When I spoke with DJ Heavygrinder, little did I expect one of the first statements out of her mouth to be, "Umm, I just crashed my car... and I'm on the way to Enterprise right now."
Her giggling is contagious (literally, she won't stop), and I couldn't help but laugh myself. I wanted to say, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" – but Bobbie (her real name) wouldn't be there until the following day. So it wouldn't have applied. She was heading into Sin City that weekend for Electric Daisy Carnival, where she would be spinning from 3-4 p.m. at The Hard Rock Hotel Pool Party, hosted by EDM Magazine. This is a pretty big deal in a DJ's career.
"I'm probably going to lose my voice after EDC, too," she says, upon hearing how raspy my own vocal chords were following the aftermath of Movement Electronic Music Festival. We came to the consensus its just an unavoidable by-product of music festivals. But hey, it happens – and hell, it's usually worth it. It's a sign that you've had a good time. And it definitely doesn't stop Bobbie from being excited to travel some more. There's one stop she's looking forward to most. Take a guess – if you didn't say "Detroit!" shame on you.
"Although I look forward to every single show and I'm always excited, I'm really looking forward to playing at Bleu," she says with another giggle. (The giggling was just so adorable, I couldn't help but smile throughout the majority of the interview). As her debut in Detroit proper, this will be her first experience spinning in the hometown of techno. And she's super stoked.
Besides being excited to come play in our city, Bobbie has been keeping busy working on her music. She has two releases coming out this summer. One is called Sway for Bugeyed Records, which includes names such as ZEDD and Lucky Date, and if you haven't checked out this label, it's worth a listen. The other is a compilation for Dim Mak Records, founded by Steve Aoki – who happens to have a special meaning in Bobbie's life. "He's my friend and my top influence," she says, "and I really look up to him and what he's doing."
When Bobbie first began her musical career, however, her main influence was Derrick Carter. And before Derrick Carter – before her days of DJing, before she even hit middle school – she had already realzied her inspiration and passion for EDM. Her draw to the genre actually began early in her childhood.
"When I first heard 'Children' by Robert Miles – I think it was in elementary school – yeah, it was in elementary school – wow! I just fell in love with the music," she says emphatically. "Then, I got into DJing my sophomore year of high school. My friend's little brother DJed, and he got me started. And I just never stopped." And she truly never stopped, getting further into the music and traveling the world throughout her teens. She began by spinning drum and bass and hard house in 2001. Yes, hard house may have fizzled out over the years, but drum and bass hasn't.
"I love drum and bass. I'm listening to it in the car right now! But I'm a huge metal head, too...and I even like country," she laughs. (I secretly throw up the metal horns at this point, as I'm the same way.) In fact, her DJ name – Heavygrinder – is an homage to her favorite death metal band, Cannibal Corpse.
The rest of her story isn't a fairy-tale climb to success, though. Darker moments filled much of the timeframe that elapsed from her beginning moments to her current status. As a female DJ trying to emerge in a scene dominated by men, she encountered a lot of difficulties. There was a lot of criticism, a lot of hating and a lot of nights spent going home crying.
At the time, there were very few successful female DJs and it was tough to break through the barrier. Although she describes it as much easier for female DJs nowadays, things weren't so pleasant and glamorous in the past. But Bobbie didn't let any of this set her back. She pushed through with her love of music and never ever gave up.
"It was difficult until probably 2007. There was so much female [DJ] bashing. But thanks to my fans, I stayed motivated. My fans kept me around. If it wasn't for them, I don't know what would have happened," she says. A strong believer of the notion that music is a universal language, her work is always dedicated to those that backed her up. Bobbie's fans mean everything to her and are the reason behind everything she does.
Her advice to aspiring female DJs is simple. "Stick with the love of music; don't let the haters get to you," she says. "People will ALWAYS hate on you when you're doing something right!" I couldn't have said it better myself. We all know sayings like "haters gonna hate" and "haters make us famous." Bobbie is a real-life example of someone who used that hate as fuel and rose above to become the strong, talented and successful artist she is today. We're happy she never gave up, because her style and attitude are one of a kind. | RDW
DJ HEAVYGRINDER • 6/30, 10 p.m. • Bleu Detroit • 1540 Woodward Ave., Detroit • 313.974.7799 • bleudetroit.com