10 Questions with ... Betsie Larkin
September 29, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1) Where are you from?
That's a complicated question actually. I was born on the East Coast in Pennsylvania, but I spent most of my childhood outside of Dallas, in the suburbs, which wasn't the most interesting place in the world. Now I'm living in San Francisco.
2) What made you settle on San Francisco?
I just love it; I just wanted to live there. I worked really hard. I lived in New York, I've lived in Los Angeles, but I always wanted to live in San Francisco, so I decided to finally move there and travel down to L.A. for work and do things remotely.
3) I started hearing about you in 2008 when you were working with Ferry Corsten. Is that when it began for you?
That's what I got into Dance music. It took off really quickly for me. Kind of embarrassingly I didn't know who Ferry was, but I got a chance to work with him and we wrote two songs in probably about two days, which included recording them. "Made Of Love" hit the Pop charts in Europe and then I was just completely sucked up into Dance music.
4) How did you first meet Ferry?
I met him through his manager; we had a mutual friend who had a licensing company in Los Angeles, invited both of us to a big dinner party and I ended up talking to Ferry's manager, who then put me in touch with Ferry after he heard my music. At the time I was doing artsy rock music.
5) You've worked with Gabriel & Dresden and Armin van Buuren; you have a pretty long resume of producers who you have worked with, how'd you go from working with Ferry to teaming up with these other iconic producers and DJs?
It's always a different story. Touring is basically one of the ways I find a lot of my collaborations; we meet on the road and then we exchange e-mails, phone numbers or whatever and then they either send me a track or I send them a vocal ... it can go kind of either way. Gabriel & Dresden, I was big fan of them ever since their motorcycle days; I always wanted to work with them and I reached out to them. Armin is someone who I had meet out and about for years and we finally got to work together.
6) What are you working on now?
Right now I'm doing something that I've never done before: I'm releasing music as a DJ, so I have a series of three albums coming out. It's going to be called Angels, Humans & Robots, and each mix will be branded with one of those titles. Each one will have three to four original songs and then a mix of my favorite music that I like to play when I'm performing as a DJ. I also have a new song coming; it's called "We Are The Sound." It's my favorite original song from my album that will be coming out. It has a great message and a great melody and I'm really excited to share it with everyone.
7) Most people know you as a vocalist, how did you make the transition to being a DJ?
I was out touring a lot and I don't know if you've ever seen vocalists perform live at clubs, venues and stuff. Typically the crowd is a little A.D.D.; you go up for maybe 20-30 minutes and then that's it. I just wanted to be out there engaging more; I was flying across the world sometimes to only perform 30 minutes and it just occurred to me I should be DJing to. I have a perspective as an artist and I have a certain taste that I think people would get into, so I learned how to DJ and started playing in San Francisco, and since I have gotten to play all over the place.
8) What's the biggest difference when you are DJing for a crowd versus singing for a crowd?
Singing is extremely personable; sometimes I feel a little more exposed when I'm up there a vocalist. I'm really sharing something that came from me, where as when you are DJ-ing you are kind of like part of the crowd, you're all just enjoying this music. That's a big thing ... the proximity. One thing I miss as a DJ sometimes is I'm behind the booth, as a singer I can get up there, really get down and reach out and touch people's hands. As a DJ you are kind of locked behind that booth. They are both totally different; the way you feel when you are doing one or the other is total different, so sometimes at shows I'll do both with separation, so I'll sing for a half-hour and then I'll take a break and go out and DJ for another hour or two. So yeah, it's been good.
9) Is there a producer or DJ that you would love to work with?
Working with Armin was amazing because he had been on my list. I was actually always a really big fan of his. I like Kaskade a lot, he puts out consistently good music. I love Eric Prydz; I don't really see myself on one of his records, but I just love his music so much that it would amazing to find something that somehow works with both of our artistic styles. Sometimes I love music that doesn't sound like me.
10) Let's leave singing out of it. If you could DJ for someone, who would you love to be able to open for?
It would be pretty cool to be able to open for Armin because it's that diehard Trance crowd and they are just amazing and his shows are just so beautiful and just so over the top. Just being in that environment be really crazy.
You have a radio show called Larke Radio; I believe you are up to episode 143. What can you tell us about the show?
I started Larke Radio and came up with a slogan for it -- "Music Without Boundaries." I wanted to be able to play whatever I wanted play, because before I was working with big Trance DJs, I was kind of in these artsy Rock bands. But I liked all kinds of music, so I wanted to create a radio show where I was very unapologetically genre breaking. Larke Radio is a mix of pretty much whatever I want to play with within the genre of Dance music, so I play a few Trance songs, I'll play some House and then the last song in every episode is hopefully something that will completely surprise everyone. So I might drop 10 BPM out of nowhere and it'll get really trippy. It's very diverse; that's what Larke Radio is all about.
We're in your car driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles or Las Vegas; what are your fans go to be surprised to hear that you are listening to in your car?
People were surprised when I started having my radio show because I didn't just play Trance even though a lot of my big collaborations have been with Trance artists. Sometimes I'll play something called my wildcard, which doesn't sound like dance at all. Sometimes I really like listening to Jazz late at night; there's something about being in a city and just seeing all the buildings; you get a real sense of the place you are in with Jazz music.
Is there a favorite city that you like to perform in?
There's something about performing in your hometown, because you get to know your fans. When I live in New York I probably would have said New York, but now that I live in San Francisco, I look at an audience and I know a bunch of people out there so I really love San Francisco. Although I think Melbourne was one of my favorite shows ever; the people were singing so loud that I couldn't hear myself singing at all, so Melbourne was a hi-lite. I'm kind of an indecisive person; don't you like how I gave you four or five answers for one question?
What's the one must-have travel item?
Water, that's the cure-all for jet lag, headaches and cold sweats -- all those good things you experience when you travel as a touring artist.