Juno Submissions are due! You’ve got less than a day left to submit your Underground Single or Dance Recording of the year. You could be the next winner or nominee. Global DJ,Producer and founder of 23by23com, Sydney Blu, took to her platforms a few days ago to remind artists and collaborators across the Canadian Underground Community, that the submission window is still open online until October 28,2022 and must be sent in by 11:59 pm EST. (There’s a $95 fee also!)
Let’s look at this for a minute; The Underground category was never part of the Junos for years and was added last year after Hill, along with very dedicated individuals, lobbied for the upgrade. (Yes, I called it an upgrade!LOL) A few hundred supporting letters were gathered from members of the Canadian Dance music industry to make this category possible.
Hill is passionate about the music and the future of the genre in this country. Hill adds, ‘it’s important for ANY artist in Canada to submit to this category and getting nominated is the best free marketing you can get- plus the category is not judged on sales. The judges are Underground dance experts that are not affiliated with any artists and are anonymously chosen by the people of CARAS/The Junos’
What’s exciting about this definitive categorization of the Underground genre, is how expansive it is and it does include multi-genres within the Underground.
Qualifying recordings for the ‘Underground Single of the Year’ may feature “slow builds, hypnotic and repetitive arrangements that may include vocals, often extended in length, all developed for maximum utility on the dance floor by club DJs. Rather than the only focus being the ‘Dance Pop’ flavour,the Underground Dance category at the Junos also includes:
Afro House (hello?)
Underground House (hello?)
Underground Tech house
Underground Deep/Melodic House
Underground /Traditional Progressive House & Trance and more!
It’s a huge step forward for arts and culture in Canada to finally have the Underground represented at a national awards level. These genres have existed for decades on dance floors across the country and around the world; it definitely makes a way for Electronic Music in Canada and reflects how Canadian sub genres and acts are doing abroad. i.e Jayda G, Kaytranada. Plenty of artists are at work, all year round, all the time- so any music projects you might be submitting to the Junos, is a way to get your work out there (If that’s what you want.) I realize that many feel that once the work escapes the Underground it’s selling out-I don’t see it that way,I see it as a set of larger building blocks for the future. The scene exists, the genre has it’s own flavour and the legends are out there! I see you!
Visit the Juno Awards website to see details for music categories #26 & #46! Your submission alone is making history!
I know this isn’t Canadian content, but this is totally worth noting. Between 1999–2006 is a prolific and momentous time for Modern Black Music. Why? Well, much has influenced hip hop and pop as well as the sounds from well known vocalistic influences of the 60s,70s and 80s. All of this can be heard throughout more recent music. When I say more recent; I’m talking about this year! I could have never imagined hearing what music recorded throughout the early-mid 2000s, would sound as snippets for some of the most recognizable hits in the last three years.
After attending “Crate Stories Live”, an online interview series presented by underground alternative Toronto presenters Little Dojo and The Academy, along with Loop Sessions Toronto + Dan Charnas, Author of Dilla Time, NYU Professor and former A&R rep, talked about his multiple encounters with instrumentalist, master sampler and sound bender, James Yancey aka J.Dilla.
The 2+hour deconstructive discussion with host Arcee, is where author Charnas, brought back memories and tons of meticulous supporting details of the sound technique signature to J Dilla. Snippets of music he’d worked on over the years when he was alive, played throughout the session and after hearing this author’s remarks on Dilla’s work, we find that his work left it’s mark on music production techniques and revolutionized multi-genre sound productions worldwide.
During the pre-pandemic COVID 19 window, I started listening to a slew of tracks that I believe created a wave of the most recognizable melodies from early-mid 2000s and heard many superior voices and hooks that’ll never die. Many artists who haven’t performed in years,(with Canadian dates included) are now touring again. With the stellar ticket sales for live shows in many big cities across North America, groups like Wu Tang Clan +artists Nas, Sean Paul are evidence that the ‘2000s’ sound is still hot. Is it? (I know every generation might say this about the music they listened to during their time but the 2000s were pretty dope!)
