Blond:ish on how gender doesn't matter: If you make good music, you make good music
Vivie-Ann and Anstascia of Blond:ish
Blond:ish delights in defying expectations. The duo's organically created name is well-suited to the act on several levels, and its tight live sets and sought-after produced tracks prove that the pair takes their music seriously (if not themselves so much) -- a new Blond:ish remix for Maya Jane Coles just released this week is a prime example of their production talent. We caught up with them to talk about the studio versus the stage, defying expectations and why the gender question is obsolete.
Westword: Did you two start out playing music together, or were you doing your own, separate things before teaming up?
Anstascia: Vivie-Ann was deejaying first. She started deejaying right after university. A few years down the road I began practicing deejaying at afterparties at my house and just for friends. We became friends in 2007ish at WMC in Miami, and we decided to start a Wednesday party in Montreal because there was nothing really going on. We basically hijacked Wednesday nights at this place called Cherry.
Vivie-Ann: We started deejaying in one room, and people started calling us Blond:ish.
A: Yeah, people starting calling us Blond:ish organically.
V-A: The name stuck.
A: Then we started touring from there.
Did you ever think about changing the name at all, or did you think it was a good fit from the start?
V-A: Well, I mean when you first hear the name, it could sound a bit hoopla or more commercial. When we first met Damian Lazarus, he was like, "You guys are really cool ... but what's up with your name?" And we were like, you know what, wait and you'll understand. And then we hung out, and he heard our music, and he was like, "Okay, I'm sorry about what I said before. Just go with it."
A: We like to joke around, and it's kind of a play on words. We don't take it really seriously, but when people think of blonde girls...we like to go against the grain of stereotypes. That's what's really gratifying is proving people's first impression, first opinion, assumption, we like to prove them wrong. It happens a lot.
How do you put live sets together as a duo, and how do you maintain that energy when you're producing music?
A: I do everything.
V-A: She's my bitch. I delegate the work to her. [laughs]
When we play live, we do two and two. If one of us is feeling the vibe, then we'll just kick them and say, "Play one more." Or, "Don't you have to go to the toilet?" Or if they do go to the toilet, sneak another one in there. In the studio, we start on projects separately; we fiddle around on our own computers with our own samples, then get into the studio upstairs, and listen to stuff, say, I like that idea, let's keep going with it. The other person will put their ideas down.
A: We don't have strict rules -- one person does that, the other person does this. We just go with the flow. Viv likes to build a solid groove, and I like fiddling around with melodies and get the meat of the track, the bacon of the track, the hook. We go back and forth and we join forces.
Do you prefer the live sets in the club or production, or are they each rewarding in their own way?
A: You just answered the question. They're rewarding in their own way. When we haven't been in the studio, we're like, we could be here all day all the time, but when you get the reaction from the crowd with a certain backdrop, there's nothing like that, either.
V-A: We miss the studio when we're on tour for a while. A good balance is essential.
I've heard that some women find it difficult to break into the international DJ scene and have their work taken seriously -- what's your experience been like?
V-A: It's been incredible. We don't even answer this question anymore because we have this discussion with all female DJs; it comes up a lot. Heidi did a BBC show, she played a bunch of female artists' tracks, and she had a segment on her show where she was like, "We can't be asked this question anymore." There are many female DJs now, and a lot of them that are doing well and doing their own thing, and doing really good at it. What's my point?
A: Your point is that, basically for us -- it's probably harder for men nowadays, or as hard for men nowadays, because there are so many male DJs trying to break into the market. At the end of the day, it's about your production. You can't just be a DJ anymore. You have to make music and be associated with the right DJs, the right labels, the right records.
It wasn't ever an obstacle for us. People would notice us and assume the worst or whatever they want to assume, but we prove them wrong with our productions. When we first moved to London three years ago, we really focused on the studio and made music that resonated. Music speaks for itself. It doesn't matter if you have a penis or a vagina. If you make good music, you make good music.
V-A: It shouldn't matter. It shouldn't be a question anymore.
A: People see the Playboy bunny types of DJs spinning topless in L.A., and, yeah, that gives girls a bad name, but whatever, that's a novelty. There are a lot of douchey male DJs, too.
What are your plans for the future -- where do you want to see Blond:ish go?
V-A: Finish an album. We started working on it and we have the framework and what we want to do with it and the direction we want to go with it. Finishing that and seeing what comes from it. That's an immediate goal.
A: It's tough to lock ourselves in the studio when we're traveling so much, we come home and we're tired, and it's hard to get into the stuido. What else for the future? We're really excited for Burning Man coming up in August. Tulum, BPM. Our album would be the main goal, though.
V-A: Spreading positivity. It's a mission, I guess. Take it day by day!