Blu DeTiger Is Bridging Indie Pop and the NYC Underground Club Scene [Q&A]
New artist Blu DeTiger is not so new after all. The NYC-native has been a bassist since age seven and was named "the coolest DJ around" by Vogue Magazine in 2017. The young talent, known for her combination of disco-funk DJ sets and live bass playing, has more recently become a touring bassist for acts like Caroline Polachek, The Knocks, Kitten, and FLETCHER.
Now it is Blu DeTiger's moment. While she has been writing and producing music for most of her life, her first single "In My Head" was released in 2019. With a four-on-the-floor beat and nonchalant vocals, "In My Head" carries with it the hypnotism of the dance music she plays during her DJ sets.
Most recently, Blu DeTiger released "Figure It Out," a bass-heavy funk pop track with an irresistible groove. Its laidback lyrics and catchy chorus make it the perfect song to start the summer and shows Blu DeTiger hitting her stride as an artist.
We spoke with Blu about postponing tour plans, proving herself in male-dominated spaces, and writing "Figure It Out" with her brother, Rex.
Ones To Watch: After spending years as a DJ and touring musician, how have those experiences helped you navigate being a solo artist? What were some of the most important lessons learned?
Blu DeTiger: Touring experience was extremely beneficial to me. Loading in, setting up gear, monitor mixes, in-ears, staying healthy, green room etiquette, sleeping on a tour bus, being in a van, stopping at gas stations, setting up merch, payouts, staying SANE - you really have to learn this stuff yourself. Playing a lot has built up my confidence and overall comfort level onstage. I absolutely love to perform.
And DJing made me develop a better knowledge of music. I know the hits throughout the decades, what makes people move, what slows them down, what's popping on the charts, how to read a room, what song is best for that moment.
You once noted that although you’ve always been a musician, you felt you’ve really had to prove yourself as a woman in male-dominated spaces. Do you still feel that others underestimate you as a musician?
I always feel I need to prove myself. It's part of my personality and I don't think it'll ever change. It's really more of a shock factor thing that people have when seeing me play. People are so surprised when they realize I can actually play bass or DJ properly. It's partly flattering that they're complimenting me - but why did they assume otherwise? Would the assumption be the same for a guy? I want to change that perception.
I don't think people give enough attention to women in the producer role especially. I think there needs to more opportunities and more recognition of women in all aspects of music (mixers, engineers, A&R, for example) - not just as writers and singers.
I'm really hoping to inspire and empower girls to express themselves and be whatever they want to be.
You’ve been playing bass since age seven and DJing since age 17. Did songwriting come later for you or have you always been creating your own music?
Yes, I've always been creating my own music. I've always been in bands and writing / doing creative work. I did some music for commercials, made DJ mixes, produced remixes, played on records, etc. It wasn't until I met B-Roc from The Knocks that my own creative project under the name "Blu DeTiger" really started to take shape. I've always had a desire to do my own music, and I just kept moving forward with that intention. It felt like a natural progression.
What has been your greatest career highlight so far as a musician?
It's difficult to answer because I think I'm in the midst of it now and there are a lot of exciting things in the works!
Are you still going to NYU? If so, how are you able to balance touring, music making and school?
I've been on a leave-of-absence from NYU since January 2019. Balancing everything got pretty challenging. My last semester in school got crazy - I was flying out every Thursday morning to tour on the weekends, then taking a red eye flight back every Sunday night to make it in time for my class on Monday morning. Meanwhile, I was in the studio during weekday nights finishing my original songs, and also DJing until 4am some nights... I wasn't sleeping much, and it became really difficult for me to continue to put my 100% into the schoolwork - I still got all A's though! Ultimately, I decided to take time off because I got offered a great touring opportunity that I just couldn't pass up. I'm grateful for the time I spent in school, but it was definitely the right decision for me.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your plans for 2020?
All my touring has been postponed/rescheduled... I was about to go on a 4-week European run, opening for FLETCHER, as well as playing bass in her band. Following that, we were meant to go on an Arena run in the US (which would've started a few days ago). I was also scheduled to join Caroline Polachek as her sole bandmate on multiple festivals this summer. It's a huge bummer, and I was really looking forward to all these shows. If there's a bright side, it's given me the time to write and produce more music. And engage with my fans!
Your latest single “Figure It Out” was written alongside a few other musicians, one of which is your brother, Rex. How did this track come together, and how often do you write with your brother?
Basically, I got this beat from a producer named Novodor, and I immediately connected with it. I was in a session and the first verse and chorus just exploded out. I put the song aside for a while, but always really loved it. Months later, I came back to it and finished it up with this producer named Jeremiah Raisen, and my brother, Rex, while we were working in New York. I'm writing more and more with my brother, especially since we're quarantined together. It's been amazing, he's so talented, and it feels like we have a really good flow right now.
Who are your Ones to Watch?
Listen to "Figure It Out" below: