Sydney Blu on Toronto, Detroit, and What Makes a Good Dance Music Track

Sydney Blu talks about the scene that shaped her soundscapes
Toronto house/techno DJ/producer Sydney Blu

Sydney Blu has been a mainstay of proper house and techno since long before the mainstream EDM explosion, and now that the dust has settled she's been back to doing what she knows and loves. Where a main stage-friendly sound may have characterized a relatively recent chunk of her discography, it hasn't stripped her of her street cred by any means as far her dedicated fan base is concerned.

During the inaugural Detroit Techno Week - which was planned around the 2016 edition of Movement Detroit - Sydney Blu caught up with Magnetic Magazine to discuss how coming up in the Toronto electronic music scene affected her evolution as an artist. She delved into a series of other topics as well, ranging from her previous gigs in Detroit to what components she thinks are necessary to a good dance music track.

It’s finally a pleasure to meet you. Your radio show speaks for itself.

Sydney Blu: Thank you. Thank you so much.

So tell me, how has it been relocating from Los Angeles back to Toronto?

Sydney Blu: It’s good. I’m really happy because I’m home and I feel like it allows me to be my best self, as cheesy as it sounds. I guess Toronto is where I’ve made my career so it’s really easy for me to put an event together that has the best elements of the city, and work with the best people in the city, and I just feel, like I said, like I’m my best self when I’m there because the music scene is so inspiring. Yeah, I mean, that alone makes me the artist that I am. I felt like I was lacking inspiration everywhere I went when I moved away.

Well, you know, we hear a lot that Toronto is a really big hub for some really promising new talent right now.

Sydney Blu: It really is. There’s something about it that makes it so that everybody there gets the music, they get the underground sound. They have their own twist on it, whether it's a deeper sound, a techier sound, a housier sound or whatever, because we have roots in everything. We have roots in Detroit, we have roots from the Chicago house scene, we have roots from our whole deep scene. The people who I work with at [the nightclub] Coda Toronto started that Essex festival recently, and that’s like a very deep kind of vibe, and it’s really cool how there are so many different elements of electronic music coming out of there - but it’s all very strong and everyone’s really good at their art.

And is this your first time playing in Detroit?

This is not my first time playing in Detroit. This is my first time throwing a Blu Party in Detroit, and it was incredible last night. It was just such a great feeling looking around and just seeing a packed room and being a part of Movement. This is my fourth Movement; the first time I came in 2008, I came and I left right away. I just flew in for one set, deadmau5, and I left right afterwards because I was playing in Windsor, and then I went back to Toronto the next day. 

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Then, I came in 2013 for the entire weekend, and I came last year for the entire weekend. Last year I played by myself, which is not really being a part of Movement. If you’re going to be a part of Movement, you want to play with a bunch of people, that’s how it is here. So I decided to curate my own lineup this year and it was great. It was so good.

Well, I’m glad to hear that.

Yeah, I hope to do it again next year.

So, as a woman in this industry and a producer and you’re now leading as a female producer, how do you feel you’ve gotten to that point? I mean, I’m sure when you started, this was not something you could’ve imagined.

It’s definitely not something I could’ve imagined, but it’s definitely something that was always in me for some reason. For whatever reason, it was my calling and it found me and I found it and it just worked out. I mean, when I was younger, though, before I even knew about electronic music and DJing and stuff, I was always into the type of DJ that I am. I was always into DJs and music curators. It’s just always been something I’ve been interested in.

It’s wonderful to hear, especially because your label is very well known for bringing various artists together. Instead of just being about you, it’s about everybody. Lastly, as a producer what do you think is most crucial a good dance music track?

As much as it is important to do it from your heart and all that crap - because that is really important, that’s one big part of it - it’s also really important to stay in practice, just like playing an instrument every day. It’s so funny; I hear so many people who have never been in the studio or are just starting to write music and are just learning how to do it go, “Oh, this is my first track and it’s going to be huge!” It’s like, “Brother or sister, you have no idea!” You have to write at least fifty tracks until you finally have something that’s like that, you know what I mean?

And then you’re still never happy with it. There’s always that one thing wrong.

And believe me, once you write your next song, you’re going to hate this one. I hate my biggest records now because I feel like I’ve evolved so much as an artist.


So, you evolve and just know that it takes time just like anything else does. You have to practice. You have to spend time on it. If it was easy, everybody could do it.

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