Aside from the notable copyright cases and remake similarities, what better way to ‘give flowers’ and avoid sampling mishaps + court case settlements by bringing the artists back! Some of the biggest rhythm +blues, ‘urban’ + hip hop artists aren’t dead yet and with major cases like Tracy Chapman’s 1988 song, ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ sampled for Nicki Minaj on her 2018 track ‘Sorry’ featuring Nas; or the VERY recent sampling issue with rapper Latto’s sample of Mariah Carey’s massive hit ‘Fantasy’ for catchy release ‘Big Energy’. Latto initially claimed she wasn’t familiar with Mariah Carey. I mean, myself as a teen, in the late, late 90s, knows Mariah Carey as THE diva of divas. So for Latto, nee Alyssa Michelle Stephens, born in 1998,to have claimed that she didn’t know about the original hit is sorta understandable and even if Carey has had hits spanning across 30 years; I’m still in disbelief she wasn’t aware…….anyway…
What has spurred the idea of this piece that I’m writing here, is the effect that battle show Verzuzhad on many Gen Xers and anyone who listened to that genre. As I’ve been listening to some of the older stuff and later on taking in some of the newer artist releases, the reworking and/or incorporation of melodies into these fresh tracks can be heard quite clearly and on purpose. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Canadian artist Drake has released a ‘house’ sounding album titled Honestly, Nevermind, which includes some samples from the era I’ve mentioned above. Samples on the new album include Neo-Soul/rhythm + blues duo Floetry’s ‘Getting Late’ (2002) on familiar sounding track Flight’s Booked.
For those who don’t know what Verzuz is, it’s a ‘spin off’ of the battle between two opposing sides (an idea that sprouted from longtime successful Producers Swizz Beats (Ruff Ryders, DMX, Eve) and Producer Timbaland (Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Nelly Furtado) who originally (early during lock down) went toe-to-toe in a challenge over their ‘hardest’ and familiar beats and tracks, over the course of their careers. They shared ALOT from their catalogue and as the event grew, we’ve been seeing from then onwards, how many tracks they’d produced and how many artists they collaborated with over the years.
These earlier in lockdown ‘digital battles’ presented a slew of throwback artists, sounds and groups from our childhoods, showcasing the sounds that were attributed to their genres at THAT moment in time. (roughly about 1997–2007ish) Some of the most popular sounds in Black Music, spanning the last two and a half decades, is now added to the already growing original artist features, remakes or samples and in the last 2–3 years, we’re now hearing a shift in the era from which the sounds are being gathered.
Let’s look back for a bit: The very well known rap song of resistance, ‘Fight The Power’ by Public Enemy, used 22 samples from various sources but the effect described in detail was intentionally made in a way to create a dense sonic landscape, to reinforce their message and connect their songs to thematically similar music from the past. Hence the “I” I mentioned in the opening paragraph. That’s the “I” from Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.” You hear it during every “Fight the Power” chorus, but especially in the last few seconds of the song, starting at 3:33, where it repeats. See the article that breaks the sampling pieces here.
Knowing all this detail definitely forces an audiophile like myself to listen to older tracks a little more. (and I wanna add, I love samples!) With the quote I pulled from the article titled‘The Evolving Art of Sampling’it makes me wonder what the evolving art of ‘sampling’ looks like today. And in support of this piece, it looks to me as if the next stage of sampling (besides beats and loops) is bringing the live artist back into the mix again. Many of the artists are still here and we’ve actually encountered many of them on those VERZUZ presentations. Here are some of the tracks that I listen to where the OG artist blesses a new track, replaces the sample or lends a completely new sound material for the audience. This brings me to mention DJ/remixer and Twitter sensation @loneamorphous who starting showcasing popular Hip Hop and RnB ‘mashups’ of artists from the early mid 2000s and they sound really good!
So look, here’s a thought: Until the industry figures out how to make block chain and music platforms more equitable for artists, I think you should go ‘head and make a playlist and re-listen to some of your old faves and new gens rock out together!
I’m sure there are many, many more tracks like these coming, especially after summer 2022:
Artist performing with the OGs
Nicole Bus – You (Ghostface Killah Remix)
Latto, Mariah Carey – Big Energy (Remix (Official Audio)) ft. DJ Khaled
Lucky Daye Earth Wind and Fire You Want My Love Collaborative single a reimagining of R&B band’s 1976 hit “Can’t Hide Love”
Gwen Bunn ft. Faith Evans – Between The Lines (Official Music Video)
Be Like Water – Stevie Wonder, PJ Morton, Nas
G-Eazy – Provide (Official Video) ft. Chris Brown, Mark Morrison
Fat Joe, Dj Khaled ,Amorphous – Sunshine (The Light)
Why Don’t We – Sans from Amerie’s Why Don’t We Fall in Love
I’ve been working with the Songwriter’s Association of Canada since last Fall. It’s a smaller but VERY influential NPO located in Toronto with connections to other Canadian music creator advocacy organizations. I was motivated to work with them once I found out about their nearly 40 year history and it’s founder Terry McManus. McManus, a longtime songwriter and educator founded the org to fight for the compensation of Canadian artists as songwriters.
