Exclusive interview by EAATX contributor Zak Hansen with Sydney Blu for Kingdom Nightclub
We tracked down Sydney Blu and dug into her career a little. We are very excited to have this special guest at Kingdom on Saturday 7/30
Thanks for taking the time to talk with me! First off, let’s go WAY back – do you remember where and when you were when you decided you were going to make music? Any particular show, club or DJ that pulled you in?
I was brought to a club in Ottawa Canada called Atomic for the first time in 1998 to hear house music. That was when I decided to be a DJ. I decided to produce music around 2004 and I went to school for Audio Engineering. The artists that pulled me in were Roger Sanchez, Eric Morilllo, Danny Tenaglia, Derrick Carter, Dj Sneak, Joeski, etc.
You hail from Canada, then made your way to Miami, then Denver, and now you’re in L.A., correct? What can you tell me about those scenes? Anything in particular you love about them, as individual communities?
They are all completely different actually – really interesting to live in all these places and see how music and culture differs in each location. I’m actually now back in Toronto; after moving around for 6 years I came home. The music scene in Toronto is on fire right now. Techno and house are LOVED – massive festivals and underground clubs. I needed to be home.
‘Give It Up For Me,’ one of Beatport’s top-selling tracks, made you the only woman with a Beatport Top-10 track. How does that feel?
Pretty cool. That’s such an old record now and def doesn’t represent what I make or play anymore … but I am grateful it put me on the map and started a journey of traveling and a fan base outside of Toronto. It was definitely a good record though, for Electro house in 2008. At the time, I really enjoyed that sound. It’s was funky – when it started to go really EDM-y, I stepped away from it.
You worked your way up for years, then blew up with ‘Give It Up For Me’ in 2008. Since then, house music exploded into the behemoth it is today, and a lot of artists have changed their styles to keep up with pop charts. You’ve almost gone an opposite route – it seems like you’ve taken your music back to the underground sounds, spinning and producing house, tech house. Going deep. Can you speak to that?
Yeah. It’s who I am, how I learned, where I came from. I started around 2000 and played underground music on vinyl for 6/7 years, moved to CDJs in 2007. In 2008 I shifted to Electro House for a bit, then I got techy again in 2009 and then I was living in Miami in 2010 and basically was told by my residency at Mansion I had to adapt to the big-room sound. At that point I did it for a year or 2 until I realized I wasn’t into what I was playing anymore – I was playing what I felt other people wanted me to play, which is totally not why I got into this. I went back to my roots in 2013 and haven’t looked back.
You’ve held the Blu Party at MMW every year since 2010, and it’s grown and grown, featuring top talent every single time. How does that feel, looking down at your party and seeing the institution it’s become?
I’m super proud of my party. I love doing them. They are SO much work because I am involved in every aspect, from bar to DJs to decor. I have done about 15 of them now too, in different areas and cities of North America … booked some really incredible talent. It’s been a good ride and wow has the show grown.
Are there any Blu Parties or performances that really stand out to you? Any guests just blow your mind?
Movement in Detroit was INCREDIBLE this year … possibly my favorite year for music. Our lineup was myself, Christian Martin, Worthy, Gene Farris , the Saunderson Brothers and Landis Lepace. We had a packed house that night. 2014 was also incredible with an 18-hour lineup – Technasia, Nathan Barato, Carlo Lio, Cocodrills, Uner, Riva Starr…so many amazing artists.
You released “Relentless” a year ago this month – happy anniversary! How do you feel about the record now, a year later?
It’s insane how it came out a year ago. I spent 2 years writing that album. Still really proud of it. It was a labour of love.
You produce, and manage your label, AND maintain a pretty grueling tour schedule. How the hell do you do it? Was it difficult finding a balance at first, and how have you managed to do so?
I don’t party as much as I used to and that helps. I love being home. I love my dogs. I love my Mom’s home in small town in Canada which I often escape to. I love yoga and keeping in shape and eating healthy. This all helps!
When you’re NOT working, what do you do to decompress?
Yoga every day, chill with my dog, relaxing in Toronto or hanging at a cool event.
For the gear junkies: what equipment did you start out with? What equipment do you use to produce today? And DJ?
To produce, I use Ableton Live with plugins like Omnisphere, Spire, Kontact, Massive, etc. I also use Maschine to make my beats. I DJ on CDJ 2000’s Nexus’s (3) on USBs and Pioneer Nexus 900.
What artists are inspiring you right now?
Artists I’m liking: Green Velvet, Latmun, Hot Since 82, Gene Farris, Joeski, Weiss … those are just some off the top of my head
Outside of electronic music, where do you find inspiration? Other genres of music, or other artistic mediums altogether?
Yeah, I love all music. I love trip hop. I love Rock. I love old school hip-hop. I love older inspiring music from Simon and Garfunkel to Al Green too.
What can we look forward to from Sydney Blu rounding out 2016?
SO much music. I’m sitting on a lot of tunes right now. I have a big compilation and release coming out on my label Blu Music next. Also right now I have a couple new records out, “Verbs” which just came out on Kinetika and “Too Clean” which just came out on Toolroom. I can’t wait to unleash all the stuff I have coming up. Also planning more Blu Parties and lots of touring!
Last thing – what are five tracks you’ve got on heavy rotation right now?
Hot Since 82 – “Yourself” (Knee Deep in Sound)
Sydney Blu – “Verbs” (Kinetika)
Solardo & MANT – “Something like That”
Sydney Blu & Cari Golden – “Too Clean” (Toolroom)
Gene Farris and Nathan Barato – “We Like the Deep” (Relief)