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Bringing the funky house down

DJ Leanne spins, teaches and runs her own production company



Who: DJ Leanne

What: Party Beats

Where: Tommy Africa’s

When: Thursday, Aug. 18

DJ Leanne is bringing her funky style of house music to Tommy Africa’s Thursday, Aug. 18. A frequent visitor to these parts, Leanne (a.k.a. Leanne Bitner), is not only a successful DJ but is also the founder, owner, and an instructor at Vancouver’s Rhythm Institute DJ School.

A Saskatoon transplant, DJ Leanne has lived in Vancouver since the early ’90s. Aside from the Rhythm Institute, she also runs her own production company, Girl on Wax. She has played her passion-filled and bouncy beats all over North America and Europe with the likes of DJs Deep Dish, Boy George, and Roger Sanchez and landed some big time gigs such as On the Road with the Lilith Fair Tour 1998.

With residencies at Shine, Lotus Sound, and several other places DJ Leanne is one busy girl, but took some time out to chat with the Pique.

Pique: How did you get involved in the DJ scene?

LB: Funnily enough I really got my start in Whistler. In 1997 I played on Fridays at Maxx Fish. I had been a bedroom DJ for about three years and DJ Renee Brunette – bless her heart – convinced me to do the all-girl-DJ night Houseworks, a.k.a. Wax Dominatrix, with she and Little T. Every Friday for two years we trekked up to your beautiful village to spin... it was an absolute blast. It set the tone for many years of rockin’ trax!

Pique: What’s it like being a female DJ when it’s mostly a guy-dominated thing?

LB: I don't even think about that anymore. I only hope I might perhaps inspire more girls to try it.

Pique: As a woman, was it hard to get gigs when you started?

LB: It was at first, but then it became a novelty. Now I hope my music speaks more so than my gender.

Pique: You’ve played in Whistler a lot. What do you like about it?

LB: I love Whistler because it’s a party town. People check their egos and

attitudes at the door. Plus some damn good dancers!

Pique: Biggest/best career moment thus far?

LB: Any time I have been able to open for my fav DJs or producers has been a shining moment... Hmmm, or perhaps anytime I've gotten to spin in a tropical locale.

Pique: How would you describe your style?

LB: I like my music, people and clothes FUNKY.

Pique: How and when did you get into teaching? How did the Rhythm Institute start?

LB: I saw a need in the market for it... so many people buying turntables with not the slightest clue as to how to use them. I took an entrepreneurial course and it all spiraled from there.

Pique: What do you like about teaching people how to DJ?

LB: No better feeling than opening people's eyes, ears and hearts to the amazing world of electronic music. So much incredible music out there! My best moments are when I see a person I taught play in front of a crowd for the first time. I feel so proud! We have had over 300 grads so far.

Pique: Any plans or big things on the horizon?

LB: The expansion of The Rhythm Institute. We've moved to a brand new space: 437 W Hastings (beside Beat St Records). Opening in fall 05, we have a full recording studio plus much more extensive DJ courses and classes on electronic music production. Learn to DJ and make beats!

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