A Sit Down With DJ Betsie Larkin
If you havent heard of Betsie Larkin since the last time we did a piece on her, before her show at Stick Resort you might have heard the buzz of her electric performance swarming the corners of the EDM world; even if you think you havent, she has the multi-talented ability to also lend her vocals to tracks, a privy to having her work touched by the great Armin Van Buuren, and a sleek knowledge of production values mixed with a set of impressive pipes that can sling any hook. Although Larkin is accustomed to the musical world of performing live, she brought her best game in the form of a rad DJ set that definitely left a powerful impression.
"Invest in studio time if you want to start and assess your voice. Get out of yourself if you want to go for something, if you are convinced of that, then keep going. If that is not the case, look where you can express yourself and give your voice."
You've started years ago making music. From which background do you come from? Was trance always your thing?
No, I mean I grew up in the States. Trance is big now but it wasnt when I started to make music. I learned how to play the guitar, I had a band and I was going and teamed up with kinda electronic types of artists back then. I come from more an alternative rock type of background and then those recordings were heard by Ferry Corstens management and he wanted me to feature on his music. That first song that we did called "Made of Love' hit the pop charts instantly. Funny enough before my first big hit I produced a completely different genre. And after that it all kind of snowballed. After the song with Ferry a lot of people wanted to work with me and after that I was like "Hey lets do an album., then I thought I could learn how to deejay and so on. I got fully sucked in into the whole thing.
Having done some quite extensive travelling over the years, where have you enjoyed travelling to most? Also, I'm from Canada, have you ever travelled here, or do you plan on coming here in the neat future?
Firstly, yes I will be in Canada - Toronto, at the end of this month! I'll be joining Ferry for another Twice In A Blue Moon: The Experience show on June 30th. Please come! Favorite places - Tokyo, Santorini, San Francisco, London. I realized on this last trip to Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, and Hong Kong that it's really about seeing what the people in each city are all about. It's nice to visit friends in other cities and see their favorite places and feel like a local for a few days.
You have just recently featured on ATB`s "Future Memories" Album with the delightful tune, "A New Day", how did you get into contact with ATB for this project?
This is a funny story that few people have heard. A fan of Ferry's had written me and when I wrote back, I signed the email "ATB, Betsie" - as in "All the best." He didn't know what I meant at first and thought I was somehow referring to the artist, ATB. He said that ATB was one of his favorite DJ's along with Ferry, so I went to Andre's Myspace page and immediately recognized some great songs. I decided to send him a friend request. Shortly after he got in touch and we immediately started exchanging ideas through email. I love what he did with "A New Day." I was originally a solo-rock track and his production transformed it completely.
Armin Van Buuren gave a remix to your song that was released together with his Rising Star alias, Again, where you laid down vocals for the track as well. What kind of musical experience do you achieve having experience with being both behind the boards and behind the mic?
Thats an interesting question it is a unique experience when I play my own vocal material in my DJ sets. The fact is, so many clubs arent set up for vocals so its pretty cool that I get to perform them through the medium of DJing. I usually just try to forget that its my song and appreciate it as a piece of music, as I do with the other tunes that I play. Of course getting a good reaction from the crowd and seeing them sing along always makes me feel good!
How does it work for you when you make songs with other artists? Do you have melodies in your head and send it off to other artists together with the lyrics?
I do a lot of work beforehand. I usually have the song written and then we record it really well in a professional studio so the artist gets a professional recording in their inbox. Usually I write only the piano or guitar, put the vocals over it and send it off. They strip away the music, add new music and BOOM.
When did you discover Electronic Dance Music?
It was the Summer after one of my years in high school. I have to credit a few of my friends for finding out about EDM. Carl Cox was playing one night and the show blew me away. One of the things that I love most about EDM is that it's just as much about the visuals as the music. Music comes to life in a completely different way when it's synchronized with lights, screen visuals.
You have a very eclectic style on an esthetic level which is quite unique in my opinion, I like how you turn towards the more alternative fashions, and carry them beautifully! Have you ever considered endeavouring yourself in the fashion industry? Which designers would you give credit to your choices?
Thank you. I love fashion. Sometimes after flipping through a catalog or a magazine, images of clothing keep flying through my mind afterward... it's annoying when I'm trying to fall asleep. I would love to design my own performance attire, but I don't know how to sew... maybe someday. I like styles that are strong but not without femininity. I'm a huge fan of Bjork - she's strong and delicate and not afraid to take risks. I'm not committed to any particular designers but usually find what I'm looking for at small boutiques with new designers.
Which would you say is more fun? Singing or the DJ bit?
Its oranges and apples. To me singing is for the crowd, DJing is almost with the crowd. While DJing, Im sharing an appreciation for the music that Im playing with everyone else whos there. In a way, it almost puts you right in the middle of the crowd. When Im singing, Im actually creating on the spot which is pretty cool that exact performance will never be heard again. The two are so different, I really wouldnt want to have to choose between them. Please dont make me!
Although we have seen many collaborations, as well as frequent releases of your radio show, do you find that you prefer working alone, or jamming with other artists to get the best ideas out of your brain?
I was in a band when I started out, and that pushed me toward wanting to do more solo. Doing so much solo work made me want to do more with others. At this point in time, I think Im still on the collaboration kick. Theres nothing better than being on the same page with other musicians and having double the good ideas. It probably has a lot to do with working with people who are cool and encouraging as well.
How do you like hosting your very own radio show? Its great from this end!
Thank you! I love it! While Im playing a lot of other artists music and some of my originals, I find theres something creative in putting it all together. I also challenge myself to do some crazy transitions that seem impossible when I first dig in. Ive learned a lot of tricks for making big tempo changes and find that it gives my mixes a more unpredictable feel. Every show has a Wild Card a song that has a certain experimental or out of the norm quality. I want to give listeners something thats exciting, not just background music.
The holiday season is in full swing. What is your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving is definitely one of my favorites too. People sometimes say we shouldnt need holidays to remind us to be more grateful (Thanksgiving) or romantic (Valentines Day) etc., but truthfully, most people probably do. I think those two might be my favorites. I always try to keep expectations low and am usually surprised by how much fun I have on both of them!
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