“Once upon a time in a parallel party universe, two damsels in distress collided across a twisted WMC palace. It wasn’t love at first sight, but a fairytale meeting of the minds spellbound by music, midgets and magic potions. An uncontrollable force propelled, and out of immaculate conception…Blond:ish was born”
Anstascia D’elene and Vivie Ann Bakos better known as Canadian DJ duo, Blond:Ish are the two sharp taste-maker instincts with technical flair that has not only charmed the industry masses but has paved the way for them to gather a loyal following in over 40 countries.Blond:ish have developed their own unique and divine cocktail when it comes to their production; provocative bass-lines contrasted with smooth textures and sticky vocals that blend into a genre of house that fights back against being branded to any definite category. Recently Blond:ish made the big move to London, this has enabled them to keep up with a steady release schedule with many more brews in the works. UGroove’s Yasmin Dangor sat down for a chat with the duo find out more about their new release ‘Truth in Me’, featuring Ted Alexander, as well as to get the inside scoop on upcoming projects…
Hi girls, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview for us…we’re looking forward to getting to know a bit about the girls behind Blond:Ish, how are you today, what are you currently doing?
Viv: Organizing my fridge, sipping on a glass of rustenberg.
We know that Blond:Ish is made up of you two girls…Anstascia and Vivie-Ann can you tell us how the two of you met and how you went on to form the duo?
Viv: We met in Montreal but became friends at the WMC in 2007 after Anstascia almost ran over me with her car while I was crossing the street outside of Space at 8am. We bonded inside a school bus at Pawn Shop at Sunday school and that was the turning point.
I was already djing at the time and Anstascia was promoting in the scene in Montreal as well as djing all her afterparties at her house. In 2008 there wasn’t much going on in the house scene at the time, so we hijacked Wednesday nights at a new spot called Cherry. We both DJd in separate rooms but eventually decided to join forces and invited guest DJs.
We still hold a monthly residency at Cherry today, and put on random warehouse parties 2-3 times/year. We have a loyal crowd that is attentive to our events as we’re always trying to put on an event that tickle’s people’s fancy and this keeps us super passionate to raise the bar everytime. It’s all about the WOW factor minus the duda.
I’m also sure everyone wants to know the story behind the name Blond:ish, it’s a very unique catchy name how did the name come to be?
When we were high up in the Peruvian mountains under the supervision of a shaman in a hut, the aliens told us to name our weekly mangle at Cherry, Blond:ish and after a month or so everyone just started calling us Blond:ish. It was all very organic (don’t panic).
The sound of Blond:ish is described as “Deep, electronic, eclectic, psychedelic, techish house”. Is this how you would describe your sound, and out of all these genres what elements appealed to you in the beginning?
Moving to London about a year ago has really got us focused on our vision and place in this industry. Now, we’ve really got grasp on it and figured how to focus on it 100%. I don’t think we would have come to this point in our musical careers if we were still based in Montreal. We’ve been extremely influenced by the enormous amount of talent that come play in east London every week.
The psychedelic/eclectic aspect refers to our recent inspirations after sifting through our parents dusty old records and the sheer intrigue we have to those times. Really loosely played organs, classic drum kits, elongated guitar solos, whimsical vocals are all very appealing to us at the moment. We definitely don’t like to be pigeonholed into a certain category which explains all the descriptive words. Its more of a feeling than a label.
What would you say was the funniest/interesting thing you’ve ever seen or done? Feel free to be as honest as possible.
Anstascia: Wow where do we start? One of the craziest things that we’ve seen was when we were DJing in Venezuela 2 years ago. We were on our friend’s yacht anchored in the middle of nowhere somewhere north of the venezuelan coast, there were hundreds of party goers on yachts that knew where this secret tropical party location was. After 12 hours with only liquor we were starving and had no idea how to get something to eat. All of a sudden this small motor boat with a venezuelan local came by and had the MOST incredible fresh lobster /fish ceviche and paella. We thought we were dreaming.
