Patricia Johnson

Music News, Reviews, and Interviews

DJ Set of the Week: Interview with Bianca Oblivion

DJ Bianca Oblivion has only been in town for a year, but her booty dropping rhythms and slick LA style are are already taking over the city. She’s proven her skills at numerous venues including Good Life and Zuzu, where she’s landed a residency at weekly party Zuesdays. Her main mission: to inspire you to dance.

How did she establish herself so quickly? While skills are paramount, Bianca is well aware that the key to a DJ’s success lies in their ability to network. She did her research before leaving her home base in LA, narrowing in on Good Life, Zuzu, and Middlesex as the main venues that hosted parties that piqued her interest. Upon arrival Bianca was driven by a genuine desire to learn from and be a part of the communities surrounding these venues. “Showing up to different parties and building genuine relationships with people is what helped me initially establish myself in the scene when I arrived in Boston. I really didn’t know anyone when I moved here, so I took it upon myself to go out and meet people.”

Rewind a couple of decades and some change, and little Bianca is taking dance classes, practicing Soul Train dance moves in front of the TV, and “asspiring” (as she says) to be a Fly Girl. Her early dance experience established a personal connection to dance music that ultimately inspired her interest in DJing. She says, “I think what made me continue [DJing] is that I wanted to share all the music I grew up with and that had inspired me to dance… Whenever I heard other DJs at clubs and connected to what they were playing, I would get so into dancing I’d be sore and sweaty by the end of the night. That’s what I wanted to do for others.” Well, consider her a dance philanthropist.

Bianca’s DJ career began as a co-host for She Rocks on KXLU 88.9 FM in LA. This radio experience set the foundation for her DJ skills and taught her how verbally connect with listeners as an engaging host. But she had to learn the opposite In her transition to club DJing: “Since it’s in person, you have to perform in a different way, you have to connect with the crowd without words. Your music and your body language are the most important, people are listening but they are also watching you to see if you are into it.”

Now, Bianca balances her DJ gigs with school work as she pursues a master’s degree in Medical Anthropology at BU. Juggling two pursuits that require both early morning and late night hours is not easy, but Bianca seems to have found a rhythm. “These days, I spend my days doing schoolwork and my nights going out to play gigs or support my fellow DJs. Occasionally, when deadlines come up, you may find me reading on the T en route to the club, or perhaps finishing the last paragraph of an essay in a booth while waiting for my set time.” Though her school work is her highest priority, she says that she’s willing to sacrifice a few hours of sleep for a promising DJ opportunity.

Some may lament leaving LA behind, with its trendy clubs, hot Low End Theory and Brainfeeder beats scene, and world-class sushi — especially in favor of a little city full of undergrads slurping beer and far less classy clam chowdah. But, Bianca has found much to love about Boston. While LA venues suffer from distant geography that complicates party-hopping, Boston’s small size makes it relatively easy to check out multiple parties in a single night, especially within Central Square’s main drag. Bianca also says that “party crews [in LA] are also pretty well established, so it’s difficult to ‘get in’ to DJ a specific party if you’re not already part of that crew,” whereas Boston boasts a small but welcoming community that eagerly promotes local talent.

Further, she adds, “In LA if you’re not a model/fashionista/celebrity party girl, it can be harder to book the higher profile gigs.” While sexism in the DJ world is decidedly not limited to LA, let’s hope that Boston’s more relaxed culture means fewer prohibitive standards for women behind the decks.

But it’s no secret that Boston still has some work to do in terms of open-mindedness. LA’s rich diversity translates to a receptiveness to different types of music and venues, and Bianca sees Boston lacking in this realm. She says, “I do wish the Boston scene was less homogenous among some of the major downtown clubs. It seems like the EDM movement has taken a tight hold and there’s not much room for other genres. I understand it’s a business and they are catering to their clientele, but I’ve seen more commercial clubs in LA break that mold and still be successful, so hopefully it’s a model some of these Boston clubs can adapt.”

Since moving to our shores Bianca has bolstered her repertoire with more East Coast sounds, including Jersey club, dancehall, dembow, juke, and future bass. These are all featured in her mix for DJ Set of the Week, alongside house, bounce, hip hop, and baile funk. The aptly named “Black Lace and Booty Bass” mix is a collaboration with Leah V, one of Boston’s favorite local DJs. It’s a ridiculously fun rapid-fire blend of booty shaking hits and hidden gems, proof that Bianca has reached her asspirations.

Catch Bianca Oblivion this Saturday night at the ICA, warming up the crowd for the 2nd Annual Boston Harbor Fireworks. She’ll be spinning upbeat, playful, feel good jams to set a chill summer night vibe. Expect to hear both old and nu disco, 90s house, and plenty of funk — a fitting backdrop for cocktails at sunset before end-of-summer fireworks.

BIANCA OBLIVION AT BOSTON HARBOR FIREWORKS. THE INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, 100 NORTHERN AVENUE, BOSTON, SAT 8.30, 6-10PM/ALL AGES/FREE @ICAINBOSTONICABOSTON.ORG

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