From afar, Toronto DJ Internet Daughter seems like a perfect fit for a pre-packaged EDM industry: funny, tall and blonde, she has artists like UZ and Troyboi bigging up her sound, an upcoming tour run with Australian mega-star What So Not and a growing legion of admirers blowing up her always active twitter and instagram accounts. But taking a listen to her latest mix for Toronto’s massive “TRC” site, home to some of the biggest, loudest sounds in EDM, then diving into her short, but diverse, catalog of music and mixtapes and that’s where the expectations end.
Songs from current Future Bass kings KRNE and Jesse Slayter sit alongside jackin’ ghetto house, grime cuts from Skepta and True Tiger, classic Dubstep from Caspa, Jersey club from Sliink and Uniique3, and straight up Atlanta strip club music, peppered with her own unreleased skeletal studio “ID”s. It’s a good frame of reference to have when speaking with an artist that’s still admittedly learning her way.
After deciding she wanted to more than just “That Girl On Stage”, She learned the basics of DJing from an ex and then picked up production skills. She laughs: “When I was making G-house those were some of the first songs I ever made…I moved into trappy stuff only last July. Even my half time tracks all sound different and that’s just me being young at this and trying different things, trying to find my ‘sound’ so to speak.”.
Even over email her humility and easy humor is evident, her first songs were good enough to be immediately picked up by underground label Sleazy G and included in their best of Ibiza 2015 compilation. Her next releases hit from opposite sides of the underground scene with remixes of Uniique3 and Felix Cartal going viral nearly overnight and her 1st label signing, “Damn Girl” to AiA. With such a sharp turn in her own sound (she claims to all have but abandoned making house on her social media), it begs the question: what’s driving this musical journey?
“That question is hard…the stuff I feel inspired by is really all over the place I guess and more so a sound than a particular artist. I think my inspiration is more internalized and subconscious so it’s hard to answer that. I don’t WANT to sound like other people. Obviously guys like Yung Gud, Baauer, Falcons, Clams Casino and then tons more beat makers that are more behind the scenes. I really try to do my own thing as best I can. I definitely borrow from multiple dance sub genres though. There’s a lot of dope people I just find on Soundcloud like ICYTWAT, Tallboy, cresce…”
“I have so much respect for the artists in Toronto, I think the scene is amazingly diverse…“
…and of course, she continues, her friends, Canada’s Bedroomer collective, a loose crew of producers like Eytan Tobin, Lum and Kare, visual artists, and, party promoters who’ve become darlings of the city’s trendsetters and home to some of the most exciting music coming out of Canada today. She beams: “I find my friends endlessly inspiring they all do something different and it’s always really unique. I have so much respect for the artists in Toronto, I think the scene is amazingly diverse”.
She goes on to say how Toronto’s shaped her and her crew: “I grew up here until I was 10 then I moved to the suburbs which was hard…everything and everyone was different there and much more uptight. Toronto was so open minded and I went to a private school that emphasized the arts and taught things like music, drawing, origami and literally…knitting […] I think Toronto more so shaped who I am in terms of open mindedness which perhaps affects my sound and my choices. A lot of people from Bedroomer grew up elsewhere but were drawn to this city for obvious reasons.”
With a solid catalog of songs and all the right connections in a hot music city like Toronto you’d think success would be easy for someone like Internet Daughter, but think again. One now inseparable part of her Internet Daughter persona is her activism, especially against what she sees as institutionalized sexism in the dance music industry:
“…they all play the same shit and wear snapbacks backwards”
“Women are tired of it, non binary people are tired of it, trans people are tired of it EVERYBODY who isn’t a white cis man is tired of it”. She continues: “Take one Soundcloud bro, switch (him) with another on stage and literally nobody would notice, they all play the same shit and wear snapbacks backwards. They’ve turned dance music into what was once an inclusive space and made it into a competition of who can make the loudest, shrillest most ‘INSAAAAANE’ face melting drops. They have a toxic masculinity that has infiltrated the scene, and it has made people feel unwelcome and ostracized, that’s what I hate the most. I don’t feel like frat bro culture has affected my career I’d just say sexism has affected my entire LIFE”.
She often goes in online against the fact that more DJs aren’t standing up for the community as a whole “If you’re an in demand artist and they want to book you that bad you SHOULD demand diversity. Big artists ask for the rarest artisanal ass cheese, so why not demand diversity instead?.” So who’s to blame?
“If you look at any festival lineup (minus a few) it’s all the same people it’s fucking boring. Festivals in North America are more the problem, Europe seems to have more diverse rosters. A big problem is that when promoters go to an agency site looking for artists, women/trans/ngc people are hardly on there so it’s not shocking. It’s the fault of a lot of people and can’t just be blamed solely on promoters”.
It’s this struggle that led her and LA underground rapper and DJ Chippy Nonstop to bring the Intersessions DJ Workshop to Toronto this past April. Asked why, she says simply “So many artists are disgustingly selfish I can’t comprehend. I try to help my friends and other artists as best I can so I’m confused when people don’t feel the same.” Rounding up some of her home town’s best to teach the basics to female and female identifying DJs, the workshop gained global recognition in mags like the Fader and Vice, but she’s careful not to put too much emphasis on knobs and faders, advising young talent that they can do it anyway they want.
“I think you can make great music out of nothing or with crappy gear, a good idea outshines anything else don’t let money stop you”
“I’m not a geek at all. My set up isn’t fancy because money is tight. I have no real ‘studio’ I don’t have sound proofing I don’t have monitor stands, no analog anything, and a hand me down sound card from an ex that truthfully sucks” she laughs.
“I really can make music anywhere I don’t care. I made my most popular song on a bus. I think you can make great music out of nothing or with crappy gear, a good idea outshines anything else don’t let money stop you. I know for a fact many popular producers work with hardly any gear”. She stresses a final point:
“My best advice would be don’t try to copy the genre of the moment, if you want to borrow from it that’s fine but put your own spin on it. If you’re trying to be the next Hudson Mohawke, sorry but he already has that spot. Make your own spot, do your own thing. Be inspired but don’t replicate”.
Photo credit: Dani Roche (Kastor + Pollux)