DJ Culture & Music, House Music, Information, Knowledge, theshineprjct, Toronto

The Canadian Underground Scene & Industry Writing: Through a More Colourful Lens

What will it take for underground music publications in Canada to start seeing it more broadly (you know, a little differently?)

Another perspective never hurt anyone…….

The BLM outcry phase of 2020 permeated the globe and touched all socio-cultural, political,entertainment and justice areas among many other sore spots in our collective human stories. As we can all recall, it touched the world so profoundly that many large capital cities all held peaceful and profound rallies to support their awareness of the fact that humanity hasn’t always been kind to Black People from the onset of human recorded history. I myself, cried seeing these rallies because as a Black Woman with African roots born and raised in Toronto, I have experienced my brand of adversity in the creative space where I reside. #torontoishome

Although ‘performative ally ship’ and ‘inclusivity’ are now common buzzwords that appear more frequently in conversation; the tidal waves that this topic made across the music industry, I believe is one that has catapulted Black Music’s value to an even higher degree across the globe. Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, two Black music industry executives at Atlantic Records and Platoon (Apple) organized #TheShowMustBePaused (where corporate colleagues spread the word across social media for many to change their tiles black in efforts to) ‘hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable … It is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.’ The Underground is more known for its DIY promotion, rugged venues and a more grassroots development so it’s hardly comparable to the ‘wealth’ described in Thomas and Agyemang’s quote. (But stay with me here.)

As there are so many factors that make up the scene globally- all segments of the scene could equally contribute strongly to the industry in a much different way than how it was usually glossed over in the past.

I’m not calling any existing publications out at all. But this time-into the next decade; let’s start reporting about it from a different lens. Let me explain what I mean: As multiple newsrooms, print magazines and newspapers have folded up and as brick and mortar facilities have gone digital, and some others have completely abandoned publications because print has dried up in the last recent years, reporting from a different lens as I call it; is what needs to happen as publications realize that their scope has been limited. And as freelance writers and previous journalists now have the flexibility to write differently-I think it’s time to look at other genres of Underground Music and have it written and reported from the lens that understands it. You know, a first person/first hand perspective i.e. not limited to but from the culture, by the culture. It might not be written from a lens that is widely embraced or be completely understood by a publication’s readership but it may attract more readers and build a wider audience.

The more frequently and out of the comfort zone the writing is,I believe the readership becomes accustomed to MORE (the community develops from coast to coast) and with the global lockdown and public venues bringing DJ based entertainment to a halt, this is the Underground grassroots publications and supporting media’s cue to start looking outside their bases to rebuild and bolster the culture’s roots.

At the top of 2021 it’s okay to still keep BLM in mind and recognize all Black artists that have contributed to the scene but let’s put this into practice. And for publications that have writers outside the scope of what they’ve always covered, it allows the publication to research more about the genre i.e. Afro House, Afro Tech and other subcultures as well as upcoming new talents and of course-OGs in Canada who have paved the way. It has become increasingly difficult to capture movements and trends because they are so hidden and that is also the beauty of the Underground!

What brought about me writing this piece is that on the ‘Urban’ side of things-now called Progressive R&B and Melodic Rap (the term’s been abolished) countless publications that downsized their teams following last year’s lockdowns did have many Canadian Writers on their U.S. rosters and many writers and creators faced lay offs. Others faced a shortage of pitching opportunities with changing publication staffing and release dates/times. I do imagine a revived industry across the board where Black perspectives are valued and sought after instead of diminished and diluted.

I’m not saying that publications should loosen up their pitch guidelines and points of consciousness to change the trajectory of a magazine or publication’s legacy. Nor am I saying that publications should loosen their standards to accept any old kind of writer. What I am saying is by having more diverse writers in all genres and writing methodologies, the cultural landscape is better. Black humour,Black expression and Black experiences are eye-opening and stylish at best.(Everyone knows this!) Canada has plenty to offer the global scene (look at how many Canadian DJs,Vocalists and Producers we have? I can make a huge list here there are many!)

The discussions about European and American dominance over what encompasses the real Underground, who founded the genre and what the scene and industries should look like has come up a few times a month on and offline across social platforms but still, a little more quiet in Canada. So here are some questions: What does the industry look like in Canada, how many Underground publications exist here in this country? How is it reported? How many publications have gone digital? How many are still in print? What’s the readership like? Who are the fans? And does the writing reflect the Underground (House,Tech,Deep,Dub) scenes across the country at all levels? What are the regional publications in Canada? How do publications view themselves in the greater environment? To that I answer- it can and should look like whatever it wants to be with a few small changes I’m proposing here:

· Working with writers who write differently, express uniquely and come from different parts of the cities across Canada, it’ll prevent the slow death the scene is experiencing as one chapter of nightlife is ending.

· Connect people with things that make sense. By bringing in more diverse writing into the fold with publications that already exists it offers guidance to its subscribers at home and beyond, with heavy emphasis on Canadian representation first and foremost.

Editors: Be more open-minded to the style of writer you can and should accept. Why? The more open minded you are to the types of topics, writing styles and point of views- the more colourful the industry will be: Paint it Black if you will. Although publications that have celebrated many great years of readership and tremendous levels of success and ‘tradition’. By changing the flavor of writing, its stance and its bird’s eye view will garner more attention, more success, more fans and greater influence. I would even argue a better industry and scene in Canada. Think about it! The Underground is the IT factor for a reason-it sets trends in advance of a few years before it becomes common to everybody else and that is a HUGE accomplishment. And what is IT that I refer to in the title up top? The Black Experience. It’s fun, it’s juicy, it’s dynamic. It exists!

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Information, Knowledge, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Reflections, Social Media, theshineprjct, Toronto

Demuir’s Digital Return – Local House Series – Installment 8 (2020 Vision Series)

As we have reached the final days of February, we reflect on the new way we talk about Black artists in the Underground and all over the globe. Before I make this seem like another Black Artist asking for flowers, let’s consider how many we don’t really pay attention to even though they’ve delivered some excellent projects for the last decade. I’m proud to say he’s Canadian and even more so, he’s represented Toronto on a number of platforms most recently on his own over at IG,Patreon, Demuir DJ set – ReConnect: Deep House | @Beatport Live and Demuir Live From CODA in Toronto also last year. One of the things that caught my attention at first was the poster I saw at ADE a few years back with Demuir among many on a line up (he was at ADE) Demuir became a leader right before our eyes in a space where few speak up about issues that matter. Not only did he speak on multiple elephants in the room in 2020,he spoke on topics that get ignored but still affect the culture year after year.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article about the ones bringing the spotlight to the genre-Honeycomb Label Owner Josh Milan’s interview, I discussed with Milan back then about being nominated for the Grammy twice which is (rare for House/Underground) and I brought the comparison to Drake at best (even though the genre is different,) the concept of keeping Toronto and Canada at-large on people’s minds and creative collaborations was VERY important then (pre-covid) and NOW.

There’s something to be said as COVID-19 has socially and culturally transitioned Canada into a new era-maybe I’m only speaking for Ontario and Quebec-There are frontrunners like Demuir that can beautifully represent being Black and Canadian in the electronic space at home and abroad. If not him then who? I pose this question because every win is a spotlight for the collective (it ain’t a competition or a point of contention, it’s motivation and in my case shine for all.)

