Canadian DJ and soon to be producer Donotstealmyname delivered an energetic and powerful set at this summer’s Picnic Electronik Montreal that was foremost the result of growing into the electronic music scene and breathing it for more than five years. As part of the Montreal scene, a city where, according to the artist, Techno is still dominant, Sabrina Richer, Donotstealmyname’s real name, not necessarily represents a counterpart but rather rides her Nu Tech-House-wave with references to House music as well as 90s infused tracks with a slight touch of trancey and ravey elements. It’s hardly surprising that she names a House-vet and two more tech-oriented artists as her (musical) inspiration or artists she’d like to share the decks with. Furthermore, Sabrina shares insights into the local scene, rolls out the red carpet for some of the crews and clubs in the city, takes us on a journey into her past and what she’s nostalgic about and also how she became involved with electronic music. Additionally Donotstealmyname mixed and compiled the latest edition of our art:cast-series.
Torture the Artist: Hello Sabrina, tell us something about your day.
Donotstealmyname: Hi! I just came back from the country side and had a great time exploring nature. I’m now back to Montreal and its fast paced environment, and music. <winks>
Torture the Artist: First of all, how did you come up with your artist-name?
Donotstealmyname: It dates back when I created my first personal Instagram account in 2013. Every username possible was already taken, and frankly enough I was getting annoyed. So madly typing at my keyboard, I tried «Donotstealmyname» … and it worked. It made sense to me to keep that username and to eventually use it as my DJ name! As simple as that.
Torture the Artist: When was your first encounter with electronic music and what made you decide to go for a second date?
Donotstealmyname: My first encounter was in 2017 in Montreal at Salon Daome, a small house/club. I went with one of my best friends, back than we really didn’t know a lot about electronic music but I was instantly intrigued. It took me a few dates to quite get what the scene and this music was all about but I never went back! Salon Daome was still a small and cozy club at this time, filled with passionate people who were there for their passion; this is what I loved about it. It has unfortunately moved since and is not the same, this room has a place in my heart!
Torture the Artist: What was the track that got you involved, and why?
Donotstealmyname: It’s really hard to say that one specific track got me involved, but I can definitely say that it is from Kerri Chandler. Probably Atmosphere, Kerri’s Foundation Dub version. Classic House is really what got me hooked on electronic music, its scene and its community There is something very warm and comforting about classic House that I will forever cherish; same with old school Techno from Detroit.
Torture the Artist: You are currently based in Montreal. What made you become a DJ and not a
Donotstealmyname: I’ve always had music as my passion, playing many instruments throughout the years. Although, nothing really got my full attention until I found electronic music. And don’t even try to start a conversation about sports with me, it really is not something I am good at AT ALL. I wish I would be, but at this point it is pretty much a joke amongst my friends and I.
Torture the Artist: Up to the present day you have not come up with own productions. Is this something you’d like to focus on in the future or do you rather see yourself as a DJ only and want to go this path?
Donotstealmyname: I do see myself focussing on that in the future, it has always interested me. I just want to do it well. I am a perfectionist when it comes to music. It has unfortunately stopped me in the past, focussing on small details because I know exactly how I want it to be.
Torture the Artist Which producers/musicians have had the biggest influence on you, electronic or otherwise, and why?
Donotstealmyname: Kerri Chandler for 100% since he is the first producer that got me into electronic music. The first tracks on my USB were from him, and he’s the reason I started digging New York and Chicago House. I have to say that my dear friend OJPB, an amazing Bass/Deep House producer and DJ is also a great influence for me. We always have a great time sharing groovy tracks together. I have to add that, since I first started digging, the genres I relate to have changed many times. I am currently into more ravey/trancey/progressive/high energy stuff these days and Roza Terenzi has been a really important producer and DJ for me lately!
Torture the Artist: What artist would you want to play a b2b-set with and where?
Donotstealmyname: It’s hard to choose between Roza Terenzi and Sedef Adasi. I would pick Sedef Adasi, since I love her high energy sets, incorporating Acid, Trance, House etc.; I think we would have a lot of fun playing together. I can relate a lot to her own productions as well as her DJ sets.
