Coming to Pakistan

Published: April 13, 2011
Canadian DJ Sydney Blu is among the top DJs of the world. PHOTO TAPU JAVERI

Canadian DJ Sydney Blu is among the top DJs of the world. PHOTO TAPU JAVERI


Sydney Blu is at the front line of the electronic music scene. Canada’s hottest female disc jockey (DJ) has secured a place among the top 100 DJs of the world with impressive successes on the Beatport charts. She’s played at the legendary Toronto club, Government, and at other clubs around North America.  More recently she played alongside DJ Barrier at a private party in Lahore, ‘In Blu Rooms,’ hosted by Carousel and Insomnia events.

The Express Tribune and Sydney Blu ventured out to Liberty Market for khusas and a rickshaw photoshoot in a Generation’s shalwar kameez with ace photographer Tapu Javeri, amongst other things.

How did Pakistan happen and why?

I had never actually been to this region before. Last year I went to Egypt, which was the closest I have come to Southeast Asia. People here reached out to my agent and booked me. It was surprise to me that I had fans here.

What expectations did you have from Pakistan?

Well, I didn’t expect it to rain (laughs). It was wonderful. When you make expectations, you just set yourself up for disappointment. Just let your hopes up.

Were you surprised that people here were familiar with electronic house, despite the fact that Pakistan has virtually no club scene?

I did expect them to know my music from the feedback I had received. I knew that they had knowledge of my discography, such as “Bad Blood” and “Lights Out”. Plus, I always put my sets online and I have a podcast as well. I didn’t actually know that there was no club scene here.

Did concerns about security and instability ever put you off from touring Pakistan?

I wasn’t really aware of the political situation in the country. There’s a tendency to stereotype. So I am glad I wasn’t aware. I found Pakistan to be safer that many places in the world, that one would assume to be safe but aren’t. My visit has changed the general perception that one holds for the country. I trust my agent enough to know that he would not place me at risk.

How does it feel to be a woman in the predominantly male sphere of DJing?

I don’t really see myself as a woman before an artiste. Some women do use this as a tool to market themselves, which isn’t wrong per se, since we need to project female producers. But I don’t look at myself differently than any male DJ. You lose respect from your peers if you don’t behave in an appropriate professional manner and (if you) use your sexuality and gimmicks to get somewhere. There’s a difference between female pop icons and DJs since we appeal to different audiences.

Who is your inspiration?


But doesn’t Madonna use her sexuality to project herself?

Madonna uses her sexuality to send a message through her work. She’s not trying to be a DJ. She’s not entering the male dominated industry of spinning music. What impresses me about Madonna is the longevity of her career and the way she has evolved as an artiste over the years. Her relentless pursuit of the being the best is a source of inspiration.

How do you prepare sets when you play live?

When I am DJing, I have an idea of what I’ll play and open with. Then, I just do everything spontaneously responding to what the crowd is feeling.

What excites you about being a DJ?

The energy from a crowd and the recognition of your work from the industry, admiration and attention from a fellow artiste.

What’s on your agenda for the year?

I just want to travel the world as extensively as I can and get my music out to every part of the world, from Europe to Asia. I love to learn about different cultures and am lucky to be able to combine both my passions of music and travel together.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2011.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (23)

  • Henna Khan
    Apr 13, 2011 - 11:22PM

    “I wasn’t really aware of the political situation in the country. There’s a tendency to stereotype. So I am glad I wasn’t aware. I found Pakistan to be safer that many places in the world, that one would assume to be safe but aren’t.”

