Student of the Year 2019: Jordan Stanton
When I ask Jordan Stanton, LSA and Business junior, what he wants his lasting legacy to be after his four years at the University of Michigan are over, he pauses for a bit. “Whoa.”
In my short conversation with him, I got quite a full picture of Stanton as a multi-talented individual, a dedicated leader and, quite simply, a person who wants to give back to the community that made him. He is the former vice president and recently elected co-president of Michigan Electronic Music Collective, which Stanton describes as “a group of student DJs, producers, event-goers, dancers and friends” who are “first and foremost people who just love music who are trying to create more spaces where electronic music can be enjoyed in a safe environment.”
Stanton has seemingly an abundant amount of creative energy to devote toward MEMCO. Case in point: I met him in an edit suite on the second floor of the MLB where he was working on a documentary about the group. Though Stanton’s passion for DJing and EDM music seems lifelong, somewhere along the way he realized he could do more with this passion than just spinning records and getting lost on the dancefloor.
“To be a member of (MEMCO) you can’t be a selfish person,” Stanton told me, reflecting how he’s changed at his time at the University so far. “Everyone is in their own way — or at least I certainly was when in my own way when I got here — and in the process of learning to get over myself in a lot of ways, I’ve tried to have a more community-oriented mind.”
Stanton may be among the top brass at MEMCO, but he was incredibly humble when speaking about his role as a leader in the group and his efforts to build upon its “incredibly awesome and well-intentioned foundation and make it more accessible to more people.”
For every good thing Stanton had to say about himself, he had 10 more things to say about the lovely people of MEMCO, those that came before and those that continue to inspire him every day.
“The core ethos of the club is that partying is cool and dancing is cool, but there are implications, and as young students, young people, we want to be able to impress that upon people who walk through the doors of the parties that we’re throwing,” Stanton said.
Stanton will be the first to tell you that it’s not just Jordan Stanton who has transformed MEMCO into an organization committed to using their platform to do good. He is intimately aware of the shoulders he is standing on.
MEMCO is all about respect, inclusion and understanding, not only one’s understanding of their place in the group and in the community, but also their understanding of electronic music’s roots in marginalized cultures. More underground EDM such as techno and house were originally Black and queer art forms coming out of Detroit and Chicago, and Stanton noted how “there are so many … all-straight white male lineups, and for particularly a culture that was born out of quite the opposite of that, it’s weird that there isn’t more representation.”
MEMCO is doing their part to right these indifferences with initiatives like their annual Black History Month party (this year headlined by DJ Holographic, an up-and-coming Detroit native who has played at the city’s own Movement Festival), where they donate all proceeds that aren’t used to pay the artists to charities like the Flint Water Fund or Spin Inc., a Detroit DJ course that teaches local students how to DJ.
When MEMCO hosts DJ night featuring a lineup of women and only women, Stanton told me it’s not just about “creating a space where women who are playing can feel safe and encouraged to share their craft, but also for women … in the audience to feel comfortable” in a music scene stereotypically associated with misogyny and drug culture.
Going back to the question of his ideal lasting legacy, Stanton took careful time to consider his response after his initial speechlessness.
“Having students on campus be able to realize that even something as simple and seemingly straightforward as a dance music scene … can be transformed and should be transformed into something bigger than itself that can have lasting impact on the people who are part of those communities and the communities in general,” Stanton answered. “Things seemingly innocuous, straightforward as dancing and clubbing can be incredibly meaningful and impactful, and as young people, we’re not only capable of doing it but we should be doing it. That’s the sentiment I’ve learned and I’m trying to continue to share.”