Today, Magnetic brings you the latest installment of our Magnetic Mix series, along with an exclusive interview with Queensyze. The Canadian DJ, producer, and composer is known for her energetic DJ performances and for her innate ability to connect with her audience. A staple of the Vancouver underground scene, Queensyze composes original music for film, remixes for video games, and fills floors as a DJ with sets overwhelmingly comprised of her own original productions.
Over the last few years Queensyze has steadily built up an impressive discography, releasing her raw, sinewy, club-ready techno with the likes of Nurvous and East Van Digital, with The Pretty Lights EP dropping on Nervous Records summer 2019, and whose A&R chief Andrew Salsano described her as “consistently dialed into the current evolution of techno”.
On top of providing us a killer mix, we had a chance to chat with her to learn more about her and her wide-ranging career. You can also grab her latest release here.
Your sound is described as ‘simultaneously raw and polished’. Can you explain what you think is meant by this?
That description seems pretty accurate! I think there are many layers to my sound. It’s rooted in techno with elements of nostalgic rave and warehouse and it’s definitely underground. I think there’s this attitude and rawness that comes across in my music with this frenetic edge. I think it comes from my upbringing in Toronto as it’s quite fast and frantic there, and now that I live in Vancouver I think my sound has refined a bit as the pace is more laid back which is probably where the polished comes from – it smoothed out my edges a bit. I feel like my music reflects my present surroundings but is rooted in where I’ve come from. I think this is also true for my DJ sets as I DJ pretty tough but with refined power and edge where I like to move fluidly between hard & subdued. I think my sound is unique and true to me.
What releases by you should we be looking out for in 2019?
My next EP The Pretty Lights will be released on Nervous Records on July 26. When I began to write the EP, my main concept was to have a feeling of a warehouse rave - with big drums, tweaky lines and a break that makes you feel something. Going back to the first time the listener entered a rave. Like, try to imagine what that smelt like or what that felt like. It was important to me to create moments in the EP that made the listener feel and get excited when it dropped.
We read that you are also involved in the film industry- what sort of stuff have you done in it?
Yea I’m pretty immersed, musically I’ve composed original music for film and video games. I’ve also directed film and music videos. And I work as a producer in documentary film and animation.
Do you think it has been beneficial to work in more than one creative industry? What has each one taught you?
Absolutely one feeds into the other for me, there’s no doubt. Every time I get to work creatively out of my comfort zone I get a new perspective. I like to explore my limits and challenge myself creatively. When I compose for a film I get to figure out the story musically and how the music will drive the story and have an impact on the scene and in film, the music becomes a character in itself. When I direct I get to explore stories visually, music videos in particular I think are the most interesting to me because I get to combine both my music background and my filmmaking wrapped into one. Each of the creative endeavors I take on feeds into the other, like composing taught me how to create stories with music, which I take into every track I make, and filmmaking has helped me be more visual with my music storytelling and my DJ’ing.
The oddest takeaway I think I’ve had is I was working on this sports documentary and we were interviewing NBA stars like Demar Derozan, Corey Joseph, Jamal Murray, and Steve Nash, etc. and they each had a common thread - they all put in the work early on, they felt the work would lead to the pay off. I think in today’s world we expect things to happen easily or something, what we don’t realize is how much work and effort it takes for small gains. It’s the small gains that lead to one big gain.
So I really take that into my work now. I just work hard, give all that I have with each creative endeavor I do and hope it leads to something new and interesting. It’s wild to think that someone like me who had no interest in basketball could learn from these players. But I guess that’s it really, just keep open and keep learning.
We saw that you come from Toronto, Canada but currently reside in Vancouver. How does the underground electronic music scene compare in both?
