Already a regular on the international dance music circuit, Heidi’s recent Jackathon mix CD has put her on the list of elite DJs to watch in the next year. We spoke to the Windsor-born, Detroit-influenced DJ leading up to her set at the Click party during ADE.
URB: You grew up in the border city of Windsor. How often would you visiting the neighboring Detroit and how much did these experiences shape your future sound and tastes?
Heidi: As soon as I could drive I was going over to Detroit at least once a week and sometimes twice. I went to a lot of concerts and spent a lot of time record shopping. It was the best time in my life, I felt so free. I had some friends over there as well, so it was nice to be shown the parts of Detroit I would of never found on my own. It definitely helped shape who I am as an adult now.
I was never scared to go there, unlike many of my friends in Windsor, so I was kind of on a solo mission. I was really intrigued by Detroit ever since i was little, maybe due to the fact that you were always told as a child how dangerous it was and usually you want to do the opposite of what your told when you’re young.
What pushed you to move to London in 1997?
I guess I was bored. I was so infatuated with the music coming from England. I had went there on holiday to go to the Glastonbury Festival a few years before and I fell in love. My boyfriend at the time moved over and I jumped on that and went with him. Glad I made that decision.
Was there anyone in particular that really encouraged you to DJ? And was there every really the intent to make a living with the craft?
I was dating a guy in London for about 3 years and he was really into it. He was sort of an aspiring DJ and producer and he always told me I had great taste. After we opened up Phonica records, I started to play hip-hop, reggae, dub and house music in the back room at his parties. Then I met the M.A.N.D.Y. guys in 2004 at a party in London and we just totally connected and they invited me over to Berlin to play. I guess the rest is history. I never thought I would of made a career out of it.
You of course are very associated with Get Physical!, What did you feel like really drew you to connect with this label?
Well, I liked the stuff they released back in the day. It was a new sound coming through and filtered heavily into the scene in London at that time. Patrick and Philip from M.A.N.D.Y. and DJ T became good friends. They’re my older brothers and they took me under their wings and definitely gave me the courage to start playing records seriously. I only did it for fun at the beginning, but it quickly took off and I had to learn in front of big crowds of people. I was scared out of my mind. It took me a few years to find my way, but I eventually got there.
You are one of the few, if not the only, woman on Get Physical! which is representative of the greater gender ratio in dance music. Did this ever intimidate you? And how did you end up responding to this minority presence?
It never intimidated me. I have always been the minority in any job I had. I get along really well with guys and as a teenager most of my good friends were guys. I have never saw myself as a woman in this business. I just see myself as a person who loves music more than life itself and I chose to make a career out of it.
You are part owner of the very esteemed Phonica Records in London. How is your time managed between touring and the shop? Is there one that is of more focus at present?
I’m not part owner. I opened it up with two other people. We had two very cool men backing us financially. I just ran the shop for the first five years, then as my DJ career took off I had to make a decision—stay and work in the shop or start my life as a traveling DJ. I think I made the right choice, but it could of gone terribly wrong.
I’m still very close with the guys that work there. That place was my baby. I put a lot of time and love into it and it makes me really happy to see how much people still really love going there. I still go in and buy tunes. They could do with a new paint job though.
As far as your own productions go, are you working on anything or is your focus on your other music ventures?
I just put out the Jackathon comp and I’ve been super busy organizing the parties that I do with the same name. I’m also on a heavy touring schedule so i don’t have much time for anything else at the moment, but i’m going to be mixing the next Watergate compilation next year and lots more touring.
The Jackathon CD that was released earlier this fall, what was the idea behind this and how do you feel it was received?
The idea I had was to give something for the fans who have been with me for the ride. I asked a bunch of artists and producers whom I admire to make me an exclusive track for me to mix for my compilation. The result was more than I could of asked for. It got amazing reviews, I think because it was so diverse and it appealed to many different types of DJs. There is something on there for everyone. I wanted it to sound fresh. I could of just picked a bunch of old jack tracks, but that has been done before. I wanted a challenge.
You said during an interview a word of advice is “don’t be a prick.” Do you believe that the Canadian friendly karma has brought you a lot of your career luck?
I’m not sure if its my Canadian karma, but I definitely live by the rules to treat other people like you want to be treated. I enjoy my job so much and I’m really lucky to be able to travel the world and play music that I love for people. It is a very intense job and can run you into the ground at times, but i just think that I came from nothing and managed to get to where I am today and I know its because I’ve been a good natured person.