Dumb blonde bimbo DJs? The EDM industry already has one Paris Hilton.
Montreal's Blond:ish, on the other hand, isn't messing around. With a reputation for driving, body-jacking DJ sets, the duo exploded onto the international scene this past year with some auspicious tech-house releases on Kompakt and Get Physical.
Crossfade caught up with Anstascia D'Elene of Blond:ish ahead of this Saturday's performance at the Electric Pickle with SAFE Miami and the Wagon Repair label's Konrad Black. Topics of conversation included breakthrough success, overcoming female stereotypes in the dance music industry, and a few pointers for Paris Hilton.
Crossfade: Who is Blond:ish? How did the partnership first come about and what were you each working on musically before pairing up?
Anstascia D'Elene: After meeting through mutual friends in Montreal, we solidified our friendship at WMC 2007, in the school bus at Pawn Shop's Sunday School for Degenerates, and decided it was time to add some midweek mangle to Montreal's house scene. We started out promoting and DJing at a club called Cherry in Montreal in 2008. The night was actually called Blond:ish and eventually everyone just started calling us Blond:ish. Before we met, Viv was DJing since university and I was playing at after parties for friends. Nothing serious but definitely obsessed with music and new I wanted to do something about it.
We spoke to Footprintz from your native Montreal a couple weeks back about the happening underground dance music scene there. How did Montreal shape you as artists?
I think Montreal more so than anything helped get us a doctorate in afterhours culture and long rave benders. Montreal was a great platform to explore all sorts of different talents from around the globe. Whether Stereo back in the day or an unannounced loft or warehouse party, there's no denying Montreal has had some serious talent play there throughout the years.
We always knew we wanted to be the ones controlling the vibe of the party. Eventually though, Montreal became a bit redundant for us (although we still love it so much) and we knew it was time to explore the rest of the world musically. By the way, we love Footprintz! So much great talent coming out of our hood! Can't wait to hear their full album on Visionquest.
2012 was your big breakout year. What was the turning point?
Our Lovers in Limbo EP on Kompakt helped define us as producers, but the pinnacle moment had to be the first time we heard our track, "In My Head" being played at an epic jungle party in Mexico. We didn't know the DJ, Philipp [Jung] of M.A.N.D.Y. had this track. As he played it as his opening tune in front of the 500-ish partiers, I ran up to him and told him it was ours. [Laughs] He was really surprised (because there is one chance in a billion that this would happen) and he signed it to his label on the spot.
And here we are now, 6 months later, with Get Physical as our new extended family, two EPs and a remix coming out with them this year. And if all goes well, we'll be talking about an album for mid-2013. We're also really grateful for Pete Tong's continuous support, especially of Hunter/Game's remix of our track "Lonely Days" on Noir Music 2, and all our fans who send us love letters and marriage proposals. We love you too. [Laughs]
How has living and working in London worked for you so far? Has the density of the music scene there helped with inspiration in the studio? Is there a sense of community as far as you collaborating and exchanging ideas with other local artists?
Moving to London was by far the best decision we have ever made. Music-wise it goes without mentioning how much talent oozes out of this city, not to mention London has about 6 airports, so it makes it extremely convenient to travel to almost anywhere in the world. The raw East London warehouse scene, to the outdoor car park parties have all heavily influenced our current productions, as we've been like sponges absorbing the crème de la crème of music.
We, unfortunately, have only recently started to feel the sense of community, as we have been gone on most weekends, and during the week we are in the studio and/or working on something Blond:ish. Thankfully we have the interwebs to exchange ideas, so no need to be in London physically. Magic!
You two are obviously attractive modelesque blondes, and perhaps flaunt that fact with your Blond:ish moniker. Do you find that it gets in the way of being taken seriously as DJs and producers in this male-dominated scene?
We flaunt it? [Laughs] The Blond:ish name, we never chose it. It organically chose us when we called our party Blond:ish. The people who came just started calling us that, and it seemed to stick. And we're definitely more ish than blonde. People have the right to make any presumption they want, and they definitely do! But we know that our productions and artistry should disprove any misconceptions anyone has about us.
It's come to our advantage, actually. Because we love challenges and it's made us work harder! I remember a famous DJ once telling us (when we first met him) that he didn't fancy our name so much, but then by the end of the night, after hanging out and bonding, he retracted his assumptions and said "sorry about my misjudging comments earlier -- I get it why you are Blond:ish now, it's quite fitting!"
What advice, if any, do you you have for other budding female producers aspiring for your type of international success?
Stick to your core business: music. It's not really advice for females, but anyone. So produce, produce, produce. Everyone knows you can't just DJ nowadays, 97% of the time you have to be a producer to make it in this industry. Producing quality tunes is what gets you known, gets you gigs, opens doors and what gets you going viral on the net. The sure-fire way to stand out is to explore your skills as a producer and find your own unique sound. Don't just follow trends or copy others. People will respect you if you're genuinely you, music is transparent in the sense that you can hear talent.
If you have a solid release plan mapped out for the year, it's something to build on as a business. When sending your music to labels, if you send just one track, usually it will make it onto a V.A., but if you send a few tracks as a project, it could get you an EP. We feel that labels are more interested in signing the EPs now. And for girls, if you want fans to respect you as an artist, don't DJ topless, or with pasties -- eww -- or with sparkly headphones. Ever. Hint hint, Paris Hilton, if you're reading this -- take some notes. Although it is completely obvious.
So what have been the highlights of 2012 for you so far, and what can fans expect from your during the rest of the year?
Definitely our highlights have been the Kompakt EP, the "Lonely Days" release on Noir Music 2, and our most recent debut EP on Get Physical with vocals by Thomas Gandey. Upcoming, we have a remix of Tomas Barfod's amazing "Till We Die" track and an EP with Climbers, also on Get Physical, a second Kompakt EP aiming for the beginning of 2013, a collab with Balcazar & Sordo on Hot Waves, and a remix of Roisin Murphy's track "Flash of Light" on Southern Fried. Tours in Europe and the Americas, Asia, and spreading positivity everywhere we go. We're definitely most looking forward to our set on the Robot Heart's car at Burning Man with Philipp of M.A.N.D.Y. and Luca of Audiofly.
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What can you tell us about the new live show you have in the works? Will you be unveiling it during your upcoming gig at the Electric Pickle?
We've only recently implemented the Native Instruments F1 controller to our setup. It triggers samples from our own productions and other tracks to give a live aspect to our sets. A full live show is in the works. But we won't be able to work on this till the fall. Summer's been crazy! We're über-excited to be back at the Pickle for the third time this year. We love Miam-ess!
Blond:ish and Konrad Black. Saturday, August 25. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.