In the course of a decade, HARD has become one of dance music’s most globally recognized event producers. This August marks a major milestone for the brand: the 10-year anniversary of its flagship festival, HARD Summer. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Gary Richards and co. have pulled out all the stops for their LA institution with prestigious headliners such as Dog Blood, Justice, Bassnectar, and Snoop Dogg. However, the festival’s enviable lineup extends far beyond its closing slots. Delving further into the lineup, we’ve tapped some of our favorite acts on the bill for an interview series leading up to the festival.
Call it American arrogance, but it’s always a bit of a surprise to come across an artist who has never visited the US, given the ever-expanding dance festival scene which has pervaded the country in the last decade. This year’s HARD Summer will mark the first time that Madam X steps stateside. However, a look over the British DJ’s résumé indicates how much her presence is needed across the pond.
In 2010, Madam X began her integral career in Manchester’s dance music scene as the co-founder of Big People Music (BPM), a label and producer of regular club nights in the city. In the years since, she has become a fixture in dance music broadcasting, with experience hosting programs on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, Channel 4, Rinse FM, and NTS Radio.
Madam X has also garnered a reputation as a key tastemaker in the UK bass scene because of her acute blending of the genre with elements of grime, techno and garage. For the last three years, she’s established herself perhaps most notably through her own KAIZEN imprint, which takes its name from the Japanese business philosophy of seeking “continual improvement.”
Since launching KAIZEN, Madam X has certainly continued to improve on her legacy, earning coveted DJ slots at Reading festival, a Bristol-set broadcast of the Boiler Room, and, most recently, Glastonbury. Indeed, HARD Summer is fortuitous to be the first American setting to become a part of the artist’s upward trajectory.
Read our interview with Madam X below.
What was your first label release? Would you still play it in a show?
Biome’s Griddled EP. Still bang it out today!
What has been the biggest breakthrough of your career?
Hard to say. There wasn’t really a pivotal moment or catalyst but I’m most proud of getting my KAIZEN label up & running and gigging all over the world. Djing at Manana festival in Cuba was so surreal, I didn’t even know they’d be into the music I play but it was so much fun
What are you looking forward to most about HARD Summer?
I’ve never been to the US! Really excited to fly over for the first time and see how you guys get down!
What is different about your experience performing at festivals now as opposed to the beginning of your career?
My style’s definitely developed as I’ve grown into my sound. I’m starting to see familiar faces prop up at the front row which is so cool. The crowds are definitely bigger now but I still find it mental that people take time out of their day to come and watch me. It’s honestly the nicest feeling!
If you could be another artist for a day, who would you pick?
DJ Khaled – he’s so extra
If you could recommend three artists to catch from the lineup, who would you pick?
Jackmaster and my girls Nina Las Vegas & Uniiqu3
If you were recruited to provide an Essential Mix in 2017, what’s the one song you couldn’t leave out?
Fargo – Biome (it’s not out yet but coming soon to KAIZEN. Absolute belter!)
Get a sense of Madam X’s style with her March 30 mix for NTS Radio.