Viv: We didn’t have any Venezuelan cash with us, so we were joking around, “Haha wouldn’t it be amazing if this guy took Visa.” Just as we said that, he pointed to a sticker on the his motor that was a VISA sign. We thought we were hallucinating when he took out his wireless credit card machine to charge us. We couldn’t stop laughing for days.
Producing is not easy an easy job how did you get into producing and where do you draw your inspiration from? Are you both geeks or does one of you take care of the more technical side of your productions, and the other the more creative side?
Anstascia: Producing is definitely not easy but when you have the drive, passion and obsession (like with anything) that we do then its just about getting over the learning curve at the beginning. We both have taken courses in uni, watched countless tutorials, a lot of self teaching, asked a lot of questions and spent countless hours in trial and error developing our sound. Our most recent inspirations emerged from our incredible journey at Burning Man. Going to a different dimension is probably the best way to describe it.
Viv: I mean, I was a comp sci major, so I guess I’m a nerd or a geek if you want to label it. I would rather read a Computer Music or Future Music magazine over a Cosmo any day!
Anstascia: I’ll drink a cosmo and read Future Music simultaneously. I don’t consider myself a nerd but Viv has definitely influenced me to be more geeky. I think its contagious.
Can you tell us a little more about your latest release ‘Truth in me’ featuring Ted Alexander which has just been released on Noir Music. It’s quite a big track and gets my head bobbing nonstop every time I hear it. The vocals and melody fuse together perfectly to take the listener on a trip. What was the inspiration behind the track? How long did it take to produce it?
We wanted to do a sequel to our track ‘She’s Not There’ on the Lover’s in Limbo EP coming out on Kompakt but it sort of morphed into something completely different to what we had originally planned.
We’ve realized that you just have to go with the flow when making music and not plan it out too much. It took us about three full days, then we added an extra sine wave bass after the break…and it all came together. Ted laid down the vocals in a couple hours over a few beers and we got a good take in one shot.
You have started experimenting with using your own vocals on your tracks. Can you tell us how this decision came to be?
Anstascia: Neither Viv or myself ver considered ourselves singers but it seems that there is a huge lack for female vocals in the deep house category at the moment, so we just thought why not give it a shot? Recently a lot of artists like Art Department, Maceo Plex and then Visionquest are signing all these male units have started a vocal male trend, so we feel there’s a definite niche for female vocals.
How are you finding it?
Anstascia: The first time we did it we thought it would be a good idea to lube up our vocal chords by drinking Extra Virgin Olive Oil chased by a shot of Jameson. Ummm, yeah, not only did it help the sound of our voice, but it also helped in writing effective lyrics. We also practice in the shower and at the karaoke bar on every third Wednesday of the month but only on full moons.
Are you planning on going live using this element?
VIV: We are definitely planning to incorporate a live element. And we don’t just mean an ableton/laptop/mpc 40 live element. We wanna dig a bit deeper. Anstascia’s dad is an electronic engineer so we’ve sent him our specs and 2 hardware units so he can take an inside look to construct our custom gadget. Hold your horses on the singing live part, but definitely up for the challenge.
What do you each prefer to work on instrumental tracks, vocal tracks or remixes?
VOCAL TRACKS! We just can’t get away from them. Call us whatever you want, but we’re suckers for a good vocal and bassline….and realllly long guitar solos. There are so many remixes we want to do, just not enough time in a day to do them!
How do you plan your sets, if at all? Do you each have any random rituals before playing?
You can plan a set to some degree – but its all about molding to the moment. There are so many factors that go into the programming like mood factors, amount of people, amount of girls vs guys, body language, amount of mood setters (alcohol, and other stuff), are they drinking JACK or champagne? Are they taking horse tranquilizers or anti depressants? How was their day? Is there a musician playing an instrument? Is it too loud? Does it go with what we’re playing? Do we tell them to stop? What shape is the room? How is the sound? Then the same questions go back to us – the ones playing the music – What mood am I in right now? What have I been drinking? Am I taking horse tranquilizers or anti depressants?…you get the idea – we’re not a band with an album with a finite amount of tracks– we play other people’s music (with a few of ours in between) and there’s an infinite amount of it.
