Insomniac’s Metronome series features mixes from some of today’s fastest-rising electronic stars, as well as championed legends. It takes listeners deep across a wide range of genres, movements, cultures, producers, artists and sounds that make up the diverse world of electronic music.
In the past few years, Toronto tech house heroine Sydney Blu has rightly achieved international boss status. She’s running her own label, Blu Music, curating the ever-expanding Blu Party series with guests like Prok & Fitch, headlining at festivals and clubs around the world, and making herself at home at the top of Beatport’s charts. Longtime friends with Gene Farris, Sydney traces her love of dance music to Chicago. Its influence can be heard in tech house favorites “Momento,” “Rock It Out,” “Jackrabbit,” her cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” and her latest EP, You Don’t Understand.
Somehow, she found time to prepare a Metronome mix for us, featuring tracks from Cajmere & Gene Farris, Renegade Masters, Dennis Cruz, and Yousef, as well as her own creations, including her collaboration with Dantiez. We caught up with Sydney Blue to discuss her friendship with Gene Farris, her team-up with the Soup Music crew, her dream booking for the Blu Party series, and the newest developments at Blu Music.
What’s the inspiration or theme to your Metronome mix?
The theme is the vibe I’m channeling these days. That’s really just the way my sets always go: what I’m feeling, what I’m liking, what I’m playing. Everything is always a derivative of house music, so with this mix, I decided to channel the vibe of my new EP on Soup, as well as pick the records that flow well with it.
What tracks did you want to include but left out because they didn’t quite fit this mix? What is your strategy for selecting, editing, and sequencing mixes like this?
It’s interesting you ask this question, because I had too many records I wanted to put in the mix, and I struggled with this exact issue. I started out with about 20 records or more and filtered it down to 10 to fit into one hour. So many amazing tracks out right now, and I have been tilting back and forth between the tech house and deep tech house sound. Since I was doing the mix for Insomniac, I figured something with more energy would be appropriate over a deeper mix. A couple of tracks I left out, [because] there was no room, are Habichman’s “Closure,” Knee Deep in Sound’s newest release, as well as “Catch My Flow,” another tune I did for Soup on my newest EP, You Don’t Understand. If I had two hours, both of those tracks would have made the cut.
Tell us about how you hooked up with the Soup crew on the latest release. Had you done anything with them previously?
One of the guys who’s a partner in the label Zenbi introduced me to the whole crew. They are such solid guys, and we all love the same authentic Chicago/NYC house sound, so I sent them the EP and they loved it. The rest is history. This is my debut EP on their label.
They’ve built up a really loyal following with the parties and label. What makes them different from other labels you’ve worked with?
I think they run a good ship and are on top of their game, unlike a lot of labels. Also, the fact that they made a label out of a party is a cool, unique thing to do.
The Blu Party in Austin with Gene Farris is in a few days. How do you think that event is going to go?
I think it’ll be awesome. This will be Gene’s fifth Blu Party! He’s a favorite of mine to book, and we love playing together. Our musical styles really mesh, and the club in Austin we are playing, Kingdom, is going to be so great!
What’s it been like developing this creative relationship with Gene Farris?
We are such great friends now. He holds the record for the guest I have booked the most at the Blu Party, for sure, and we’ve both released on each other’s labels. I’ve known Gene for almost my entire career. He’s a great mentor and a great big brother.
Your You Don’t Understand EP, which features a remix by Pirupa, just dropped recently and is already doing well on the Beatport tech house charts. How did that EP and remix come together?
I just gave [the EP] to the Soup guys right before Winter Music Conference Miami. They signed it right away. Pirupa is managed by a friend of mine, so we hooked up the mix that way. The whole EP really came together. I’m happy with all the support and love it’s gotten.
You recently posted a throwback photo of yourself sitting, surrounded by records. You mentioned it was framed on your mom’s table. She is clearly proud and supportive. How did that support help when you were starting out?
My parents have been so incredible. They always supported my path as a DJ and a producer. My mom definitely knows, after seeing me DJ many times now, this is what I’m meant to do in life. It’s a great feeling to have that support.
With the Blu Party’s success, you’re spending more time on the road. How do you maintain a sense of home and balance? Who would you like to book that you haven’t yet?
Considering the lifestyle, I think I’m pretty smart with the way I handle and balance life. I get worn out, like any artist does. But I also do a lot of yoga [and I get a lot of] exercise and sleep and do the things I need to reset when it’s needed. This year has been especially busy, so it’s hard, but I work at it. I’d like to book Green Velvet for a Blu Party for sure. The Black Madonna would be another artist I’d love to feature.
What music and projects are next for Sydney Blu, your parties, and your record label, Blu Music?
I have a ton of releases coming up. The next few months have me releasing on Undr the Radr, Roger Sanchez’s label; Maya, Joeski’s label; and Knee Deep in Sound, Hot Since 82’s label. I’ll be touring until the end of the year pretty steadily, [with] a few more Blu Parties to go this year, also. No slowing down anytime soon, but I’m happy to be working. I love what I do.
- Track List:
Yousef “Life Is Too Short”
Philip Ackowsky “Understand Me”
Ruben Mandolini “My Fuse”
Dennis Cruz “Zoo Project” (Zoo Brazil Remix)
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Sydney Blu “You Don’t Understand”
Cajmere & Gene Farris “Love Foundation”
Renegade Masters “Brooklyn’s on the Map” (Superlover Remix)
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Sydney Blu & Dantiez “Inspirato”