Breaking Barriers and Creating Inclusivity: A Conversation With BIIANCO

BIIANCO is a true master of their craft, a multi-talented music producer, vocalist, and instrumentalist who has made a name for themselves in the vibrant world of electronic music. Over the past year, their star has continued to rise, with their music being championed by some of the biggest names in radio, including BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music, and Kiss FM, to name just a few. With a sound that combines playful acid, breaks, and trance, BIIANCO’s music is reminiscent of the Chemical Brothers, with the mainstream appeal of a more emotional Jamie XX.

Listen here plus a fun Soundcloud link to the Secret Garden Party DJ Set.

But it’s not just the music that has caught people’s attention – BIIANCO’s unique story has also helped to make them a symbol of inclusivity in an industry that all too often lacks it. As a queer, partially blind femme producer, they have quickly become a beacon of hope for others who have felt excluded or marginalized. And with their raw, emotional approach to music-making, it’s easy to see why they’ve become such a beloved figure in the scene.

BIIANCO’s talents extend far beyond the studio, too – they’re also an incredible live performer who has toured all around the world, sharing stages with some of the biggest names in the business. Their festival performances are especially noteworthy, with high-energy sets that leave audiences breathless and begging for more, and guess what? Just today we bring you an exclusive interview with them fresh off their performance at the prestigious EDM festival “Secret Garden Party 2023”; check it out:

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process when preparing for a live DJ set like the “Secret Garden Party 2023”? How much of it do you plan ahead, and how much do you just “feel out” as you step into that role as dancefloor commander?

I almost always plan my sets unless I’m in a b2b. I really love to create complex transitions and key mix a lot so having a general idea of how I’m going to progress through that is better. But, most importantly, I bring a live touring / set prep background into DJing and I like to curate the overall journey the set takes people on. So, I prepped it beforehand. However, if the audience is showing different energy in the moment, I tend to switch things up. There have been a few sets where I abandon my prepped set part of the way through because the audience is really responding to some different energy. Those are such fun moments. 

Your music is often described as emotionally charged and raw. How do you translate that energy into your live performances in dance music? What sounds help you communicate that intensity?

Music evokes such a strong emotional response in me that no matter the genre I’m playing, I’m like a faucet of emotional energy turned all the way on. With dance music, I really like building tension into massive releases and weaving my own unexpected edits of songs to bring that out in everyone. I also tend to climb things during my sets.

What did you expect when going into the Secret Garden Party Festival?

I expected it to be really fun because a lot of my friends and DJ peers were there performing as well. It was kinda like a UK dance industry summer camp.

What did you think of the audience’s response to your performance? 

Ah, it was so much fun.  They really vibed with the Pink Floyd and Donna Summer remixes I made.

You’ve done more than dance music before, do you feel there’s a difference in the way you connect to the audience as a DJ?

Yeah, people consume music in a different way when it’s a live set versus a DJ set. People tend to be there for the human experience during live versus in a DJ set it’s important the set is as seamless as possible. What’s jarring to a DJ audience is a not at all jarring in a live setting. A live show tends to be more about the artist and a DJ set is more about the music. 

As a queer, partially blind femme producer, you stand today as a burgeoning example of inclusion and diversity, but does that carry over somehow into your creative output in live shows?

Well — my vision limitations actually cause a lot of issues a DJ or artist wouldn’t normally have to deal with. I literally can’t see my right hand when I’m playing drum pads in a live or hybrid set. And when using decks, there are a lot of tiny lights and screens in dark booths so it’s harder to see everything with one eye. I tend to rehearse a lot more than others — at least I think. It’s not just about learning the part — it’s about learning the part and then being able to play it partially blind in low lighting. 

I think my audience can tell this. I’ve heard a lot from people after sets how much it inspires them to see someone execute with a vision-based disability. I guess just existing in this space with this disability carries weight. 

What was your favorite moment in the entire evening?

At SGP, I really loved this transition between I Feel Love into a breakbeat, and right as I hit that moment I looked up and my good friend and collaborator Carly Wilford was there cheering me on. It was really beautiful. 

Your music has been championed by a number of influential tastemakers and media outlets. How do you stay grounded and focused amidst all the attention? Does it help you to “stay hungry” and try to live up to that recognition or do you just focus on producing first and foremost?

Gives me a little fire in my belly. I have this new kid on the block excited about dance music. I’m honestly just having a blast and that makes me work harder. In fact, I’m constantly producing or preparing or writing and it definitely doesn’t always feel like work. 

In addition to your dance music career, you’ve also worked on collaborative projects outside of the genre. Can you talk about how those experiences have influenced your approach to music?

Oh yeah, coming from this background has literally shaped my entire approach to dance music. I played in an alt-rock band for years and we toured a ton so I approach dance music with that touring comprehension. I also started BIIANCO as an electronic artist — not necessarily a dance artist — and this means I have some songwriting sensibilities that are rare in dance.  I love producing outside the dance genre — like the collab I did with MILCK, ani DiFranco, and Autumn Rowe last year.  I think my background greatly informs my approach to dance music and may even be my distinguishing factor. 

Photo credit: Derrick Bremner

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