I get asked this a lot and it’s a tough one. I think the biggest difference is geography. There’s roughly 4,000 kilometer’s, three provinces and the Rocky Mountains between us. They’re both great cities to play in with their own scenes and committed creative people. Vancouver has a vibrant underground scene with carefully curated nights that includes both out of town international headliners and our local talent pool of DJ’s / producers. There are often shows with only locals that pack the underground venues. I know I’ll probably miss peeps, but in short - there’s Nancy Dru and Josh Garrett of Proper, Max Ulis of Soul Hop, Tess Daniella and Derrick Vnuk of Leave Us Lost they do Lost All Day and Lost All Night parties, Subversive, SLAB, IYT, Hotline, Babelink, dəˈspaCH, Soundtrade and Shah DJ’s throw underground events at the Deli run by Kir Mokum and Vasho. We also have a legal afterhours with one of the best club systems in the country called Gorg-O-Mish where I have my residency. And we even have free city-sanctioned day parties called Public Disco where the dancefloor is brought to public spaces around the city that’s run by Nicholas Collinet. And there’s also a local community organization called Groundwerk run by Joel West where producers and DJ’s meet up once a month for a listening party and gab about electronic music. And then there’s, of course, our famous festivals that take place all summer long in British Columbia like Basscoast, Shambala and New Forms Festival to name a few. So yea, Vancouver’s killing it right now! Having said all that though, we are lacking in venues. Vancouver is an extremely expensive city and venues are very few.
As a female working in the creative (any) industries, it can be difficult to be taken seriously and there is sometimes a culture of having things like ‘all-female’ stages at festivals, which is arguably fetishization of non-cis male artists. What is your stance on this notion?
It’s about the music for me; it’s always been about the music. I think the work we do speaks for itself and we’re headlining huge shows and releasing amazing music without gender as part of the discussion. I’m interested in how my music impacts the listener, and how it makes them feel. I’m an artist who has a creative voice expressed through my music and other mediums, that’s pretty much it. I don’t think about my gender when I create and DJ nor should the audience. We should always put the music and the creative medium first allowing the work to speak for itself.
Have there ever been times where you were ready to give up because of the way someone has treated you in the film or music industry or has it simply spurred you on harder?
I think there’s truth in both statements. But at the end of the day, I choose to continue to push on, being creative is in my DNA. I don’t really feel like I have a choice in it but rather I’m a conduit or something.
Do you have any shows lined up in 2019?
I have shows coming up at my residency at Vancouver’s only legal after-hours Gorg-O-Mish. This club is a lot like Stereo in Montreal. The sets are three hours so I get to go through many emotional peaks and work the room from hard to soft and back again. I love playing there!
Can you remember a show you went to as an attendee that stayed with you and inspired your own performances?
Yes, definitely it was Mistress Barbara a techno DJ from Montreal. I saw her play at a tiny not well-attended rave in Ottawa, Ontario. Despite the lack of crowd she still owned the decks. She played with so much power and confidence, she made me want to be a DJ, and I wanted to be like her. Because of this moment, I treat every single gig I have like there’s someone in the audience having this experience. I hope that what I do at that moment can inspire someone to get up there and do it. It’s important for me to be present and show up to every gig like it’s the last gig I’ll ever play. Give 150% no matter what.
Final pot luck question- favorite snack to have in the early hours of the morning after playing or going to show?
Haha, it’s so funny because before every gig I take a nap. So when I get up I need coffee & breakfast. I usually eat oats or something like that…lol!
1 Lucy - The High Priestess
2 A Thousand Details - Burgondy
3 Flug - Do It - Flug
4 Johannes Heil - Exile 011B
5 Rehmark - Equacion De Drake - Rehmark
6 Ancestor - Mistaken Resolve - Ancestor
7 Dax J - Valve Systems - Dax J
8 RadioSlave - Vision [SHDW & Obscure Shape Remix]
9 Winx - Don’t Laugh [Agent Orange DJ ReWork]
10 Queensyze - All I Feel
11 Queensyze - Rave With You
12 Andres Campo - Da Shit
13 DEADWALKMAN - The Fader
14 VONDA7 - Werk It [Lauren Flax Remix]
15 Justin Cudmore - Are You Ready
16 DEADWALKMAN - Chicago Corner
17 Alias - Body Kontrol
18 Lando - Cold Run