Vilify brings bass to the end times

Ahead of spinning at Friday’s End of the World party, Vilify talks about her ever-popular Bass Drive Wednesdays weekly, the growth of dubstep and trap and prioritizing the production of her own music.

Vilify, nee Jenny Carmichael, photo by Teena Bee

Montreal’s dubstep queen Vilify will confront the Mayan apocalypse with copious amounts of bass this Friday at the End of the World party, to be held at an undisclosed location that a quick Internet search will likely reveal. But here’s hoping the Mayans were wrong and we won’t be kaput come Saturday; after all, that would mean missing the fourth anniversary of Bass Drive Wednesdays, happening next Feb. 27, and the original compositions Vilify is working on right now.

Perhaps best known for being the creator, head DJ and booker for Bass Drive, Vilify also writes her own music and plans to concentrate more on composition in the near future. She just put out an EP with former Elo!i & Heights member Thomas White (aka Elo!i), called Brigade, and also recently released a mix of babymaking music, naturally called the XXX Mix. I spoke to Vilify, nee Jenny Carmichael, about Bass Drive’s longevity, dubstep’s popularity and finding time to write music.

Erik Leijon: How has Bass Drive changed in four years?

Vilify: My style as a DJ has changed with the different music I’ve come across, just as any DJ evolves over time. So in the way the night has, too, but the vibe is the same and the people are the same. It’s always been an eclectic night of dubstep, drum & bass and other genres. For me it seems like it’s had the same sort of feel the whole time. It’s always been young crowds, a lot of students and a mix between English and French, and there are always new faces to go along with the regulars.

EL: What sort of different music are you playing now that you might not have when you started?

V: Trap is something that I was playing for a while — longer than it’s been called trap — but now it’s this huge genre, so I play more hip hop these days than I did at the beginning. To book a DJ that played trap music four years ago would have been unheard of. Now I’ve had people come in and do strictly trap sets, which I love. Hip hop is one of my first loves.

EL: What have you learned about being a DJ, having to prepare something new every week?

V: As any DJ, I always want to be fresh, and I always to mix tunes people recognize with songs they haven’t heard. Bass Drive is my job; I’m lucky I’m able to have the time to search for music and make sure that every time I step up there, I’m confident in what I have and what I can share with people. But you have to be able to read the crowd, and on the opposite spectrum be true to yourself. With dubstep becoming so popular and my tastes changing, it’s been a lot of figuring out, but I always play what I want to play and take the time to come across new music. It’s never-ending but I’ve learned a lot.

EL: What do you think about dubstep becoming so mainstream?

V: It’s crazy. I don’t even have cable, but when I’m at a friend’s house and the TV’s on, I’ll be able to hear dubstep songs in commercials or shows in the background. I’ve never seen any genre of music take over like dubstep has, and it’s hard because you come across people who try to hate on the popularity of dubstep. For me it’s frustrating, because why not take that negative energy and instead use it to promote something you’re into and expand people’s minds? As a DJ, I play what I enjoy so I’ll never play anything just because it’s popular. It’s been a crazy past couple of years watching everything happen, and it’s hard, given what I do, to be in the more mainstream realm of music.

EL: What do you think about pop stars using dubstep elements in their songs?

V: It’s interesting to wonder how those songs came into fruition: did they hear a song and decide they wanted to include it in what they were working on, or do they hear that dubstep is popular and then try to latch on to that success?

EL: With your commitment to Bass Drive, has it been hard to find time to work on your own music?

V: If I have time for music, then I’m usually thinking Bass Drive and upcoming shows later in the week, so when I sit down to work on music, sometimes I feel torn between trying to look for new music for my sets, or to work on my own stuff. I’ve been recording vocals more and collaborating more with people lately, so it’s really just me prioritizing it as much as I can. You know what, though? It’s something I’ve been saying for too long, but I do take as much time as I can, and I have a nice set-up at home where I can be as loud as I want to be. I spent last night working on music, and that’s where I want to be these days.

EL: How would your original work compare to the music you spin?

V: I don’t sit down and say, “I’m going to make a dubstep song.” I set the BPM I want, take influences from all my favourite styles, especially hip hop and jazz, and twist those styles more with bass music. I wouldn’t be able to put it in a genre. There’s a noticeable difference; if I’m playing the main slot at a party, I’ll play something heavy, a banger, or something catchy, but I don’t really think about writing a song that would sound perfect at 1 a.m. to make people go crazy. I make it for myself, based on what I enjoy.

EL: How have the police been lately with parties?

V: I’ve played a number of not totally legal afterhours loft parties that have been quickly thrown together, and personally I’ve experienced very little issues with that. From time to time, parties get shut down, but I can’t think of one instance outside of Epic Coalition in the woods where that happened. I’ve had very little trouble with cops in the loft environment; Montreal’s lucky for that, but it might just be coincidence. I’ve always gotten to play my set and haven’t had any issues. ■

The End of the World Party, with headliner High Rankin and W4rriors, Mr. Nokturn, Henward vs. Thomas White, Rough Draft & VNDL happens on Friday, Dec. 21 in parts unknown, 9 p.m., $25/$30. Look here for details.

Bass Drive Wednesdays, with Vilify and special guests Hatcha, Sub Antix and Gnave, is on at le Belmont tonight, Dec. 19, 10 p.m., $10

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