There’s also something to be said where governing Canadian music entities (FACTOR,CBC,Ministry of Culture ,Sports & Tourism,CMW,Junos,Spotify,Apple,Live Nation to name a few) to take a look at nightlife as a viable cultural entity in and beyond the nightclub arena across the country especially now. Why? Now’s the time to anchor deeper roots and build an immovable legacy. It’s more than just pre-colonial museums, artefacts,colonial landmarks and I still say this: Canadian music and talent has always been lucrative and electronic music production has made a sharp boost in the last few years with remote production and tech tools being a little more readily available to most who are serious enough to take the craft to higher levels than most. Pay attention, people forget that Canadians have always supported other components of the local and international dance music landscape for long.

One of the hashtags I’ve used for years is #itsaboutthemusic and I still believe it is, but what happens in and around that though? Well, when Demuir decided to do this (online) he looked at the tools he could gather to assist his journey, the credibility he had developed over the years and the platform he already had and started putting informative pieces out. Demuir explains, ‘you see, apart from the music it’s also great to be in a position to serve people because it creates good vibes. It is about how I can help people. It’s a great feeling- people hit me up to thank me or something as simple as a personal email reply to a purchase or an exchange sets an impression…..going in with a perspective to serve others is rewarding ten fold.’

This chat meant alot because I was met with an incredible challenge a few years ago where at one point I was not able to reach, arrange and talk to DJs at home (Toronto) from a Canadian perspective for a number of years. This interview is VERY important. And in order to truly make a huge difference from a systemic standpoint; discussions should be had. I was pretty stoked to talk to an Electronic music focused DJ from this city who had a lot to say with no holds barred. If you follow him on IG, you’ll know. @Demuir

The Zoom age has actually pulled the communication standard up in that it is one of the only ideal ways available to make change and exchange. Demuir Pierre, owner/founder of Purveyor Underground contributes in more ways than one. He shares knowledge on sound & production, shows expertise on track development and genre specific techniques and very much an expert in music arrangement & instrumentation. And finally-he tells folks where to go. In addition to being informed it’s excellent to see it all come together. We talked about a lot of things and I made sure to ask about his opinion on media and press even small ones like mine and what it meant as an artist, we’ll get into that…..

Served Raw

His take on print and online media: ‘I think media and writers who are actively invested in what they are writing is a good thing for the music. Good and bad feedback in terms of the music itself. It comes down to the media and writer intentions. It should move between both quality and quantity.

How has COVID changed the game? Congratulations on your progress. I did notice how you’re bringing stuff on to the social space. ‘I think social media is the way. Whatever your niche, the tips and tricks is dope. Alot of people are good, but they need to level up. We talked about the huge pause levelling EVERYHING up and everyone up and the way it was reposted multiple times over. The people who get mad, with opinions are the people who pay $10,000 a month to make fans and the public think they’re the shit and then pay someone to make the music sound good with no talent.’ That’s pretty direct….but it’s the truth. If you really have to show us what you’ve got,these situations now have placed folks in a position where it forces people to re-think things-it’s an opportune time to do what is you. Be your authentic self with your craft.

What he thinks about social media platforms: With the SM tips and tricks and YouTube you have to tackle it with purpose. I’ve always had a global focus in mind. It’s (social media) is just a natural inclination to being connected to the world. By leveraging the power of socials he gets to work at what and who he likes, respectfully!

His take on copying and emulation:There used to be an old school gatekeeping mentality about sharing your signature/trademark production secrets because the thought was that someone is going to copy and your sound is gonna be out there-it doesn’t really matter.I can put you in a studio with me for a week, a month even and you will never be like me (it’s true) in terms on intuitively, that’s what makes us unique. There’s more depth to people. He has no problem sharing tips for this reason. And he feels that this way you can inspire someone today to be even better at what they do.Copying and pasting is a moment in time. It’s a form of flattery. It’s funny and frustrating. But it happens.The tips and tricks,plug ins can create something completely different than what Demuir has shown them.

What’s your musical style? For those who don’t know…..’I represent the Underground’s harder stuff.’ He does point out that some other DJ/Producers tend to represent the more commercial side of things but he points out that his stuff is more likened to artists like DJ Sneak, Sea Moss, Besassi. Real heavy hitters.

This symbol the accompanies the label name what is it? What does it represent? (Black History Moment) He brought my attention on the symbol-the concept goes back to the slave trade with the underground railroad. It’s a big part of his heritage and with Trinidadian roots he meaning is quite profound. He explains that ‘when slaves would escape to freedom this symbol would be etched into the ground for direction to the northern star.’ That’s deep.

About the labels: He goes on to explain-‘I’m a seller of free thought of artists and pushing Underground culture. The music is raw sounding, house jacking & tech house.’ He is definitive about the way it sounds. The label represents free thought of artists integrity and artists 100% in the forefront. It’s his 3rd label (Peetaah Music was in the early 2000s) He took a huge hiatus for about 10 years at the time and things had changed dramatically once Apple iTunes was just introduced. He introduced Purveyor Underground in November 2017.Purveyor Underground is an extension of Demuir. He has another joint venture Kultur with Junior Sanchez and it’s inception pays ode to Black and Hispanic roots to Underground sounds.

Strong statement about BLM/Racism in Underground – He doesn’t believe the industry is inherently racist but the method and/or practices with respect to business is an output or consequence of a systemic business model that’s been followed for a number years and must stop. They try to package the music in a way that it’s more easily consumed. He speaks very clearly in 2020 that as many Black artists should and could be on the line up representing their music and should be present at lives and festivals. ‘Factors such as the right look, age and race have affected representation. It’s about action now, visibility and no more long talk. It always should come back to the music. Let’s have more, more, more and in 2021 it looks like MORE is being shown!

What do you wanna work on the last quarter of the year?2020 Continue cultivating direct to consumer avenues particularly making music and focusing on licensing and publishing. He also enjoys the impact his music has at the creator level as well as the fans and supporters. People commend him about the progress he has helped them make when working on music production and it’s indeed fulfilling to receive the feedback. At that time of our interview he had about 11 hours worth of material ready for teaching courses so it’s coming soon. (Expect some tracks out on labels, at home still creating, connecting with true friends. And of course dealing with real people who like what he does.)

The advice about growing, building and establishing in the scene/industry? Alot of producers get caught up with others who look locally and worry about the same line up on every flyer. Work around some of the same things that seem to be deeply connected ,limiting opportunities and blocking the way. Start thinking on a global level. Work harder-think about the person across the globe who has no connections and less resources. Every city has it’s own thing, build yourself up. As an artist you’ve got to define who and where you want to be in this game. Don’t look at it from this city’s perspective. Be concerned about everything that’s happening in the city but find your place.

