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.