Honeydrip : sweet ascension in Montreal underground dance music scene

Interview by Elsa Fortant

Additional Information

Honeydrip, talented Montrealer producer and DJ, has had a fascinating journey in the music world. From being a cheerleader in high school to studying electroacoustic music at Concordia, hosting a show on local radio stations CJLO and n10.as, releasing her debut EP in 2021 and being a resident DJ with Homegrown Harvest; she created a unique path leading to her participation to Igloofest 15th birthday edition (2023) this Friday.

PAN M 360 : What can you tell me about your relationship with music before you started producing and DJing ?

Honeydrip : When I was younger, my mom would listen a lot to reggae dancehall so I have a special affection for this genre. When I started my own musical discoveries, I went towards stuff like field alternative. When I was in high school, I also was a cheerleader, it’s a lot of dance, gymnastics, pyramids, all that stuff. Basically, it’s like a three-minute routine, but then you have like 10 songs within that routine. So if they don’t beat match they’ll do like cut, but cuts that like makes sense. If a song is about to drop, it’s the buildup, and then boom, it’s the next track. And I would actually make some cheer mixes at home. It was kind of an introduction to mixing that I had learned when I was in high school doing that. I would use this program that you could play the song on the internet and that would record the music that was being streamed on the Internet. It was kind of my way of illegally downloading, I guess. I also was a dancer for a bit of high school as well, so always around music.

I think I was more in the dancing part of it because I didn’t really feel like being a producer, I don’t think I knew what DJing was at that time. But being a producer just kind of seemed like something that only people that would produce music for Lady Gaga or something like that was the only way in which they existed or something. It wasn’t really something I had in mind.

PAN M 360 : Then, what led you towards DJing ?

Honeydrip : When University started there wasn’t a cheerleading team so I had to find a new extracurricular activity. I saw that there was the CJLO radio at Concordia. I signed up as a volunteer and that ended up going like pretty well because I won the best new show the first year I was doing it and then like I ended up climbing the ranks and becoming like the electronic music director there, which is a somewhat paid position. At that point that’s when I started to learn how to DJ when I was on the radio because I wanted to blend my songs together and not have radio silence on my shows.

PAN M 360 : Is the radio show you are talking about “Waves of Honey” that you also host on n10.as ?

Honeydrip : Yeah, so I actually don’t do the show on n10.as anymore but it was, yeah. It started off at CJLO and it was every week on Sunday nights for four years. At one point I was doing n10.as and CJLO simultaneously. But I would have to go physically into the radio, I would do it by bike and it would take me like an hour one way an hour back, like a lot. So I ended up stopping CJLO, and just doing n10.as, which was once a month. I did that for another three years, and then I just stopped because I realized I wasn’t using it as a tool to actually create engagement and I just didn’t have the energy and time to use it properly. It was just taking time that I wanted to start dedicating towards producing.

PAN M 360 : And beside all of that, you also studied electroacoustic music at Concordia. What motivated you to enter the program ?

Honeydrip : I’ve gotten much better with my self-discipline and I’m really happy about that, but before, it was something that I was struggling with. I wanted to learn how to produce, and I had the tools, I just wasn’t doing it. I felt if I were to sign myself up to a program in school that would force me to produce then that would be the best way for me to get into it and learn. And it was! So I applied and I had an application where like, one of my songs was I layered like 13 times like Danny Brown, acapella, like a weird way. And then the other one, which turns out to be a classic application – but I thought I was so creative at the time – was the Montreal Metro. Yeah, turns out every year someone uses the Montreal Metro sounds field recording vibes as an application. And it worked ! I did a minor only because I was majoring in marketing. But it was a really great program, I learned a lot like mostly from my peers, amazing people still doing amazing stuff.

PAN M 360 : What do you think are the elements you kepts from electroacoustic studies into the work you do now and the way you work today?

Honeydrip : I would say one thing in terms of my approach to producing is I work a lot with audio files and less with MIDI, and that is something that we would do a lot in electroacoustics. We use this program called Amadeus with which you can really get deep into your clips. I generally work a lot with audios, I cut them up and use them as like little kind of glitchy sounds. So that was something that I would do a lot in electroacoustics but also just like a creative approach to producing where you really focus on making the sound as unique, really going deep with effects and stuff. So that too. In electro acoustics we do a lot of like spatialization stuff, which I don’t really do much because I keep my music like stereo but like it’s definitely something that I would like to get back into exploring eventually.

PAN M 360 : What are the raw materials you most work with ?

Honeydrip : At first I had like that kind of typical mentality “Oh, I’m just using samples and it’s not my music”, but in the end I kind of stepped away from that view because I’m not going to start making like all of my own kicks and stuff. If people do that, that’s really cool, but like, I don’t think it’s necessary. In terms of drum, like percussive stuff, I use samples and then I try to take them away from their original sound through like E cueing, effects and stuff. But, um, otherwise, I have a Arturia micro freak, I like to use that for lead sounds. I record mic sounds,, field recording vibes and I’ll transform them. I’m working on an album right now and that one has a lot of sounds via feedback and pedals.

PAN M 360 : Can you tell me a bit more about the album you are working on?

Honeydrip : I’m working on kind of  an extension of my first EP, which has explorations of dub reggae, dancehall, but in a dancefloor context, and keeping my kind of styles like bassy, left field electronic music, so it’s kind of chapter two of that. It’s going to be released on a label in the UK. Singles are going to start coming out over the summer and then the album maybe early fall, late summer. 2023 for sure, and I’m working on my first live sets.

PAN M 360 : You are a resident DJ for Homegrown Harvest, can tell me more about this project?

Honeydrip : Homegrown is doing a really good job at bringing over international artists and kind of liaison, meaning like the relationship between like local artists here and having the opportunity to create friendships and networking vibes with international artists coming through, so that’s really cool. The collective has Lea Plutonic, Pascale Project, Lis Dalton, Dileta, Zi! and me. At first, they kind of were keeping mostly their residents on the lineup, but now they’re opening up and bringing in different locals. It’s becoming a central hub for all of the DJs in Montreal in the electronic scene.

PAN M 360 : Montreal underground dance music in particular, we have an anglo side and a french side of it. How do you feel those two sides are connected (or not) ?

Honeydrip : It’s funny that you pointed out because then it kind of makes me realize that I’m very much on the Anglo side and I’m not that familiar with what the French side is up to. I know they’re more into techno. Homegrown Harvest [Anglo collective] and Noreiner [French collective] just did an event together. I think both parties realized it was maybe time to start combining forces. That’s maybe something that has not helped in Montreal, that people always are trying to kind of do their thing on our on their own and not like, put their strengths together so that we can just elevate the city as a whole. So I’m happy to see those kinds of connections being made !

PAN M 360 : In May 2022, you participated in the NON-STOP, a 36h dance music event organized by MTL 24/24 at SAT. It’s an important step for the underground dance music scene, don’t you think ?

Honeydrip : I think it’s really amazing what they’re doing. You know this whole having a late liquor license is something that has been tried in Montreal a few years ago, and the government might have even canceled it before the trial period happened or something. I think it’s great that not only have they done it once, but they’ve done it a few times now and it’s like it seems to be working. In comparison to Europe, the Canadian underground scene is really suffering because the government doesn’t view the value in us. And although, for instance, in Quebec, there’s so many festivals and there’s a lot of money, the artists that are a part of this don’t necessarily always represents the underground scene. So instead, the underground scene is just kind of viewed as villains, we’re getting ticketed and shut down. Especially since after COVID the landscape has really changed, like raving used to be much easier before COVID. So what MTL 24/24 is doing is amazing.

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