Sydney Blu has been in the electronic music scene for over a decade, and the tech-house goddess sure has a lot to say when it comes to the scene. From starting her own record label Blu Music, to launching the Blu Party series in Miami, while keeping up with her own radio show, the Toronto native makes us proud.
What’s it like going from releasing tracks on Mau5trap Records to having your own label?
Well I started that so long ago, and that was my platform to start Blu Music in 2009. It seemed like an easy transition. I had a lot of success on mau5trap. Starting Blu Music was a challenge because I had to learn the ropes of starting my own record label, but most importantly it was a great opportunity. All the success that I had with Mau5trap I took that and just ran with it. It was good that I had something behind me to do Blu Music with.
How did the Blu Music Label begin?
Blu Music began from my beginnings on Mau5trap. I released 2 really big records on mau5trap, they did really well and then I decided it was time to start Blu Music. It started in 2009, we threw our first Blu Party in 2010, Blu Radio started in 2012, so it’s been an interesting journey – lots of hard work though.
I noticed your album Relentless was released on Black Hole Recordings as opposed to Blu Music. How do you decide what tracks get released on which labels?
Well I was signed to Black Hole Recordings in 2012 so I had to release an album with them – it was an album deal. Basically I had records signed to different labels like Hot Fingers and KMS – Kevin Sanderson’s label. I licensed those to my own album. It was kind of a strategic thing where I was able to release on some underground labels and I released my own album on my own label. Most importantly, I released on Black Hole because it was a big label that gave me a lot of exposure and put a lot of money behind the marketing. But moving forward, I’ll be doing more underground stuff because that’s where I feel my music is at right now.
Which artists on the Blu Music label do you think are seriously underrated?
Jay Force, incredible artist! I would love to see him blow up because he’s such a great techno producer. I mean I’ve signed all of his records obviously. Jaceo is another one, The Junkies, they’re just so amazing. I’ve signed all those guys in the last year. I have another Jaceo EP coming up, The Junkies, same thing. I love all their music so much. I don’t know if you would say underrated but they definitely deserve more credit.
You had a residency in Miami back in 2010, and launched the Blu Party there during Miami Music week; What’s the Florida scene like in comparison to Toronto?
It’s totally different. They do like underground music but it was a lot more commercial for me. To go from Toronto to a more commercial scene was a bit weird, but I adapted to it and did what I had to do to be a part of it, and then I moved on. It was a really great learning experience for adapting to different markets, because every market is different in every city.
What’s the inspiration behind your latest track Stoned?
You can definitely hear Chicago house roots in that record. Gene Farris, Derrick Carter, DJ Sneak, those guys all like where I’ve came from so it’s definitely got that ode to Chicago in it.
What kinds of challenges have you found being a notable female DJ in a male dominated industry?
There’s been people who have taken my kindness for weakness, which was a mistake and I’m sure they learned pretty quickly. Just because I’m nice doesn’t mean I’m not tough as nails. The thing is that experience made me tough going through that alone. When you work with a bunch of guys, DJing with only men, you learn to have thick skin. That was definitely a value I took from that.
What are some of the differences you’ve seen artists go through in terms of growth over the past 10 years?
The production aspect of it; before it was all about being a DJ, now it’s all about being a producer. That was a huge thing that happened in the change of the DJ world. Some of these producers today don’t even know how to DJ. Whatever it is what it is. The whole pop EDM boom is another thing – it kind of made me realize I wanted to go back to my underground roots which in a way was helpful to me and what I wanted to do with my music. It made me realize what was important which is playing authentically and not selling out. I’d way rather play groovy music that doesn’t pierce my ears.
Do you ever feel challenged to constantly find new material for the radio show?
Sometimes, but I mean honestly, I get so many promos now. Not really. I have to pick 5 songs, I only do the first 30 minutes, and the last half is a guest mix. so 5 songs every two weeks is not that hard. I usually find a good 5 records that I love, and that’s why I do it!
What venues in Toronto do you think are hidden gems for the techno/house scene?
Coda, of course. You know where else I really like is Toika. I’ve been there a couple of times and it’s actually right across from where I live, and I love that spot. Sunnyside Pavilion in the summertime, and the warehouse scene. There’s a lot of great warehouse bases that are just really epic that nobody knows about. The Power Plant, oh my god. There’s some people talking about doing a party in that space that just opened. It’s an art gallery – but y’know the cool unheard of secret spot. I like those kinds of places. But Coda and Toika would be my tops.
The outspoken artist deserves every bit of success coming to her. After watching her perform at Club 77, there is no doubt she has moves as much as she drops beats. She played a nearly 3-hour set, performing the progressive genre a just amount of attention.