Buckle up buttercups! Azpect has just delivered an absolutely blinding dancefloor brew for the 1 More Mix series and it’s a non-stop tear-up across the entire D&B spectrum.
It lands at a particularly poignant time for the rising artist. Coming off the back of her biggest release to date (the Syndicate EP) and her first full tour of the US with World Of Drum & Bass, Azpect – AKA Chiffon Leyden – is fully juiced with inspiration direct from her peers and America’s new generation of party people. Ahead of her meanwhile is a tour of UK and EU dates throughout the summer. And this is what you can expect…
We caught up with her to find out more about the mix and where she’s at in the summer of 2023.
Press play, read on, get acquainted.
Oh gosh this mix!
Thank you! It took a quite a while to put together but I’m happy with the final product!
Is this a good reflection of an Azpect set in 2023?
Overall, I would say this mix gives a good overview of the various styles I can readily adapt to, depending on the different shows I am booked for. Over the last few years of playing shows internationally, I’ve learned to adapt my sets to the country I’m playing in as well as the type of crowd that is present. When I put together mixes, I like to show the different styles of dnb I can play as well as experiment, remix, and generate fresh elements. It’s a chance to cut things up, explore new avenues, and craft something entirely different.
Sick. What exclusives are on the mix?
There are a lot of Formation exclusives throughout the mix as well as edits that I created. I like taking two, three, for four tracks and reassembling them to create something fresh and different from what the listener would recognize. There are numerous edits incorporated that have never been heard.
Amazing. Tell me about your recent release, the Syndicate EP
Crafting this EP took a lot of time and effort. I’m very critical of my work and some tracks I had to rewrite a few times until it finally fit the vibe I was aiming for. As with all my releases, I try to make each track possess a distinct sound and stand on its own. Something diverse and unique. With this EP, I was exploring a slightly darker realm compared to my previous work.
Last time we spoke you talked about your indigenous roots and bringing in influences into your production. You can hear that in the track Lotus
That’s right! An indigenous friend of mine reached out to me and asked if I was working on any ‘Hand Drum and Bass’. At the time I wasn’t, but Lotus was already mapped out and it had space for the right influences so I added the pan flutes and indigenous instruments. From there it’s really taken off. It was interesting to see how that particular track hit differently from the rest of the EP. It was picked up by some major playlists and had some great responses. It is definitely another avenue that I would love to explore more.
Amazing. Which track did you have the most difficult relationship with?
I would say the track that I had the most difficulty with was Till The End, the final track on the EP. I honestly didn’t know if I liked it for a long time and didn’t want to include it in the EP. I rewrote it multiple times and told myself ‘okay this is as done as it can be now’. But you know what? When I played my US tour recently that was the track that I played the most and had the best reactions to!
Classic! That tour looked amazing. SS sent me some incredible videos
It was amazing. That was actually my first time going to the US. I would say the hardest part for me was balancing my schedule by working my day job remotely with limited sleep between shows.
Wow! Like in the hotel room, on the coach…
With the US tour I was working every chance I had in the hotel rooms as well as the airports, but when it comes to my UK tours, I’m in a different time zone so I have to take that into consideration and be available during Canadian work hours. That means tethering my phone to my computer and doing the accounting in the car while driving to a gig or whatever it takes to get the work done. I love travelling and being on tour but at the same time it can definitely get exhausting working double time.
Wow, yeah! I remember from our last interview that you said they were understanding and you’re happy with your job
I’m very fortunate that my work is so accommodating and understanding. It all comes down to proving that I can still get my work done on the road. My coworkers are like family to me and I love that they come to the local shows.
How was the tour anyway? US is popping for D&B right now!
It was absolutely wild. It was my first proper tour with b2b shows. It was tough only sleeping for two hours or even 30 minutes a night and long flights, plus the delays. There were times where I just wanted to go to sleep on the airport floor. We were all in it together and bonded over the experience. No matter how exhausted you are, the minute you step foot in the club the energy from the crowd takes over and you’re recharged. Every city was so different but worth every moment of it.
Such a wide landmass and different cultures and communities. Like the difference between playing in Bristol and London can be quite different here for example and that’s only round the corner compared to North American distances. It’s mad that it was your first time in the US!
Yeah! It was quite the experience. I can’t wait to go back.
Mad you’ve toured the UK more than you’ve toured the US!
Haha yeah it’s crazy, right? I’ve played the UK and places in Europe multiple times before I even played in the US.
