Music and pens: An interview with D*J*E

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Erin “D*J*E” Jacobson is a J.D., DJ, and fountain pen aficionado/blogger. We caught up with her recently to talk about these various interests and hobbies.

When and how did you first get into fountain pens?

I have always liked pens, but my fascination with fountain pens started several years ago when my dad gave me his Parker 45 from the 1960s, complete with a box of Parker Super Quink “Washable Royal Blue” Tap-Tank cartridges. I tried it and liked it, but then put it aside. One day I picked it up again and the spark hit. I started using it all the time. I also began looking online for more information on fountain pens. I discovered many beautiful pens and the unique community of fountain pen users.

As I have bought, used and researched more fountain pens, I am amazed at their beauty, style and quality of craftsmanship. Furthermore, I like unique items and think that fountain pens are special. They are not just cheap plastic pens from the store. Fountain pens have an elegance to them that is easy to possess in everyday life.

Italic, flex and stub nibs give writing an artistic dimension and the range of ink colors available far surpasses that for ballpoints or rollerballs. Writing with fountain pens also motivated me to improve my handwriting, which led me to a greater interest in calligraphy and dip pens.

I liked it all so much that I wanted to share my thoughts with others and started La Plume Etoile for my reviews.

What are your favorite pens?

My favorite pens are my vintage pens. My top choice will vary depending on my mood, but my absolute favorite pen is probably my vintage Parker Vacumatic. My vintage Esterbrook is one of my most comfortable pens. My vintage Sheaffer Balance is probably my most beautiful pen and is a fantastic writer. However, there something about my Vac – it writes like an absolute dream.

I understand you own a lot of vintage pens. Where do you buy them? What criteria do you look for?

I do have some vintage pens – see my favorites. I have bought some online and some at pen shows. One has to be careful when buying online because the pen one receives often is not as described or pictured online. After deciding whether the pen is visually appealing to me, I look for overall quality of the pen. After checking the body, I check the nib to make sure that is also in good condition and not damaged or worn. Thirdly, the vintage pens I buy need to be restored. If the pen has a sac, I like it to have a brand new sac. I make sure the lever or other filling mechanism works without issue. I do not do pen repairs and I want to make sure it is in great working condition.

Aside from that, I personally look for smaller size pens like juniors or debutantes because they are the perfect size when posted. I also favor extremely lightweight pens to reduce strain on my tendonitis.

Which pens have surprised you most over the years, either positively or negatively?

I have had some disappointments with buying pens online that did not live up to their descriptions Luckily, no pens have really have negatively surprised me. I have been positively surprised with the vintage pens because of the quality of craftsmanship and the level of detail in their design. It amazes me that some of these pens that are so old can look almost new. Vintage pens were also built to last, as evidenced by people who still use them regularly today.

I analogize fountain pens to vintage telephones. The cordless phones you can pick up in any store today usually need to be replaced after a year, but some people are still using vintage bakelite desk phones. I feel these items accompany a sense of pride in one’s work. The companies and people that made these items took care to make them properly and to last; they are not cheap manufactured products churned out without thought to their longevity of use.

What are your favorite notebooks and inks?

I am still deciding on my favorite notebook, but I love notebooks with Clairefontaine paper. I started my ink book in one of my Clairefontaine mini-notebooks because not only is the paper incredibly smooth, but it makes the ink colors come alive! I am also currently using a Joshua Davis spiral notebook from MiquelRuis that I love.

My favorite ink brand is J. Herbin! I am not just saying that because Exaclair distributes it and Karen, my wonderful fairy ink-mother, sends me samples for review. I truly enjoy the range of colors and how some of the colors look vintage. I also appreciate Herbin inks’ gentle nature because I know they are safe for my pens and will not clog them. Herbin ink usually does not stain my sink after a pen flush and it quickly washes off my fingers. I once spilled Poussiere de Lune on my favorite jeans to my initial horror, but miraculously, I was able to quickly wash it out with no residual stain! If J. Herbin needs a spokesperson, I’m available. Seriously.

Honestly though, my ink choice often depends on the pen I am using. I have a (possibly weird) habit of matching my ink color to the pen color. My ink choice is often J. Herbin, but I also use other inks. I love the color of Private Reserve’s DC Supershow Blue and use that in my Vacumatic.

Do you have any writing routines? A certain place, time of day, etc.?

I wish I could say that I did! I try to regularly keep a personal journal, but I usually become too occupied with other activities and forget to set aside the time to write. However, I am big on handwritten cards.

Since I know you’re a DJ and music lover, I feel compelled to ask: what bands are you listening to these days?

First, I would like to clarify “DJ” because many people assume I’m spinning in clubs and hired for parties, which I’m not. I am a podcast DJ and have a podcast called Electric Effect where I feature the best unsigned and indie bands. The list of what I listen to is quite long and available at the show’s website. As far as indie bands, Kiss the Girl just came out with a very cool new EP, Lynhurst and The Reigning Monarchs just released their new albums. There are too many to name, so you will have to listen to the podcast to hear the other bands I find worthwhile.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of bands trying to make it. Some are good and some are not. I filter the good from the bad and pick the bands that are worth listening to and that have the potential to make it big. I pick all the bands and songs from each band played, provide information on the bands and sometimes interview them. I try to make it a unique experience more like DJs from years past who were the tastemakers, rather than today’s computer-generated playlists.

How you got interested in music and law and music law in the first place?

I have always been interested in music. In third grade, I was Elvis Presley’s number one fan and knew all sorts of trivia. The other kids would find out facts about him and try to trip me up, but they never did. In high school, I was the resident expert on The Beatles. Over the years, my tastes in music have greatly and rapidly expanded to where I like almost all types of music. A list of many bands I like are at the Electric Effect website.

Music is great because it has this amazing ability to bring people together and erase the differences between them. Music is also a great companion, no matter what mood one is experiencing, and can help people through tough times.

Is there anything else you’re this passionate about, besides music?

Music and fountain pens/inks/paper are definitely two of my biggest passions. Law is also a big part of my life and I am lucky in that I have found a way to associate it with my passion for music.

I am very interested in vintage style and design, both in fashion and interior décor. I love old films, especially film noir and Technicolor musicals. It is also fun to spot the fountain pens used in some of these old films! Aside from that, I love classic cars, monograms, genealogy, family, friends and enjoying life!

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