Looking to step your production game up? Visit Demuir over at Patreon>>>http://patreon.com/demuirofficial

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Knowledge, Music, promoters, Social Media, theshineprjct, Travel

Pastry Music DJs – Barbara Rose, Andrew Foley, Holland – International -House & Techno Music – 2020 Vision Series

Amsterdam duo Barbara Rose and Andrew Foley bring sounds and styles that do not overlap. A set with them live at the hotel or pre-recorded on SoundCloud are incongruent and yet still mesh well. Lemme explain this: times are changing but prior to now, especially in Dance Music genres were quite distinct and remained separate. This is changing and can exist creatively together and I sat down with the two of them and recalled what it was like to meet them both on my first and second trip to Amsterdam’s Dance Event (ADE) and boy, do those trips REALLY mean so much to me this year! During my 2nd ADE focused visit I followed them out to a city limits radio venue (AMW for one of her very first live Techno sets) and two things stood out the most 1) #blackgirlmagic behind the decks and 2)what her story was- you see Barbara, former professional dancer was seriously looking for a comparable but creatively rewarding outlet after suffering from a dancing injury and musically paired up with Foley (Deep Rooted Soul) to form PASTRY MUSIC.

Rose recently returned to Holland after a one year foray in Spain and as many globe trotters all abruptly had to return to their respective hometowns because of COVID, she talks to me about her journey and what the take-aways were. She talks about how different it was: Djs play with passion, ‘from the heart’ Even if they aren’t spinning Deep House-whatever it is they play more deeply. In this way she learned how to listen more. She listens to music with more intention because of that kind of depth. Only a 2 hour flight from Holland and in Spain she found a whole ‘nother culture, culture. In light of her travel experience, this interview would’ve gone differently but in the thick of a global revolution, Barbara Rose put the topic out on the table about being Black in Spain.

On one side Spain is absolutely beautiful….’the food is amazing,the cultural experience is exciting….the night life is enchanting…..she describes it with fresh nostalgia. ‘You know we are world travellers,we are well-travelled. I got to know alot of Djs with the music,rent is cheap,food is great. Finding and securing gigs is an easier process….but the thing with Spain,they don’t even look at your music. If they like your vibe,they’ll book you,it’s as if nightlife has a completely place in the city. It is it’s own encapsulated experience.

This is synonymous what I’ve heard frequently. After all these positives with one huge BUT. At this very moment in out global history we as people can cross reference our POV’s soooo…with a poignant swiftness she says,’ once you’re there you feel like a minority’. Is it possible to have 2 experiences on two sides of a Euro? Absolutely.

Andrew recalls on his visit to Spain-‘they live in a bubble, bureacracy is thick’ This is pre-COVID we’re talking about here. Rose talks about not expecting it to be as intense, especially being a Black Woman when dealing with people in Spain….. But yeah, it was…..

Andrew Foley 2nd half of Pastry DJs crew shared so much about his love of Disco, Hip Hop and later and longstanding, House. He enjoyed the sounds from era to era but he also enjoyed the signature feel of what what each genre brought to the next. ‘I used to buy alot of vinyl and the sound is vintage, which is why it’s still so good.’ I didn’t know Andrew at all but I got to understand what he was like based off of the way he played on the night I met him at a late, late night party at really super tiny place after a day at ADE (Bar Karakter) I walked in really you would think we were at a place in 2004-5.

If I’m saying this don’t every think that I’m pre-dating this musical era as old or out of touch! But House Music between 2003-2006 had some of the dopest sounds I think I’ve ever heard; and from the greatest musical minds, so many great sounds came out of that era. Maybe it’s a regional thing on my part, I consume ALOT of music but I have NEVER heard some of the music I heard that night and he played the shit out of that.

I thought that this was a first listen on my part and coming from Toronto, I thought that maybe my tastes and preferences had fallen off. Then I heard Andrew (Deeprooted Soul) again at another ADE live event. Andrew, your extensive catalogue and knowledge of the genre is incredible and your delivery of this stuff is impeccable. He captures a time and space in Dance Music and if you know, you know. I urge you to tune in and give it a listen at some point with all this downtime we’re about to have. It’s nostalgic, it’s euphoric, it’s precise and it’s well seasoned-most of all the passion is in there. Check them out: starting 09 jul. | Moxy Houthavens presents:

P A S T R Y M U S I C L I V E S T R E A M a fresh weekly concept every Thursday live from Moxy Houthavens Amsterdam.

A perfect mix of Techno & House in one set!

They announced their collaboration with MOXY Houthavens Amsterdam this past summer. As of Thursday the 16th of July they have been streaming live on location bringing a fresh vibe to the lockdown blahs every week! It’s the hotel party of parties. (It’s called the PAS T R Y M U S I C show.) From 19:00 till 21:00 giving you the best in House & Tech Music with a touch of R&B every week with a new set of guest DJs. Join them live! They are definitely one of many DJs helping us enter the new global  #livestream life on Twitch (@pastrymusicdjs.) It’s a different vibe over there. They’ve got some feel good energy!

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Knowledge, Music, promoters, theshineprjct, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

DJ Colette – OM Records – (APT) Entertainment) Chicago’s – International – House Music – 2020 Vision Series – (Chicago) Pt.2

Her take on passion is insightful: what will her children take from what she puts forth today? Her response were a very different type of introspection that would have quite possibly rolled out a whole lot differently if we had done this exact interview 3 years ago-at this stage she tries to really focus on staying healthy and balanced and to show her kids that she has passion for music. ‘I want them to be around that…. not so they can go out and make music but I’m definitely open to them finding their passions in their own life’.

I talked about last year’s Canada Music Week focus (South Africa) and she matched my excitement and threw in that she toured SA. I told her about the the South African connection program I had put together last year-she added that they (the roster) went in the early 2000s! ‘IT was a long time ago’…..in 2001. She visited Capetown, Durban and Johannesburg it was incredible and with it being her first time, she reminisced about what a beautiful place it was and that over there she felt the love. That feeling ‘the love’ we talk about was felt wherever she went to perform.

About travel and performances: I’ve been on tours to so many countries because of DJ’ing. I’ve been able to visit so many parts of the world. Seeing how connected everyone is-is quite amazing. You can speak a completely different language and still be so connected to each other. Music is universal and when I started going outside of Chicago I saw how connected we all are. We have so much in common because of music y’know? And that’s what is so incredible about us (as people) and it continues to keep us unified. And that’s what is so incredible. Thankfully because of Dj’ing I’ve been able to visit all parts of the world to just see the community between us dj’ing and dancing and how connected how we all are……

One thing I noticed Colette talks about music,arts,dj culture with deep vivid passion. Isn’t that what inspires people the most when it is what you are most authentically passionate about? It really had me thinking how much of this year’s events had changed the trajectory of our lives – our interconnectedness is critical to the survival and sustainability of the culture.

She knew what I meant when I asked how do DJs do life? How does she balance everything? I take it day by day-I started releasing music in 1996 and started touring in 1998 and have always been working on something but having children does take so much time and diligence….. So making music and being a parent is definitely never boring which is good. I don’t sleep as much. When you’re making music and being a parent, being a wife it kind of suddenly is all about juggling and balancing time-So I can do the things that I love.(for me it’s music.)I want them (my kids) to grow up around that and be inspired by that.-I’m open to them finding their own loves in life. But I want them to see that I’m very passionate about something and it’s been like that my entire life.

