one short year ago, when i was visiting my good friend dj e.steriA in my hometown of toronto, she convinced me to go to the (rather sketchy) toronto afterhours, comfort zone - but only by letting me know that my longtime dj crush, alicia hush, would be spinning with toronto’s nathan barato at an event called weird science. my first time at CZ was an experience, to say the least, and i owe a lot of that to alicia! the first time i met alicia, only about a month ago at laika montreal, she was profoundly kind and quick to compliment my recent interview with nolan brown (who was quick to ask “are you sooo dying right now?”). it’s always a pleasure to know that the people whose work you admire are actually incredibly down-to-earth. so it is with much much happiness that i introduce this week’s friday feature, the one and only alicia hush! alicia is a toronto-based DJ/producer and one half of toronto promo and productions company, hushlamb productions. she is one of the driving female music forces in toronto - with beats that range from smooth and mellow, to full of bass and boom, to genuinely fuckin’ weird, alicia hush is the kind of artist that controls the dancefloor effortlessly. i’m stoked to have had the opportunity to chat with alicia about the power of music, her future plans and the inevitable montreal vs. toronto debate! more after the jump!
listen to a mellow, chilled out live set (and one of my faves) from alicia while you read! xx
how many years have you been playing? how would you say you’ve grown as an artist since you started your career as a DJ and producer?
i’ve been playing music for 10 plus years now and making music for almost 3. as far as growth goes i’d say there has been a steady incline of confidence and self expression throughout the years.
i’ve started to realize that techno and its subgenres are really something you grow into, as opposed to something you’ve been immersed in your whole life – what drew you to electronic music?
when i was 16 years old i was introduced to drum+bass and hardcore. i was blown away by the complex percussion and crazy sampling. i quickly fell head over heels in love with this new discovery that would soon dictate my entire lifestyle…yupp I was a raver! my tastes slowly changed into ‘less is more’ and by the time i was 19 house and techno were my new loves.
i was definitely the same way, but with more embarrassing genres, before i fell in love with techno. what kind of music (electronic aside) were you into when you were younger? what about nowadays?
before my leap into electronic music, early high school, i was into nirvana, smashing pumpkins (mellon collie and the infinite sadness is my favourite album of all time), portishead and radiohead to name a few. to this day, i have much admiration for ‘rock’ artists who, throughout their growth have creatively incorporated electronic music into their work without compromising the quality of their sound.
nice - so, what’s your guilty pleasure song?
i don’t think i hold any guilt about any of the music i adore. i love and appreciate different sounds for different reasons!
let’s talk a bit about that dj handle of yours that i love so much! how did you come up with the hush? do you feel that your name is representative of your music, or is it a complete contrast?
i was given the name ‘hush’ right before my first gig in 1999, i believe. my friends came up with the name because i was so extremely shy. i consider myself to be a quiet person still…and the name just feels right, i suppose. does it match my productions? i think so! under the big round basslines lie the hush-like subtleties
i definitely hear and feel a hush-y quality lurking in the background of a lot of your mixes, especially! how do you feel about the music scene in toronto? is there something you wish you could change?
the talent that has come from, and currently resides in, toronto is mind-blowing. toronto used to be a dance music mecca and the toronto rave scene was world renowned. those days seem so far away but the desire for music focused party vibes is still strong!! the problem lies in our venue shortage and the city’s party laws that make it extra hard to throw ‘outside of the box’ events. it’s not impossible, though, and there are an incredible group of people coming together to put toronto back on the electronic music map. it’s an exciting time to be an artist in the city right now!
on the other hand, you come to montreal quite as well – what’s the best thing about montreal nightlife? where have you played and what was your favourite show here/your favourite venues?
montreal for me means amazing friends, fresh music, beauty and culture. the times i have played here have been warm and welcoming. i would have to say my most memorable gig here was the recent boxxx nation jam hosted by bootsy yo and billy dalessandro. it was the first time i played live and was fortunate to get slotted in between 2 of my live set heroes, billy and pheek. the venue was original and funked out and the crowd was full of energy and open minded…it doesn’t get better than that.