I know many of us are wondering how two people DJ together as opposed to just one person so what’s it like being a duo, do you always agree?
Anstascia: If we don’t agree on something while we’re playing we usually break out into a frenzied pillow fight and I always win.
Viv: and when there are no pillows, I use a bottle and I always win.
Viv: it was a blowup bottle , relax.
<insert fight here>
What has been the biggest challenge that you ladies have faced in the industry and how did you overcome it to get to where you are today? Any lessons learnt you can share with upcoming DJ’s/Producers, especially aspiring females?
We would guess it has been finding our sound. It’s not really something that you can fabricate overnight. It comes through lots of practice, experiments, errors, triumphs and influences from your social environment. But when you find it, its such a rewarding feeling, and then you can focus on creating, rather than searching. Its very liberating.
Can you tell us what lies in store for Blond:ish lovers, what can we look forward to in terms of new tracks, gigs, residencies and the like. Don’t leave out the details on what your plans are for the next year and where Blond:ish are heading?
We have a 3 track EP coming out on Kompakt in the new year that we’re super stoked for. We’re also working on a new remix for Blair – Life (remember that classic Derrick Carter remix), a remix for Michael Senna & Peter Zohdy on Suruba that’s out in a few weeks. An EP for Cray1 Labworks. An original with My Favourite Robot’s Nobot on vocals.
We started to do our own vocals as well and got a couple of those polished off. Also, 4 other originals that will be ready to shop very soon. We have a bunch of parties setup in support of the releases around Europe & we’re already planning for the official end of the world after party in January 2013, which we will be hosting <you’re invited>.
And last but not least, some quick fire questions for you both…<not so quick>
1. When you’re not making music /DJing what can you be found doing?
- Anstascia: cooking, yogaing, shopping, drinking(wine) while watching modern family or educating myself on making music.
- Vivie-Ann: reading up on eating healthy, organic, gluten free…. this whole naturopathic thing really intrigues me, did a detox and feel amazing…it’s incredible how rude we are to our bodies.
2. The one person (producer/vocalist) you dream of working with and why?
- Anstascia: Prince. Why? because he’s Prince and wears manscara.
- Vivie-Ann: I don’t have just one..I’d love to get involved with so many artists from the psychedelic rock era. Like, get inside their brains and really understand where they were coming from. I want to hear their stories, jam on the guits, organs in the desert and let loose with them while they tell/reminisce. That music speaks to me, and we’d love to put a twist on it for modern day use – although the music is timeless and some would argue it should be left alone, still wanna touch it and see what comes from it.
3. If you were not a DJ/Producer you would’ve been a……
- Anstascia: A crime scene investigator. or maybe Dexter’s sidekick.
- Vivie-Ann: A start up entrepreneur. Or, in another life, a Charles Bukowski:ish poet.
4. Three things you absolutely can’t live without?
- Anstascia: Is it cliche to say my macbook, bbm and google?
-Vivie-Ann: Access to the interweb, Booja-Booja Stuff in a Tub Coconut Hullabaloo and a hot shower!
5. One thing your fans don’t know about you?
- Vivie-Ann: I only read non-fiction and I’m really a robot.
- Anstascia: I am a 5 time olympic gold medalist on the Jamaican international bobsleigh team. I can also read minds.
Lastly, I’ve been trying to solve this one for ages maybe you ladies can shed some light. What came first the chicken or the egg? hmm…
Anstascia: I tried googling that same question the other day and the internet broke.
It’s been an absolute pleasure interviewing you girls. We wish you all the best in the upcoming projects of Blond:ish and look forward to catching up in the future. Might catch you playing somewhere around the globe soon.
‘Truth in me’ featuring Ted Alexander by Blond:ish is out on Noir music now…listen and buy here.
Words: Yasmin Dangor