How it is vibe-wise? Is the US really levelling up or is that social media hyperbole?
I can’t compare it to anything as it was my first time but there’s definitely a strong appetite for it in the US and its only getting bigger. However, from my experience, it still doesn’t compare to UK crowds. I’ve still never experienced anything like what I’ve had in the UK. You guys are on a different level.
*Blushes in UK* You’re back over here soon, right? For One In The Woods?
Yes I’m coming over for the end of July and then playing in Cyprus, then Bulgaria then flying back to Canada for work the next day.
Intense! This is the third or fourth time so I guess you’re used to that?
Yeah it’s my fourth year being there, although I came twice last year. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do right? I’m so sad every time I have to leave.
What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen over those four years?
Covid was a big thing. Going from sit down raves to packed shows was a big difference. But the main challenge for me was working out what to play. Something you’d play to a Canadian crowd is very different to what you’d play to a UK crowd. It’s taken a few years but I now know how to read the UK crowds. It’s so different from Canada. Watching DJ’s double and triple drop in the UK is something else, you don’t see that normally here.
Oh mixes are wild here now. You barely hear 64 bars of a tune sometimes. How do you feel about that as a producer? Would you rather hear more of your tune in a mix?
Oh that’s a good one! I think as a producer I find I need to tell myself to calm down a little bit and not put so many details and switches in my tracks. I tend to add too many details to my trakcs where I have about 60 channels and I have to strip it back a bit. People like simplicity. My track ‘Is It True’ was my favorite and the most supported tracks on my EP, and that was the most simple. I need to remind myself to stop putting so much effort into every possible little detail and instead focus on a good groove.
It’s such a tricky one isn’t it? Some details people don’t notice until they’re no longer in the track. What’s the biggest things you’ve learned on this recent EP?
I always want the next track to be better than the last so it’s just experimenting and finding the time to balance my life and music. That’s a big discipline for me to learn. I love challenging myself and setting myself new goals.
Time is incredibly tight – are you good at managing your time in general?
I’ve had to get used to it. I’m used to spending a lot of time on my own. I work, I come home, I work on music and every now and again I schedule rest days where I have no commitments whatsoever. Then it’s a rest and I’m straight back on it. This lifestyle takes sacrifices and I’ve now gotten used to it.
Booking that rest time in before burn out is essential!
Oh for sure! Burn out isn’t fun.
Curse of the modern age! We’re constantly expecting ourselves to be doing stuff all the time
I agree 100%. We have to be kind to ourselves and listen to what our bodies are telling us.
We do! Where do you find inspiration? When you’re taking your head out of things does inspiration catch you at the most unlikely time?
Actually it’s shows that inspire me the most. When I’m there and I’m listening to another DJ and I hear a certain sound that might inspire me and I think ‘how can I recreate that?’ Just like listening to other people’s sets and soaking it up is a big inspiration for me. Not only that but when I’m at work and I have a beat in my head, I sneak off to the washroom to do a voice recording so I can remember it for later.
Like being on tour!
Oh for sure. It’s non stop inspiration. I’m really looking forward to touring this summer.
When are you coming over?
I arrive July 26. It’s exciting because I’m familiar with a lot of the venues and types of crowds now. I know what to prep for. I prep different sets that appeal to a Bulgarian dancefloor as well as younger UK crowds and older mature crowds. The first time I came over I was thrown in at the deep end and had no idea of the differences.
What are the biggest differences?
So from what I’ve experienced, in Bulgaria it’s more of techier vibe than the UK, whereas in the UK the younger people prefer more of a jump-up vibe and the older crowed prefer more jungle and rollers.
These are the nuances of DJing when you’re touring on an international level
Totally. Some sets that go crazy in one country could go completely opposite in another country. For example, in Canada you do have to throw in some commercial tracks to keep the crowd engaged. If you go in with just underground tracks then it will go over their heads. You need something for people to sing along with every now and again.
How is the scene in Vancouver?
There’s a scene however it’s a pretty small. I have to be honest, I don’t usually go out unless I’m playing. I keep to myself a lot of the time but it’s nice when I do go out to see the community. Things have changed since covid of course but it’s definitely more intimate compared to the UK.
Awesome. What’s up next?
I have a remix on the forthcoming Greenlaw EP, as well as a collab EP with DJSS. I’m also working on some fresh tracks for my summer tour and hopefully have it released sometime after summer. Lots going on.
Exciting! Anything else to add?
I hope you enjoy the mix and look out for what comes next!