okay, so i get asked this all the time and i’m never quite sure what the answer is – what do you think is the biggest difference between montreal and toronto?
i would say a major difference between the 2 cities is venue options and the city’s understanding and support of electronic music. there has to be something said about a city that can host a fantastical festival (like mutek montreal) and a huge weekly outdoor electronic music event (like piknic) with support from the city itself. we are breaking major ground over here in toronto though…there are very big things in the works!!
sarah lamb and i met on a dancefloor, naturally! we were instant friends and when she noticed that i was struggling and getting dicked around with my bookings she offered to join forces as a manager and hushlamb productions was born. we immediately started throwing small modest parties throughout the city along with hosting a couple different weekly events. this allowed us to book artists that we loved and admired. this process led us to our current crew consisting of ana+one, zaid edghaim and talal & zoi. the parties have blossomed substantially but the mission remains the same…quality music before all else!.
let’s talk a bit about the hushlamb free range radio show – give me all the details!
the hushlamb free range radio show (on studiofeed radio) is actually one of two of our new babies, the other being a monthly gig called the hushlamb roundabout. studiofeed is a brilliant not for profit group out of toronto with a goal to promote, aid and assist toronto’s electronic music scene. our free range show has given our crew the opportunity to showcase artists, labels and collectives that we adore and so far the response has been wonderful.
image from john mitchell photography
you can catch the latest ep from free range here on soundcloud! so, obviously the mass amount of talented DJs out there today must make it difficult in terms of standing out. what do you feel makes your music different?
the overflow of artists and DJs has naturally had both negative and positive effects on the music scene. as far as standing out in a crowd, i just try to remain true to myself. the moment i try and do anything that’s not me, it just doesn’t work, it’s awkward. as far as my productions go, it’s very important to me to NOT follow any sort of rules or blueprints. for me this is the only way i can truly express myself. music is my creative outlet and if i don’t let flow naturally, it will be to my own detriment.
let’s talk about kollektiv artists, which is a moscow based collective that compilates albums from electronic musicians. you released an EP called sideline sally, in collaboration with as we said, zaid edghaim, myniciush, sander cast, sandwell and bobo lo! what was the experience like?
like you said, kollektiv artists is a model of excellence in electronic music offering FREE quality music to the people! this collective has sought out artists from all over the globe and has created a worldwide community of music makers and lovers alike. being a part of this project has given me awesome exposure in far away countries and i’m so grateful! the sideline sally EP was a real treat to release as it’s always exciting to hear a remixer’s interpretation of your own vision.
news that you’ve been booked at mutek montreal for this summer has just hit the facebook world – are you excited? any details yet?
mutek for me equals forward thinking and innovative music - so being asked to play this year has me jumping for joy! i’m beyond excited!
mutek 2012 runs from may 30th to june 1st – i, for one, will definitely be attending! do you believe in the therapeutic nature of music? if yes, would you say that that power was an influencing factor in why you started DJing?
music has been the one thing that has allowed me to show people “me”. as I mentioned, i’m a very private/shy person which has sometimes been to my own detriment. playing, creating and dancing to music has opened me up to those around me and has even more so reintroduced me to myself. if my own music and performances can provide this sort of release/experience for someone else, well that just fills me up with incredible satisfaction and joy!
so, aside from DJing, what do you do in your spare time - what happens during alicia’s non-hush time?
actually, there isn’t much non-hush time these days. i have a part time job that pays the bills and music production takes up the rest of my time. anything left over is spent with loved ones. i have no complaints about this schedule and am pretty grateful to be so busy with music these days.
and finally, my favourite question - what does music mean to you?
music, for me, like all forms of art, is a mirror that reflects our own goods, bads, loves and pain. it’s a magical thing!!