Bianca Oblivion – Groove Podcast 394

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Photo: Harp Digital Media (Bianca Oblivion)

When Bianca Oblivion and two friends decided to start a label in the mid-2010s, they found the best possible name for it: Club Aerobics, now run by the Los Angeles-based DJ and producer alone, offers exactly what it says on the tin: this is infinitely (genre-)flexible, sweat-inducing material that puts an extra I into the word “hit.” Having just released new material on the Future Bounce label, Bianca Oblivion herself is already teasing her forthcoming collaboration with Sam Binga and Fox on the former’s Pineapple with her high-energy multi-genre contribution to the Groove podcast and, in her extensive interviews, announces her imminent return to the N.A.A.F.I. label.

What made you pick up DJing?

Growing up, I was exposed to all kinds of music by my family members. As a kid, I would listen to the radio all the time and watch music videos and dance shows like Soul Train on television. In middle and high school, I became a music fiend, going to concerts, buying vinyl and CDs, and making mixtapes (just track by track, not actually “mixed”). Once I got to university, I became the music director for the student radio station and had a weekly show. While it wasn’t exactly club DJing, it definitely sparked the fire. I was also part of a dance group, and for one performance, I edited together a medley of tracks using some very basic audio software, which, looking back now, were the crude beginnings of a mix. When I moved back to Los Angeles after graduating, there was a weekly party at a local bar that my friends hosted called “What the DJ Wants,” and they invited me to spin. With a combination of vinyl records and an iPod hooked up to an aux cord, I played my first club set, and I haven’t stopped since.

You grew up in Los Angeles and apparently started out going to clubs during the bloghouse era. Were there specific clubs or DJs that had an impact on you and your approach to DJing?

Parties in LA during that time were so fun and free—there were no hang-ups about getting or posting content or becoming a “DJ brand.” I’m not trying to romanticise it; obviously, that era had its issues as well, but I also think that it was all so new to me, and the styles of music people were mixing were all over the place. You’d hear a Miami bass tune mixed into Depeche Mode and then LCD Soundsystem. It was a time when no one thought twice about “high” vs “low,” and we didn’t take things too seriously. I was definitely inspired by some of the key players in LA at the time—DJ AM (RIP), Thee Mike B, Gina Turner, A-Trak, Them Jeans, Franki Chan, and Scarlett Casanova. Dim Mak Tuesdays and Check Yo Ponytail were definitely scene staples, Hang the DJ, Punky Reggae Party, Trouble & Bass when they came to town (shoutout Star Eyes & AC Slater!), the early days of Mustache Mondays, and Wildness at the Silver Platter.

What kind of venues and communities were crucial to you in the early stages of your career as a club DJ?

In the mid-2000s, when I first started DJing, the LA underground punk and noise/experimental scene and DJ scene I ran with were very interconnected. From downtown back-alley warehouses, gutted apartment buildings, East LA backyards, pop-up art galleries in strip malls, and Mexican cumbia clubs, it was a free-for-all with shows. The Smell, the Echo, La Cita, Pehrspace, Show Cave, Il Corral, Mr. T’s Bowl, Bow & Sparrow, The Cog, The Mountain Bar, Hear Gallery—these were all venues and spaces that shaped my early DJ days and fostered a really close community of DJs, bands, (performance) artists, and just weirdo LA kids who loved music. It was sad to see so many of these spaces lost to high rents and the changing landscape of the neighborhoods, but I still see that spirit live on in a lot of the parties going on today in the LA underground.

As a producer, you first started out putting out edits and remixes. How would you describe your development as a writer and producer of your own music?

Production for me has been a long and gradual process, often feeling very daunting. When I first started, I would recreate blends and mashups from my sets, layering tracks together on Ableton. Eventually, this led to developing ideas I could hear in my head and finding acapellas and instrumentals to combine. DJ Shiftee provided my first official remix opportunity for his track “Go Preemee” featuring Svpreme Ink. My head was full ideas for how to rework it, but my skills weren’t quite there yet. So, I asked my friend Akira to collaborate with me on it, and it ended up being a really fun remix. After that, I became more comfortable and started remixing more tracks on Shiftee’s Alma Mater label, including D-Dots’ “Bam Bam” featuring TT the Artist and Wongo’s “Handle It” featuring Divoli S’vere. After remixing a few other projects, I hit a wall with production and didn’t feel ready to create original tracks. Finally, at the end of 2019, I had some real talk with myself. If I didn’t progress to making original tunes, I would remain stuck, creatively and career-wise. It was then that I started “Bumbum Pra Cá,” blending two genres I love, baile funk and grime. It became the perfect tool to connect those genres in my DJ sets. I also spent time in the UK with my partner Patrick, who is also an incredible producer, DJ, and engineer. We had a few weeks of production boot camp, during which I was able to finish “Bumbum” and start a few other projects. From then on, I just kept going. I released “Bumbum” in early 2020, right before the pandemic hit. While the pandemic was devastating in many ways, it allowed me the time to focus on production and kept me busy. It was a great time to establish myself and my sound as a producer, offering the opportunity to experiment without distractions or gig/work obligations. In this stage of my production and moving forward, I am all about collaborating with other artists, whether they are vocalists, MCs, or other producers. I love working with my friends and artists who excite me. When it works, it works so well, and it’s something we can all share and be proud of together.

