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Music brings emotion to yoga

Montreal DJ Seriousblack performs onstage and in workshops during Wanderlust

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Montreal DJ Seriousblack was in London, playing a festival seven years ago, when she heard that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was at the same event giving a reading.

"My friend said would it be great if we went, and I thought, 'yeah, let's go," she recalls.

So Seriousblack (a.k.a. Selena Isles) went wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of Harry Potter's godfather, Sirius Black, with the words "DJ Seriousblack" below his face.

"I got to meet (Rowling) and she said, 'You're Seriousblack?' How do you have anything to do with any of my characters?" she said, putting on a British accent.

"She thought it was hysterical when I told her. I asked her how she picked me out of a thousand people, and she said, 'You kind of stick out. You're tall and your hair is very crazy. It entered the room before you did!'

"I thought that made sense."

They talked for about half an hour before Rowling's agent pulled her away.

"And I was told my set was in five minutes, so I said, 'Shit!' and I had to leave, too," Seriousblack says.

The DJ — known for her mellow, rhythmic music — is a regular Wanderlust DJ, and will be performing sets and playing for yoga classes this weekend when the festival hits Whistler from Thursday, Aug. 3 to Sunday, Aug. 6.

Seriousblack has been a Wanderlust DJ for five years, touring with the festival across North America — Vermont, Squaw Valley, Whistler and Mont Tremblant.

A yoga instructor when at home, she works closely with Wanderlust workshop instructors to get a sense of the moods they are trying to evoke in participants. She plays music to help them go on an emotional journey.

Because of her own practice, she understands that participants can have profound moments while on the mat.

"I'm very fortunate to be able to watch people run the gamut of emotions. I realize it's a big responsibility and I try to hold that space for them," Seriousblack says.

"I want to thank them for letting me witness them release that stress or trauma.

"I've never taught (yoga at) Wanderlust... people only began to realize that DJ Seriousblack and Selina Isles Yoga are the same person. I didn't want to cross that line.

"It gives me an innate sense of where people need to go within themselves, and how the music can really bring them there."

A single mother to her three-year-old son Lucas, she has it written into her contract that he comes on every tour — non-negotiable. The little guy sometimes helps her out onstage.

"He's a very good tourer. He's been coming with me on the road since he was in my belly," Seriousblack says.

"He always wears the headphones (to cut out loud music) and sometimes I travel with a family member.

"When I do Wanderlust, they call him the 'Wander Baby' and it really works, because the yoga teachers can also bring their children. I'm grateful."

Not every festival or show is as open minded and Seriousblack decided she wouldn't take a gig if she couldn't bring him.

"I've turned down gigs for that. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, promoters always step back and say, 'What do you mean you're not coming?' I've been told I'm a hard negotiator. I won't budge on certain points at all," she says.

"It's where I draw the line. I've gotten flak for it, but I've also had other moms and they've liked it.

"When you say no to things, other things open up."

She also produces her own music, the most recent being the single "The Funky Tropical." A new album, called Goonies Never Say Die, will be released on Aug. 20.

Seriousblack discovered DJing at the age of 11 in Montreal, and she proved to be a youngster ahead of her time, describing a kid's musical dream of being tall enough to sneak into clubs and watch the DJs at work.

She ended up working at the iconic Canadian music store Sam the Record Man as she developed her craft.

"When I got older, my apartment was filled with records and shoes. It's my passion and my love," she laughs.

For more information on Wanderlust, visit www.wanderlust.com.

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