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Go BackRED ALERT! Scarlett Etienne's music and demeanour should soon make a deep impact on the scene...

Posted: 28/10/05 1:05

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... Despite currently living in San Francisco, DJ/producer Scarlett Etienne has two regular European residencies and has played on the White Isle several times...

Following on from her Ibiza debut at Amnesia in 2003, this summer she DJ’d to an appreciative crowd at Pacha as a hot guest of Erick Morillo, and made a spectacular debut on the terrace at Space for We Love alongside Danny Tenaglia.Luckily for us, with passionate energy, oodles of talent and an obvious commitment to the music, she’s only in her mid-20s and faces a fantastic future! Continuing to delight dancefloors the world over as a DJ, playing a flexible fusion of deeply twisted electronic styles (click here to listen ), Scarlett also feels ready to produce more music of her own. A classically trained musician, Scarlett knows more about music than many DJs, and yet she still chose to start a music course earlier this year to further develop her skills. “I really want to get deep into production and understand fully how it works so I can do things properly,” states a studious Scarlett, as we track her down to learn more

You were born in Hong Kong but why did you move, and what’s it like living in the ol’ US of A?
“I bounced around forever between my military parents until settling down at 18 in NYC. Then, most recently, I moved to San Francisco but I live in Barcelona for the summer season. Living in the USA isn’t very romantic and the culture here definitely isn’t in tune with dance music like it is in other countries, but it is efficient. It’s easy to stay focused, not too many distractions. And San Francisco is really beautiful, great weather, great lifestyle. Too bad our president’s a TOSSER. I DJ in the US about twice a year and the rest of my work is in Europe, so it’s probably not the most practical place for me to live anyway. Next stop London, perhaps?”
Your first residency was at the Sound Factory, NYC, so how did you initially get turned on to the dance music scene and into DJing? 
“Before I was ever exposed to dance music, I was into live music, emo bands, goth and industrial parties. I loved getting all glammed-up and going to parties such as Motherfucker, Albion, and Luxx in New York for DJs like Larry Tee and Spencer Product. As a musician I was really into live music. I loved Superchunk for the melodies, progressions and tortured-artist wailing, and Ani Difranco for the lyrics and storytelling. Also the Cure, Siouxsie Sioux and the Creatures, Tori Amos and Depeche Mode.
I would always get frustrated because a live show would only ever last for about an hour, and then you would go home with your damn program and T-shirt, and that’s it! Not very fulfilling! Then I started going out to places like Twilo, Exit, Sound Factory, and Vinyl.

The whole drama of it really appealed to me. The hard, driving music that would go on for hours and that signature mixed NYC crowd crammed into a dark sweaty space just letting everything hang out, every weekend. It was very punk rock. Very freeing. I loved how Danny Tenaglia would take music of all different types and blend it together to create his own ‘story’ in a night, then do the same thing every weekend but with different music, same vibe. And it was always very, very naughty... Twilo was my sanctuary. It was where I decided that I wanted to be a DJ. So I took a shot at DJing and stuck with it, and here I am! I absolutely love it!”

Can you please tell us about your current DJ residencies?
“I’m playing regularly at Alter Ego, Verona, Italy (quarterly) and at Danzoo in Madrid, Spain (monthly). I’m also a regular guest at Godskitchen in Birmingham, UK. It’s a long way to go for my residencies but they’re ROCKIN’ so it’s worth it. I’m really happy to be playing in these places because they’re both quality and very similar in a few ways. Most importantly it’s all about the music. I’ve been playing Alter Ego in Verona regularly for three years now and it is a very special place for me. I used to do a monthly there when I lived in NYC, going back and forth every month. I always play quite banging and electro sounds when I’m there, the Italians seem to like it really slow and electronic, sexy. Everyone there looks like a supermodel in their Gucci shades but they’re just ‘avin it!

The sweaty room just pulses with movement and they chant ‘Alter Egoooooo, Alter Egoooooooo!!!’ when they’re really loving the music, it’s magic. The people are just sweet. Sometimes it gets really heavy and a little out of hand, but they’re really appreciative of the music. Danzoo in Madrid is like the mainland Spanish equivalent of Alter Ego, now my monthly. It’s such a crazy party:
tons of screaming, carrying on and even crowd surfing and that whole thing. Ha! Here I play a bit heavier and a bit of tribal, but always what I’m feeling at the moment. And here when they’re loving it, they quite often like to chant the football song they sing when their team is winning! Fantastic! It’s always a warm moment when I’m playing in Madrid, I definitely feel the love. I’ll be there every month until the end of the year and perhaps more!”  

