Leigh-Anne Hazard, also known as Miss Hazard, is a familiar and kindred face to many across Calgary’s house music underground. A regular selector at Habitat Living Sound, her sets are known for delivering an engrossing hypnotic effect that frequently veers into the left field.
Off-stage she’s also become known for photography, documenting the scene and its people at their most candid.
Here are six things that you probably didn’t know about her.
1. She’s Originally From South Africa
Hazard’s parents were both British expats who met in South Africa in the 1970’s. At the time of her birth in the early 80’s the country was experiencing a height of political unrest, but her family did their best to create an oasis away from the turmoil.
“I had the best childhood,” says Hazard.
“I lived in Cape Town near a beach and spent my nights watching the sun set while boogie boarding, and all my friends would be on the same beach with their families.
“My parents would bring our dinner to the beach and that’s where we’d have it every night.”
By 1995 rising crime rates and a lack of jobs were rapidly causing emigration from the country to spike. Hazard’s parents worked in the oil and gas industry, and thus decided to move to Calgary.
She describes her parents as being part of a select few who had skills that allowed them to leave, although many others would have liked to.
“Most of friends and family stayed behind in South Africa,” says Hazard.
2. She’s Achieved The Highest Level Of Royal Conservatory Piano
Hazard characterizes her dad, who’s from Liverpool, as having always played the piano. He introduced her to the instrument when she was five, and she started taking lessons soon after. It quickly became one of her central creative outlets.
“My dad had a keyboard, he always had the newest keyboard in the garage and I would learn the crap out of it, every single button on that keyboard,” says Hazard.
“I would make up songs and record them on a tape recorder.
“I also used to make my sister perform to my songs and videotape that”
After moving to Canada she completed her grade 10, the highest level in the Royal Conservatory, while she was in high school. She then put herself through college by teaching up to and including Royal Conservatory grade eight.
Even with her success in the dance music world, the feeling of piano is one that’s still unparalleled for her.
“I literally jam out every night before bed on the piano, just playing around, and signing, and humming, and moaning, and crying and whatever,” says Hazard.
“It’s my outlet.
“With electronic music I’ve taken an online course in how to learn Ableton, so I do know the basics, but I feel like it takes all the fun out of it.
“I’d rather practice playing the piano and feeling the music coming out of the keys themselves, than sitting in front of another computer screen trying to create a mathematical situation.”
3. She Has A Finance Background
Initially, Hazard’s main aspiration in life was to be a stockbroker, and so she majored in finance at U of L. After graduating she worked at a bank, then secured a job at a brokerage firm.
“I was the assistant to some of the biggest brokers in Calgary, like millions of dollars of trading a day,” she says.
She soon realized, however, that this wasn’t the profession for her.
“Being responsible for telling somebody how to invest their money was just definitely not an option for my type of personality,” says Hazard.
4. She Lived In The Middle East For Four Years
The abrupt ending of her professional ambitions in the world of brokerage morphed Hazard into a free spirit. For the next stage of her life, she decided, anything would be possible.
“And so I applied for one of the most interesting jobs I could find, which was based out of Madrid, Spain,” she says.
The job in question involved working for a media agency that supplied articles and advertisements to major publications worldwide.
“I applied and had a Skype interview, and they said ‘you need to do the interview in person, it’s a week long, and you need to do it here in Spain, are you prepared to do that?’
“‘And you have to fly yourself.’
“I said yes, so I packed up everything, I didn’t really have anything to sell because I was still living at home, but I packed up my life, I flew to Madrid.”
After a week long interview process only three applicants out of the initial 50 got the job, and Hazard was one of them.
From Madrid she flew to Dubai, the location of her first posting.
“I moved to Dubai for nine months, and I lived in a big apartment on a beach and it was a dream,” she says.
Her posting there involved networking people with members of the royal family and major CEOs.
After Dubai her next posting was in Istanbul, Turkey. It was this posting that ignited the two central passions that have come to define Hazard artistically.
“In Istanbul that’s where I felt like I really wanted to be a DJ because I met a guy who owned the cutest house music bar, I’d say it was like Habitat but a bit smaller, and Turkish,” says Hazard.
“He was also a photographer - being in Istanbul was so beautiful, I went out and bought my first DSLR camera.
“That’s when my passion and love for photography began as well.”
Of the four years spent abroad, Turkey is the country she speaks the highest of. The scenery and the people captivated her, and this is probably why the majority of her photography projects to date have centred around these two elements.
“The mosques have the call to prayer at five in the morning and five at night, and the whole skies light up with singing and humming from all the different mosques, it’s a magical experience,” says Hazard.
After Istanbul was Kuwait, where she made friends with the three grandchildren of the Emir, one of whom she still maintains contact with. From here it was back to Africa.
It’s 2010 when Hazard gets posted in Nigeria. This leg of the journey proves to be the most strenuous and physically taxing. The fleeting nature of this lifestyle is also beginning to take its toll.
“I was very tired of living out of a hotel, and I moved home,” says Hazard.
“I did all that before I was 30.”
5. She’s Now Combining Her Passions Of DJing And Photography Into Social Empowerment
In March Hazard took to Facebook to issue a casting call for a new project - photographing 50 Calgary-based female DJs.
“A couple of years ago I actually really wanted to do this exact project, but I didn’t have the confidence in doing it, I didn’t think I had the proper skills to do it,” says Hazard.
She bounced the idea off a handful of local DJs, but nothing concrete ever manifested.
“Then just recently, Molly Fi said to me ‘I heard you wanted to take photographs of all the female DJs in Calgary,’ ” says Hazard.
“She said ‘I think I think that’s a dope idea and I’m willing to help you organize it, I can help, what do you need.’ ”
Within three weeks of planning, Hazard and her collaborators had three days of shooting lined up with 45 DJs participating. A second weekend was added, bringing the total to 60.
“I honestly didn’t think there was 60 female electronic DJs, I thought there would be 30 max,” says Hazard.
The project not only aims to bolster the visibility of women who DJ, but also to showcase the underground with the same aesthetic as the mainstream.
“The types of photographs of these ladies is they have their hair and makeup done, they look beautiful, they’re showing their shoulders,” says Hazard.
“Some of these ladies have never worn makeup, some of them are tomboys, some of them have tattoos and nose piercings.
“The whole point of the shoot - what I wanted to with them - was to make them look like the cover of a Vogue magazine, because every woman deserves one of those photos.”
6. Lastly, She Literally Owns A Jungle In Costa Rica
Hazard and two of her friends recently purchased twelve acres of Costa Rican jungle.
“It’s like rain forest style jungle on the beach on the pacific side,” she says.
The goal is to one day turn it into a space for retreats, detox, and yoga.