Torture the Artist: Let’s focus a little on the Montreal-scene. What are the scene’s current musical trends and what’s your part in the scene?
Donotstealmyname: Montreal is definitely a Techno city, but I see a lot of DJs trying to bring back House music right now. Tech-house is also popular, Trance has been in the underground scene for a moment and bass music is coming back. I myself am more into the nu Tech-house as I like to call it (think Shanti Celeste) and the trancey side of the scene, without it being cheesy (or at least I’m trying!)
Torture the Artist: If you were a (tour)-guide, what would be the clubs you’d take the people and what local DJs or collectives do they need to hear?
Donotstealmyname: Before the pandemic there were unfortunately not a lot of clubbing options in Montreal, so you had to rely on afterparties/raves to have a good time with quality music. When the restrictions were lifted, a bunch of new spaces opened. Le Système and Nouvel établissement opened this summer 2022 and I would definitely recommend going to both, there is also Datcha that has been there for a while. As of collective/parties: Arriver Flush and Microrave are amazing queer and inclusive parties, definitely check them out! Let’s not forget Homegrown Harvest which has also a ton of amazing bookings.
Torture the Artist: An after-party is in the making, can you tell us more about that, like is it going to be a Montreal-thing only when it comes to the DJs playing there, will it take place at changing locations etc. and foremost why does Montreal need exactly this party?
Donotstealmyname: I prefer keeping this a secret for now. <winks>
Torture the Artist: If you are not DJing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you in Montreal (doing what)?
Donotstealmyname: Drinking natural wine, discovering new restaurants and talking to cats!
Torture the Artist: Where do you usually draw inspiration from or what’s one of your interests that is not connected to music?
Donotstealmyname: I get inspired a lot by architecture, and the meeting of city and nature. A walk amongst the trees or discovering a new city is such a great adventure for me. I also love cats, they are my best friends!
Torture the Artist: Ahead of this interview you said that due to Covid you’re trying to get your inspiration back. To what extent has the Covid stolen or influenced your creative output?
Donotstealmyname: For me, dance music is all about community. The music is co-created with the people dancing to it, creating a completely new interpretation when together. Not that I do not enjoy these sounds in my living room or in the bus, but its full potential is revealed with sweaty dancing bodies connecting together in a small space with a booming sound system. With the Covid-19 restrictions, I lost the meaning of it all and it took some time for me to regain motivation to touch the decks and start enjoying it as much as I did before. I am glad we can dance again, we need this in the world right now.
Torture the Artist: Has your musical taste changed due or fueled by Covid, namely are you into different music/ genres than before the pandemic? What are you favorite findings?
Donotstealmyname: Very different! I think I missed the raves so much that during the pandemic I started digging more and more Techno. Before I mixed mostly House music, but loved going to after parties. I guess I wanted to bring back this energy at home, so that’s what brings me here today, mixing trancey Tech-house and Techno.
Torture the Artist: What are you nostalgic about?
Donotstealmyname: I’m pretty nostalgic about discovering new things as a child. The last time I had this type of euphoria was when I discovered electronic music, thinking I had already discovered all my passions already. I hope to discover something else that will bring me this sense of fulfillment.
Torture the Artist: The long break for nightclubs as well as people getting used to not going out probably has led to the situation that social media has become even more relevant than before. A look at your social media accounts leads one to believe that you are not necessarily focusing on that. Why are TikTok and Instagram not your friends yet and how do you perceive the influence of social media on your artistic-being as well as your career?
Donotstealmyname: Weirdly enough, I work as a project coordinator in a music label, working closely with the artists and the marketing team. Although, I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with social media when it comes to my own accounts. I see all of the “Instagram DJs” getting famous mostly because of their content, and that for me goes completely against the rave and underground movement. I do have to admit that
Torture the Artist: What’s a super power you wish you had and what would you if you had it?
Donotstealmyname: Definitely being able to time travel; to learn the truth about the Egyptian pyramids, to see how to save our planet in the future … the world is yours.
Words by Holger Breuer
Cover picture by Bruno Destombbes
Other pictures by Charles-Antoine Martel-Roy