It seems like everyone is a DJ nowadays but not everybody is a GOOD DJ like this week’s treasure of a feature. Jackie Spade can be found helping create Toronto’s newest art car Tarna, dropping tracks at Coda, and if you know her in your g*ddamn heart. With unmistakeable enigmatic energy behind the decks, I had to chat with this babe about music, Tarna, and get the lowdown on some celebrity crushes in an all-new #TMITuesday. Oh, and today is her birthday.
1. Let’s start basic, how did you get your music career started?
I started off playing the keyboard when I was 11, I was taught by my sister.
And then guitar, drums and bass at 13.
I had a passion for electronic music at 11 years old. Tiesto and Armin were my boys! I used to tape Tiesto tracks off the radio and I had two tape players I would press play on at the same time to try to play them back and beatmatch them haha.
My actual start came in 2006 when I met my ride or die bestie in Montreal and she taught me on her CDJ 200s.
2. On that note, who is your biggest influence?
In my personal life, my bestie, who is Dani Drops, 1/2 of the DJ duo Head Nodders from Montreal.
In terms of established artists I look up to, my sound has come from my Carlo Lio and Nathan Barato influence. That started back in 2009.
These days I am influenced by the left field techno sound, Artists like Jeff Mills. are a huge inspiration. I like to keep my music steady and dancey with elements of surprise and odd vocals as opposed to singing. I draw my minimal vibe from the influence of DJs like Akiko Kiyama and the Romanian minimal scene. Arapu and Barac have taught me how to add the dance vibe to minimal sets/tracks.
I am also very heavily influenced simply by spaces. The large, heavy sound I tend to veer towards these days is inspired by sprawling industrial spaces, run-down warehouses and lofts of Montreal, where I grew up, and Toronto where I am now. Something about hollow, metallic, vast, dark sounds has always appealed to me. When I’m putting together a set, if the event is in an appropriate kind of industrial space, I will cater my selection to the venue.
3. Since today is #TMITuesday can you tell the readers something they may not already know about you? Any hidden talents or guilty pleasures?
No joke here. So…..this is slightly embarrassing but I’m not really one to care about embarrassment. I really, REALLY love stingrays.
The sight of them makes me cry on the spot. I discovered this when my partner and I visited the aquarium. They have a section called the ray bay with all different kinds of rays. It’s dimly lit with soft music and a few different tanks. And I had never seen one in person, never even thought they were that interesting.
But something about those f*cking rays….. I sat there for about an hour like actually crying. My partner had to come back and get me and was like what is going on hahaha.
I’m tearing up right now. And if I ever tell anyone this story in person my voice gets all shaky. Maybe I was a stingray in a past life or something. Hahaha.
4. The Toronto music scene is a weird one, how does it compare to your home spot Montreal?
Oufff that’s always a tough loaded question for me and can be incredibly controversial…
When I first moved here I didn’t appreciate the Toronto scene as much as I do now.
I feel like there is a solid INDUSTRY in Toronto.
In Montreal, the scene is more of a culture that is embedded in everyone’s daily lives. Its less work hard/play hard there like it is in Toronto. I’m talking patrons, not the industry professionals.
Toronto you usually go home by 7. Montreal your night starts at 1/2 In my experience. It can be a much less packaged and curated experience in Montreal much more of the time. Its really rare I’ve ended up playing sweaty small basement after-hours parties in Toronto till noon the next day like we used to in MTL.
For me, the real magic happens after 6am. I miss that and don’t find that in Toronto very often. I don’t believe it is because the scene is bad. I believe it is because the people that run the city put so many restrictions on us.
I have however found, to my delight that the crowds in Toronto are older in general. Which I find makes the scene more sustainable, or is at least is indicative of sustainability.
The thing I love most about TO and I find you don’t get in MTL as much is how much people dress up. Every bigger party or warehouse party you’ll see people go all out with costumes. There is a bigger burner culture here and I think that helps. It gives these parties a free-spirited rave like atmosphere which I thought was lost in the 90s or at bigger festivals before I came here. You really feel the unity of the community at events like that.
5. This past year of 2018 has been a big one for you musically, tell me about your highlight gig, what made it so special?
Wow so many. Ugh.
The highlight, however, was definitely my first time at Coda. I have been going there for the past 5 years, and footwork before that since 2008.
The first time I played was this summer. They booked me for an opening gig. When I walked in I wasn’t nervous, said hi to all the staff that I’ve known for ages, and felt like I just came home.
I was informed to be ready to close at the end of the night for a bit if the headliner got tired. and I agreed.
So soon after I finish my set the promoter comes up to me and is like so you’re on again 3-5. I was like WHAT I get 2 more hours! Yay! And he was like truthfully, we’ve been wanting to have you here for a long time and really just want to party with you and hear your stuff.
I’ve never been so touched or felt more welcomed into a community. I was so relaxed and excited and ended up playing 4 of the 7 hours of the night. I got a lot of “WHO THE F*CK ARE YOUUUs” and it felt great to break out into the core of the scene here in Toronto, at a club that I can play my true sound at, which is recognized on a global scale. What a magical night.
6. Of course, 2018 is now over, what are some of your 2019 goals?
I have a couple gig goals/place I want to play in Canada that I won’t mention here. I’m still courting them. Haha.
I’m looking to change my set up this year. I have always wanted to play a more hybrid style kind of set. I’m a very no-frills kind of DJ, no effects and minimal tweaks of tracks but I’m interested in trying out some new gear that will allow me some freedom without taking away from the flow of my regular djing.
7. I ask everyone this question but I’m really hyped on what your answer will be; if you could choose one song to be your ‘theme song’ what would it be and why?
8. You’re involved in Toronto’s growing art car community, how have you helped Heavy Meta, and Tarna, and how have they helped you?
Heavy Meta and Tarna operate out of the 4tress workshop in Toronto, When I can get the time away from my day job and DJ commitments I head over to the shop and cut and bang metal. I’m an aircraft assembler by trade, so some of those skills are transferrable.
Heavy Meta brought me along to the Elements festival in New York and Burning Man as well. They had me play on the dragon for my first international gigs. I have played for them a few times in Toronto and they run pretty large events. so having that exposure locally has been a great help as well.
I have played a couple Tarna events as well, and to be honest, that crew and scene have helped me remember to have fun while I’m playing, dress up, throw around glitter and not take myself as seriously as I do in a dark techno club for example. I get to have a professional musician experience as well as whimsical enjoyment of a party.
I can’t even count how many amazing people I’ve met and friends I’ve made along the way with these crews. they have changed my life and the way I connect with people, I am truly grateful for all of them and incredibly excited to go back to Burning Man with Tarna this year.
9. I mean, this is essentially a pop culture website so I’m going to need to know your top 3 celebrity crushes:
10. What’s next for you?
Well, I’m not one for sitting in front of a computer and tinkering. So I’m looking to get into drum machines and hardware-based production tools. I’ve felt newly inspired lately, and plan on getting that venture started before gigs get busy again in the summer.