Baby Blue is an emerging figurehead for trans-gender representation in the electronic underground. Heralded as the ‘techno trans-Madonnna’ and self-proclaimed as “one of the best DJs in the world,” the radical Vancouver-based artist’s full debut, Death of Euphoria, is a “eulogy” to her former self, pre-transition. That isn’t to say it’s purely high-concept. Making a point to state that she’s just one year old, it’s the sonic manifestation of a real-life landmark moment. Signposting the start of a new journey, the album explores challenging themes like transgender discrimination and gender dysphoria as pop, eurodance, trance and ambient tropes are torn apart and reassembled through her subversive lens.
A key member of Vancouver’s s.M.i.L.e. collective alongside City, Jade Statues, JS Aurelius, Sebastian Ruslan and x/o, we caught up with Baby Blue ahead of an appearance at Vancouver’s New Forms Festival.
Who is Baby Blue?
Baby Blue is a 5th dimensional angel that fell into the body of a mortal on Earth.
Any thoughts on being referred to as “techno’s trans-Madonna”?
I feel being compared in any way to one of the hardest working and most iconic figures in pop culture history is a huge honour. Madonna has been one of the biggest inspirations on my work.
Your latest release is called Death of Euphoria. What do you think this title speaks to in the current dance music climate?
This album wasn’t intended to give an opinion on dance music as I feel it isn’t really a dance record. But my take on the dance music climate is that no matter the avenue whether it be mainstream or underground we are totally oversaturated with music. I feel artists need to focus on and dedicate themselves to creating long lasting and iconic art.
Who killed Euphoria?
I can only speak for myself and personally I feel I killed euphoria. To me it represented a time where I tried to hide truth with playtime and ignorance. It was a feeling I associated with the dead part of myself. It was a distraction and when I slit it’s throat I began to finally live.
You describe the album as a “goodbye before the beginning” of your transition. Had you been making music long before this journey began, and has this new path had an impact on your ‘sound’ or approach to music?
I really feel like it was a past life at this point. I was trying to figure out how to produce yet always feeling held back by something that was not material. I wrote this album at a very dark stage in my life and at the time I had no idea why it was so dark, I continued to hide while subconsciously writing the dirge for my funeral. Now that I made the decision to live my life with absolute truth I feel I am creating much more comfortably and my best work always seems ahead of me. I feel I have finally tapped into the Scorpio energy of rebirth and it feels so good.
In what ways might we hear Vancouver in your music?
I don’t really associate my sound with a geographic location. Baby Blue is global and universal.
As an artist that has dabbled in this from time to time, would you agree that the overarching trend of recontextualising pop through the lens of genres like trance, hardstyle, gabber etc. is a micro-scene in itself, even if it isn’t localised in the slightest?
I have used genres that I have always been deeply fond of as frameworks for what I create. I don’t feel bound to any of them I just get inspired by the rhythms. I think recontextualising familiar genres has always been part of any level of the music/fashion and entertainment industry. Just look at Lindsay Lohan’s new song ‘Xanax’ it gives a Skrillex-Bieber-Reggaeton vibe on the classic melody of one of my all time favourite eurodance songs ‘Better off Alone’ by Alice Deejay. So I’m not sure if I would agree it is a micro-scene. On the other hand it is easy to think it is micro when the underground electronica scene all of a sudden had half the music on Soundcloud begin to be hardstyle-reggaeton-nu metal-gabber tracks. At the end of the day iconic work will speak for itself regardless of influence and that is the only scene I am interested in.
How does it feel to get support from the likes of Evian Christ and Juliana Huxtable, not to mention getting booked to play in venues like Berghain?
It feels great to get nods from some of the most iconic artists of today leaving their mark on history. It also feels even better to share a kindred connection with some of them.
This first tour was absolutely incredible I feel I got to share my style of DJing at the best parties happening in Europe. Berghain was a great highlight they were incredibly professional and the crowd was amazing. I know this is just the beginning of seeing all these places again very soon.
You took part in a recent Apple Music initiative for Pride Month. What’s your take on the role multinational corporations can play in supporting LGBTQA+ communities? Do you think there is an effort to co-opt and exploit the culture, with the businesses and institutions in question potentially seeing it as a ‘good look’ before anything else?
I was quite surprised and very honoured that out of the blue Apple decided to collaborate with me on an exclusive mix. I hope they collaborate with more artists who are similar and give more people a platform and a voice for visibility. I think there is always a level of nepotism when dealing with any large scale corporation. At the end of the day they are selling a product. I think there are many different agendas at play with large companies with a huge amount of staff but in my experience with Apple they were incredibly supportive of an artist who was just spreading their wings. I am grateful for the experience and hope to collaborate again in the future. Incoming Baby Blue Chrome iPhone XXX.
Who are you listening to at the moment? Any artists/collectives/scenes really doing it for you right now?
I don’t listen to very much music. I am constantly rotating between my favourite dj mixes from the late ’90s, Madonna’s discography and a shoegazey playlist I made on Spotify.
But I do have many people in my life making incredible work. Caterina Barbieri is making such sublimely beautiful music. Malibu/DJ Lostboi is a constant source of feel good ether. Lauren Auder is one of the most important artists creating music right now and Dviance who is working on production with her continues to blow my mind. The Isengard Guilde collective in Brussels is not only putting out great mixes but is filled with amazing artists like Loic Le Hécho and curating amazing art shows that cross between installation, art and music. Everyone in s.M.i.L.e. and Ascetic House continue to set the bar of excellence. Also City & i.o. have made one of the best ambient records of the year and are working on a live set together that I cannot wait to see. And we all been waiting on Evian Christ to finally release something hahaha.
Which non-musical influences impacted your production the most?
The ocean, the moon and the mountains.
Oh no, your studio is on fire. You have time to rescue one piece of gear (fortunately your computer is in for repairs at the moment, so no need to worry about that) – what do you save?
My Miu Miu heels.
You’re performing at New Forms Festival later this month. What can people expect?
People can expect to see one of the best DJs in the world uniquely blend original productions, remixes, edits, exclusives as well as a deep cut collection of sublime techno/electronic tracks pounded through their skulls and vibrate their auras.
And finally, what’s next for Baby Blue after New Forms?
I am collaborating with some of my favourite artists and friends at the moment. I can’t wait to show you all the new projects we form. I also plan on touring again as soon as possible as well as slowly putting the pieces of my next record together. It won’t be like anything you have heard from me before.
Catch Baby Blue at New Forms Festival, Vancouver (25th – 29th Sep) alongside Giant Swan, Aurora Halal, D. Tiffany and many more – buy tickets here.