  • Grace
    Apr 14, 2011 - 1:46AM

    It’s funny that she finds Pakistan much safer than many places. I agree that sometimes Pakistanis are the worst critics of their own homes. Recommend

  • PakistaniCanadian
    Apr 14, 2011 - 11:22AM

    That ‘legendary Toronto club’ is called ‘The Guverment’, not ‘Government’Recommend

  • Waqas H Mehr
    Apr 14, 2011 - 2:23PM

    I do not see why people critics when someone comments about Pakistan, if someone have said good words then why to put in your own spices, grow up nation and give them a shut up call.Recommend

  • Yasir
    Apr 14, 2011 - 2:44PM

    I wish there was a better photographer for the whole thing.. “Ace Photographer” lol.. it appears as if the guy is only familiar with the terms aperture/shutter priority, nothing more. I wonder what the name is so famous for..Recommend

  • Mustafa Karachi
    Apr 14, 2011 - 5:28PM

    What a laugh. She is only barely famous because she used/had a relationship with Deadmau5.*Recommend

  • Apr 14, 2011 - 8:28PM

    Big ups to Int. Artists and DJ’s such as Sydney herself for coming to Pakistan. I hope we have more events as such in Pakistan. Recommend

  • tarek
    Apr 14, 2011 - 8:28PM

    Yes its true, Pakistanis are the worst critics ever. I had the pleasure of visiting Egypt and India and had this great expectation from the two countries. Sadly, my trip turned out into a nightmare apart from a few awesome places (pyramids, taj mahal). The level of development and the sheer poverty made me rethink about how we speak about Pakistan. Going to India was a lesson in poverty. Somehow Pakistan started looking a lot more prosperous. Now I am just amused whenever a Pakistani starts to rant and rave about Pakistan. I guess this is how we behave and maybe this is why we have probably grown in the last 60 years from being a complete backwater of south asia which only contributed 3% to its GDP and which now contributes around 20%. Recommend

  • Ravi
    Apr 14, 2011 - 10:13PM

    The level of development and the sheer poverty made me rethink about how we speak about Pakistan. Going to India was a lesson in poverty. Somehow Pakistan started looking a lot more prosperous.
    Wishful thinking………..Recommend

  • Anish
    Apr 15, 2011 - 6:34AM

    @Ravi…..dude poverty in India in uncomparable and a well known fact. The condition and number of people in poverty in India makes Pakistan look much developed. That line has been said again and again not just today, but for the past 20 yrs. You are probably an NRI or PIO who has never been to India and hence saying thisRecommend

  • SWR
    Apr 15, 2011 - 9:49AM

    What tarek is saying is definitely not true in terms of economics, in which india is doing extremely well but general infra structure (condition of roads, civic planning, and city landscapping) is much better in Pakistan than India. This is my observation after having been to both countries.Recommend

  • Bill R
    Apr 15, 2011 - 9:32PM


    I also visited both the countires … It depends on the which part you visit.. In pakistan if you compare Karachi with Mumbai and all.. Mumbai looks far modern and better.. Karachi simply has no transport … if you compare lahore with Delhi and bangalore .. Lahore is dust. Delhi has full functioning subesy system… Bangalore is developing very fast.. the city has fleet of volvos for public transport … I travelled across India and pakistan as a part of freelance journalism.. barring the areas of Bihar, UP, MP and Orissa … rest of India is far better than any part of pakistan….. even if you compare FATA or NWFP with India’s remote parts of North East,, India looks much better… They have railways in North east where it is connected very well with rest of cities.. Pakistan has neither railways .. nor great roads and nor strong domestic avaiation industry…

    It seems you look to be more of PIO or NRI…. India has larger population than pkaistan so number of poors will be more … but last 20 yrs the country has going under monumental changes … pakistan also but in reverse directionRecommend

  • Saurav
    Apr 16, 2011 - 1:02PM


    You look from a typical Pakistani outlook. In 1990, Pakistan and India at best were on equal terms. Today in 2011, only a madman would compare Pakistan with India.

    India has zoomed again. Pakistan is nowhere in the picture. The place you visited -Agra TajMahal is of Uttar Pradesh which unfortunately is the poorest region in India. But leave UP and Bihar aside and the rest of India is miles miles ahead of Pakistan.
    Its a fact.

    Visit the state of Gujarat once and you will wonder if it will take 100 years or more for Pakistan to catch up. The city of Delhi now has world class infrastructure compared to world standards including Roads, a World class Metro system . Mumbai is fast improving.
    Bangalore has volve buses all over the city and this year the Bangalore Metro is launching.

