No matter how far you slide inside the centre of your mind, everyone remembers their first Shambhala, Salmo River’s annual electronic music festival. For celebrated Canadian DJ Andrea Graham, aka The Librarian, it was in 2000 when she jumped in a car on a late-night whim, bound for her first EDM adventure in the wilderness.
It was early on in the story of “Shambs,” before the fest went viral, and the sonic explosion rolling through the forest took Graham into another dimension.
“It just clicked. I immediately knew I wanted to express music in that kind of setting — outdoors with an incredible sound system — and have that full body experience of electronic music,” she says.
“I immediately knew I wanted to express music in that kind of setting — outdoors with an incredible sound system.”
By 2007, after playing in bands and solo acoustic sets, Graham got a computer, turntables, some records, and plunged into DJ land. Although she was an avid snowboarder in Whistler, off the slopes she was roaming Vancouver’s sweaty dance clubs immersed in the revolutionary sounds of dubstep and grime that were coming from the U.K.
The contrast between Whistler’s “funky, happy” ski-town lifestyle and the big city’s underground nightlife made Graham feel “a bit like an outlaw.” Yet, that sharp division drives her creative energy and inspires her DJ sets.
“I spent many, many years dedicated to snowboarding, and I now mountain bike three, or four days a week. That’s the other side to my personality,” she explains. “But I feel those things actually fit together with DJing. There’s this parallel when pedalling up a hill; you aren’t multitasking, it just frees your mind.”
“Then on top and you’re ready to drop into a line, whether on a bike or snowboarding, there’s no turning back, just this moment of deciding to commit and going for it. It’s similar to walking on stage, you’re going to do this thing you can’t back out of.”
Navigating that downward rush, riding electronic waves, and pulsing with spontaneity is a skill set Graham brings to her shows. Her focus on dynamic and innovative art and music pulls froma broad spectrum of genres, and is also at the heart of Bass Coast Festival, B.C.’s prominent “boutique” electronic festival which Graham co-founded to complement Shambhala.
“I want my sets to always be changing, and if I don’t have something fresh of my own, I’ll play other music. I’m okay with that — I love the art of DJing. Digging and finding new things to play is just as exciting to me.”