Alicia Hush has long been one of the underground's darlings, pumping out game-changing releases, remixes and original work for over six years. After spending many years helping shape the Toronto underground scene into what it is today, she recently relocated to Montreal to bring her signature style and passion for the music community to Canada's mecca of music. I caught up with her after the Hushlamb debut party in Montreal to talk about her upcoming label launch, switching cities, and who has been tickling her discerning eardrums lately.
THUMP: You've recently made the move to Montreal, and seem to be having an incredible time. What prompted the decision to switch cities after so long?
Alicia: I'm a big believer that people and places come into our lives for specific reasons and once those reasons are met we can let go and welcome new experiences. I've always loved Montreal for its culture and beauty but I never pictured myself living here until one day I woke up and it seemed to magically make sense. Toronto provided me with so much love and growth, both personally and musically, so it was easy for me to say goodbye in a positive way.
How did you begin creating music? Who are some of your major influences?
I DJed for many years with a strong desire to make music, but I was always too afraid–too shy to dive in. Finally, around six years ago I could no longer deny that music was my creative outlet so I started experimenting. The creative process immediately hooked me. Some artists along the way that made me really want to make music were Akufen, Ricardo Villalobos, Mike Shannon, Dan Bell, anything on Classic Recordings and last but certainly not least; Miskate and the entire Unfound Sound crew.
Some producers say the hardest thing was forcing themselves to overcome the gap between what they liked to hear and what they could create. How long did it take you to create music that you were proud of?
It's funny, at the beginning I really loved everything I was making. I would listen to each track a zillion times. When I listen to the old stuff now I realize the ideas were great, but the quality was so bad. I'm very picky now and it takes me a long time to feel good about the songs I make. I often wish I could go back in time to the freedom of pure expression without the worries of how people will respond.
What is one show you will never forget playing?
My first Mutek show three years ago is one I will never forget. It was around the time I had realized I was no longer fuelled by DJing and started turning out live sets. Mutek, for me, is one of the greatest festivals around, so playing one of my first live sets in a park full of happy people is a feeling of success I will always remember.
What made you start your event production company, Hushlamb Productions?
Hushlamb is a musical baby born out of love for electronic music and dance. Sarah Lamb and I started this music collective as an opportunity to throw events that showcase the artists we adore, and also as an opportunity to provide dance spaces for those who love to get down on the dance floor like we do. We've now branched out into an agency as well. We've met and gathered an incredible crew over the years, and we all help push each other along our musical paths. It's a beautiful thing!
Can you give us the scoop on what you're working on now?
I've currently got a lot of remixes on my plate. I love remixing and thrive on the ability to reinterpret other people's ideas. It'll be time to focus on an EP soon though, and I've got my sights set on a particular label. I'm also involved in two duo projects, Yes Ma'am and La Moosh. Yes Ma'am is a live duo project with badass fellow Hushlamber, Ana+one—we release music together as well. La Moosh is a DJ and production duo with the talented Hushlamber, Zeina. We've also got live music performance on the horizon as well.
What makes for a great collaboration? Do you prefer working with people in the studio or having a more remote relationship?
I'm a quiet person with a shyness I can't quite shake, so collaborations can be difficult for me. I've found that the best way for me to work with someone is to pass projects back and forth until they're complete. Ideally I would like to get to a place where I'm able to sit with someone in a studio and tell them exactly what I'm thinking. I'll get there soon.
Name three artists you would love the chance to work with in an ideal world.
Zip, Ricardo Villalobos, and Cabanne
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Mod2, Isherwood, Ion Ludwig, Marlene Magnoli, Andrey Zots, and Doubting Thomas.
Are you a laptop or hardware producer?
I'm still primarily a laptop producer. I feel comfortable this way and enjoy the ability to work on music anywhere, anytime. A starving artist budget has definitely played a role in my set up. However, as the market for low priced quality gear expands it seems you can get a lot for a little and these days and I've definitely got the itch to purchase some things.
So what's on the horizon for you right now?
We (Hushlamb) just had our first big event here in Montreal featuring Alka Rex, Brian Ffar, Billy Dalessandro, Yes Ma'am, Zeina and Zaid Edghaim, which I can proudly say was an ultimate success. We plan on having at least three more big jams this year as we continue to carve out our path in this beautiful city. Also, I am extremely excited to announce that Hushlamb will be launching a digital and vinyl record label this year! After years of waiting for the right time we feel more than ready to get things rolling. It's time to showcase our talented crew and collaborate with artists we love.