“music that moves you has a lot of different contexts. i can be moved at home, i can be moved on the dancefloor,” sarah lamb is explaining the philosophy behind the hushlamb mantra, “ the natural reaction to music is to shake and move your body. it brings community together. we all become a part of it.” certainly we do, particularly when it comes to the kind of music delivered by the event crew that she runs with her longtime friend and business partner, DJ/producer alicia hush. they affectionately call it their musical lovechild.
when i first arrive at sarah’s house on the outskirts of montreal’s gay village, she’s sitting in a chair on her balcony, and alicia is cutting her hair with a pair of kitchen scissors. there’s sangria. sarah and alicia have known each other for years, but it doesn’t stop them from being incredibly open and welcoming — qualities that extend entirely to the way they throw parties and the way they distribute music. there’s no politics here.
of all the interviews i’ve done, this was, surprisingly, the interview where i spoke the least and asked the fewest questions. sarah has a poetic way of speaking, of putting into words the exact answer you want without you even asking. by contrast and as her moniker would suggest, alicia is shy. a girl of few words. but like her music, when she speaks, it is impactful — less is definitely more. they balance one another. it’s been almost a decade since they first started going out together in toronto, meeting up on the dancefloor in much the same way that they do today, an experience they hope to bring to with their parties and events as hushlamb.
alicia hush: we met on a dancefloor, of course. at comfort zone in toronto.
sarah lamb: i saw alicia from across the room [laughs].i see this girl and she’s dancing her ass off! she had super dope style, too! i initially went over to pick her up!
SL: eventually we started hanging out off the dancefloor. in each other, we found a very music based friendship. we were at my house, searching for music, and dancing in my living room. we’d have baltimore house days and shit! i was falling in love with music all over again, both at home and on the dancefloor.
and alicia, you were making music at the time?
AH: no, i was DJing here and there, it wasn’t my everything but i was taking gigs on the side. being a girl DJ, you were really treated like garbage. so sarah decided she would be my manager, to help keep everything in line, to help me get paid, to make sure i got treated properly.
how did you guys decide to found hushlamb?
SL: we, for whatever reason, decided that we needed a name [laughs]. that doesn’t even make sense! when you’re a manager, you don’t need a name. but alicia would always call me her little lamb, so we decided we would be called hushlamb. i was trying to get alicia a gig at this bar, and the owner ended up offering us our own night. the light went off! so then…hushlamb! we already had the name!
both alicia and sarah are montreal expats, originally from toronto where the music scene, while growing, is very different from the one here in montreal. although they founded hushlamb productions in toronto, their recent move to montreal has helped get things off the ground in a way they didn’t think possible, finding support from an enthusiastic community that is really in it for the music. when i ask them how it’s going in montreal, the answer is a unanimous “best decision ever!”
AH: at one point when we were doing parties in toronto but we couldn’t get anyone to come to them! and now we’re throwing parties in montreal, and everyone is coming out, and it’s crazy. that has been the biggest boost for us, that people are interested in what we’re doing!
SL: we have a great team here, our family has grown so much. we’re putting our energies together, and the energies of our crew. the response has been amazing, that’s what’s made our jaws drop.
what is a sound that you hear in toronto that you never hear in montreal?
SL: i would definitely say “white noise.” the thing i notice most about montreal is that you can walk down the street and it’s silent. it’s silent! whether it’s traffic or street noise or music or even just the vibrations from these huge skyscrapers….it’s always something.
SL: exactly. that’s what i noticed the most about montreal. it’s a city filled with festivals and music and people, and you can walk down the street and have silence.
what about a sound you hear in montreal that you don’t hear in toronto?
both: french! [laughs]
has the french thing held you guys back at all, musically?
AH: musically it hasn’t been an issue at all.
