Tag Archives: denise benson

Life After Clubland


denisbe benson article

Veteran local DJ and author Denise Benson dishes on the state of Toronto’s nightlife in this article for MetroNews dated September 24th 2015. The famed “Clubland” district on Richmond and Adelaide streets is now a bland, sanitized smorgasbord with no hint of its semi-seedy past. It’s a crying shame, one that for all intents and purposes Toronto is proudly living up to. Benson is bang on when she states, “The closing of a number of venues in the early to mid-2000s, to me, signals a serious change that we haven’t entirely recovered from.” Well, that’s putting it nicely!

Actually, the death knell for the city’s clubscene has been sounding for quite some time, most notably in a revealing article by TorStar journalist Shawn Micallef in 2013. Gone is the bleeding ear dynamics of System Soundbar (I was there on opening night). Or giggling when you find out Jerry got kicked out of The Guvernment for doing coke in the bathroom. Or developing a mild crush on a jet-lagged Joey Beltram spinning at Turbo. What gives? Like I said before in a previous article, it’s time for suburbia to open up a can of kickass. Heck, even other provinces can pony up a slice of dance music pie – it’s up for grabs really. If pow wow step as popularized by A Tribe Called Red can come out of Ottawa, who knows what could emerge from Kingston? Foxstep maybe. Or reverbia in Cornwall. How about rattlecore from Rexdale? Only time will tell.

Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.


Ladies First starring Denise Benson, Nicole Moudaber, Madame Zu, Hellen Angelucci


For the longest while, disc jockeying has been the virtually exclusive domain of men. It’s a man’s, man’s world I tell ya. In the 90’s, it was extremely rare to see a woman on the decks. Since then, significant strides have been made as female DJ’s are becoming more prominent. There’s still a lot of progress to be made though. The dance music industry is fiercely competitive, and so we find the world of DJs is still very much a boys’ club. Don’t get me wrong – I have mad love for all the men holding down the fort, but let’s face it; female DJ’s generally receive less recognition for their contributions. For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate this posting to female DJ’s. Nothing can stop the Return of the Divine Feminine – not even the pope. I guess the Holy See failed to realize if you ban a book on sexuality written by a nun, it’ll only encourage more people to read it. Booyah. So my dear Benedict, if you’ve somehow managed to stumble across this article whilst surfing for kiddie porn, tune in – you  might be enlightened…


In my humble opinion, Denise Benson is a legend. This Toronto resident has been DJ’ing for over twenty years. Surviving that long in the biz takes brains and some serious ladyballs. I have fond memories of her hosting CKLN’s Mental Chatter, where she spun a variety of eclectic music ranging from electro, ambient, synth pop, rock, indie and trip hop. Benson lasted an incredible 20 years on CKLN, where she volunteered her time and expertise to bring fresh, interesting vibes to thousands of listeners. Her live sets at Andy Poolhall, alongside Andrew Allsgood used to be da bomb on a Friday night. To some extent, Denise was also involved in the 90’s rave scene. I remember her spinning in the parking lot of The Guvernment, back when they used to have those wicked Sunday sessions on the roof. Come June 23rd, Benson will be celebrating 5 years of Cherry Bomb, an all female DJ showcase which she started several years ago with her partner in crime, Cozmic Cat. This queer friendly event will be going down (no pun intended :)) at Andy Poolhall, just in time for Pride Toronto.  


This rising star recently wowed Adam Beyer with her demo so fantastically that he tweeted praises. Nicole Moudaber’s tracks have been included in mixes by Carl Cox and Digweed, and have been picked up by Drumcode, Kling Klong, Waveform Recordings and other forward thinking independent labels. My personal fave is her funky remix of Carl Cox’s Chemistry, which won an award at the Miami Winter Music Conference for “Best Minimal / Techno Track.” Nicole spins techno with an edge like a flaming shot of Sambuca, but unlike other men, Moudaber has no moustache to burn. With the bouncy feel good flavour of “Chocolate Love” and the aesthetically pleasing “Toe Cleavage,” Nicole is obviously a very talented producer with a discerning ear and superb mixing skills. She originally started off as a raver in early 90’s NYC before becoming a promoter for the scene in Beirut and at Turnmills in London. And if that wasn’t enough, she also ran a record label (Southeast Recordings) before she decided to try her hand at DJ’ing. Needless to say, that was a career move in the right direction. Since then, she has earned accolades from industry heavyweights such as Pete Tong and Danny Tenaglia, among others.  Carl Cox once described her as “the most underrated DJ of 2009.” Her recent appearance at Electric Daisy Carnival in NYC should put this talented, beautiful lady firmly in the spotlight – where she belongs.


Anyone who’s been lucky enough to hear Madam Zu spin in the 90’s knows this lady is effing hardcore. Famous for her no holds barred hard house/ techno setlists, Madam Zu was still going strong up until 2006. An active participant in U.K. rave culture since the early 90’s, she has earned distinction as a music journalist and producer, famously collaborating with John Does on classic rave anthem, “Red Pill.” She doesn’t seem to be active on the decks at the moment, but it would be great to see her resume her wallbanging sessions in the near future.


Not much is really known about this mystery lady…accessing her bio link nearly crashed my damn computer, but whoever you are, Hellen, you rock!!!

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.