DJ Spotlight on Blackcat
One of Toronto’s hardest working DJs for over 25 years, Blackcat basically doesn’t sleep. He’s been featured in every newspaper, he’s outlasted every queer publication Toronto has seen, and he’s one of the reasons we have a place to party during Caribana weekend every year.
“The funky dread” got his start at El Convento Rico, and thanks to his passion and having experience in every queer bar and club in the city, he knows his way around pretty much every genre and dancefloor. This Toronto native of Jamaican descent can effortlessly weave a web of dancehall, hip hop, R&B, dance, soca, and his first love, house music.
Along with spinning for College Night Wednesdays, Big Primpin, Birthday Sex (RIP), Yes Yes Y’all, Chopped, and the newly created Ovah with Mark-Ché of the RUDE Collective, Blackcat is a fixture in the ballroom scene and has his own monthly party called Go Hard (happening after Blockobana on Sunday, August 5 at Club 120).
Watch out for the highly anticipated annual Miss Opulence drag pageant on November 3, and don’t be afraid to go say hi after the function.
How did you get our DJ name?
One of my nicknames in high school was Black Cat because I love the song by Janet Jackson. When I was thinking of a DJ name, I first thought of DJ 1071, but that looked like 107.1, which was a rock station. So I decided I wanted something else, and my best friend said, “Why not Blackcat?”
Is DJing something you’ve already dreamed of doing?
I look back at my life and I realize that I’ve always been a DJ. When I was small, I used to be the one in charge of the music. My dad collected records, and I would play them for everybody in the house. I guess I was destined to be a DJ.
We are already big fans of your, but why does this city need a DJ like yourself?
I feel like this city has a lot of DJs that specialize in one type of music. I like to spin everything, and I think it makes me a versatile and well-rounded DJ to be able to spin different genres well. It also takes a whole hell of a lot more work, LOL, but I love it.
Give us three words, verbs or adjectives that describe your musical styling?
I’m “smooth” when I mix any genre of music. “Energized” because I’m a dancer, and so I play my music with that in my mind. I want people to dance. The beats I like to play are “funky” – that’s why they call me “the funky dread.”
DJ Pet peeve?
Demanding that I play a song for you right now. Anybody that knows me knows that you don’t get far doing that.
DJ fave moment everytime you spin?
When I get the crowd to move exactly the way I want them to move. That gets me every time.
Secret weapon song?
When I first started DJing 25 years ago, it was anything by Madonna. Nowadays, Beyoncé and Rihanna or anything dancehall are my weapons.
Other DJs in the city that you love?
DJ Craig Dominic because of his love for the old-school ’90s R&B and hip hop. His knowledge is second to none.
DJ Karim Olen Ash because he likes to take risks when he spins and because his love of house music reminds me of my own. The first time I met him, I told him that he sounded like a younger me, and I meant it. I never heard someone spin like that before. He impressed me.
DJ Prestige because when she’s in her zone there’s not many that can touch her. She understands dancehall like very few others that I’ve come across. She makes me want to hear it and enjoy it.
DJ John Caffery because every time I walk into a room and this man is spinning music, I dance. That’s a big deal. His musical selection is like nobody else’s, and he still gets me up.
DJ Kevin Williams (DJ Father) because he is the smoothest house mixer I have ever heard, and every day I tried to emulate him. He’s the reason I spin and the reason I started spinning.
Strangest spot you've ever played?
I really haven’t had to DJ in any strange spots. I guess the one time that I was stuck in a room with no windows and I couldn’t see the crowd and the crowd couldn’t see me and I had to spin like I could see the crowd. That was pretty strange, but in that situation I pretty much DJed for myself and made myself hype in hopes that it translated to making them hype in the other room.
You are known as one of the hardest working DJs in the city! What keeps you going?!
Besides the fact that it is a job and it pays my bills, I love knowing that in some way I have changed someone’s life with the music that I chose to spin that day. It makes me happy to cause people to feel emotion with the music that I spin.