When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from Miami, Fla., the Canadian electronic talent BLOND:ISH (aka Vivie-Ann Bakos).
What’s it like where you’re living? It hasn’t been too bad! My partner in business and life, Liana Hillison, and I were fortunate enough to be in this incredible house with its own club for us to create and produce from! In Miami, we were locked down from March to June in 2020, but since then, we’ve had more freedom. I spent most of my time being a curious kid again, getting creative on how to work with my passion for music in different ways and asking myself the question, “How do we bring value to our community in these times?” I went really deep into that.
Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? Absolutely. Most of my income was tied to touring, which ended up being a huge lesson. I have taken the time to find new ways to diversify my income around my passion. It was such a fun exploration because there are so many worlds for your music to live in. We have the physical reality, streaming world, gaming world, sustainability world, app world, NFT world – it’s endless!
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? So much here! Abracadabra, our female-powered collective focused on bridging the worlds of music and art with wellness and eco-activism, has been producing unique single-use, plastic-free events IRL, in places like Tulum, Mykonos, and at Tomorrowland, since 2017. But last March, as music venues and festivals were forced to shut down due to COVID-19, we quickly adapted by launching Abracadabra TV on Twitch. The channel is for the music obsessed, the self-love seeking, and those who believe the future of entertainment is educational, eco-friendly, and ever-evolving. We serve up over 60-plus hours of music and self-love programming live every week. The channel has brought in over 55,000 followers and 40 million views in less than a year.
Sounds like you’ve been plenty busy during the pandemic. That’s not all – Abracadabra did three major digital festivals in 2020, manifesting headliners like John Legend, Major Lazer, Snoop Dogg, Marc Rebillet, and so many more. Altogether, we raised more than $20,000 in fan donations for various charities. Another major thing for me was doubling down on all things Bye Bye Plastic, my organization that aims to remove single-use plastic from the music industry by 2025. We’re working on a new program that prepares artists to lead with more purpose and many are already signing our Eco-Rider pledge. Oh, and crypto, blockchain and collabing on NFTs! I need more hours in my day, for sure.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? I’ve been making a ton of music. My record label, Abracadabra Records, is set to release two new compilations, Human Nature by Day (March 19) and Human Nature by Night (April 19), sharing all the unreleased material that I’ve gathered from incredible artists like Ameme and Hyenah. Additionally, we’re evolving to hopefully one day only play #plasticfreeparty and have started accepting payments in crypto!
In the studio, what’s your set-up? Some things I love in the studio include the UAD Apollo Quad, combined with Nord Lead and [Moog] Sub 37, TB-303, Dave Smith Prophet – you can never have too many synths – and [Spectrasonics] Omnisphere. I would love to make and play with some plant synthesizers this spring, too. UAD’s EMT 250 Reverb, the Korg SDD-3000 [digital delay] and the UAD K-Stereo also get used a lot along with the Millennia EQ.
Currently, my favorite plug-ins include the Smoothe2 by Oeksound… and literally all the iZotope plugs are dope, especially the Neutron, Ozone, and Nectar – also the RX8 is a game changer.
What’s your creation process in the studio? It’s pretty simple: I’m incredibly inspired by my travels, so I’m constantly recording voice notes of any sounds I hear along the way that could be translated into music, like the sound of birds and the white foam of the ocean. The world is my greatest source of inspiration.
What’s your typical DJ set-up? When performing live, I like to use four Pioneer DJ CDJ-3000s and the Pioneer DJ DJM-V10 mixer. It allows me to play loops and music, and adds a lot of knobs and effect options to play around with, routing on the V10 – so much more fun that way!
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this pandemic period? That we, as a human species, need to rethink the new normal! There’s no way we can just go back to our old ways, or we have failed as a species. All of our systems are changing, so that’s why I’m doing everything in my power to bring this awareness to the music industry and set things up now for a brighter future. With the Bye Bye Plastic team, we are rethinking how and what actions are needed to kick sustainable music culture into high gear! With Liana and Abracadabra, we are re-thinking music festivals and how we can make self-love and mental health part of them. I’ve also been re-thinking how I want to show up as an artist. I want to share my energy and tap into that space of constant growth. When I’m performing, I would like to invite everyone in attendance to also explore that space, and become masters of their own reality – let’s evolve together!
What are you doing online now? I’m online all the time! I actually just took a little digital detox because I spent the whole year plugged in. My weekly show, Human Nature on Abracadabra TV, was live for nine months straight and will be back for Season 2 early March – this is how it all started! I began streaming on Twitch because the community-engagement tools there are next level and it really allows for a more personable experience. I love constantly engaging with my community across Twitch and Discord and all the socials – it’s so important to find ways to stay connected in times like these.
Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? Sure do! The “Garden of 3Den” track I did with Rowee. It’s a beautiful reminder about tapping into other realities to be more open in this one.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? The best thing I’ve done for myself is having a morning routine. Before checking your phone when you wake up, make sure to have some sort of ritual. For me, I take 26 deep breaths, do some kundalini asanas, some stretching, some loving on my body. I drink hot water with lemon, some celery juice, do some dry brushing… Then, and only then, I go about my day. Respecting that time in the morning sets up a beautiful foundation for the rest of the day – it’s grounding to me. I know it’s quite simple stuff, but it’s the consistency and dedication to yourself that adds up to a fulfilled life.
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.
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