How has this whole quarantine life been for you? DJ Community especially? Everything is on pause. We both say in unison (Everything is on pause.) At the time of this interview she says, ‘so far it’s been just over a week and I just try to take it day-to-day and spend one part of the day paying attention to the news but at the same time I’m not trying to spend my whole day on there. And my kids are here and we’re homeschooling here and still trying to work on music and y’know not trying to have too much concern and daily thoughts on this change. (wise perspective) I think that these are unprecedented times (how many times have we read this in the promo emails that keep coming through?) There’s no way to really plan for it, all you really can do is focus on the day. (I love that she said this)

Seriously it sounded like a mantra: Colette said, ‘Today I am healthy, today I am safe. What can I do that will bring joy to myself, my children (you know I’d rather show something light or entertaining online because I think that is what everyone needs right now (Don’t we, we really do!) We need some ‘lightness’ in our lives (I’ve been trying to stick to that!) Firm stance is positive. Love this.

She let me know that music is still always coming out. And she wanted to remind us all that as much as it can be disappointing with plenty of events cancelled worldwide-at least for now; it is also for everyone’s safety, health and well being.

Did she have anything that was released this year prior to lockdown? Absolutely! People can still listen to music, can still experience the music and she encourages everyone to look out for new albums that are dropping. She’s got music coming out this year celebrating 10 years of Candy Talk (her label) and will be releasing a bunch of compilations with stuff from the very beginning of DJ Colette’s journey along with new drops as well.

It’s really all about being patient and not getting overwhelmed by everything she reassuringly explained. And she’s right about this across the board. I asked her if we’d be expecting any Second City Sessions next year because I really like those-Her reply to that: ‘Heather and I are always doing tour dates together and we just celebrated 10 years of those…we’ve always toured together. We did have something set up for May at Smartbar…..we’ll play together again sometime soon! It might get pushed back. We have always had the best times playing records together and that’s not going to stop anytime soon!’ And for real those Second City Sessions are where get to really hear and feel their taste for music! These nights are the result of some very tenured music connoisseurs.

DJ Colette & DJ Heather at LOFT Toronto (Second City Sessions)

It’s changed so much in the last 20 years for female DJs and even this year alone the level of exposure that is even more possible with our favourites livestreaming more frequently- and on platforms with wide reaching audiences. Any advice for those who want to break into the scene? Into production? What should they prepare themselves for? What should they do? I think for anyone when diving into the world of music and art is to really focus on what’s inspiring to you instead of going with what the trends of music are….for me I think for anyone….We all have our own special flare and once you’ve learnt your craft and figured out ways to translate music-this is what makes us unique. And that’s what people want. It’s so much more fun to just play and make music that you feel and not worry if it’s popular or if people are gonna like it. First and foremost it has to be honest. And that is what will make you the dj, producer, vocalist, songwriter etc….the happiest. And when you can create music that you really feel-People will gravitate towards that. I find it weird when people are chasing a trends musically because if you don’t like the trend then what are you trying to do? Creating art is magical and you just have to tap into that inner voice, make what inspires you.

I asked about other labelmates she told me it OM was one of her favourite labels…and she gave me a little history ‘My first album debuted on OM, I’ve been signed to OM since 2005…..being on that label changed the course of my music, it changed so many things for me. I support everything they do.’ So I got a little rundown and schooling. I knew Marques Wyatt and Miguel Migs were on there BUT Kaskade?! OM is a big deal to me and even still- I had no idea about that…! I got new info and the correct details (these mean everything to me.)

This entire convo was a vibe. As deeply reflective as she was in the way in which she responds, remarks and teaches- I walked away with a sense of strength and understanding. All in one go I asked specific questions and got waves of info! Having this chat meant I’d now possess an even greater appreciation for her music and the style she’s delivered all these years: It’s flawless. The Second City Sessions event tour date I attended at The Loft (#toronto) almost 3 years ago was where I was introduced to her live vocals on tracks which I’ve never heard live and I listen in more now.

What are some of the projects/lives we can catch again or in the future? She joined the #ChicagoKids crew on Sneak’s Feast of Beats last month (https://futurestream.tv/djsneak exclusive with pay for play access) She was one of many artists providing entertainment at this year’s MCH Virtual Weekend and Fundraiser (MiCasaHoliday) in partnership with Build Chicago and YourPassion1st where artists performed and participants were able to connect with international & local talent! Content was streamed for 7 days, 24 hours a day. Check the snippets out all over FB and YouTube! Most of the lives are grouped together in segments of 5-6 hours, check it out-it’s really good-definitely something to take in while we’ve got a bit more time on our hands for the holidays and the global lockdowns! And at the time we interviewed, the uplifting video dance challenge for 2010 Club Hit Remix ‘Call On Me’ with Joshua Heath was released too! She announced that within a few days that she’d be working on a collaborative music video. Asking folks to contribute their own little videos of new dancing so put together a nice montage of people at home relaxing and dancing around (this is an excellent idea- an all inclusive video) and folks being silly and just letting go. It’s fun to watch!

To sum up this year, she said ‘I’m taking this day-by-day, my kids are healthy-what else can we do? It’s not an easy moment- we’re all trying to get through something that we’ve never seen in our lifetime-I don’t even watch the news more than once a day. It’s too much to process.’

Her daughter entered the room as our talk came to a close and I can’t help but wondering if she’ll get into the industry in the distant future making folks remember again that HOUSE is back and it’s never left! Only time will tell….

DJ Culture & Music, events, House Music, Movers & Shakers, Music, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto, Vancouver

theshineprjct presents: From The Underground Up 🔼⬆️↗️⤴️ A Zoom Panel – Women Bringing Underground Based Businesses to Life- Nov.2020

The Presentation: From the Underground Up, Women Bringing Underground Based Businesses to Life

Zoom Registration Here: https://bit.ly/2TsMI1a

The Talk: I bring a closer lens to these women and their brands, what it takes to build, grow, maintain and now in #COVID; pivot. Women have always had to maneuver to succeed-no matter the circumstance.

We’ll discuss the tools, inspirations and resilience required to keep going. (more stuff too….)

Panelists: Anané Vega (@nulumovement), Asya Shein (@fusicology), Czarina Mirani (@5.magazine), Dam Bee (@drumsradio), Jaidene Veda (@jaideneveda_), and Nneka Gryffyn (@aptentertainment)

#womeninspiringwomen #deephouse #industry #dancenation #housenation #afrohouseuk

The Team:🧿

Moderator/Creative Direction: ms.Chinedu Egwuenu (theshineprjct.com,urbcomgrp.com)

Designed by:@puffazmadeit

Social Media Management: @liliae.mcdonald

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, Music, Toronto

Nicole Chambers Uplifts Us With Take Flight

Her voice is poignant with a strong and powerful message that speaks to the times we’re currently in. I listened to this song so many times. It’s gorgeous. She channels Sara Vaughn and Erykah Badu can you hear it? She also equally enjoys Ari Lennox and Victoria Monet and Lil’ Wayne. She reaches in from a VERY different angle that not everyone can hear at first listen. I first saw her at The Hustle a late evening showcasing that ran at the Drake Underground for a little while a few years ago.