    Overall leaving a few states aside much of India is miles ahead of Pakistan. It will only increase in coming times.Recommend

  • M.A.S
    Apr 16, 2011 - 3:03PM

    First of all, thankyou for the comments. Seems like you both got hyper active by the comments that some of the friends made.

    Few years ago i had a honour of meeting with some Indian students who were on school trip to Pakistan.

    Upon inquriing them about there view regarding the country, I came to know the following points from them in which this turned out to be the most funniest.
    Pakistan is a place where men grow big beards and carry guns all the time, whereas women were in all enveloping burqas.

    Next day, at a dinner, a female indian friend said “u know ‘bahia’ (brother), when we crossed into wahgha broder, our teachers told us to cover our heads with duppattas and cover our whole bodies. We werent allowed to bring jeans along as well. But here we feel like we are in some highly modernised and liberal people. It’s not what our media shows us on television. It’s totally different.”

    Pakistan is a very diversified country with multiple talents, but it has not been able to live up to its standards because of many factors tht we all know.

    Train systems in India are as old as we had here in Pakistan. There is nothing to be proud of. NWFP and FATA’s geographic conditions don’t allow to have a train system nor Pakistan can afford to have one.

    As far as india is concerned, kudos for developing a subway system (CLAPPING). Again here i would say that right now, there is no need to have a subway system in Pakistan.
    Lahore and karachi both have an unbarn transport system tht is fully functional (Bill if u ever visited karachi). If volvo buses are running in banglore, Daewoo buses have been running on roads of Lahore for last 13 years.

    If u talking about the super highways in india, we had motorway network 14 years ago, and is still expanding.

    Another staggering fact with which not many of my country fellows would agree is that, there is no one in the country who sleep hungry at night, nor anyone is homeless.

    Comparing india and Pakistan are like comparing apples to oranges. Capturing a 10% market share is servicing 25million people in india where as it’s only 1.8 million in Pakistan. The difference is there, but frankly speaking, Pakistan is still a million times better place to live in. Recommend

  • Saurav
    Apr 16, 2011 - 4:43PM


    Even at a relative comparison between India and Pakistan will show large contrasts:

    The IITs and the IISc and the Regional engineering colleges are ranked among the top 150 in the world and among the top 20 in Asia.
    The IIM in the Ahmedabad is ranked No1 in Asia and is among the top 100 in the world for business schools
    The PC , internet and Mobile penetration in India is atleast 30% higher in India than in pakistan
    Again the technological comparison in Space technology, Mobile, VLSI, Chip design, Nano technology, Bio technology is no comparison. India is eons ahead which you will have to agree.
    Indian companies and especially the IT and Biotech companies are listed in Nasdaq- 100, 5 Indian companies are in the list of Nasdaq 100. To imagine a Pakistani country in a Nasdaq 100 technological companies is unimaginable.

    All said and done, few things are correct:
    1. India has a vast man power resource compared to Pakistan atleast 5 times more population.

    That IS THE ONLY advantage India has over Pakistan.

    Apart from this the Disadvantages India has is plenty when compared to Pakistan:

    Caste System
    24 languages
    Different racial people. A Punjabi and a Tamilian look very different from each other
    A non-cooperative Minority. Indias 20% population are Muslims. And I dont want to be prejudiced but hardly 0.01% of 200 Million Muslims in India pay any taxes but enjoy all the government subsidized schemes.

    With all problems 1,2,3,4 present, It is with great effort that India has progressed so far.

    Pakistan has none of the above problems. It is a small country so easier to develop and manage. It is UNI-RELIGIOUS with hardly any minorities so no communal issues etc as we in India face. Recommend

  • rk singh
    Apr 16, 2011 - 5:45PM

    Dear Friends,

    fighting like kids on who is rich and poor is absurd. GDP per capita PPP shows India is richer than pakistan bu 30%. At the present rates of growth, by 2015, India will have twice of GDP per capita than Pakistan.

