Smart Bar resident Colette grew up on Chicago house, made a name in the ’90s with the all-female SuperJane collective and scored a hit in 2005 with the downtempo single “Feelin’ Hypnotized.” She’s a trained singer who’s been spinning for more than a decade. This week the L.A.-based dance music diva makes her Chicago debut fronting a live electronic band, playing tunes from her new album, Push. We chatted with her while she was passing through San Francisco on her North American tour.
Are you excited about the trend toward more live performance in dance music?
Yeah, I really love deejaying and I’m definitely not going to be quitting that anytime soon. I would like the band to be able to perform as much as possible. I think it’s really great for people to see this genre of music in a band form. I think there’s a place for both. There’s such an artistry to deejaying that you don’t have in a band, and vice versa.
It sounds like there’s more electro or electro-house on this album.
This record is definitely a bit harder than my first album. I wanted to make music that I could play out in a club. I mainly play in nightclubs, and even though I’m a huge fan of downtempo, when I made Hypnotized, I couldn’t really perform any of the downtempo at my shows. So, when I was making Push, I was focused on making music that would be fun to perform out.
Have you been spinning things that influenced the record?
I met this production team, Santiago & Bushido, from Chicago. DJ Heather and I were on tour for House of Om last year and she had put some of their stuff out on her label Black Cherry and I just loved their music. Chris Santiago gave me a CD of seven songs and I loved every single song. I called them up right away. It’s very next generation Chicago. It has those Chicago roots, but it’s very new sounding. Its jackin’, but their production is really smart and funky.
Do I detect an ’80s vibe as well?
Yeah, yeah. I did grow up in the ’80s. One of my favorite albums was Songs from the Big Chair. Of course I always loved Madonna. While making Push, one of the albums I listened to was Dee-Lite’s World Clique. That was such a powerful record for me. I remember seeing them at Metro and I just thought they were so cool. It’s a dance record, but it still has an interesting path from song to song.
What sort of things are you hoping will happen with this record?
If more people are going to find out about this record, that would be wonderful, but I always just want to make music that I would love and hope that people enjoy it.
Have things gotten better for women DJs?
It’s gotten a little better. It’s mainly men that play and there are a lot of women who play in bikinis and I don’t think that’s helpful unless they’re talented. If you are a slamming DJ, I don’t care what you wear. It is more equal for women who put in the energy to become a good DJ.—John Dugan
Colette plays live with her band at Metro Sat 8 and spins at Smart Bar afterward.