Prior to the early 80s, Canadian songwriters didn’t receive royalties from their music. Terry McManus (one of the early influences for SOCAN among many other organizations founded in Canada,) along with other very influential people in Canada’s music industry, created an association that would move forward to develop and protect the creative, business and legal interests of Canadian music creators. ‘With over 1,000 current members, including 200+ professionals, S.A.C. offers a suite of invaluable digital services and provides education and community for songwriters, lyricists, beatmakers, sound designers, topliners, instrumentalists and song collaborators’.
Please read more benefits of S.A.C. as an organization and the value of obtaining a membership with them here. S.A.C. is undergoing a multitude of changes behind the scenes so stay connected to them across all socials. If you’ve followed any projects and work I’ve been doing over the last decade-I’m passionate about Canadian music and underground culture; especially musicians and artists that are often not seen or highlighted due to heavy competition and very limited chances for media exposure and discussion. I really enjoy this stuff and talking about the music!
For Black History Month this year, along with the Operations Coordinator (Natalie B) at S.A.C., we designed a four week panel where I dug through many of the artists I’ve loved and known for years! I’ve watched their careers grow and wanted to talk to them to find how they were ‘doing it’ in Canada. I also wanted to showcase what making Black Music and creative material was like pre-BLM 2020 while looking forward into the future. With another lockdown imposed after Christmas, it caused a blockage and dramatically changed the budget and programming style we were hoping for.
Even though it was harder to navigate the discussions, the transparency we had in these conversations were invaluable. I urge you- if you’ve got an hour at a time over the course of the next few weeks, listen in to what Black Music creators and writers have to say about the industry in Canada. The struggle isn’t over for any type of artist and creative globally, but what Black Music creators and writers had to say about jumping over hurdles to remain in the music, arts, culture sphere is admirable.
I had a great time putting this program together to showcase Black Canadian Creators and an even better time asking artists questions about topics rarely discussed on a public platform. Here’s the the link to the Songwriter’s Association of Canada (YouTube):
A little side note here: I’d like to thank all artists for joining me to discuss the industry in Canada. It’s through discussion, that greater insights are made and change is possible!
If you’ve caught the first 2 stories the running theme is the direct experiences with racism. They were the most profound because I had never encountered those types of scenarios in that kind of way until the moments thy happened. I assure I’ve got so many others this music one is good!
It was the first and last time I was to experience this legendary place. A friend of mine was dating a New Yorker at the time and her first trip to see him in person after he was in Toronto for Caribana earlier that year in the summer. He was trying to impress us but my Hip Hop loving self was more impressed than she was about what we saw that night. We took the Amtrak during the winter of 2000-possibly November or December. If you’ve ever taken the train cross country Canada or anywhere metropolitan North America- you’re aware that the journey is long, the route is scenic and you really need a good wash when you arrive to your final destination.
He kept driving further into Manhattan and eventually we ended up in front of this:
As I heard the bass, I realized we were hitting up a club! A club? I was dressed undoubtedly for winter long distance travel with the beanie/toque and cable knit sweater. Ladies, you know how you want to look when you head out on the town. He assured me that there was no dress code but on the real though when you hear the beats of the latest Hip Hop you naturally wanna look lit. Some bouncer opens a little shutter just like in the music videos. He identifies himself and we are led up some stairs. Who’s cutting, scratching and talking to the FULL HOUSE of people on the dancefloor? Can you guess? Funkmaster Flex. I was floored, honestly. IT sounded like a live mixtape. The vibe was so hype! I just recently found out that it closed in 2001 and that Hip Hop parties were never given any priority except for Sundays but wow…lit on a random Sunday? In 2000,I had never seen that many people in one room devoted to Hip Hop. Toronto’s got Rebel and back then Guvernment BUT I heard shit that I’d never heard on any radio or club EVER again even 20 years later!
