Introduce yourself? Pronouns? Where do you currently reside?
Hello, I’m a producer and DJ going by the name of Ciel. My real name is Cindy, my pronouns are she/her, and I’m based in Toronto, Canada.
Describe your ideal club room in high detail…
I threw parties for years so I have strong opinions about every aspect of the club environment. First off, I like a dark club space with minimal lighting and lots of fog. I prefer lower ceilings and the construction of the room to not be concrete because the echo in those spaces can be a real obstacle to the sound quality of the club. Of course if it is concrete, there are things that are done to minimize the harshness of the hard surfaces — thick stage curtains that can be rented from film production sets are a nice solution. I don’t like large visual installations/sculptures behind the dj because I feel the visual component of a party should always supplement the music, not overtake it. Sometimes projections can be done in a classy way but it’s rarely done projected on a flat screen behind the dj booth. Projections are best used as a light source, or programmed to move over other surfaces such as the ceiling or over the audience or directly on to a plume of haze to amazing psychedelic effect. I don’t like intense strobes, personally feel strobes are most effective when used sparingly or not at all. DJ tables need to be at the appropriate height and width, this seems so basic and yet many promoters/clubs in NA have issues with this. The booth can be set in the middle of the room or in front of the dancefloor. But preferably not on top of a riser or stage (or a stack of subs…) I used to prefer the booth to be one with the audience, but sadly that always makes playing vinyl very difficult. On the topic of vinyl, i prefer there to be a physical barrier between the audience and the booth, because its impossible to ask people not to bump into the booth when the club is packed and they’re having a good time. In the perfect world, every dj booth would have its own bathroom or at least a toilet nearby, for the marathon sets. If there are two rooms / stages, the second room should be a chillout room with pillows and couches and rugs. Drinks should be priced cheaply, and water stations should be plentiful. I also wished more clubs had snacks/food for when you get peckish in the club, and a wide variety of non-alcoholic beverages. Security should be informed at all times of the safer spaces policy and the values of your club space & its audience, and people who don’t follow the rules should be swiftly kicked out, unless it’s something related to them being too inebriated. More care should be taken before ejecting people for being too fucked up out on to the streets alone. Safety applies to everyone.
How do you deal with being nervous before a gig?
Try not think about it 🙂 It doesn’t always work, but i find it happens from time to time if I’m really exhausted from not sleeping on tour and my brain has naturally shut off. If I can’t stop thinking about it, I will try to select the first track from my vinyl bag and have a vague sense of what Rekordbox playlists I plan to play from. I ad-hoc all my sets because I love picking tracks in response to the audience’s energy, but sometimes that is a lot more stressful for me and I find myself doom scrolling the USB. Devising a strategy, even if I end up not following it, does a lot to soothe my anxiety.
Favorite thing to cook? Recipe welcome : )
I’m afraid the only thing I like to cook is beats.
Favorite Ableton trick?
I love stacking different arpeggiator midi presets on a single repeated note to create wild ass results.
Listen to the moment at 1 hour and 7 minutes in your PI mix… describe how it makes you feel?
I feel entranced. I also feel proud of all the amazing talent I’m surrounded with among my friends in Canada. Truly blessed and grateful.
Best gig of your life so far?
Homegrown Harvest, Halloween 2019 when Martyn had to miss his set due to travel issues and I was asked to play headline slot instead of supporting. I’ll never ever forget that night. I think it was my very first time successfully playing a proper headlining set. Before that I was the quintessential open genre opening dj, and gotten heckled numerous times in Europe for not playing hard enough. Ironically I learned how to play a Europe-appropriate headlining slot in Canada. 🤣 Honourable mention: closing Honcho Campout 2022
Track you used to listen to as a teen that still hits?
Every sad song by Mazzy Star, Kid A / Amnesiac era Radiohead, Letters to Cleo – Cruel to be Kind
Where do you see yourself musically in 2044?
I don’t know what the future holds but I hope to be a full time composer of film and TV scores when I’m in my 50s and no longer want to tour constantly.
If you could have anything on your rider… What would you choose?
An indica-sativa hybrid joint (no tobacco), nice bottle of orange wine, German flat peaches, and a bathroom in the booth (anything is possible, right?)
Let’s play a pi pi pi game… I give you a situation & you give me a track…
Opal windows into a sunset over a body of water
Climbing to the top of a hill (no end in sight) with wet shoes
Sticky Ibiza party with honey instead of foam
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you while DJing?
Probably the time when this old German man kept on heckling me to play k-pop…
What is your favorite party/collective where you reside and why?
Best in Town. They really embody what I believe to be the true DIY spirit of raves in North America. During the pandemic when everything was locked down, they built a fully modular and portable DJ plus soundsystem rig that is transportable by bikes and powered with car batteries and threw some truly amazing outdoor raves down by the lake. The people that run it are old friends/acquaintances from the scene that pour so much love into their curation. They aren’t spending a lot on international artists, and instead give a platform to so many incredible local Canadian DJs. That’s the shit I live for.
Favorite score in a film?
There are SO many to pick from. But greatest of all time is probably Stalker by Tarkovsky. Todd Haynes’ Safe is another all time favourite, as well as In the Mood for Love. Arrival and Moon are two scifi films with amazing sound design. More recently, I loved the score in Barbarian.
If you could transfer all your knowledge from what you do now into something completely different, what would it be and why?
A tenant, labour rights, or environmental lawyer. I was *this* close to studying law instead of journalism/publishing, and sometimes I wonder what life might have been if I went down that route.
Track that makes you think about being alone…
What would you say to someone who wanted to become a DJ…
Spend at least 5 years just consuming and learning about music, without DJing. Take your time with it, and try not to let the rat race overcome your love for the craft.
Favorite flavor and why?
I am a native of Xi’an, China and the dishes from my hometown tend to orbit around salty, sour, and spicy. Many dishes taste like all 3 simultaneously, so I’m sorry if this is cheating but I would argue that it isn’t! Just go to Xi’an famous foods and see what I mean 🙂
What would you like to see in the future for the dance community?
Less celebrity worship, less influencer culture, less fame & money-chasing, more focus on behind-the-scenes folks (whether DJs or producers or labels) who foster community and tirelessly build their local scenes.