasense began creating her own jungle gold, putting other djs to shame. simply put, lasense exlains, "i pretty much lost myself in that. it was a really good outlet for releasing all kinds of feelings."
within a year, lasense had adopted the moniker 1.8.7 to play public gigs. as her dj skills progressed, so, too, did the quality of her demo tapes. eventually, her big break came in the form of an 1995 invitation to contribute to the blondie remix project atomic, where her talent was exhibited alongside that of more well-known djs, such as armand van helden. the following year, lasense's "dis soun" was released on the jungle/liquid sky production this is jungle sky: vol. 2; a collobration with mc soy sos, "dis soun" turned out to be a considerable success, garnering still more recognition for the recently-dubbed 1.8.7. incorporating a truly animated personal sense of style into her live performances, 1.8.7 stormed across north america, leaving throngs of stunned fans in her wake. dancers, mcs, vocalists and even pyrotechnics made their way into lasense's performances, separating her from her peers and establishing her as an artist whose material was always ahead of the pack. this reputation has earned 1.8.7 a huge following and feature gigs at legendary circuit stops such as syrous, ravestock, bassrush and maskaraves.
by 1997, lasense was touring incessantly, and had begun working on videos and a debut album. released under the title when world's collide, 1.8.7's commercial debut not only proved a critical success, but also, through its title, forshadowed dramatic changes that were soon to come. though touring commitments to locales as exotic as israel kept 1.8.7 out of the country through th end of the year, 1998 saw her return to the states and the recording studio for what would be her sophomore release, quality rolls. as lasense explains on her website, "you can try to live your life being something you're not, but it will eventually catch up to you and wear you down until you reach a breaking point. i was at that point before i decided that my life was worth enough to continue it, and that meant i had to begin the process of being truthful myself." for lasense, "being truthful" meant coming to terms with the internal conflict that had been troubling her since early childhood. in an effort to "make [her] outside appearance more congruent with [her] gender identy", joe lasense began a transformation that would lead to the expression of her true self, jordana. in an open letter to the jungle community, lasense explained this transformation and the difficult decisions that had led to it.
emailed and faxed to her fellow djs, club owners, record outlets and promoters, lasense's letter created the expected controversy. responses ranged from disbelief and confusion to support and encouragement. though intensly sexist, the world of club music has always inspired and respsected freedom of expression. hyper-masculine posturing on the part of a few of her peers may have resulted in a spattering of off-handed comments, but the majority of the reactions lasense has received, so far, range between apathy and mild curiosity. lasense finds her most ardent supporter in girlfriend stefanie, with whom she has been able to maintain a relationship, even as her transformation progresses. though stefanie has been quoted as saying, "i'm the lucky one. i've found a beautiful, loving, smart, talented, deeply good person to share huge chunks of my existence with," it is clear that both jordana and stefanie are very lucky, loving and sensetive people.
while lasense's revalation creates many questions about the fate of her career as a jungle dj, quality rolls is every bit the jungle gem as its predecessor. a study in disparate influences, 1.8.7 fuses more traditional drum-and-bass jungle rhythms with dancefloor-friendly latin and r&b elements. not one to forget her roots, quality rolls also pays homage to the hip-hop and jazz of lasense's youth.
like her music, lasense is a study in opposites. with her feet planted in soul and rap and her head encassed in designer headphones, lasense has infiltrated the male-dominated dance club jungle disguised as one of their own. boldly coming to terms with her true identity, lasense strikes a blow for femenism while simultaneously educating about the nature of transexuality. for following her dream with ferocious abandon and for emerging from the cacoon of her genetic masculinity as the beautiful black butterfly that she is, jordana lasense (nee, 1.8.7) is truly the jungle's number one diva.