Sagittarius sun, DJ, producer, not-a-big-stage-girly… Serena Pasion is many things. She’s also more commonly known by her stage name, Peach. “It’s a pet name I got from my best friend in Toronto. It just stuck,” she laughs. And chances are, you’ve spotted Peach on a 2023 festival line-up: Sónar, Glastonbury, Dekmantel, to name a few.
Despite her lively touring and track-writing schedule, there’s something serene about her (and no, not just because her name is Serena). As she sits cross-legged on her couch, she chats animatedly about everything from financial security and astrology to playing queer parties and Dekmantel. It’s this cocktail of her dedicated work ethic and her preferring to “go with the flow,” that’s bewitched crowds and listeners – either in sweaty club basements, large festival fields or simply at home with their headphones. When listening to Peach, you know you’ll have fun. Because she has fun serving her music. Hopefully, the same can be said for this interview.
First off, is it ‘peach’ as in the fruit or Mario Bros’ Princess Peach?
It was definitely like peach the fruit. But I also use Mario’s Peach in the NTS chatroom, where my Discord picture is Peach driving a car.
I love that! So, let’s talk about Toronto. Although now based in London, you started your music career there, right? What was that like?
Everyone has their own foray into dance music – especially into becoming DJs or producers. I’ve always been a party girl and I still prioritise the dance floor. But back in Toronto, I was that girl who always went out often and threw after parties. I went from playing in university to playing some of my after parties to playing at this sweet but short-lived independent radio station. And then, my first gig as Peach was opening for Kyle Hall.
So, about five years ago, you quit your advertising job to DJ full-time – which I think resonates with a lot of artists. Looking back, how has this career switch impacted your work?
I wasn’t always striving for that, as in: I didn’t always think I would work, work, work and then somehow get into music. But it was a big and special turning point, which included an adjustment period. It was about learning what a productive work week looks like for me – beyond the rat race of the 9 to 5. It was also about setting boundaries. Probably, a lot of DJs who are getting more gigs can relate: You just say yes to everything in the first year(s).
What advice would you give to artists considering a similar career move?
It’s challenging under capitalism, but make sure you’re financially comfortable enough to have your creative freedom. Before I quit, I had a crossover period when I was still working in advertising and DJing. Yes, I was burning the candle at both ends. But I needed that financial security before jumping – so when I did, I wouldn’t have to take gigs I didn’t want, purely to pay my rent. When the pandemic hit, I took out a loan. But that’s okay because it was for something I care about. So, don’t purely base your creative choices on financial needs. Yes, this is a job, and you have to be professional and make money. But it’s also about having fun and creating a space where you can thrive creatively.
Speaking of thriving creatively, are you working on anything new?
I just got the master’s back for a new EP on Psychic Readings! It’s a three-tracker.
What’s the vibe like?
I’ve been dropping it into a lot of sets at peak time. The A-side is fast and emotional – but with a dance floor focus. The B-side is a bit deeper, contemplative and slow. It feels emotive, nice and dreamy.
And could you tell me a bit about the process behind your latest release, Fortune One?
I wrote the first version of Ms Cookys (the EP’s B-side) about three years ago. Eclipse (the A-side) was part of another project I’d been pushing along. Both tunes, I was really happy with. It felt like a breakthrough, musically – where I’d found my own sound and space. After Eclipse, I toyed with starting my own label – a place for me to explore creatively, put out productions and have the power to make it exactly how I wanted it to look and feel.
So the label itself, Psychic Readings, was born out of a tarot reading. What was that like?
During a trip to New York in early 2021, I was seeing all these psychic reading signs. When I came back later that year, my best friend and I decided to get a tarot reading. I’d been thinking about the label for some time and the reading said I had some ideas I wanted to get out there and a project that would soon come into fruition – which was weird because I hadn’t mentioned anything about a project.
Does spirituality also play a role in your work or everyday life?
I’m spiritual in that I believe things happen for a reason and I let them. I prefer to go with the flow. However, I’m also controlling somehow. Perhaps, that's why I appreciate astrology. It allows you to logically interpret life events through the stars. Like, I’m that person who asks for the birthdate of her best friend’s fling. I saw this TikTok, which said: “Yeah, I’m into astrology. You’re not? What do you believe in then? The stock market?!” That really sums it up for me (laughs).
Let's talk about your sets. I feel like you always have a really great interaction with the crowd. This is probably an obvious one, but how much of your sets are predetermined and how much do you go with the flow?
I don’t plan, but I prepare for different outcomes or sets. I’ll have a master list for club stuff, organised by a few different ideas like sassy, rollers, energy, emotional bangers, and landing tracks – stuff I feel makes up a Peach set. But I decided what to play at the moment. These days, more and more of my sets are half made up of records. And I just love bringing them! I try to rotate those, but the good ones always make it back into my bag somehow.
What has been the best crowd that you've ever played for?
My top three in no particular order: Maricas in Barcelona – which has a small dance floor and is tailored to femme-identifying queer people. At Rainbow Disco Club in Tokyo, the crowd was very excited, interactive and fun. The interaction doesn’t have to be verbal, it’s also about dancing. And I really care about the queer camping festival Honcho Campout in the United States. But some honourable mentions include New York, London and last year’s Lente Kabinet. I wasn’t ready for that tent size, haha! I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a big stage girly – I like to go deep.
Not being a big stage girly, how are you looking forward to Dekmantel? You are playing the big stage, right? 
I’m a big stage girly for Dekmantel, indeed. And since I’m not usually, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to play the big stage, what that sounds like and looks like. I’ve been looking forward to it and have set a bunch of tracks aside. Dekmantel feels like a big deal for me too. My first visit to Dekmantel was my first time in Europe and my first festival visit in general.
Peach is playing Dekmantel’s The Loop stage this Sunday (August 5th).
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