We met on the West-end before the COVID lockdown of 2020 started and had no idea whether to wear masks or not-but it was like we’d continued where we had left off that night.I met plenty of new folks that night and some old Toronto faves in the crowd that I recognized and with all the folks I saw, I just knew it was gonna be a dope night!

For the record, all the performers that night were amazing and it made me proud to see locals at a series that was so fresh at the time. It was such a proud moment as 20 years prior, I had always wanted to see stuff like this all over the city!

Take Flight slid right into my Spotify Discover Weeklies sometime in February and I wanna add: I really love both my automated music finds as well as the stuff I’ll always pick first…there’s a specific sound and style I like. I’ve been introduced to some really dope artists (through Spotify) and I take more interest in Canadian ones as I love to hear what they’re working with. ‘Take Flight’ is beautiful. The sweetness in her voice makes the message hopeful, full of wonder and discovery.

Ms.Chambers: Writer,Vocalist,Bramptonian,sometimes performing in Toronto,writes her ass off. As always I asked about the process and it’s quite unique.She went from journal entries and reflections with eventually evolving into songs and later feelings…it was never really about writing poetry.For someone like me who notices words-her lyrics sound pretty poetic…

About her latest track Take Flight: How would you (yes reader,you) best describe meeting your true soulmate? Do you know? Are you sure? It feels the way this song sounds. In a world filled with co-dependent lyrics how would you best pick up on lyrics that describe that knowing, that feeling? The elation,the wonder,the peace and the innocence. Listen to this song a few times-once you hear it-if you know, then you’ll know and you’ll appreciate the once in a lifetime experience through this song.

What would you tell artists who are breaking into the scene? In this case brand new like yourself? I’m new right now…..so I’d say keep putting out music. You don’t need to show everyone what you’re doing but it’s great to have a small circle or group of friends that you can present some of your ideas to make sure they’re real ones who’ll give you honest feedback y’know-A small connected circle,start with that. Sign up for different shows in your city. For example I didn’t know about Brampton’s Very Own was being run by Black Women and I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities from taking part in local stuff.

What’s 2020 been like for you so far? It’s harder to find stuff at the moment since things have slowed down and I added in ‘especially with the Coronavirus’…….and she added ‘since local is the focus we can’t go NOWHERE,yup.’

I saw the Hustle Academy-what I really liked is that she sang covers and later her own stuff…..How do you feel about doing covers? Erykah Badu is my favourite,I love Neo Soul covers and TLC especially. WE might have shows again…I’ve got the same guitar player so we’ll definitely do something again….She recalls that night very clearly, she sang something by Summer Walker, she also did one of her own pieces Committed Fool and TLC’s decades old classic No Scrubs. She likes a little bit of a mix of old and new sounds……

Is the vibe different out there? Nicole proudly states ‘I was born and raised in Brampton….and as a brand new artist yes, I feel the big difference. When I do shows in Toronto I’m often asked where I live and new fans and supporters are often shocked….and we laughed hard at this……cuz I’ve lived out there for some time…….’there’s ALOT of talent in Brampton and sometimes we forget how many people have lived at one time or are from Brampton and please give it props….she starts listing them (artists) off Roy Woods,Alessia Cara,Jessie Reyez and also Tory Lanez…….

Around that time I had attended a FACTOR event Women and Inspire Toronto Serial Entrepreneur & Sandbox Studio Owner/Creator Kiana ‘Rookz’ Easmond spoke about her experiences in the industry-she talks about very specific topics women face-from image development to being questioned for their talent and building a viable and memorable career. Rookz talked about one of the issues she felt Toronto had which folks not sticking around long enough to watch artists grow. I turned the question over to Nicole.

TRUE or no? Is that a thing Nicole? Not sticking around to grow? There are so many new people dropping material every month and yes nowadays Toronto is a bit of a hit factory. It can be overwhelming for both the artists and fans….it’s important to have female artists all existing together so that vocalists and writers can all somehow collaborate alongside each other-it’s as if she knew Meg and Cardi B were about to drop something almost 6 months later…!

I was so excited to talk about Take Flight-For those who know, the feature rap artist ‘Stretch’ is from Scarborough his tone, his flow and his writing is stellar. She loved working with him and she announced that they’ll continue working together in the future. And about the message she didn’t think many people would make the connect at first and at the moment this meet up was right after Valentine’s Day she’s so sweet too when she says ‘I’m really into love right now…. and I wrote this song for the person I hope to meet .I haven’t met him but I wrote it as if I had met him already’ (the power of manifestation at work there.)

For someone who doesn’t write poetically….she sounds like poetic justice. Listen to the song a few times…..If you’re on any kind of a soul mate journey-you’ll really get this…I’ve noticed that her voice has gotten stronger over the years since HCIF How Could I Forget (look up this song) She’s been doing intense vocal warm ups before shows and daily (as her body is her temple) and it has made a HUGE difference with her vocals. We talked about Reiki healing and it’s helped her voice.

About your future: Where do you wanna take this? I want to travel-Europe, the states, anywhere my music will take me. As for collabs-more local collabs…Stretch is on the list Mole, Zensoul, Junia T (who was nominated for Polaris Prize Shortlist in 2020) She notes that they are amazing people and excellent artists. She’s working on an album and is due this September..she’s aiming for an RnB album/jazz flavour with a Hip Hop flavour – she really loves a wikked drum pattern. Expect something a little experimental…it’ll be fun! I write all my music but I want to have some poetry in it finally so working with MCs will bring that extra piece to my next album…

If you’d like more nuggets of treasure-check out her beautiful and growing discography.

 

 

DJ Culture & Music, events, House Music, Movers & Shakers, promoters, Public Relations, Reflections, Social Media, theshineprjct, Toronto, Travel, women & entrepreneurship

theshineprjct (this blog) and Drumsradio UK presents-RALF GUM-Progressions – Part Deux with Sir LSG,Dave Rankin (Toronto)

I had to pull out an excerpt from our Skype interview almost 3 years ago! So I asked,’You mentioned at the beginning that you’ve been to Toronto once?’ Which he replied ‘Yes. In the Winter. It might have been 2009. Or 2010. I had a great, great night. It wasn’t at all what I expected. It was an amazing party! I can’t wait to come back’

Interviewed a few years ago at Toronto music lifestyle blog theshineprjct.com at the cusp of his last album release he talked about his first visit to Toronto and how unique he thought our scene was….he returns next month with theshineprjct.com and Drumsradio UK bringing you local and international selectas together…..can’t be missed!Please read it>>>>> https://bit.ly/2Tpd3fz

It’s 2019….and folks,HE’S BACK! I’d like to add that I’ve had a list of people I wanted to interview for years. He’s one of the DJ/Producers that I didn’t expect to return my requests and he did! It was a thought provoking interview and he’s made some banging hits! It’s Ralf GUM feat. Monique Bingham – Take Me To My Love (Ralf GUM Main Mix) – GOGO 053 – that lead me to speak to him.

