Interview: Heidi

Anyone who has experienced her Jackathon events knows that Heidi has a passion for music and fiery nature.

Having worked hard over the past decade to make her mark on the new house and techno music generation, Heidi spends her life immersed in music. The Canadian transplant living in London, Heidi crafted her abilities and expertise behind the counter first at Koobla Records and as part of the team that opened up London’s foremost record shop, Phonica.

Living and breathing the touring lifestyle, whether its 25,000 person crowds in Latin America, the infamous caverns of Fabric or at her infamous Hideout Jackathon pool parties, Heidi always wears the crown of global dance music ambassador proudly.

Anticipating her return to Hideout Festival, we chatted with Heidi in a far reaching interview covering her departure from BBC, the future of jackathon, and artist voice in today’s political climeate and much more.

“I have a voice and I use it when I feel it’s absolutely necessary.”

This summer you will return to Zrce Beach, Croatia for another Hideout Festival appearance. Can you explain a little about the festival and what makes it special, especially given the highly competitive nature of the Croatian festival scene?
I think I’ve been to Hideout now for the 6th year. When I first went I had never been to Croatia. I absolutely fell in love with the country. It’s beyond beautiful. So raw and untouched by western society (for now). The mountains and the clear blue sea was captivating. Hideout is ran mostly by Northern British promoters so the crowd are very much the same. Full of energy and life. I have a big love for the north of England. They are so open mentally for any music you throw at them. They just want to dance no matter what. That resonates at hideout. I think also because the weather in the uk during these months can be really shit so if you give any festival goer some hot gorgeous sunshine they become the better version of themselves. The line-up is always outstanding & diverse with the biggest and best DJ’s out there. Over the years they have built up a loyal fan base and that definitely sets them apart from other festivals which are growing at a very rapid speed (which is also great). Basically i think people just want to party & dance in the sunshine. Who doesn’t?

In particular related to Hideout, it is your Jackathon pool parties that are well received…what makes the Jackathon theme work so well in such a setting?
I started doing the Jackathon pool parties the first year I went and I was blown away by how successful they were. I think it had to do with the crowd. Like I said they’re a lot of people from the north of England there and i have a big following in the UK in these cities. I always bring guests that are going to knock your socks off during a hot day & definitely bring that pool party vibe. You don’t want anything too dark or serious as it’s usually 35 degrees outside. It’s dangerous though. I once forgot i was playing in the evening that same day Kerri Chandler & Paul Woolford and I played. We got so drunk and then hours later back at the hotel while we were still drinking at dinner they said my car was there to bring me back to play the night slot. Kerri graciously had my back and came with me to make sure I didn’t fall over. Hilarious evening.

What about Zrce Beach as a destination…how do you see the landscape and its atmosphere? Would you consider a holiday there when not playing?
Like I mentioned above. I absolutely adore that country. I have a few festivals I’m playing there this year and have been to a few different areas in Croatia. It’s absolutely a holiday destination. I wouldn’t go to where they would be having a festival on as I would like to get away into the more secluded parts but if I was 20 again. I know where my rave holiday would be. It’s a million times cheaper than Ibiza and just as fun. A little harder to get to but it’s worth it in the end. These days money is tight and people really need to pick and choose their rave battles.

Speaking of holiday (and travel), I feel like you are particularly open to the consistent travel aspect of DJ’ing. Would you say this is a true statement? Do you welcome the travel as something important to your own life?
Well let’s just say I get paid to travel. DJ’ing is the fun part. I enjoy trotting around the globe but I’m usually on my own and it can be a very lonely place. Seeing and being in these incredible places with no one to share it with can mess with your head after 12 years of doing it. I’m lucky now that my boyfriend has a job that allows him time to join me on quite a few excursions. To be honest I don’t know how to sit still for too long. Travelling is well & truly in my blood. There are so many places that are still on my bucket list and I hope I’m able to visit them at some point in my life. I take about 3 actual weeks off a year. Usually after NYE/NYD and I try and find a piece of heaven, sit my ass down and not do a thing but lay in the sun and recharge my batteries.

