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Q&A with DJ Sandy Duperval

by Emma Badame

Montreal native Sandy Duperval is a multi-hyphenate to be reckoned with. She's a singer, musician, DJ, and producer, and—when she's not performing Gospel, Jazz, R&B, and/or the Blues across North America, Europe, or Asia, or headlining Pride Toronto events—she's starting her own production company and releasing her first album.

We caught up with the busy musician ahead of her Evening Epic collaboration with the TSO on April 4 to talk music, influences, and dreams. Read the interview now:

What was your first experience with classical music?
I was introduced to classical music at about 7 years old when I was taking piano lessons. My teacher always said, “Classical music is the gateway to all music. If you can master the basics of classical, you can master anything.”

What impression did it leave you with?
To this day, when I write music, you can tell the influence. I like to have a solid and expressive string section and piano.

What made you want to pursue music full-time?
My grandmother, who raised me, was a motivating force in my life. I had tried social science, finance, and communications but she knew all along where I belonged and encouraged me to give it a chance, so I did and never looked back.

You compose, you sing, you perform...is there one aspect or type of expression that speaks to you more than the others?
To me, it goes hand in hand. Composing is the hardest because creativity isn’t always on time and can’t be forced. I could be in the middle of a meeting and be inspired so I record an audio clip on my phone quickly and come back to it later. However, singing and performing (DJ/Vocal) I can do in my sleep. OK, maybe not DJing, but I actually wake up humming sometimes.

What do you get from each?
Composing allows me to put in music what my heart and soul feel. It started at a young age for me. My mother had me at 15 years old and my father was not around, so I started writing how I felt in the hopes it would capture their attention. I realized that it helped me cope. I would record on cassettes and create harmonies with multiple tape recorders. At the time, my grandmother was working three jobs to take care of me, and we didn’t have the means to buy professional equipment so I used a comb as a mic and a few “beat down” cassette players to make music. All this to say, either I’m composing, singing, or DJing. Music brings me joy!

What is it about music that brings people and communities together?
I believe music helps us connect in ways nothing else has. When music is playing, complete strangers smile and dance with each other. I don’t know anything that powerful.

Who would you count as your influences when it comes to your music?
There are so many, but let me attempt to break it down: Mozart, David Bowie, Quincy Jones, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin. These are my top five out of hundreds.

You've collaborated with many different organizations and musicians over your career so far. What excites you about working alongside the TSO?
I live for greatness, I live to be inspired, and the TSO is that to me. There is magic in people performing together, their soul connected to one another to perform as one. I CAN’T WAIT!

Who else would you love to collaborate with that you haven't yet had a chance to?
Céline Dion!

Why do you think music education and access to it are so important?
Music is the world’s permanent therapy. It helps us communicate with one another, it helps us stay connected to one another, and we need that now more than ever.

What's next for you?
More music release, more travelling to learn and share, basically more LIVING. What I’ve experienced has taught me that the best is unexpected. I am trusting my purpose and I am ready for anything.

See Duperval perform as part of the TSO's Evening Epic event on April 4! Find out more now.

Want to discover more of her work? Head here or follow her on Twitter.

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