With a solid Discography spanning more than a decade he gifts House with new,new album Progressions. He wraps instrumentals around vocals, he handcrafts each note to match the human voice (you definitely hear this with Monique Bingham’s tracks!)

theshinprjct.com & Drumsradio UK brings you RALF GUM Progressions with guests SIR LSG and Dave Rankin (Toronto)

German DJ/Producer and Label head Ralf Gum of GO GO Music re-visits #toronto with a long-planned intimate night of Deep and Soulful House. After 10 years he returns and brings forth his latest album Progressions (2019).

DJ/Producer SIR LSG joins Ralf (Luka ft. Jaidene Veda – Overstanding – Remixed with Anthony Nicholson – 2013) and (Gratitude feat. Melanie Scholtz – 2017) on first Traxsource charted album ‘Moving Circles’.

This year’s Canada Music Week selected country focus was South Africa- just because #CMW2019 is over doesn’t mean the electronic rhythms by way of SA aren’t…..theshineprjct.com held a ‘Tribal to AfroTech’ panel with guests Nick Holder and Ralf Gum this past May; to shed a little light on the Canadian and South African #djculture collaboration. Part Deux will be exciting!

These blog-to-live events are the first 2 of a series of #inspiredevents created by Owner/Creator Shanay Egwuenu with her PR/Digital Marketing agency urbcomgrp.com.

With a few years under her belt as a Digital and PR Marketer- I continue to mix my love of blogging,social media and organic promotion with Underground Music. I aim to deliver a fresh perspective on traditional media. Stay tuned for more!

Arrive early,
Come as you are,
We are Global,
It’s #aboutthemusic

drumheavy

Dancefloor Certified.

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, theshineprjct, Toronto

UNCDTNL SUPPORT: The future of publicity in Toronto is bright!


Meet the two women partially responsible for the next wave of women music executives in Toronto: Yvette Angela and Deneita Evans

From what I understand UNCDTNL Collective are women of colour executives mentoring women of colour?

UNCDTNL Collective is a company that specializes in project management that support underrepresented individuals and groups. It is this specific program where we’ve created a mentorship component.

At what point did you decide to connect and collaborate?

We met in 2017 during our volunteer run at Yonge-Dundas, where we were handing out flyers for that years’ Manifesto. We just clicked and from working with each other and learning about our love for music, putting on shows, and what we felt was missing from Toronto at that time. We started talking and a little bit later, UNCDTNL was on its way.

What are some of the things about hip hop and R&B that becomes a little more challenging (aside from event production and talent buying.)

Curating hip hop and r&b shows in spaces where they aren’t welcome. Toronto loves the aesthetic of hip hop but doesn’t want live performers. It’s challenging to find the space where we are not only welcomed but embraced, not policed.

For Yvette and Denieta: What makes a great event from start to finish

D: I’d say the most difficult thing about planning an event would be keeping organization the whole way through, to make sure we’re not skipping a beat and we’re covering all our bases. Especially when it’s a decent sized group taking on a huge event. Also, being prepared when things randomly change and you now have to quickly find solutions.

Y: For me, it’s the lack of resources. Sometimes we will have a vision and it might be hard or close to possible to execute. So we either need to find/create the sources. We usually work with what we got until we can get what need and want. But it’s a huge hurdle to overcome, but we always do and we end up with more than we hoped.

What do both of you feel about carving your own path vs. following the industry standard? (What are some of the things that you feel have to be followed or blazed “blazing your own path”-Explain front and back of house?

We believe every path is different, we don’t think there is any industry standard. There’s space for everyone, you just need the passion and persistence to get there. The only thing in common with us, our mentors, mentees, colleagues is that we are all went for what we wanted. Sometimes that means volunteering internships, attending networking events – just putting yourself out there, working hard and you’ll see the fruits of your labour.

What you want to say to the next gen music entertainment women of colour executives in Canada?

Persistence, patience and passion is all you need. Sometimes it seems as though your goal will never get accomplished but it’s not true – it’s coming. But it only happens with hard work, be the best worker at every job that you do. Research and know your craft, and always be open to learning more.

What kind of events do you want to create in the future? Any company,client,group,biz,artists?

We are working on another volume of our show ‘Sunshine’, we plan on making some changes and doing it even better than our first one. We are planning on getting involved with more festivals in the country (such as Pop Montreal, VELD or NXNE) and also we want to continue to provide resources to those who don’t know where to go. We also are going to delve into art, Deneita is a huge art fan so that is in the works – to represent local visual artists.

How can people stay up-to-date with UNCDTNL? INSTAGRAM: @uncdtnl

Show Info:

CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK: Ebhoni, Witch Prophet and Sydanie.

May 8th at The Baby G (1608 Dundas St West)

Doors Open at 8pm / Show Starts at 9pm.

Tickets are $12 Online and $15 at the Door. 

Buy tickets: bit.ly/UNCDTNLCMW

DJ Culture & Music, events, Music, promoters, theshineprjct, Toronto

LUXELIFE SOUND Touches Toronto

A few minutes before I arrive at a Downtown Café last Fall, she sends a quick text identifying herself as the one with the big curly hair! Walked up to the glass doors and yes, she had the massive hair and the warmest bubbly smile. We just dived right in! Cleo Ellis, one half of LUXELIFE SOUND broke down for me how the business came about, and like most of the conversations I’ve had with shineprjct interviewees, it was soooo organic!!!!

With the strong ongoing 2018 theme of women-lifting-women up and the pride I can hear in her voice, this story  is definitely a huge accomplishment. She didn’t expect it to take the direction it did ‘it kinda just happened’ Ellis said.

Originally from Edmonton, she  moved to Toronto from Vancouver  in 2014  to pursue her Masters Degree in Professional Communication and almost immediately started a  volunteer position with Canadian PR Powerhouse Natasha Koifman of (NKPR) during their TIFF IT Lounge. That was also how she met her now business partner, DJ Lissa Monet — and unbeknownst to them both, that was the beginning of Toronto’s first all-female boutique DJ booking agency — LUXELIFE SOUND. JUST.LIKE.THAT.

Cleo Ellis – Partner
Photo: @djpplus

Anyone following Monet on Twitter will notice that she drops needles of wisdom navigating the industry as a tenured DJ and as a woman. She’s one of Toronto’s most well known DJs and has pioneered the way for a host of other DJs in the city, particularly female DJs.

DJ Lissa Monet – Partner

Even further ‘Our DJs are more than just a playlist. They actually have the skill needed to live-spin to the needs of the crowd’. LUXELIFE SOUND’s goal is to set a luxury standard of service for their clients, but also to ensure each and every DJ on their roster is paid their worth and treated fairly — the DJ industry, particularly in the club sector is notorious for these issues.  Cleo takes the time to educate each client on the expectations of hiring a DJ, while making the process seamless and simple on both ends. . One of the most engaging parts of our exchange was her communal ideology. ‘In our world, everyone gets a bag and everyone shines’ (Yeah, baby EVERYONE).

For years she was on the club circuit  and transitioned to corporate events , all while keeping a keen eye on other up and coming  lady DJs in the space. Many of whom  I’ve seen and heard at various events all over the city. The grouping of what is now LUXELIFE’S  roster includes a few definitive selectas from all over Canada. Cleo explains ‘we lucked out in that every DJ on the roster is so different; if the client requires a certain style, WE DELIVER and that is our strength’

Although business is flowing in from all over Canada they are not yet ready to expand nationwide but would like to continue reaching clients from coast-to-coast. “One day we hope to replicate this model on a larger scale in other cities, and maybe even expand to the US — but slow and steady wins the race. We want to be able to have the infrastructure to support a move like that”.