    Poverty in India is fast becoming a myth. I run a industry making white goods. These days i find it difficult to get people to work.Recommend

  • Avanti
    Apr 16, 2011 - 6:35PM

    An average Pakistani is no different from an average Indian – we belong to the same gene pool. Whoever creates a better environment is going to win. If you ask me, at this stage, India = 3, Pakistan = -5. This is out of 10. So, India may look good, but still has a long way to go.Recommend

  • Talha
    Apr 16, 2011 - 7:04PM

    Indian, your insecurity is showing.Recommend

  • Grace
    Apr 16, 2011 - 8:00PM

    @Talha: The fact that so many Indians are so desperate to trumpet the development in India is proof enough that they are still insecure about the reality. I have Western friends who have been to both India and Pakistan. What they always say is that you don’t see the same type of abject poverty when they visit Pakistan after they have seen the slums of India. Yes there is great wealth in India but there remain the beggers, misery and squalor that cannot be compared to the poverty in Pakistan. There are relatively few beggers in Pakistan and those too belong to organized crime groups. Yes we have a long way to go in Pakistan, but generally speaking, people do not die of hunger or lack of shelter in Pakistan- despite the recent floods even.Recommend

  • M.A.S
    Apr 17, 2011 - 9:07AM

    Dear All (who commented after me);

    It seems like many indians are obviously getting insecured and are having a Pakistani complex.

    What i mentioned in my previous post, u only know what ur media informs u.

    There are many Pakistani owned enterprises from the silicon valley that are listed or have been listed on the nasdaq. 4 of them reaching the top 20.

    For the IT, nano-tech and biotech, if Pakistan is not ahead of india, but the arent far either. India have stollen many patents of Pakistani varieties of rice, mangoes and oranges to market them as a an indian brand, but have failed miserably.

    Pakistan is not lacking behind in higher education either. It has some of the world class institutes where foreign students come on an exchange program every year. IIM of ahmedabad is not the number 1 management of asia brother. check ur facts. top 20 of asia consist of 3 Pakistani universities.

    Yes india has human capital not matchable to Pakistan. That’s why i said, Capturing a 10% market share is servicing 25million people in india where as it’s only 1.8 million in Pakistan.

    If u compare india with Pakistan 60 years ago, Pakistan never had a pencil in it’s office to write on a paper. With india getting hold of the wealth that was not supppose to be hers. Pakistan still managed to stand up on its own and is now competing the world. Yes now a days economy is a bit mismanaged at the hands of ill professional politicians. But everyone has seen that if good managers are there, we can have the same years as of 1958-1967 and 1999-2007.

    @Grace: currently i am posted in one of the small towns of Punjab. People here are involved in furniture, food and agriculture. When i travel around, i see poverty, but when i sit with them, i am astonished to listen about their level of income from agriculture and other businesses.
    It’s not that Pakistan is a poor country and it’s people are in poverty. The thing is the people here dont want to live the life which westerners expect. No one is hungery, no one is shetlerless, and no one wants luxuries of life. They are happy the way they live.
    If we compare the ratio of rich and poor, Pakistan is ahead.
    If we compare the per capita income, india is ahead.
    If we compare the disparety of wealth, Pakistan has more, in India 5 percent own 80 percent income.
    If we compare education, Pakistan is ahead.
    If we compare infrastructure, Pakistan is ahead.
    Quality of research, yes no doubt india is ahead.
    Anyhow, comparison would just make Pakistan be ahead of india. so please dont compare and spread friendship between the two different people belonging to different blood line and gene who were living together just 60 years ago.Recommend

  • yasser mirza
    Apr 25, 2011 - 10:50PM

    It’s DJ ‘BARRISTER’ not barrier hahahahahahRecommend

  • singh
    Apr 28, 2011 - 3:52PM

    Pakistan is related to north indias because we share same culture!!

    I know pakistanis roads are good…
    but railway sucks :(

    Girls are moderate but boys are violent !!
    Number of poor are less in paksitan due to its smaller population and higher share of agricultural land!!

    So recently i made a paksitani girl friend who was living here but now has moved to lahore !!

    Lets see how things move forward!!but she is committed to me and i am looking forward to visit lahore!!Recommend

  • eddy
    May 17, 2011 - 1:51PM

    wasn’t this article about Sydney Blu’s trip to Pakistan ? The comments suggest otherwise ….Recommend

More in Life & Style