Marie Anne @ Chi

The term 'club classics' has a whole new meaning at Chi as the region's leading lady DJ takes to the desks for an evening stroll down clubbers' memory lane.

DJ feature

How long have you been playing the violin?
I was trained classically from the age of six and then I went on to study classical violin at college. My father was a classical guitarist and was very successful, so he would advise me and help me out a lot with my own music.

How does your set work?
I improvise, basically. I ask the DJ to put some house music on, really funky stuff, then after that I will just improvise and play just what I feel. I use all the different styles I know – classical, jazz, world music – and I just mix it up into something I like. Every time I play I meet a new DJ, so it’s always a new experience.

What separates your classical music from your modern tunes?
It’s a different mindset. I really love classical musicians, but pop artists are so fun. And I really enjoy playing alongside electric instruments like electric guitar and bass.

Sounds like you’d get on with Hendrix. What drew you to house music, then?
Two months after I got my diploma I went to London. Six months later, I started playing jazz sessions with different artists. I still played in the orchestras, but was drawn to all the other styles of music. A jazz keyboardist gave my number to a house music agent, who called me about playing house music, and I thought why not?

Do your classical peers disapprove of these transitions?
Not really – 10 years ago they would have. Some of them are narrow minded but now a lot of classical musicians want to play contemporary music because it’s a lot of fun and it pays better.

Have you done any modern music that isn’t house?
Last year I played with Razorlight at a festival in front of thousands of people and it was so exciting. I’m shyer and more frightened of playing in front of 10 people than I am 10,000 because when you play to a big venue in front of thousands they bring you to take risks and inspire you because they are having such a good time.

Were you a Razorlight fan before touring with them?
I had heard of them, but I wasn’t really listening to rock music. I was really surprised when I got the job. But now I’m addicted to Razorlight’s music, and rock music in general.

Classical or contemporary: which audience do you prefer?
The contemporary audience. A classical audience is usually older. I prefer playing in front of people my age and getting their instant reaction as well. If they like it, they really show it.

Are you composing any original music for yourself?
No, nothing at the moment. But when I do, it will be a mix of funky house and jazz. I havn’t started work on it seriously because I’m still searching for myself and finding my compositional voice.

Is life as a classical musician competitive?
I’m not a competitive person myself, but yes it can be very tough. If you do the wrong bowing or play a wrong note in an orchestra you feel terrible; they have very strict ways of playing. It’s a different experience with contemporary acts.

How is the experience different?
There’s a different vibe. After studying classically I was just looking for something different. Improvising and playing from your heart is so different from playing classical music. When I have the music in front of me, I just can’t get creative like that.

Marie Anne plays Chi on July 17.

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