By Angie Valente
When former Hammarskjold High School cheerleading captain Joanne Hill choreographed dance routines for her championship team to the beats of underground dance music in the 90s, she never dreamed she would one day become the type of artist she enjoyed dancing to. “Back then that was my musical outlet because I loved electronic music. I knew about raves, but I was just trying to get into Armani’s with my fake I.D.”
Having always been an artistic person, Hill knew there was more for her beyond the musical boundaries of Thunder Bay. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California, but it’s clear that she has nothing but love for her hometown. “I love coming home. I’m on the road every weekend and when I go to Thunder Bay I can chill out. It’s the calm before the storm. It’s a good place to unplug for me. I don’t like to diss it, because it made me who I was.”
It wasn’t until Hill moved to Ottawa for college and discovered the local night club scene that she became obsessed with dance music and inspiration struck. She decided she wanted to spin. “I was really inspired by the DJ and dreamt of being up there myself. I would stare at the DJ every time. I wanted to be him.” Hill says she didn’t have the resources in Thunder Bay at that time to experience or create music, but she always knew she had it in her. “Nothing was going to stop me. When I finally decided what I wanted to do, my dreams were massive, and I made it happen.”
After moving to Toronto and purchasing turntables and records, Hill taught herself how to spin, and DJ Sydney Blu was born. Through hard work, perseverance, and the almighty gig, Sydney Blu became the biggest female DJ/producer in Toronto, with a residency at The Guvernment. “That was my goal. It was about DJing and I showed promoters that people were really into my stuff. I was expanding to an international level.” At this point Hill upped her game by going back to school and studied audio engineering.
January 2015 saw the release of her latest EP, Vnderground, released on KMS Records. Written mostly on airplanes, it represents Sydney Blu’s underground side and emphasizes her techno beats. “I put my heart into it. It’s a process and I have definitely been waiting a while for this.” Helping to push Sydney Blu’s reputation to the next level was her association with Mau5trap label, owned by Deadmau5. “That changed everything for me. When you become known globally, you play less in your own country and you focus on the world. I was travelling from city to city every weekend.”
At the age of 37, Hill has many projects on the go, including her show Blu Radio, which is syndicated on 36 stations around the world, her own record label (Blu Music), a brand new EP, and an album set for release in the spring. Fans can check out her music on SoundCloud, where she also posts remixes and live sets.