Over the last 12 months (or so) have you traveled anywhere you hadn’t been before that particularly struck you?
I have actually. A few places. I went to Macedonia and I have never been treated like such royalty. I didn’t know what to expect. It was one of my favourite gigs of the year. The crowd were mind blowing. I ended up staying an extra day to see the city which was super interesting. I also went to Medellin, Colombia last month for the first time. That was also an eye opener. What a beautiful place with such warmth from the people there. I love Latin America. They have fire in their hearts & it shows when you stand in front of them playing.

Going back to speaking on Jackathon, how did you see 2016 regarding the development of the brand? I know you had a winter residency at London’s XOYO…were there any dates from those three months that particularly stood out to you?
Wow. The whole 3 months seems like a blur now. A complete whirlwind. Every Friday was outrageous. I was so nervous about the whole thing as I haven’t done a Jackathon project that big and that took so long to prepare for. I made many phone calls to many of the DJ’s that ended up playing. Some of them needed extra convincing as it’s a smaller club & many of these DJ’s are used to playing to 20,000 people every weekend. I tried to mix some of my heroes with the up and coming. That’s what made it extra special. Obviously the last one was pretty memorable as it landed on my big birthday and i had a 14 hour day/night rave with my old pal Richie Hawtin in the day and my girls, Miss Kittin & Maya Jane Coles at night. All of them were special in a different way and when it was all over I could finally look back and think holy shit….I just did that. I was broken but it was worth it.

I see many of your sets at XOYO were special b2b ones…how do you know to play b2b with someone that compliments your style? What about when you have not played b2b with someone before…how do you “vet” to see if it will work before actually doing it? Who are some of your favorite b2b cohorts?
Actually the only B2B one was The Black Madonna and myself. None of the other ones were. Marea aka TBM and I wanted to do something a bit special. We have very similar taste in music & we both love to get down when we play. We’ve also done a B2B at DC 10 in the summer which was the catalyst for this one. I also thought it would be fun for the crowd. It was a wild night. I have never sweated that much in my life DJ’ing. hahaha. We’re doing it again for her XOYO residency coming up in June. I expect even more sweat as it’s summer and both of us bring the heat when we play together.

What about in 2017…do you have goals regarding Jackathon’s expansion and/or your own DJing career? Or, are you more of a “go with the flow” kind of person…?
After doing the XOYO residency I wanted to let the Jackathon nights breathe a bit. We have some coming up in the summer & autumn but now I’m playing lots of gigs just as me. Less pressure and I’m concentrating on my Jackathon Jams Label. I relaunched it last year and I have so many fierce EP’s coming out from people like Denney ft Derrick Carter, Shaun J. Wright & Alinka, DJ Pierre, Gerd Janson. So many sexy dance floor bombs.

What are some things you are looking forward to in 2017? I know you have recently signed off your BBC radio show, so I imagine this could open up some time for new endeavours…have you given any thought to this yet?
I have a few tricks up my sleeve & I can’t say anything at this moment but watch this space because I have plans to do something a bit different & more eclectic to showcase the wide variety of music I love and admire along with guest Artists. Dance music always came second to everything else I love musically.

Finally, I have to ask, especially that I am pretty much discussing this with everyone I speak with…artist, filmmaker, friend, peer, and so on), do you consider it is the rightful place within our industry to speak out on political actions?

Obviously, given the current climate, this seems more prevalent than ever and (my personal opinion is) it is quite wrong to separate profession from politics…however, I have met a significant consensus amongst this industry that politics and speaking out don’t have a place in entertainment…I just wonder your opinion here?
It’s hard when you are in the public eye to speak about politics because no matter what you say someone is going to throw hatred and vitriol at you even if it’s about something pure & from the heart. I have my views about many things. If people ask me direct questions I will give them my honest opinion and answer. I tend to keep my nose out of it because of situations in the past. I wasn’t allowed to speak about anything political on the BBC so I think that sort of stuck with me. I have a voice and I use it when I feel it’s absolutely necessary. There is too much information being thrown in our faces at the moment & I feel like people don’t know which way is up or down. I try and have a positive outlook. I always have with everything I do in life. I’m not hiding under the covers by any means but i’m hovering over top making sure everyone is ok. I’m a people pleaser. It’s a blessing and a curse. If someone comes for one of my friends or myself viciously i will bite back. It’s all just too much at the moment. I feel it will eventually work itself out. It’s just going to take time and I will do my little part to help if I can.

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25 – 30 June | Hideout Festival 2017 | Tickets  | Zrce Beach, Croatia