Merging electronic genres such as techno, DnB, digital hardcore, trance, and industrial, Montreal-based artist D. Blavatsky’s sound can be identified by an enthusiastic pounding bass and mesmerising sample layering. D. Blavatsky, both a creative force and an individual, express their sound in their album Your Choice through a mix of punk-like intensity and melodic R&B singing in their dynamic lyrics. Having become a regular fixture in Montreal’s underground rave circuits, the artist has also already graced stages across Canada, Berlin, and New York, solidifying their status as one of the most thrilling emerging figures in electronic music and avant-cultural realms today.
D. Blavatsky’s newest album release comes as a highly anticipated extension of this young creator’s work, marking their development as a producer and vocalist. With a devoted fan-base growing both online and in person, encompassing the diverse raving realm, D. Blavatsky is poised to break through the noise and rise as one of the most disruptive newcomers within the experimental electronic music realms today. In this interview, the artist delves into the significance behind their name, dream collaborations, and the creative thoughts driving the new album.
The name of the project, D. Blavatsky, is it taken from Madame Blavatsky? I’d love to know the inspiration behind such a distinctive name.
It was inspired by Madame Blavatsky, yeah. When I was eighteen years old, I was working at a small coffee shop in my hometown with a good friend of mine who was working at this new age, crystals/book store a couple of doors down. One of their co-workers and a regular at my café was this (kinda sus) older man known as the community’s alchemist/astrologer. At the time, one of North America’s top occult book collectors passed away and donated their collection to the owner of the new age shop. Storing the massive collection in the shop’s basement over the summer, the astrologer dude knew I was interested in the occult and invited me to come dig through the books with him before they got relocated.
The first time I went into that basement, something shiny caught my eye amidst the never-ending labyrinth of musty book shelves and chaotically piled boxes. When I wiped the dust away, a silver ouroboros with the words ‘H.P. Blavatsky’ were carved on the spine of a small black leather book. I can’t remember which one of hers it was, but it was so rare that the astrologer wouldn’t let me read it unless I was in the basement with him. I considered stealing it… and ended up spending many hours down there over the summer looking through first editions of books I will probably never see again. In retrospect, that forty-something-year-old was definitely trying to groom my friend and I (which is fucked to think about), but shoutout to all the cool stuff I got to read/look at.
All these years later, I wouldn’t even say that I deeply identify with Blavatsky or her theosophical contemporaries. I chose D.Blavatsky as a homage to the summer I spent in that basement on a whim for the first live show I played in Montreal back in 2017…and it’s sort of just stuck since.
Your love for rave culture shines through in your music and also your presence online and performing, what is your earliest memory of this culture, or the moment you realised how much you loved it?
My devotion to, and love of rave culture has slowly grown through the many ways raving has allowed me to express, explore, and celebrate connection over the years. Before I started raving at the age of twenty, I had a very difficult time feeling present within my body, a sense of distance/detachment that deeply impacted both my relationship to self and my relationships with others.
When I think of my early days of raving, the first things that pop into my head are how the excitement of pulling up with a group of friends to an unknown semi-abandoned warehouse felt, or the ways dancing all night taught me how to feel present and beautiful. Raving created new opportunities for me to not only transform and heal, but to more passionately and genuinely connect to life. It shines through in my music and presence as much as it does because it has been a big part of making me who I am today.
Your music touches on anti-capitalist themes and ideas of paranoia in the modern world. What is the significance of rave music in this exploration, what called you to this mode of expression for this message?
Everything I create is an attempt to get closer to life, and the themes of my music reflect my own search for a path forward within the present world. Rave music is a part of this expression as a result of the significance raving has had within my life over the past six years, but I don’t feel particularly locked into rave music/culture as the defining factor of my sound/artistic presence moving forward.
You’re not only a DJ but also a producer, head of your label, Non/Being, and a rave organiser. What comes to you first when creating?
The first thing that comes to me when creating is the ongoing call within myself for connection. A connection to self, a connection to others, a connection to being alive. My work as a DJ, producer/musician, rave organizer, and label head have all manifested out of this desire to share and express energy with others – creating practical outlets/pathways for these ideas to be actualized through.
Do you have any rituals or practices for tapping into your creativity?
Not really… I don’t view my creativity and the experiencing of life as separate things. As long as I have the time to think about and dig into the ongoing stream of ideas/feelings I encounter, the different ways to channel and manifest that energy sort of reveal themselves to me on their own.
Could you tell us about what has led to the creation of the album, Your Choice? Can you share some themes and insights behind it?
The album itself was started at the beginning of the pandemic, and while it took three and a half years to complete, it mainly embodies a two-year period of some of the hardest/darkest times in my life. I haven't figured out how to really talk about it yet…sort of feels like what I had to say is all there in the music, and trying to retroactively speak on the process of making it through those years is besides the point.
I am planning on releasing a novelette called Over and over and over and over and over and over and over again later this winter, that is a compilation of my writings from the pandemic. Intended to go hand in hand with the album, the book more directly witnesses my spiral into isolation, drug usage, insomnia, anguish for the state of our climate, desperation, and anger as many of us experienced in face of the illusion of capitalism unraveling before our eyes.
Your production style is noted for its pounding bass and sample layering. Could you delve into your creative process when it comes to crafting these sonic elements?
I don’t really have a creative process or methodology at this point. A lot of this album was about figuring out how to use digital production tools and most of my tracks emerged from experimentation or what I initially saw as mistakes. While sonically my tastes tend to lean towards harder bass frequencies, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface in creating my own language of expression- and want to continue to approach production through an almost naïve curiosity.
Could you describe your ideal listening experience for this album to your listeners?
There is no ideal listening experience for this album. However, people interface with it if they are moved to feel something (whatever that may be), I am satisfied.
DIY live shows and underground raving play a significant role in your musical journey. How do you approach live performances to convey the intensity and diversity of your music, especially considering the various genres you incorporate?
I don’t really think about it tbh… Live performance is almost ritualistic for me. I sort of just black out and reach into that place within my being that all of this is sourced from. The rest just happens on its own through pure instinct.
Are there any artists or performances that marked you forever?
So mannnnyyyyyyy.
Are there any dream collabs that you hope to work or play alongside in the future?
Aha again, so mannnnnyyyy. It would be really sick to be in the creative presence of artists/projects like Björk, Mick Harris, Arca, Jack Donoghue from Salem, Skrillex, Playboi Carti, anyone from Drain Gang, Death Grips, or Amnesia Scanner. I could write out pages worth of people I would love to work/play alongside across sonic realms and generes.
What can we expect after the album release, what comes next?
I am just getting startedddd! Given that this is my first full length release, it’s difficult predicting exactly what is next, but I hope to start doing residencies and playing more live shows in different cities/countries in the next year. I have already started to work on my next album, have a short book I will be self-publishing this winter, and have overall only just begun in actualizing the energy/vision I have to share.