If you’re looking for more LUXELIFE SOUND has a dope SoundCloud channel  right now. Keep your ears open for the ladies at the next private party, it might be yours! Wishing LUXELIFE SOUND amazing success in 2019!

Follow ‘em IG: @luxelifesound

Follow ‘em on Facebook: @Luxelifesound

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, events, House Music, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

DJ Heather – Apollo Records – (APT) Chicago’s – International – House Music – Summer Series 2018 – (Chicago) Pt.1

With DJ Colette doing a sound check, I sat with DJ Heather instead: Instead, Heather and I had a REAL good chat.We talked about soooo much- from coming of age,to transitioning into motherhood and remaining artistically inspired. I’m glad the interview was split,we had more of a ‘let’s meet for drinks’ kinda chat.She took control of the energy and convo as I’d expected from a DJ and we journeyed through each topic pretty much like her set later on that night at Second City Sessions. Her energy and style are undeniable.

At 20 years in-she’s reflective and is now finally feeling that she is progressing,thriving,comfortable and starting to feel good….she said ‘as an artist you do have moments where you ebb and flow continuously’ So where does this endless motivation come from? ‘There’s an engine inside of you that continues to drive and regardless of what people think about age,gender-all those social mores fall to the wayside’

On coming of age and being a DJ she says one of her greatest moves forward is when she started focusing on herself and all the other chatter just disappeared- it didn’t matter anymore. The people who usually bring up the age or gender thing are those wondering how long its gonna take to achieve a certain status OR they feel that you’re not inspiring as much as you think you are. But along with that-there’s a clichéd phrase that ‘if you’re not inspired you should retire…..’I don’t really feel like I’m at that stage now to do that and there’s been many times through my life as I’ve DJ ‘ed and I remembered that making music hadn’t really been a thing that I grew up with-I never said I’m going to be a DJ, it kinda just happened’

What role has music played for you? Music was always been something that ran parallel with what I was doing with my life. Working for record labels, I was still always in the music industry but not truly focused on the art of DJ’ing. And over time I really enjoyed the element of DJ’ing because of the ability to TRAVEL. There were numerous friends I met and even still today I continue to meet more people and still enjoy what I do. It can be a struggle at times now because I have an added family element to it (just ask Colette) but it still gives me life, it still gives me enjoyment-the literal act of playing music for people is so satisfying but it becomes more of a difficult thing trying to make a living from your art…and I think that doesn’t matter what age you are-whether in your 20s,30s,40s,50s,60s-whatever 70; but in my personal experience I’m a big fan of artists regardless of the medium they choose.

I admire the fact that she has continued with what she does cause you know, it ain’t a regular job. She explains as an artist that ‘the ones who continue to create probably do it because it’s an ever-present thing like a scratch’ and in this case she has to itch……..lol

We are very aware that in accordance to society, even with modernization and some changing values-regardless of what they do,women often take pause from their paths,careers or jobs. Heather re-iterates ‘we do struggle with stuff and even I took time off after he (her son) was born. I was off for five months give or take, maybe three months?…..And my first gig was New Years Eve the following year!’

About how IT (pregnancy) went: I played up until my seventh month- so yeah, I was at the club and my husband was leading me through the venue and I was playing and literally he helped me up onto this stool. But it was a part of my life that I wanted to experience. Being in a relationship with a person (knowing this is the person I’d love to have a child with) and with this  addition it made me change the way I operate in terms of the flexibility of working when I wanted to (that was gone.) Being regimented,being scheduled and disciplined came back-it was like being in college again. (In a strange way.) You still have all this time but you have to learn again how to make that time work for you because you don’t have a lot of it- and between trying to compartmentalize the childcare with everything else, it kind of dampened. I’ve come out of that little ‘baby-ness’ stage. He’s got his own schedule now-he’s got his own feet. He’s in school so that gives me the opportunity to drop him off and I can work as much as I can during the time that he’s at school.

Do you travel with your son yet? He’s yet to come with me on a trip but he’s seen me play at street festivals and stuff. So he feels at home.

Have you noticed his musicality? I see it- but it translates into the fact that he thinks the DJ stuff is cool and he likes to dance. He’s still kind of figuring out what he likes. He’ll pretend to play…We’re just letting him pursue what he wants to pursue and just kinda find his feet. He’s in the studio sometimes, other times he doesn’t want to be in there. Yesterday he came on his own and gave her a sticker installation with labels to be there for her in the room and she put it on a speaker. He left a piece of himself there with her.

How important is it to have a partner that understands what it takes? Has it been easy? It’s been helpful for sure-I wouldn’t say ideal; but it’s great. We’re in total opposite worlds. He’s in corporate construction and I’m in art and music so we’re not really perpetually talking about the same thing. We appreciate each other and we appreciate what we can offer. He’s more in the tactile side of corporate design so he works with colour and fabrics.He’s more on the art side of his business as well. So we still appreciate art in very different ways.

Mind if I ask how you met? He met me as a DJ, he arrived at my show early and met at the booth. And here we are quite a few years later….. 😉

DJ Heather on relationships: As any relationship goes whether it’s a friendship,marriage or partnership (it is work) but if you both know that your end goal is the same and you don’t want to bail and you’re ready to work through it- that’s half the battle and that’s what’s kept us going and it’s just that awareness. It’s difficult when you’re polar opposites.I wanna be able to do my thing and express myself but I’m also a Mommy and if I weren’t doing this I wouldn’t be the mother I am.Being myself means that I won’t ever have a sense of animosity-so there is a lot of freedom I’m given for sure- and I’m very lucky…..

It’s a powerful conversation to have at this time when women are making bold movements to balance work,purpose,entrepreneurship and identity-This had to have been the highlight of our discussion as the theme running globally is women’s empowerment. There’s no direct path…..I explained my level of concern at this juncture in my own life. She admits ‘I never thought I’d be married, I never thought I’d have a child. And both have happened and I’m still maintaining some sort of career that I’m happy with. I’m still always trying to find out methods that feel organic and natural and very honest. And I’m still trying to maintain that honesty, its very difficult to do. She still feels very fortunate to have people that she can still play records for and can share music with them for this long! And I said surprisingly WHY NOT! Fabric 21 and the House of OM Mix CD were stellar projects-Her insightful breaks from my questions had me looking at her role from many angles.

 

She explained this to me: As a DJ you know that the number of DJs-per-capita has grown. There’s the myth about what a DJ does and what a DJ actually does. Many of those who are discovering the art now are finding that there is no way to kind of ‘break in’ to the scene-unless you have a big record or a ‘team’ or unless you have ‘followers’. Now there are all these other things that you don’t have the luxury of cultivating over time. It’s more instantaneous (Where’s the lie? It’s true-this is one of the industry’s biggest changes!) 

