What’s it like to be an up-and-coming producer? You see the shows, the parties, the backstage cocktails. What you don’t hear so much about are the tonsillectomies.
That’s what Vancouver Island-born producer Whipped Cream (real name Caroline Cecil) is dealing with, currently. She’s been fighting sickness on and off since last August, a symptom of an in-demand tour schedule. She’s hoping the procedure will settle that.
Getting healthy couldn’t come at a more crucial time. After a big year — including festivals plays at Electric Forest, Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra, Lollapalooza and Tomorrowland, along with anthemic chain-swinger Lil Xan collab “Told Ya” out today (Nov. 15) — Whipped Cream has her sights on a breakout 2020.
But first, the tonsils. The night before the procedure, she’s at home on Vancouver Island – a rural landmass off the coast of Vancouver — mostly unconcerned despite knowing a little too much about what’s coming. “I have a few piercings throughout my body,” Cecil says. “When you’re going under, they have to take them out in case your heart stops.”
Still, she’s nonchalant about the ordeal, even as the operation brings up a difficult memory: The last time she had one, it spelled doom for her dream career. A decade before she was Whipped Cream, Cecil set out to be a competitive figure skater, at the young age of eight.
“Three hours [of training] was an easy day,” she says. “But if I’m not passionate about what I’m doing, I don’t turn on for it. I skipped a lot of high school to skate.”
When she turned 18, she didn’t need to play hooky anymore. As fate would have it, that was the year of the accident. “I was in a shitty mood on the ice, but I kept pushing myself,” Cecil says, remembering the day rapid-fire. “I was practicing triple toe loops, and I fell wrong. Everything was over, just like that.”
Two days later, Cecil was in surgery for a broken ankle. With six pins in her foot, her doctor told her she may never walk normally again. Skating, it seemed, was out of the question. “I was like, ‘what do you mean? Do you know who you’re talking to? This is my life!”
Cecil took to physical therapy like she had skating. Soon she was back and ready to embark on a rigorous year-long training regiment with an Olympic-skating coach. But something inside had changed. Halfway through, she bowed out. “I was going through the motions,” she recalls. “I don’t know when it happened or why, but I wasn’t happy anymore.”
Without a clear sense of purpose, she took a couple of years off, gigging at a smoothie shop and a hardware store, among other odd jobs. “I had no other things I was good at,” she says. “It was the lowest point in my life.”
Then, at an Active Child set at Sasquatch! Music festival in 2012, purpose found her. “That show changed my life,” she said. “I realized the reason I figure skated was to express myself through music.”
Cecil shut herself in her bedroom with a laptop, Ableton and a controller. Two years later, she dropped her first single.
Some might call that fate. To Cecil, it’s the poetry of the universe in motion. She isn’t bitter about the past — good or bad; she wouldn’t be on stages around the world without it. Cecil talks about her music with the same generosity. She’s concerned with energy more than beats; her shows are “a place to connect,” not perform.
That’s a wholesome lens for the chaos of her bass-y, surprisingly dark singles. The bruising “Blood” feels like a hellish rave, all gurgling synths and bombs-away beats. “The Greatest” lures you into a false sense of chillness before exploding into an eerie breakdown, shrouded in reverb. Cecil embraces her complexity: “I find beauty in the juxtaposition.”
The songs owe their sense of drama in part to Cecil’s favorite flicks. “Movies tend to really inspire music for me,” she said. “I love movies like Sicario, psychological twisted stuff with a great soundtrack.”
Heavy times call for heavy art, and the dance floor is no exception. Whipped Cream’s handful of tracks fits that bill. She’s carved her niche in the crowded field of electronic music by balancing the light and dark, a combination that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the industry, with “Told Ya” marking her signing to the venerable Big Beat Records. “[Caroline] has that unique spark of originality and fierce drive that you can only pray for in an artist signing,” says Big Beat GM and VP of A&R Gina Tucci. “As a producer and DJ she is breaking barriers and pushing down walls. She knows exactly what she wants, and we can’t wait to be a part of unleashing all she has to offer.”
As our conversation comes to an end, Cecil hints at a slew of new music she’s been prepping for the coming year. She can’t say much yet. But darkness be damned, the horizon is bright for Whipped Cream. “Music that makes me feel something is what inspires me the most, so I guess (darkness) is where my emotion has been the last few years,” she says. “But everything is going to change with my new music. It’s taken a shift, and so have I.”