Chippy Nonstop is a visionary DJ and producer currently based in Toronto. Chippy is known for throwing parties that are affordable, inclusive, and by and for the queer POC community. As one of the creators of Intersessions, she helped to create a series of free DJ workshops for femmes and women of color to share skills and build community in the electronic music scene.
Kajal sat down with Chippy in Jan 2020 during the opening hours of her “Freak Like Me” party, taking place at Black Eagle, a sex club in Toronto’s gay village.
Kajal: How would you describe your sound?
Chippy: That’s so hard because I feel like I evolve a lot, but currently I play a lot of fast music. I’ve been a part of so many different scenes and sounds. I will mix just anything and everything. I’ll mix a rap song into a techno song, a metal song into a house song, like I don’t care. I don’t have any rules with the way I play.
Tell me about Intersessions.
I grew up in California, but then I got deported. I moved to Vancouver, and there was no opportunity for me. No one would book me because all the OG guys ran all the shit. Like these two old fucking guys run a Wednesday night and they don’t want anyone to play but them. On a Sunday, it’s dancehall night, but two white guys run it. That’s Vancouver. It’s like “Rihanna night”, “Beyonce night”– I don’t want to play those types of parties, it’s not me. There wasn’t a community for what I wanted. So, me and three friends, we started these workshops in Vancouver. We thought: we can start more community around this. It went really well. Actually, a bunch of girls from that workshop are now DJs. One of them took over Intersessions in Vancouver, and two of them are professional DJs in Vancouver.
I couldn’t really stick around and wait for that community to be molded into something. So, I moved here [to Toronto]. I started doing the workshops here. It started kind of selfishly because I wanted to create community, but then it just turned into something bigger than that. It’s more fulfilling, teaching people and creating these spaces, and seeing how much growth people have had from the beginning to now. People wanted it and needed it. Not only is it fulfilling for me but it’s fulfilling for other people.
Does it fulfill you in ways that DJing doesn’t? What do you get from it?
Yeah. Sometimes when I’m at the club I’m not interacting with anyone beyond the level that’s like, “hey, we’re drunk,” or whatever. You are passing your energy with your music and that’s fulfilling in a different way, but actually getting to talk to people and see what their goals are, what they’re interested in, it’s a completely different experience. These types of spaces build actual community where you can be a support system. I really like that feeling, and I think a lot of other people did too.
What do you think is important for young brown femmes to know for getting into the industry?
I always think about this, because there is not a lot of us. A lot of white women DJs have a lot of support with other white women. A lot of Black queer DJs have a lot of Black queer DJs’ support. First of all, it’s not a career field which is accepted within our families, and second of all, being queer is another thing which is not accepted within our families. So even if people do feel like doing that within our community, it is not spoken about. The really hard thing is that there’s not that many of us. I feel a lot of the time with DJing, it’s women being competitive in the field. I feel we need to just have each other’s backs and support each other. Reach out to each other. I think it’s happening now more, and there’s more of us coming up.
I saw this thing in Vice Canada you did that talked about making party spaces safer, more inclusive. I’m wondering if you could talk about that.
Well it’s hard to say that a party is safe because it’s an environment where people are drinking and whatever. As someone who’s throwing a party, I like to make eye contact with people, talk to them, make them feel like they are also part of this, so they’re not scared to come up to me and talk to me if something goes wrong. There have been situations where I feel like something has happened to me, but I don’t know who to talk to and I don’t know if they’ll give a fuck. So, it’s just letting people know that you care and interacting with them when they come into the door. After throwing so many parties I know that you can’t always prevent stuff. But dealing with it, and actually making people feel comfortable to speak about it if something goes down is important to me.
Are you ever going to go back to America? Are you trying?
I’d like to say I am trying but I’m not. I was playing in Mumbai last week, and I was like, I kind of want to move to India.
Yes. I feel like I would live 6 months in India, 6 months here. A lot of people that are diasporic people are moving back to India because they are just over white people. Or over North American values and everything.
It’s pretty soul-sucking.
Exactly. Well not to say India isn’t also consumerist, there’s also a McDonalds on every corner, Starbucks on every corner. It’s India and it’s chaos, and I kind of like the chaos.
It’s India and it’s chaos, and I kind of like the chaos.
Where do you think one should go for the scene in India?
Mumbai, I think is cooler than Delhi. Delhi, I feel is a little more pretentious. But they’re both fun, and everyone is at every place. The community is really small there in underground music. But there’s no queer scene.
No? I follow a lot of Indian queer Instagram and social media accounts…
Yeah but they’re in their house, they’re not going to parties.
People aren’t out there really?
No. Like I was with my gay friend in Mumbai and he was like, I can’t go out. For girls it’s easier because it’s not as obvious. And even if you’re a butch girl, no one gives a fuck. But if you’re a femme guy, then it’s hard. India still hasn’t gotten there, I don’t think. For men. I saw a lot of lesbians out, but I did not see a lot of gay men out, at all.
Are there any clubs you’d recommend?
It’s more promoters that move around. But there’s a place called Anti-Social in Mumbai and they have all the underground music. There’s this promoter in Mumbai called Milkman, he throws all the techno raves there. There’s another promoter there called Sounds of Kranti – they booked me, and they book a lot of juke and house music and faster stuff. Drum and bass.
Favorite country to tour in?
I was just in China and it was really fun. Going back to the way Western media speaks about China, like it was not hard to get in. Everyone was really chill. People make it such a big deal about how fucked up China is. I felt really comfortable, really safe. It was literally easier than getting into America. They didn’t ask me any questions, anywhere. And they really like the music – I wanted to play really crazy fast music. They don’t do drugs, and I feel like music is their drug. They just want to hear the craziest shit ever. Like hardcore music with acid sounds.
Favorite club to play in?
I like DIY rave vibes, mostly.
Any upcoming projects or exciting things on the horizon you want to share with the people?
I have a new mix [out now on SoundCloud]. A bunch of my new music is fast, rave, acid-y techno-y.
Photos by Kirk Lisaj