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For some, live improvisation is not just a skill, it’s an art form.
“The focus of my study at York University was live keyboard improvisation and electronic music,” CIQ explains. “I studied four years of keyboard performance classes in two years, and relied on my classical background to get into the courses through auditions.”
But improvisation wasn’t new to her and neither was the music industry.
“The year before I started university I was living in Phoenix, Arizona and I was basically playing in bands everyday.” This included her live alternative rock electronic hybrid band, Bean Dip, as well as several other bands and special events where she played with other bands, mainly keyboards, sometimes violin, vocals or bass guitar.
“The first time I walked into a recording studio I was nineteen years old and the producer showed me how the entire studio worked. I never forgot a thing.”
Her piano teacher who prepared her for her first university classical audition compared her early original music to Jean Michel Jarre. Not only did she pass her university audition, she completed her Grade 8 Conservatory piano and Grade 2 Theory (minimum entrance requirements) with the Royal Conservatory of Music in less than a year (normally a two year course), and won several awards in classical piano competitions and a scholarship that year for her performance.
“Most of my piano lessons and violin lessons were actually before I entered high school. I really didn’t do anything in high school except hang out with my friends and travel a great deal.” Her music teachers at that point had already taught her everything they could reasonably teach her, and she started spending summers working overseas in places like Central America and Eastern Europe. “I was so bored in high school I took calculus just to see if I could do it.” She graduated with a 98.5% average in maths and sciences. “I spent a lot of time on school trips and other activities.”
“When I’m in the studio I’m so intuitive with the mixer I forget it even exists. I just play with the controls and move the sounds around and alter the effects.” She studied producing engineering at Harris Institute for the Arts, but before she graduated she was working full time in the music industry, for several top companies like BMG, MuchMusic, Contact, and Long & McQuade. Her weekend social life was promoting dance music events with her friends from Canada and USA. She also did some work outside Toronto, mainly festivals like CMJ in New York, but most of the festivals she attended were really just for her own interest, in locations such as Miami and Detroit in USA, London, UK, and Cannes, France in Europe. “It was really quite glamourous, to be honest. Hanging out in mansions and bumping into friends in random locations such as London. Going to awards shows in limos and attending all the industry parties and events.” But glamour doesn’t always pay the bills. “I was hoping to find a good manager but my experience working with management was basically I just stopped getting paid.” The music industry was going through a lot of changes at that point so she took her own business course. “I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in the music industry. Basically, I don’t. The music industry will have to change to accommodate me.”
At this point she considers her music a pretty expensive hobby. “Really it’s more like an Olympic sport. I don’t like to waste my time on projects that don’t go anywhere. At the end of the day, if I’m happy, that’s what matters.” As far as management, she really doesn’t trust anyone. “Most people I’ve met are all talk and no action. It’s not really helpful when you’re trying to get something done.” No doubt she would love to have a real job touring or just making her own records, whichever comes first, but dependable partners are few and far between when you’re a talented female DJ, keyboardist and producer. “You can only go so far on your own. You can’t tour on your own, not if you’re a female DJ. You can do everything in your studio if you don’t mind taking forever to do it.”