Where in the world interests you the most right now as far as clubbing is concerned? 
“I love Italy, I really do, and Spain as well. I think the Mediterranean culture really affects the way people party, as people in the Mediterranean are all about the smaller, finer things in life.  Food, sex, music, wine. It’s perfection. I like being in the UK as well because it seems people here are the most educated about music and what’s new and hot and all that. This year I’d really like to check out Berlin, as the minimal and electro thing really rocked my world this summer in Ibiza and I know there’s a lot of great producers and DJs living there, and quality parties. I would like to get back to my German roots as well.”
When did you first visit Ibiza, what was your impression, and what were your highlights on the island this year?
“My first visit to Ibiza was in 2003. It was absolutely wonderful! The shock was too great. I couldn’t believe how much rubbish people told me about Ibiza before I even got there. So many negative things – saying the music is too commercial, that it’s too crowded and ‘not what it used to be’ – rubbish! I had such a fantastic time when I first visited. I loved the diverse, international crowd and the music at all the right parties.

I’ve been back and I will be back every year. This year I had the opportunity to play for We Love... Space with Danny Tenaglia on the terrace. That was definitely my island highlight of 2005!”  

Where does your musical inspiration come from and how do you best channel your creativity? 
“My inspiration comes from all sorts of other music. It also comes from all the different people I meet and the cultures that I’ve had a chance to experience from all the travelling I do with my DJing. At the moment I’m learning to produce so I can channel my creativity into making my own music! When I was younger I was a songwriter, I produced my own music and played keys and guitar. Then I had a very un-creative period when I moved to NYC because I was in ‘survival mode’. I started DJing and my creativity soared through the roof. And now that I’m living in more inspiring places like SF and BCN, I’m really feeling ready to make more of my own music.”
Being a classically trained musician must be a great benefit in terms of production, so why start the music course? (Many DJs can neither read music nor are engineers; you must be very ‘hands-on’ in the studio…)
“I really want to get deep into production and understand fully how it works so I can do things properly. It isn’t just about putting tracks out just to put them out or paying someone to engineer things for me. It’s about making my own music that I can enjoy as much as I’ve enjoyed tracks from other producers. I actually enjoy long hours in the studio, tweaking things, learning new programs, putting my ideas to work, geeking out alone.

I am very hands-on and a real nerd actually! I don’t mind sitting in front of a computer for 12 hours straight. I’ve done it with World of Warcraft and I suppose if I can channel that into making more and more music I’m set!”
Can you reveal more about your productions to date and any future plans?
Punkrok [James Algate] and I did a track together in Birmingham, and Paul Davis from Circulation and I did a neat minimal track in London. More recently, in August, I was over in London playing at the Gallery and took a few extra days to begin work on a techy-electro bit with Pete Heller. Now I’m a month into this course, I’ve been working on music on my own here in San Francisco and I expect to release some things well before conference hits.”  

When you survey the current (dance/electronic/club/party) scene, who or what is rocking your world?
“When it comes to production, I love Tiefschwarz. These Germans are really rocking my world. Trentemoller and Nic Fanciulli at this second come to mind as well. There’s so much music I just adore. And the DJ sets that really did it for me this year: I saw Dixon at a Bread and Butter party in Barcelona over the summer, I was DYING his music was so delicious. I also saw James Holden for the first time at Space, he’s a complete genius – very unique music and technically amazing. Then there was DJ Ralf on the terrace at Space who was fantastic, but my favourite set of the season was hands-down Luciano at DC10… CLASS!”

Can you please tell us a little more about your mix onboard Ibiza-Voice?
“It’s pretty twisted! It reflects the sort of stuff I was playing over the summer, touring in Italy and that sort of thing. I do monthly mixes for my website as well.” 

Do you have any other (personal or professional) news to mention?
“I’ve just found out that I’ll be playing New Year’s Eve at Supermarket in Zurich!”

Words by Beara Rites