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Based in Montreal, Canada, the Italian-born Barbara "Misstress Barbara" Bonfiglio has been DJing for a decade, playing everywhere from Singapore to the Dominican Republic to London. DJmagazine ranks her as one of the Top 100 DJs in the world, and she draws hundreds of people to her club gigs, where she spins a frenetic groove of techno and rhythmic hard house.
Her mix CDs from the hard-hitting Relentless Beats to the nuanced electro-funk on her most recent disc, Come with Me (which will be released through Koch Records February 28) are instrumental sound adventures on which she manipulates the tempo at will. Through her blending of various records, she brings the mix from a fevered pitch to a pulsating, minimalist thump. She also produces twelve-inch singles for her own label, Iturnem (previously named Relentless Beats) and other techno imprints like Primate Recordings and Default.
In spite of her success, however, most people don't know who Misstress Barbara is or understand what she does. So New Times asked her some questions about what it's like to be a globetrotting techno artist.
Why do you put out mix CDs instead of regular albums?
Well my music comes out on vinyl. I have a lot of music finished, but I never really take the time to do a concept and release an album of my music that can stick together as well as a mix CD sticks together. Even though I have released many tracks, all on vinyl, and I could do a best-of I could probably put out four CDs with all of my music [I have released] the style is so different from one [record] to another.
So you're known primarily as a DJ?
Yes! Many people don't even think I produce because they don't get all the vinyl releases, which I totally understand. They think I'm just a DJ. But of course if you have a little bit of brain and turn the CD around, you'll see that in every one of my mix CDs I include some of my productions.
So how do people find out about you if you're not in the mainstream music world?
In my field, which is very underground, when I started DJing, I thought, I need to produce so I will become international. Not because I was thinking that my music would be sold internationally and I would get on the radio in everyone's car, but because if I produced records, promoters would know about me. [Club] promoters know when records are coming out, because most of them are DJs.
Now, ten years later, I realize that my productions have brought me to an international point. Promoters book me because I make music, and that's how people know who I am. They don't know me because I've had a hit record, but because they go out to that club in Munich, Sydney, Tokyo, and I'm there.