Hardstyle is a fairly new genre of electronic dance music, originating from musical experimentation by hardcore artists in the Netherlands during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Several sub-genres of hardstyle have since emerged, including rawstyle, which is influenced by Dutch hardcore, and dubstyle -- a fusion of hardstyle and dubstep. Extremely popular in Europe, hardstyle has slowly but surely begun to infiltrate the American club scene.
Iran-born and Los Angeles-bred hardstyle artist Lady Faith hopes to keep the momentum going. She is an EDM ambassador, bringing her special brand of American-Persian hardstyle to uncharted territories across the globe. Gimme Noise had a chance to chat with Lady Faith before she returns to Minneapolis to fill the First Avenue mainroom with pounding kicks and bass this Friday at Bassgasm 10.
See Also: Bassgasm 10 lineup announced
Gimme Noise: How did you decide to pursue a career in electronic music?
I mean, it wasn't really a hard decision. I went to school for network engineering, because most Middle Eastern families require you to go to school and get a proper education. I never really had anything in mind that I definitely wanted to do and had to do, so I went through school and started working as an IT person. Through those years I always loved music and wanted to be involved in music. While I was going to school I went to a few clubs with my friends and saw a female DJ. I was like, 'That's it! That's my calling! I was supposed to see her tonight and understand that this is what I'm supposed to do!' So I got my turntables, and started practicing my ass off. Slowly but surely, I taught myself everything, and then came out, had a few shows, quit my job, and became a DJ!
How did your family react?
I had support. My parents, thank God, are very liberal, and they've always supported me in everything I've decided to do in my life. It was a little interesting for them; they didn't know how to deal with it exactly. My father certainly never wanted me to be an entertainer, but you know, he loves me and cares about me a lot, and he just wanted me to be happy. I knew that in the back of their minds they were kind of hesitant about the whole thing, but they didn't show that to me. Now, they couldn't be more proud. They're so happy for me.
Have you had any backlash from anyone, being Middle Eastern?
Oh, not at all. Persians in general are music lovers, we all grew up with music and have a deep appreciation of music, whatever kind it is.
You're from Iran, correct?
I was born there and I moved to America when I was about 7 or 8. Last time I was there was about 14 years ago. I do have some family there, but my immediate family lives in California with me. I have a lot of cousins living in America. I think I have about 30 of them. With Middle Eastern families, there's so many children! I don't feel the void because they're all around me and I get to see them and be with them whenever I want.
Is there any kind of an underground dance music scene in Iran?
No. It's not that way in Iran. You could be arrested or punished severely. There is music there, though the artists are mainly men. The only time you would see women involved in those shows would be as a part of the orchestra. Women don't sing, they're not allowed to show their hair... People have parties all the time; they listen to music and have a great time in their homes, but you just don't get to see it.
Its not all bad, though. People may think oh, those people are oppressed, they don't have any freedom. People have just learned to do things inside of their own homes instead of in public. They cover themselves when they leave home, but it's not as bad as people may think. In the news, its more dramatic when you show girls walking around in head to toe black. That makes news. When you see girls walking around with a full face of makeup and just a little scarf on their head, with basically all of their hair showing, that's not news, that's not dramatic enough.
It is incredible how things in the Middle East are often portrayed by American news outlets... Anyway, back to your music. Why did you choose hardstyle?
Hardstyle is the best form of EDM out there, in my opinion. I started playing hard trance and hard house in the beginning of my career, and I heard hardstyle here and there and started to fall in love with it. I felt like it was better than what I was playing. With hard trance, the melodies were very similar, but it was the kick and bass that really got me. I was like all right, I've got to choose this style now, because I feel like its so much better than what I've been playing. I've been hooked since then.
What direction do you see hardstyle moving in, particularly in America?
When I first started playing it, it was very underground. Now, because we have support from major promotors in America, it's become more popular. It still hasn't gotten to the place where trance and house are. It's going to take time. There are still a ton of people in America who haven't heard the music, or have heard it but they don't understand it. We need help from the bigger promotors to spread the sound and make it bigger. I can see it becoming extremely popular here.[page]
How is your goal of bringing hardstyle around the globe progressing?
I don't need to take it to Europe...this sound came from Europe. It's extremely popular over there. I'm talking about taking my American hardstyle sound, or American-Persian hardstyle sound all around the world, and showing the world what American hardstyle artists have to offer. I do get opportunities sometimes to go to places that other hardstyle artists haven't been to, or where EDM fans haven't been introduced to hardstyle. It gives me great pleasure to go to those places, one being India. They don't get a lot of hardstyle artists over there. I'm just thrilled to be going there soon.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Oh, everywhere, absolutely everywhere. I grew up listening to a ton of different styles of Persian music and Arabic music. Classical music was my absolute favorite. I listened to many international sounds. I draw inspiration from everything that I love, and I love music in general. It really doesn't matter what genre it is. My song "Carmen" is a full-on opera, and "Moxie" is a very trancy and bouncy type of weird hardstyle. I don't follow any rules. I just do what's in my mind and what I feel like sounds good to me, and what I would love to play out.
How are you and your "Queen Bitch of the Universe" persona different?
Faith is a very shy, quiet, reserved person. Lady Faith/Queen Bitch of the Universe is very outgoing, outspoken, crazy, fun, life of the party. I guess you could say that my alter ego comes out when I go to these events.
Do you feel like that protects you in some way?
It's helped her come out of her shell. I can see sometimes that the normal, quiet, shy person goes away and I kind of become a much more outspoken, happier person. The two worlds have gotten mixed together in a really good way for me, and its made me see the world in a different way and brought me out of my shell. I appreciate both sides. I think they balance each other out.
What are some challenges that you've faced along the way?
When I first started, there were female DJs out there, but not a lot of popular ones. Nobody really believed in me, or thought I would go anywhere. People were like oh, she's a girl, she's cute, we'll put her on stage and see what happens. I had a ton of gigs where I didn't get paid, and I had to go to dangerous places and spin. I remember one of them was in Compton, California, and it got shut down after the second track I played because of a drive-by shooting.
I basically had to crawl through the mud and pull myself up. I'm really happy that I got to experience all of that in the beginning of my career because it's formed who I am today, and I have a certain appreciation for the music, the promotor, the fans, everyone, because of everything that I've gone through. I think that every artist has to go through those steps and climb that mountain to really understand what they have when they get it, and appreciate it, and not develop a massive head and get a big ego. It builds you. It makes you who you are as an artist.
What would you say to your fans?
I love them dearly, and I appreciate their love and support through all these years. I can't wait to see what the future holds for all of us and the music that we all love.
What can we expect from your set this Friday?
My usual self: crazy, fun, energetic Lady Faith. We're going to have a really good show. Hopefully I'll get to play my new track. I'm really excited to be back.
Lady Faith is a headliner this Friday, March 21 at Bassgasm 10, which is taking over all of First Avenue. Party starts at 6 PM, $20 advance/$25 door, 18+
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