Meet Bambii, the life and soul of Toronto’s club scene

Watch the video for her debut dancehall single “NITEVISION” exclusively here.

by Hazel Ong
13 November 2019, 2:00pm

After years of DJing Toronto’s flourishing underground club circuit, local artist Bambii is taking the leap into creating music of her own with debut single “NITEVISION”. An addictive party tune celebrating the importance of women in club culture featuring Jamaican dancehall artist Pamputtae, we’ve got an exclusive first look at the accompanying music video co-directed by Bambii herself. If you’re lucky enough to have attended her notoriously rowdy party JERK, then you’ll know that this is pretty much what a night out with Bambii looks like.

Drawing influence from her Jamaican heritage, the diversity of her city, her beautiful friends and the thriving queer POC creative scene that surrounds her, this video is, in her own words, “the Toronto they don’t show you”. There are beautiful twerking bodies collaged with personal iPhone footage and shots of the condos that litter the skyline. Bambii wants this video to convey that even though the city might lack the resources and municipal support for DIY events that other larger cities have -- “we’re here”.

See what she’s on about and get to know Bambii below.

So, Bambii... tell us about your journey from DJing to making music.
I started playing around with making beats two or three years ago, but really tried to invest more energy into it at the top of last year. DJing is my whole life and being immersed in music from scenes around the globe really inspired me to become a producer. It’s been pretty difficult at times because production requires a lot of hours working alone and DJing is the literal opposite, requiring late nights and travelling. You get inspired but then never have time to work on anything! There are so many special connections and stories I want to talk about in my own productions, so I’m really excited to be moving into this space as an artist.

What sounds are you influenced by, both as a DJ and now as an artist?
Growing up in Toronto, I was really blessed to be exposed to so many different cultures and genres. I think about my mom, who had the strangest and best music taste. She played everything from reggae, house and ‘90s dancehall to jazz, classic rock, etc. Then I’d go outside and hear Bollywood music being blasted from cars in my South Asian/Caribbean ‘hood. In high school, I had a too-long indie rock and punk moment. I'm glad it ended but I still revisit secretly. After that there were a lot of dancehall parties that led to the discovery that I loved electronic music.

You’ve got Pamputtae on your debut single. How did you link up?
I’d made the instrumental for “NITEVISION” and knew right away that I needed some very strong female vocals for the track. Like, Lady Saw energy, you know? There’s this electronic group who I love called Bonjay and the vocalist Alanna, who had been visiting Jamaica, suggested Pamputtae. I sent her the demo and she pretty much killed the first take.

The video really highlights your hometown of Toronto. What did you want to convey about your city?
I think Toronto has a lot of visibility right now but the most subversive and interesting scenes go really overlooked. There’s blossoming rave culture, ballroom events, DIY parties, a huge Caribbean population, a very active queer POC arts scene. Yeah, we don’t have the resources or spaces we require, but we're here. I’ve toured a lot and all the travelling has made me really appreciate my community. I wanted to convey the special cultural overlaps that happen – the real dancers, the queens, the black girls, the fluidity, the artists – and how, collectively, no matter what you’ve heard, this is actually what makes Toronto cool.

Tell us about the people dancing in the video...
Everyone is literally my friend and that is exactly how we act at parties. It’s the Toronto they don’t show you!

How has where you’re from, both currently and culturally, influenced what you do?
My family is Jamaican and immigrated to Toronto along with a lot of other Caribbean families. I grew up in a predominantly Caribbean neighbourhood, in the church and extremely close to my very Jamaican great grandma. Back then my mom was a playwright and an artist. I find myself looking back a lot and realising how special and valuable these things were, things that I kind of took for granted as I got older. I’m influenced by my time in the EU witnessing the club scenes too and DJing in Montreal.

You just celebrated seven years of your party, JERK. What’s next?
Actually, JERK could actually be eight years old... I can’t remember right now. This year I’ve toured it a bit, we did events in L.A., New York and Halifax, which was cool! Hoping to bring it the EU too, and Asia maybe! I also want to bring my friends with me!

What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to making more music and, more than that, working on music videos. I’m always thinking up things when I’m sitting making beats, and I’m always so inspired by the people I meet in and out of the club. I want to weave all of these experiences and connections into my music and visuals.