A prized figure amongst Montreal’s electronic music scene, Misstress Barbara was born in Catania, Italy, but moved to Montreal with her family at 8 years old. The cosmopolitan city introduced her to multiple avenues within music. As a Producer, Misstress Barbara’s work has earned numerous awards including the highest prize at the 2001 MIMI Awards (Montreal International Music Initiative), and a “Best Dance Album Of The Year” nomination at the 2010 JUNO Awards. Not to mention, her tracks have landed on the labels of John Digweed’s Bedrock Records, James Holden’s Border Community, and Carl Cox’s Intec Records. In addition, Misstress Barbara has explored the worlds of television and advertising, which led her to a collaboration with Porsche. This Sunday, July 30, Misstress Barbara will take to the stage at New Brunswick’s Future Forest festival, marking her first visit to Canada’s Eastern province. We had a chance to catch up with the techno ‘misstress’ ahead of her performance.
You have a strong hold on Montreal, having grown up there and playing countless gigs (Stereobar, Beachclub, Igloofest, Piknic etc.). But you were recently in Toronto for PRIDE, and this weekend you’ll visit New Brunswick for Future Forest. Do you feel there is a ‘Canadian vibe’ amongst events here? How would you describe it?
To be honest I haven’t been playing around Canada for a while other than Toronto and Montreal of course. So I couldn’t really tell if there’s a vibe happening in electronic music again, which would be really awesome. I wouldn’t mind playing more in my own country. And I’m really excited to go to NB, as I’ve never been there before.
Your career has also brought you overseas many times; we see you recently played in Colombia! What piece of advice would you give someone travelling to Medellin?
Yes indeed. My biggest market has always been in Europe and some countries of South America like Colombia for example.
I must say that Colombia is much safer than it used to be; it has nothing to do with what it was when I first went there back in 2003. Medellin is an absolute gorgeous city and the only piece of advise I’d have for someone who wants to travel there is to really plan enough time to explore it all.
And that’s when I can say [Carl Cox and I] really started developing a friendship outside music, based on other passions that we share.
Tell us about your relationship with Carl Cox. How did that friendship begin? How has it evolved over the years?
I met Carl back in 1999 when I played at Velvet Underground in London, UK because I had released a track on his label Intec and I played on a label night. He was also a Moonshine artist back then and the Moonshine label president was there too. They were both really impressed with my DJing, and after that night Moonshine made me an offer to be signed on the label. Two years later I was on the label and did a mini Moonshine tour in the US along with Carl. Then I was signed under the same management as him, so I had the chance to do a few more gigs around Europe with him around 2002/03. But until then, I can’t really say we were anything else than music colleagues. After that I ended my partnership with that same management and I didn’t see Carl anymore for more than 10 years. Once, on Facebook, I saw photos of him on Ducati motorcycles and I wrote to him all surprised because I didn’t know he was into riding bikes, and on top of that I also rode a Ducati. So we started being in touch again until he invited me to go spend some time with him in his home in Australia. And that’s when I can say we really started developing a friendship outside music, based on other passions that we share.
We understand your career in music is much broader than playing techno for crowds. You’ve also had the opportunity to work in the television/ advertising worlds. What did you learn from these experiences?
I really enjoy being able to make other types of music, other than just electronic music, it’s a challenge. And making other kinds of music that end up being used on other platforms makes me feel incredibly proud. I learned a lot from that. I used to not play any instrument at all other than drums (it was my instrument as a teenager), but now I can say I pretty much play the piano, guitar and bass. I am not a pianist nor a guitarist nor a bassist, but I can definitely do studio sessions and play enough of those instruments in order to produce the music I need to produce for whatever project I’m working on. I’m all about learning and surpassing my limits.
Do you think it’s important for artists to explore a variety of audio/ creative industries?
I think it is. But unfortunately most people stay within the limits of their comfort zone.
What do you get in Montreal, that you can’t find anywhere else in the world?
Home love. It’s big. Very big. And I feel it.
What’s one question that’s been on your mind most recently?
The same that’s on my mind always: What’s next?
What do you feel most grateful towards in this industry?
My fans. Without them I’d have no career.
Any upcoming news you’d like to share with readers?
I think that non-music related news are always the most interesting. I’m starting my own chocolate brand in the fall. Stay tuned 😉
Tickets to Future Forest may be purchased here.