Coming in somewhere between Ellie Goulding and Florence and the Machine, Deadmau5 collaborator Colleen D’Agostino is the first lady of the EDM star’s imprint Mau5trap and below is the premiere of "Stay," the first song from her debut EP, Collide. The dark-haired beauty isn’t your typical EDM singer: before being approched by Deadmau5's attorney to write with the producer, D’Agostino spent many years fronting rock band The Material. However after their smash collaboration on the bassline-driven “Seeya”—the Canadian electronicist snapped her up for his own label
“Stay" is another collaboration between the two, but it's not entirely indicative of her forthcoming EP as a whole. For that D'Agostino admits pulling from her love of Bat For Lashes, Tycho, Ellie Goulding, Bjork, Portishead, Phantogram, BANKS, Purity Ring, and CHVRCHES—phewf!—while working with the likes of Ghostship, Eekkoo, and more to help realize her vision.
We talked to the LA-based singer about working with Deadmau5, being compared to Hayley Williams, and prepping for the JUNO Awards (where she’ll be performing with the EDM maestro this Sunday).
Noisey: Was it your intention to fall into the EDM sector or did it happen accidentally?
Colleen D'Agostino: Although I have always been a fan of electronic music, I never really wrote in this genre until this collaboration. Before this I was in a touring rock band called The Material, playing club tours and living in a van with a bunch of really cool dudes. I still love rock music and the feeling of playing with a bunch of loud amps and talented musicians on stage, but I am really happy in this new road towards electronic music. It's a new and exciting move for me.
That’s a great perspective to have. Do you have plans to move away from EDM?
I wouldn't consider myself "EDM" really to begin with. I'm not sure I've ever really been an artist that sticks to one genre. Even when I was in a rock band, I was always still writing pop melodies. I grew up singing musical theatre, and studied classical and opera in college. My upcoming solo EP is definitely more of an 80s electropop sound. So, I guess I enjoy all types of music and hope to continue experimenting.
How has it been like prepping for the JUNO Awards?
It's been a whirlwind! I can't believe I am headed out to Canada tomorrow. It will definitely be my biggest performance to date so despite working with my vocal coach and doing some rehearsing in my studio, I'm still a bit nervous! I guess that's kind of cool though. The day you stop getting butterflies in your stomach before a big show, I think, is when it's time to evaluate if you still love performing. I have always enjoyed the rush of stepping on stage, ever since my very first talent show in second grade. There's nothing better than using your talent to connect to other people and make them feel something. I'm just feeling really thankful for the opportunity.
Do you think there's a gender imbalance in the EDM industry? How do you think it can be improved?
I think there's definitely more guys in the electronic scene but I think that is an issue in the music industry as a whole. When I was touring in The Material, I used to continually get asked at the door of each rock venue if I was "the merch girl" haha. Anyway, I am really happy to be the first lady of mau5trap, so that's a good start!
What a crazy categorization! Is there a theme behind your EP coming out?
I've always been obsessed with 80s fantasy movies like The Labyrinth, The NeverEnding Story, Flight of the Navigator because those movies all have these ethereal dream sequences that I love. I guess growing up a child of the 80s, those themes have found their way into my music too. So Collide is full of dreamy galaxy and outer space themed goodness.
Your voice has a dream-pop like quality to it. Do you get comparisons to other artists a lot?
I used to continually get compared to Hayley [Williams’ from Paramore], which wasn't a problem because I love her, but it was hard to stand out with that comparison over my head all the time. I have yet to get compared to anyone since I started writing in the electronic genre, which I guess is pretty cool as I am hoping to bring something new to the scene.
Stay is out on 3.15 via Mau5trap.