Let’s humanize DJ Heather for a moment: She’s grateful for the opportunity to learn a lot of stuff through trial and error. Hopefully she says,’I’ve built a reputation of being a solid DJ but all the other stuff comes with it. The music stuff is great but hopefully being known as a decent human being and the other stuff falls in line. And of course your relationships should be great. I’ve always tried to make life ‘normal’ and not take it as seriously but only take things as serious because its important to me-this is where I’ve found more balance. It’s about balance. Balance is a good thing.’

It’s about the music: I asked her about new Apollo Records track ‘The Acid’ with Berlin based Detroit producer Lauren Flax (June 8). She’s a great producer,Lauren is one of  her fave persons and can produce her butt off. It dropped June 8th and this ‘Acid’ track Heather describes as raw, to the point and machine based. They collaborated on this track and there are remixes out on her label. (partnered with Dann X and Little Mark) At the time, (May 2018) teasers and promo packs had gone out-the single is now available on Traxsource and the acidity is fresh!

Is there a revival of the Acid sound? There’s a kind of revival but just like Nu Jazz it comes in waves. When people say Deep House is back or Acid Jazz is back-it doesn’t really leave. IT sort of appears in waves of consciousness and you hear these records and they’re kind of throwback but they are also sounds that people really love to hear. There’s warmth,grit and depth.

About Blackcherry Recordings, it says House and Downtempo…….is that something you prefer? Do you like that sound? Yeah, as it pertains to Black Cherry I try to have it perpetuate the Chicago sound-It’s more trackier (polished) stuff as well as Downtempo stuff so it’s a kind of homage to Classic House sounds-let’s say upfront tracky stuff (that’s what I tend to focus on with Blackcherry so I was happy to bring it back with that J-Fader EP and I’ve got something coming out with another artist she’s from Chicago T Mixwell….She’s fantastic and she produces lovely music……the track is currently untitled but its’ coming out before the end of the Summer/early Fall.

For artists on the label are you looking for something specific (sound?feel?) When you receive submissions?You know if I feel something, again-its an honesty thing. It’s like this is right..someone’ll send me a track and a few pieces. I might play it out to see or get a sense of where it could go, if it’s perfect or if I think it’s super hot. I play it and get a response and see the initial feeling about it. That helps me verify in that moment. Its like oh yeah…this is pretty dope. I decide if I’ll make some changes and that kinda thing-I kinda like to test run stuff. I do the same with Apollo Records music as well. I test it out at the club and how a room responds to it spatially. It’s not always in the spirit of House Music. For example Derek Dunbar submitted some stuff and I gave it the nod. It’s nice for people to have it (new stuff) so they can put it out because there’s a market for it.

Do you ever have people approach to ask you to help them out or hook them up? (a leg into the industry) Sometimes,but it’s not that blatant, the help now people are looking for are things like ‘could you say something about my track or could you chart it? could you tweet about it?..but again I do share stuff that I feel connected to. So if someone asks me and its kinda weird, I’m not sure but if I kinda know them and they need a little push I’ll do it, its no problem as I’d want anyone to do the same for me.  In the past I would usually reach out to people and tell them their track was awesome and because they were so enthused, they would literally help me out and PUT ME ON tour and let me open-but there’s plenty of that stuff that clubs don’t wanna do anymore.

She explains the way being PUT ON works today: They’ll have these tours where the headlining DJ picks their supporting cast…..unless you have a camp like Dirty Bird they’ve created a culture where everyone’s in-house and literally everyone who’s with the label throws their own events and showcases their own artists, that’s a  formula that has worked for them.So from top to bottom all night,you’re gonna see people who’ve put music on the label or down with their crew and it’s worked! And when they’ve put their people on they’ve added a particular flavour. People are trying to replicate that formula-sometimes it works other times it doesn’t. Or you’ve had stages that are set up at one event or big festival….and let’s say  for example you have Green Velvet, he’ll have a stage with people he really likes and it works.

I tried to do that at my Smartbar residency by kinda mixing it up with people who haven’t played at the club before. I want to get them in the rotation-so they can get used to the club setting…..(it helps them build confidence too!) Sometimes the club sees the new DJ’s potential and they might want to put that person on. By doing that-new people bring a network of friends OR FAMILY, that’s what it should be about! She’s passing the torch in a sense…..Having friends & family who come out to her events gave Heather confidence back in the day. In an encouraging way she says ‘they can put these on their resumes,get other gigs or put that flyer aside as part of their archival information’ It’s almost like passing the torch……

Imagine what kind of advice she’s going to offer which such an in-depth interview…..Must read. 

  • Don’t be limited with what you think you should be doing versus what you truly want to do. Take risks when you feel like you should. Even now- She still feels nervous before a show and (the fear factor is good.)
  • Never assume what’s going to happen at a venue-even with a sound check (you may have an idea of what to expect but you never know…..all those things are nice to know, but you won’t always know)
  • Make sure you have all your tools (part of your arsenal) to rock the crowd. There might be people at a club, festival or rave who have no clue who you are….its a reality. Don’t forget that you’re there to entertain, to bait and switch…. sometimes it’s okay to give people something that’s relatable. That’s where the balance is.(Starting out as a primarily HipHop DJ gave her another tool to use-because Hip Hop audiences usually only dance to shit they know (truth lol) and that’s the commercial aspect of it. But she was able to squeeze in stuff during sets back then- she really understood the art of DJ’ing, whether it was with Downtempo or Hip Hop

 

What about the way women connect on an emotional level with what they do musically and artistically (Production/DJ’ing/Music?)  I shared with Heather  recording artist Kelela’s Opinion piece from earlier this year at  Resident Advisor and it  then spurred a whole conversation on how to proceed beyond that context. She clearly has had different experiences but the future is here. She says, ‘All Women, Women of colour,Transwomen and LGBTQ groups- these are the voices in vogue now…how long will this platform be in place? Will it stay a trend? Being in the industry for as long as she has been-she doesn’t really feel that it’s no longer about the ‘shine’ on music or artists that has changed-it’s just something people are used to now. After all IT IS entertainment. But women have always been behind the scenes and contributing for a long time. From management, to artists, to DJ’ing, to production and just now we’re seeing women as par for the course. Her advice with these changes is to take advantage of this platform, the visibility, the people paying attention and to not be afraid to ask questions and speak out-especially within a learning capacity. If people think you’re being ridiculous it’s okay….don’t worry about the boys club. There are plenty of women,spaces and places where you can find help, get questions answered, obtain resources from blogs, online and printed media outlets and even platforms like YouTube tutorials for example to learn production, DJ’ing techniques and still maintain anonymity. Feel free to learn your craft the way you’d like.

Just like any other city in the world Toronto’s tempo has changed and what people enjoy has changed as well. DJ Heather from sister city Chicago is excited to still be able to play from a fresh spectrum and it sounds like that! Second City Sessions is a collaborative project that was born from their (DJ Colette and DJ Heather’s) House of OM CD release back in 2006 when they toured and traveled with Fred Everything and Andy Caldwell. Fans love to hear Colette and Heather spin together and they deliver the synergy that works between them whenever they play. DJ Heather will be playing alongside Gene Farris, Jason Hodges,Teeloo and Mike Gleeson on Saturday July 27, 2018 after the lunar eclipse at Toronto’s CODA-it’s gonna be an electric one!!!

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