With Club Aerobics, you have launched a label in 2016. What were your motivations to do so and what is the current status quo of Club Aerobics? It appears to have been dormant since 2020.

I started Club Aerobics with two friends, and at the time, we just wanted to showcase fun and forward-thinking dance tracks that we loved, without any genre parameters. We would put them up as free downloads on SoundCloud. As the Club Aerobics crew changed over the years, I eventually became the sole person running it, alongside the NTS show. During lockdown, I released my original material through the label. While I never intended it to be an “artist label,” I still kept the ethos of how it started: to “make ’em sweat.” I continued putting out club tunes in whatever genre I felt drawn to. Currently, I am the only one involved in the label, so it’s been really challenging to manage it while actively touring and producing as well. When the time is right, I plan to relaunch Club Aerobics as a platform for my collaborations with other artists, along with releasing their own material, similar to what Sam Binga has done with his Pineapple Records imprint.

For the Club Aerobics NTS show, you invite different guests for every installment. How do you go about programming the show?

I have a long list of DJs and producers I would love to host on the show. However, since it airs monthly, I can’t book everyone I’d like to, so I let things fall into place organically. If I’m in a particular city on tour or if I’ve seen or played with a DJ, and it aligns with a big event or release of theirs, then I’ll invite them on. Sometimes, DJs will message me asking to be on the show, and if the timing is right and I vibe with their mixes, I’m happy to host them. I’ve met and befriended several artists through some of these cold emails and DMs.

Most recently, you have released new material through the Future Bounce label. How did that come about?

I met Jamz Supernova in London in 2018, and we remained friends. I absolutely love her work as a DJ and radio presenter; she’s just an all-around boss. So when she started the label and asked me to send along demos for her Future Bounce compilation, I was ecstatic. While I didn’t have any demos to send for that one, which featured so many incredible tracks, by the time the second one rolled around, I had a few ready for her. I sent along what would later become “Bad Gyal” and “EZ 4 Me.” After she put out the singles on the compilation, she went on to release the “EZ 4 Me” remixes, which came out at the end of July and featured Dismantle, Introspekt, and Chrissy. I really look up to Jamz and all she’s accomplished in this industry. It’s essential for me to work with other women of colour in music and continue to uplift one another and set an example for others

What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?

I kicked off the mix with a DJ Polo remix of my forthcoming single with Sam Binga and Fox, “Sweatboxx Party.” That set the tone, and from there, I delved into some global club, UK Garage, breaks, Jersey club, and eventually ended with some jungle. I’d say it’s definitely the vibe I’m channeling in most of my club sets at the moment. I included a lot of new music and some tracks I unearthed deep in my collection. I’m constantly adding new tunes, so I’m really trying to revisit and dig through what I already have. It’s great because I have rediscovered some gems. There’s a really fun medley I made with the F.N.F. acapella in there that I think people will get into.

Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?

So many! I have plans to tour South America, India, Asia, Australia and New Zealand next year—all new territories for me. I’ll be touring a few US cities with Sam Binga in November and another tour with ONHELL that we’re planning for early 2024. I also have some incredible collaborations lined up, including a vocal version and remix EP for “Sinais” and a solo EP, all coming out on N.A.A.F.I.. I’m just excited to elevate everything I’ve been doing up to now and do it on a larger scale worldwide.

Stream: Bianca Oblivion – Groove Podcast 394

01. Bianca Oblivion, Sam Binga, Fox – Sweatboxx Party
02. b o u t – Afrotech Ha
03. Missy Elliott – Get Ur Freak Meniha (Kent Mashup)
04. PANTERA – Incrivelmente Jenji w/ Waldbrand
05. Burna – Vai
06. andrew – Pulse Clap Riddim (Duxi Instrumental)
07. Mala – Changes (MOOD$ Flip)
08. The Glitch Mob x Samurai Breaks x UNIIQU3 – Body Moves
09. AJ Tracey – Redbull (TC4 Carnival Remix)
10. Conducta x BIJI – Gold
11. Bianca Oblivion – Selecta
12. LARRIA – BUDDHA+SUGAR 2019 (Boiler Room Edit)
14. 070 Shake – Cocoon (Ballads Edit)
15. Sexyy Red – SkeeYee (DJ Tray Jersey Club Remix)
16. Glorilla x Timbaland x Dexplicit x Akala – F.N.F. (Bianca Oblivion blend)
17. Bushbaby – DESIRE96
18. Kanye West – All of The Lights (Girl Tool Pulse Mix)
19. Dr. Gonzo – Bust ‘Em Up (Dismantle 140Shellz Remix)
20. Ferguson – Backseat Riddim
22. M.I.A. – Paper Planes (Cheff’s Jungle Booty)
23. AKU – Naina Warge
24. Technotronic – Pump Up The Jam (Jensen Interceptor’s Flexibus Flip)
25. Thys – In This House
26. POLO LILLI – Make My Body Move
28. Schlachthofbronx – Bruk It ft. Lady Lykez

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