Interview with Canadian DJ and Producer DJ Kilma
DJ KIlma is an electronic music producer and DJ based in Winnipeg, MB. She creates music influenced by breakbeat, as well a diversity of other eclectic musical influences. She's also interested in helping fellow electronic music creators brand and market their music. I talked to her about where her interest in DJing comes from, her creative process and where she sees herself going in the future.
An Interview with DJ Kilma
KM: How did you first become interested in electronic music?
DJ Kilma: Get ready for it: Electric Circus on Much Music was my introduction to dance music. The original mixtape was on VHS, packed full of everything from Vengaboys and Prozzak to Livin’ Joy and 2 Unlimited music videos. All of the cheese and it still gets me going. That’s how I first starting having dance parties, right at home with friends, dressed up like a bunch of Spice Girls.
KM: What path has your career taken from DJing to producing to your current projects?
Over a decade has passed and as a DJ I’ve come from the broken beats sound over to the four by fours. I’m still heavily influenced by that wonky bassline sound in jump up. It is probably why I am in love with that sway in garage music too. I guess you could say that, while I may not be playing or producing drum and bass anymore, it still has its hooks in me within the realms of my house and techno production.
Since the rebrand from SW@T to Kilma, I’ve been regularly writing content for my website and recording vlogs for both my Don’t Kilma Vibe Youtube brand and a series for Disc Jockey News T.V. I focus on helping DJs deal with those vibe killin’ situations we all run into in the industry from time to time. I also really enjoy diving into creative marketing and branding. It’s something that I never thought could be so interesting and actually fun. If bringing in organic traffic is your goal, I think we can all do it authentically, especially when you understand your brand and learn how to ttarget that demographic.
These side projects keeps me on my toes, push me to continue to educate myself while also using past experience to build content and hopefully help those in need.
KM: Tell me about the approach you take when you're producing new tracks?
I like to start early in the morning after a good breakfast, home alone with no distractions and no wifi. I keep sound design for a different session and I just stick to the music-making side of things. As far as sounds go, it’s always different. I may start with a drum pattern or it could be a synth or some samples I’ve cut up, manipulated, and put into a soundbank.
From there, I try to limit my time on each sound, I only do a bit of EQing and then move on to the next element. I also try to ensure that I give my ears a break each hour. Last but not least, I finish although probably not that day, but usually within the next couple of weeks. Even if I do nothing with that track, I like to make a habit of finishing what I start.
KM: What are some of the challenges that you've faced in your career and how have you overcome them?
My biggest challenge has been simply managing myself. Being your own boss means holding yourself accountable, even when no one is there to make sure you’re doing what you set out to do. There is also the fact that you don’t have someone telling you, “You’re “doing a great job”, someone who encourages you to keep going even though your dreams feel so far off in the distance. I feel you’ve really got to self-motivate because no one else is going to do it for you.
I’ve also been focusing on creating my Good Vibe DJ Tribe; as I like to call them. They are a group of individuals that are passionate, driven, encourage one another and keep the good vibes going. It doesn’t mean we don’t have bad days, but we don’t let it hold us back from the bigger picture.
KM:What are your views on the electronic music scene in Winnipeg? Across Canada?
Oh gosh, where do I start? We’ve got a lot of cool humans in Winnipeg that have been going above and beyond to bring quality shows and workshops to artists and electronic music lovers in need, even if they don’t know they are doing that!
Joanne Pollock has curated a series of audio production workshops. She presents at Manitoba Music which happens to be where I’ve met some of the awesome women of The Vinyl Salon. There is, of course the Mama Cutsworth DJ Academy, where I have had the privilege of working with a number of women that took her class like Wanda G and DJ Mae; who might I add are making huge waves in Winnipeg. There is also the wicked talented, live performing artist Innocentgun. It’s like I am constantly rediscovering my own city and its constantly developing artists and programs.
Recently, my friends Jason and Jordan opened up this super wicked space in The Exchange called Footw3rk Dance Club. Does it ever feel like home! From the people that work there to the artists that play there, they’ve really stepped things up for the electronic music lovers here in Winnipeg. There is also Mark Grimace whom has been putting on regular Feed Your Head Events and showing Winnipeg the ropes as a experienced DJ and promoter from Ontario. It’s been refreshing to say the least.
Did I mention the Emotion Music Festival? It’s this totally new and rad electronica festival coming to Manitoba and I am over the moon excited to experience what our friends have in store. We’ve been needing this kind of change here in Manitoba.
I feel like for the first time in a long time I am meeting and working with all of these incredibly driven humans all at once. It’s truly invigorating. I’ve often pondered moving elsewhere to find my tribe of peeps when I see amazing projects and festivals happening everywhere else and I think maybe I am living in the wrong city, but this last year has proven to be quite eye opening. Sometimes we just gotta look a little deeper to find those we really jive with or maybe just make a change in our mindsets.
KM: What are some of the projects you're working on currently?
As far as labels go, I don’t want to give too much away but I am working on some remixes and originals, including one I am hoping to release alongside Innocentgun really soon. I was able to hear her perform live last summer and I’ve been obsessed with her music since. I’m really looking forward to learning all I can from her. I’ve been on this ‘90s hip hop kick, so you can expect some house music with Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliot samples in there as well.
KM: How do you find creative inspiration?
I am always listening to lots of different music. I find the more you learn in production, the more you notice in other people’s music. Sevdaliza’s music, for example, is so simple yet so complex. The interesting textures of the music, when elements come into play, how dynamic yet complimentary the sounds can be to one another. I’m fascinated by music and I am always appreciating it in new ways.
As far as personal sounds go, I am usually most inspired half way through a project. Things start ‘clicking’ and I find myself getting really excited. I don’t like to wait for something to get me going. I literally need to just dive into a project. I also find a lot of inspiration while learning. Whether it’s sound design or simply educating myself on the business side of things. Knowledge is power and armed with it I feel that inspiration as a result in all of my projects. I find it incredibly rewarding to see / hear a finished project and that only continues that drive to keep things going.