Eclectic bangers with imaginary dance floors in mind.
Hailing from Vancouver's lower mainland, DJ, artist and activist Venetta, real name Betty Mulat, is a mainstay in the city's electronic scene, known for her wiggly hyperactive acid-flecked sets and community organizing. Over the past few years, she's branched out into production, appearing on Physically Sick 3 and the Minimal Violence-curated SOLIDARITY compilation.
In 2017, Mulat cofounded NuZi Collective alongside Zam Zam to strengthen and promote Black culture in the city, focusing on Black women, indigenous women, trans people and queer women of colour. Returning from trips to the East Coast, the lack of diversity in Vancouver's dance music community felt even more stark, as she told the CBC in 2019. "How is it that there's these queer Black parties going on everywhere, and in Vancouver I go out to a rave and I'm the only Black girl and I feel like I'm being stared at and being ostracized?"
Since forming NuZi the duo have brought in artists like Josey Rebelle, Suzi Analogue and Quay Dash for events in Vancouver, organized community healing nights, published zines and curated an interdisciplinary festival for the seventh edition of Unit/Pitt's Wrong Wave.
While Covid-19 threw a wrench in her plans to tour internationally through 2020, the interruption has done little to slow Mulat's roll, taking the time instead to play virtual events like Refraction Festival, launching NuZi's mix series and founding the Vancouver Black Therapy and Advocacy Foundation. Established as a GoFundMe in summer 2020, the foundation started with a goal of raising $20,000 to provide access to barrier-free mental health resources for 10+ Black folks in the lower mainland. Since then, Mulat has raised over $200,000 and converted the project from a fundraiser to a not-for-profit.
For her RA podcast, Mulat leans into high energy music as a form of escapism, deftly weaving together deep house, industrial electro and acid techno as she tries to imagine what her first club set post-pandemic club might sound like.
What have you been up to recently?
Spending most of my time at home and making lots of soup with my instant pot. Obsessing over skincare routines and spending a wild amount of time on TikTok. Been feeling a lot more inspired so I've been trying to hit the studio more and get back into music production, whenever I don't have a paper due.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded at Deep Blue Studios in Vancouver. It was recorded into Ableton with two Pioneer CDJ2000NXS2s, and a DJM 700 mixer. I recorded a few different variations and ended up selecting the version I was most satisfied with. It was a great way to get me back in the groove of things as I've spent the majority of the winter listening to a lot of Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Burna Boy and Ethiopian music to help keep me as optimistic as possible during these... unprecedented... times. I can't listen to electronic music without getting all nostalgic and missing the club!
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
This mix features some of my all time favorites, tracks from friends, tracks that move me and make me feel some type of way. I tried to craft a set that would mimic the first set I would play at the club post-pandemic. Lots of bangers and tracks that get people moving. I kept the energy as high as possible which made the recording experience way too fun as it provided a form of escapism. Lots of times I had to stop recording since I would find myself dancing too hard and forget I was even recording to begin with. So it's definitely a good mix to workout to or get you hyped up. Genres don't matter to me as I've never had a linear approach to mixing. What I find important is melding as many sounds together that you typically wouldn't think would mesh, and incorporating as many different tempos and styles so you get a perfect mix of hard-hitting yet smooth sounds.
How has NuZi Collective and Vancouver's dance music community been affected by and adapted to the pandemic? What do you think it will look like on the other side?
So many venues have had to shut down or are on the brink of shutting down, so I don't know how things will look once things open back up. Things were really starting to take off for so many artists in the community. Now here we are just trying to navigate and survive and, one day, thrive. Livestreams were super popular at the beginning of the pandemic last spring, but I feel like most people are worn out by Zoom fatigue and feel disillusioned by the fact that there still isn't a clear end date to all of this in sight.
There's been more and more initiatives cropping up that provide collective care and support for artists and communities struggling such as mutual aid networks in response to the financial problems caused by the pandemic, but these resources can only help so much. I know things will hit the fan once everything opens back up, and people will stay going out, making up for lost time.
This mix ends with an unreleased collaboration with ZDBT, have you been working on any other new music lately? What has the process of branching out from DJing to production over the past few years been like for you?
I was working on production relentlessly last year and during the beginning of the pandemic but when the Vancouver Black Therapy & Advocacy Foundation blew up over the summer I had to take a step back as I found myself with less time to work on production and music in general. I first started trying to get into production around 2017 and was lucky enough to have friends who taught me about sound design, composition and synthesis. I really love production but the first steps to learning can be tedious and daunting at times, and it can be a struggle to carve out dedicated time for the steep technological learning curve it demands.
However, when I arrive in that space, it's completely rewarding and a direct investment in my own sustainability and creative practice. DJing has definitely helped with production as I didn't have a musical background prior. I still have a long way to go but it’s obviously a never ending learning process and patience pays off.
What are you up to next?
I've also been getting more into creative direction and have been working on a publication with my friend Mal called Dispone, which launches this month. I'm planning on working on more creative projects over the summer. For NuZi, we're planning on releasing more mixes from various artists on our new mix series and have stuff in the works for the summer. I'm tired of pandemic isolation but I'm also learning to listen to my body and be more intentional with my time.