From mixing beats in a bedroom to opening for Chainsmokers
Mofe Adeniran, Contributor
Young and capable with an eye for detail with a desire to make music “for the girlies,” Jade Ade-Yusuf is a new DJ to the Calgary music scene. Specializing in house music and playing at clubs all over Calgary, Ade-Yusuf has grown exponentially since starting in 2020. She was born in Nigeria and lives in Calgary and when she’s not throwing down sick beats she works in marketing.
Regarding her musical influences, Ade-Yusufs’ taste covers many genres. “I like a little bit of everything,” Ade-Yusufs said with an easy laugh. She loves female rap artists like Flo Milli, Nicki Minaj and Doja Cat, and gets inspiration for her mixes from the artists that she plays on repeat.
“I remember I started getting into house music by listening to BBC Radio One.” Ade-Yusufs said as she recalls the very beginning of her music journey. BBC Radio One is a popular radio station managed by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Finding the culture interesting, Ade-Yusuf started getting to British TV shows like popular teen drama Skins and this led to her further exploration of what else the UK had to offer. “I got into BBC Radio One as a youngster on Tumblr, people were posting gifs of British TV shows and that’s how I started getting into UK media,” said Ade-Yusuf.
Around 2013, in junior high, Ade-Yusuf dove into more British pop culture and decided to extend her interest from British TV to British radio. “BBC Radio One had a Friday radio show and I just used to listen to it, and because the UK was ahead it would play on Fridays after school.” She became a huge fan.
“There was almost a solid year where I would just be listening to BBC Radio One’s dance hits and listen to their top hits countdown,” said Ade-Yusuf. She considers this to be one of the biggest influences to her love of house music.
Instead of listening to another Spotify playlist, Ade-Yusuf gravitated towards DJ set videos held at the Boiler Room in Los Angeles on YouTube. She transitioned from simply listening to house to mixing her very own house beats when she began to yearn for a creative outlet free from the expectations of her typical Nigerian parents. “I didn’t know anybody who did it [mixing music], and I didnt know how to get into it but I was into the general idea.”
It wasn’t until she reached university that she began to find her way again. In one of her marketing classes she met Richard Sparvier, also known as DJ BLCKFT on the University of Calgary’s volunteer radio station CJSW. He had started Drum beat productions, his own Indigenous entertainment production company and became a mentor for Ade-Yusuf.
After that, it was only a matter of getting DJ-ing lessons and learning to mix on her own. “I’ve been doing it for two years, which is crazy because it feels like it was yesterday,” said Ade-Yusuf.
Post pandemic there was a space for new DJs in Calgary, “everyone was like we need new blood, I’m very high-key confused on how I got here,” said Ade-Yusuf.
She went on to play at Sugar Cane, a yearly party thrown by Icarus Sound at the request of Remi Party before the pandemic. Relatively soon after, she was approached by other entertainment groups in Calgary to DJ for their events. Ade-Yusuf has played Versions, a weekly patio party held on Tuesdays in Broken City.
When a promoter for Blueprint Alberta found one of her mixes on Soundcloud they reached out to her for multiple events like House of Melanin, Chasing Summer and Badlands. Only a few weeks after playing for Chasing Summer she was invited to open for the Chainsmokers for the Badlands festival, which she promptly accepted.
“Honestly, I feel like I girlbossed my way here to the point where playing some of the events I did – like opening up for the Chainsmokers, just does not happen for people who only started two years ago,” said Ade-Yusuf.
Ade-Yusuf claims that the reason for her quick rise in the Calgary DJ community was due to the void left by COVID-19. According to her, there was a need for new talent and she came on the scene at the perfect time. Growth and possibility was waiting there for the taking and she understands that her’s was a lucky break into the industry.