Emerging from the prolific city of Chicago
at the turn of the 1990s, the classically trained operatic singer, DJ Colette
tuned the tables of her original career after witnessing the early musical magic of djs like Derrick Carter
, Mark Farina
at the clubs.
Utilising all she’d learnt as a youth, Colette
soon began embracing house music at seventeen by singing over tracks at parties, and promoting club nights. Later Colette
submerged herself in studio work with her producer friends, in order to get her vocals down onto vinyl… Her debut single was with Mazi
’s ‘Moments of Epiphany
,’ which was produced in the Red Nail
loft, (previously inhabited by Derrick Carter
went onto collaborate musically with DJ Sneak
, Angel Alanis
, Johnny Fiasco
, Cricco Castelli
, Alexi Delano
and DJ Q
, but never really took to the turntables publicly until 1997 when she joined female forces with other djs Lady D
. This formidable foursome named ‘SuperJane
,’ was a pioneering dj collective, thankfully inspiring many more females to take to the decks. In 2000 Colette
recorded her first (official) mixed CD, titled ‘In the Sun
,’ for the Chicago
-based label ‘Afterhours
,’ and at twenty-five she moved to Los Angeles
to get some heat. Colette
was quickly snapped up to Nettwerk Records
, and this led to the release of another mix CD called ‘Our Day
,’ through Nettwerk
in 2001. With her profile amplified as an artist, Colette then gained laudable recognition winning ‘Best Breakthrough DJ
’ at the 2003 DanceStar Awards USA
. More recently, 2004 saw Colette
win another DanceStar Award
(‘ Best Use Of Music In A TV Commercial’
) for her collaborative efforts with Paul Van Dyk
and Felix Da Housecat
’s global advertising campaign. The SuperJane
’s also performed at Miami WMC
, and Colette
held a string of quality bookings besides…
’s career continues to enrich and inspire others. She’s joined Kevin Dees
over in the States
to host the show ‘Maximum Rotation
’ on KIIS FM
, and is working hard on her debut artist album, ‘From a Record Player
.’ So straight outta L.A.
we managed to detain Colette
for a few enquiries, before she flies off to sing and spin in South America
LL: How are you and where are you today?
DJC: “I'm great. I just got back home to L.A. where I now have a couple days off.”
Colette how's your year shaping up as we approach the summer, and what's coming up for you?
“I'm going on my first tour of South America, and getting ready to release my debut artist album. I've been working on this album for almost two years, so I'm really excited to get it out!”
Chicago must have been a brilliant breeding ground for top jock talent and a cool place to hangout in clubs during the late 1980s, so why did you move to Los Angeles aged twenty-five?
“Although I love Chicago, the winters there are brutal. L.A. weather is so much easier to deal with. I always travel back and forth between L.A. and Chicago, so I end up getting the best of both cities.”
You recently took part in Motorola's global advertising campaign, has that been positive in terms of your own career and did you get a stylish free phone?
“I got two fancy phones, one for the States and one for Europe. The commercial was definitely something different to do. It was a fun experience, I think anything you can do to help share your music with a wider audience can only be positive.”
Obviously being a fit female gets you some gigs, but your (considerable) talent maintains demand and profile. Has your sex ever been a problem in this male dominated industry?
“I would like to think that it hasn't… I think a few times, back in the beginning, people might have questioned my djing ability based on my gender, but it's been so long now that I think people just focus on my music.”
Why do you think there's still less female djs then men out there in 2004, is the technicality of the art or just plain tradition? (I suppose the balance is redressing these days…)
“There are so many women who are djing now, it's only a matter of time before it becomes more balanced. You have to remember that just fifteen years ago, there was probably only one female dj to every hundred male DJs.”
You’re not yet thirty, and as many djs only reach their ‘peak’ into their late thirties; do you think you're yet to zenith as an artist?
“I'm turning twenty-nine this May, and would hope to continue making and playing music for many years to come. I don't know if you ever really reach your ‘peak…’ There are so many directions you can go in with music - djing, producing and song writing, so hopefully you can peak more than once. :)”
To sing live alongside your music in a club must be quite a religious experience for you, does it always inflate your soul?
“I've always loved to sing, it was the reason I started DJing. It does give me unexplainable joy, especially when everything is going right. On the days when my singing is compromised though, it can give me unexplainable pain!”
Back (at WMC) in 2002, The Scumfrog told me, "The amazing DJ Colette blows me away every time with her records and live vocals. This girl has long paid her dues and deserves a main floor - Promoter's please note!" Has your experience of main floors since been all hands in the air, or do you think there's still much to be said for the dark 'back rooms?'
”I love playing records, it doesn't matter if it's for 5,000 people, or just 500. Grant it, the energy varies, but as long as people are having a good time, that’s what counts. A main room carries an intense level of excitement, but the back room is where you can get down and dirty.”
Any news on the (all-woman) dj tag team collective 'SuperJane?' (And why do you use the ‘Jane’ tag?)
“There are four ladies in SuperJane (Heather, Dayhota, Lady D and myself,) and we are getting ready to do another US tour in late 2004. We started playing together in 1997 under the SuperJane name to give notice to the fact that a ‘girl’ DJ was not a novelty. We used the word ‘Jane’ as it's the universal name for women in the US, and we attached the word ‘Super’to identify our collective as something more than just average.”
I read somewhere that you support a number of women's causes and charities through your work. Do you think more djs are becoming increasingly socially conscious rather than advocates of hedonistic social abandon?
“It's a great way to help, because who doesn't want to come out to a party? You can then feel good knowing your hedonistic ways went toward a good cause. I think more djs are attaching themselves to these types of events, like Paul Van Dyk who recently played at a few ‘Rock the Vote’ events in the States.”
You've already collaborated with Kaskade, The Greenskeepers, Rachael Starr and Synthique, so what's next for you production wise?
“My album ‘From A Record Player’ should be coming out later this year. I worked with so many great people on this record; CPEN, Angel Alanis, Home & Garden, Drew K, the Greenskeepers, Lance Desardi, JT Donaldson, DJ Heather and J-Live. It's a really diverse record... everyone did such a great job on it.”
Where's been the most impressive and surprising place you've played this year?
“Santiago, Chile was amazing. I played there twice this year and each time it was perfect - huge events with an amazing feeling to them. The last time I was there they had the party outside with an extreme sports event going on at the same time. While you were dancing, you could watch some guys on motorcycles flying fifty feet into the air!”
Tell us something we don't know about you, but really should?
”I have an amazing number of plants. It's ridiculous. It looks like a jungle in my house!”
Do you have any memorable memoirs of the white isle, and will you be in Ibiza this season?
”I've never been yet! Every time that I was supposed to come, something happened. Hopefully I'll make it out this year!”
Colette is there any other messages, or news that we've missed out on above?
”I have a radio show in the States, you can check it out online at
(www.maximumrotation.com) We've been on the air for over two years, and have had so many great guests, everyone from Timo Maas to Mark Farina.”
Colette’s forthcoming gigs…
10 - Smart Bar - Chicago
13 – Focus At Tapas - Newport Beach
16 - Jade - Buffalo
23 - Turnmills - London
30 - Caracas - Venezuela
01 - Vertigo - San Jose, Costa Rica
06 - Crush - Grand Rapids
07 - Mantra - Milwaukee
08 - Smart Bar - Chicago
14 - Club Mint - Buenos Aires
19 - Liquid Lounge - Huntington Beach
21 - La Huaca - Lima
28 - Elit - Bogota