SL: that’s the beautiful thing about music, it’s the universal language.
it’s clear that alicia and sarah speak the same language creatively — if the events they throw are any indication. the two parties they’ve hosted in montreal so far have been absolutely seamless: perfect distillations of the kind of mentality they they project and the kind of open and honest people that they are. phenomenal music holds it all together: sarah’s right, it’s the universal language.
can you share a favourite moment from either of the parties you threw?
AH: there’s a moment during every party where we kind of look at each other and without saying anything, we both know we’re thinking the same thing. “holy fuck. there are people here who are dancing and having fun…how did this happen?!”
SL: creating something is creating something out of love. when two people come together and create something out of love, that love extends beyond into our community. all of those points come together in a certain moment when you throw a party. it’s magic. it’s really magic.
AH: the other magic moment is at the end of the night when there’s nothing left to do, and we meet up on the dancefloor and it’s like…such an amazing feeling. the final dance! [laughs]
this week marks the debut of the hushlamb label project, a collaborative effort that is premiering with the release of their first artist compilation album. the album will showcase the crew that’s been with hushlamb since its beginnings — regular cohorts like zeina, zaid edghaim, billy dalessandro, and ana+one, plus artists like talal & zoi, matt and mark thibideau, and berk offset. dubbed les fruits de la famille, the album will be released digitally and physically on july 10th 2014, with a release party to take place at laika montreal that night.
what exactly is the hushlamb label project?
AH: we’ve been talking about this for years, and we’ve wanted to do it for so long, but we agreed we would only do it when it felt right.
SL: we went to this bar. remember? we went to that bar? we met up and we decided we wanted to do a label, just like that. we agreed at the bar that we would do it, but that we would do it when it felt right. and that’s kind of been the purveying way with which we deal with everything.
so, what’s your goal with the project?
AH: the thing is that sarah came up with the name and it’s very much about it being a project. it’s not just hushlamb, it’s the hushlamb label project. it really is just a little project for us. how far can we go with this? what can we do with this? it’s an experiment.
the journey, not the destination.
SL: definitely. we know what our formula is. finding music that moves us, inspires us, and sharing it with people, through parties or through our crew, and now through the label. the release captures who we are, from when we began until now. it’s a reflection of us.
AH: this release is so diverse too. you couldn’t say that hushlamb has a set “sound,” because as a crew everyone is so different and it’s very clear in this album how diverse we all really are.
you mentioned “music that moves you.” what kind of music moves you in a physical way?
AH: we’re both into bass!
SL: but less is more. the bass, for sure. but when it’s cleaner, when it’s not filled with stuff, so you can really enjoy what’s there.
what about in an emotional way?
AH: that i don’t even know how to describe it. i can’t say what the sound is but certain frequencies, certain chords, certain pads that trigger emotions in me.
SL: that’s tough. i don’t have the language to explain it. it’s just something that when it’s happening, it happens.
eventually we get to talking in-depth about the release. the name, les fruits de la famille is a nod to their new found french roots, and of course, the work of the crew in its entirety to get this project and every other project off the ground. sarah jokes that even the interview is a reflection of the album’s fruits theme as she swirls the oranges, strawberries and peaches around in the bottom of her sangria glass.
SL: we’re trying not to be prescriptive. it’s not what we wanna do. but summer was coming so we wanted to put something together that would sound good for the season. we’re very affected by the fact that we’re here in montreal now. these really are the fruits of our family.
if your release was a fruit salad, who would represent what?
SL: we’re not very keen on boxing people into categories — apples, oranges, pears, melons [laughs] — because it traps things in a way that isn’t always healthy. we just throw it all in there. fruit salad, you know?
AH: we definitely don’t wanna pigeonhole ourselves into a sound, an aesthetic, etc. we want to be fresh all the time.
SL: definitely fresh fruit!
you can purchase your hard copy of les fruits de la famille at laika montreal on july 10th 2014 between 10 pm and 3 am, or you can download the digital release via beatport, itunes, and juno. stay in the loop with hushlamb by following them on facebook.