Have you heard of the legendary Tunnel Nightclub before? Until that Sunday night we arrived I had not. Instead of heading to our guest house destination her guy arrived at Grand Central Terminal at about 9:30pm! He was usually very impulsive and in this case, it was very successful…kinda…..I was so mad that I had a bulky sweater on and I couldn’t take the beanie off my little TWA (teeny weeny afro) because it was crushed on the sides 😂 but I was so shocked to be standing behind one of the dopest Hip Hop DJs in New York! HE was werkin’.
Here I was; dressed like RnB singer Case (look him up) after a 10 hour train ride feeling so dressed appropriately for winter. I was away from home in a sweater and beanie/toque but I DID shake his hand and danced the night away! It was by far one of the best impromptu outings I’d ever experienced during my travels. Every city has it’s sauce and this to me, was the epitome of the Hip Hop era at that time. Unforgettable.
so what’s the lesson?: some of your best moments are the ones you aren’t dressed or prepared for.
After last year’s multiple closures in the hospitality and venue space industries things became a little quieter than usual around the 6ix. Usually, right after the holidays as is often what happens after Christmas and New Year’s. I know this as I’ve worked at many of those places over the years. As the sun set on many of the city’s favourite places-recent memories included: Raw Artists, his signature anonymous (House of Balloons) ‘Weekend’ presentations before he became the mega star he is today- Now that I think about it over the years, I’ve even been to a few NXNE festival presentations or showcases there too!
Just a few short days ago Work Late dropped the announcement that the former Mod Club is renamed Axis and also re-opening! It’s an exciting new chapter as this corridor of College St. has so many historic spots! This piece was supposed to go out a few days ago and as I was excited to see that an old venue is re-emerging anew- my hope for the future, as with many venues and venue owners in this city, is that they would take a more open-minded approach to hosting events and artists outside of the genre they were most comfortable with and used to.
What I intended to write in this piece is that I felt Hip Hop and Underground genres should be given more of a closer look- considering how many Canadian acts have gone out to do great things on global charts and streams (the lockdown shows this) We are all very aware at this point that Canadian artists and acts can and do pull a crowd at many venues around the world.
The Axis Club then goes on a few days later to release this line up for the All Axis Festival next month! A full 2 in 1.The two-day hybrid event will featuring both IRL performances as well as pre-recorded streams via Happin, a ticketing and live streaming platform with artists Savannah Ré, The Dirty Nil, DijahSB, Dylan Sinclair and more will perform at the newly renovated venue. And who is actually more?
On September 9th along with 2021 Juno winner Savannah Re there’s 3409,Dani Doucette,DJ Shub,Dylan Sinclair,No Tourists,TRP.P,Villabeatz. And the following night- GRAE,Korea Town Acid,Olivia Lunny,Orson Wilds,Peter Serrado*+more
Happin,a Toronto based tech and ticketing company is working in collaboration with Axis Club and the Unison Benevolent Fund (a music industry charity, providing emergency relief to the Canadian music community in times of hardship for about a decade now) to deliver an amazing streamed and IRL experience for this event. Things have changed and they are combining the two performance options together. I like this.
This is one of the great ways to restart this city’s nightlife in a completely new way! For more details contact (Stay Out Late) and check https://theaxisclub.com/ for details on their next club/concert nights. The future of nightlife in Toronto is looking up. -theshineprjct
The definition of ‘if a remix was a true remix. All tracks were really good! You guys dropped this at just the right time. You know that tail end of summer?…..Flowdan’s flow is tight ‘I can smell what they’re cooking and I can’t overlook it! This is it! From UK Bass Master Roska, to local label Bare Selection’s come up king Wize, sub-soca legend Marcus Visionary (Inner City Dance) have you seen him live? I went to a Roni Size/Marcus Visionary party and my God, it was wikked and lastly local Cassius by way of Berlin and new with Bare Selection but knowledgeable in UKG as well as bassline Lijah (Bristol) ALL dropped a little something for us.
Here’s something worth noting: as new and underground sounds become more en vogue , Bare Selection is stepping forward and building up the scene. You know adding legs and deeper roots for Toronto’s underground community. I think we can FINALLY say that Canada (starting in Toronto,of course) is finally sustaining and creating a solid scene that is here to stay! So many pockets of subculture right here in the city and so many names, brands, events have their own distinct style. Bravo, Electronic & Underground Toronto! Yasss!
The one fave that stuck out the most on this Aug.6 re-release was ‘Plans In Motion’ why? well, the UK funky, drill and leftfield bass sounds (like any brand new track,) can and I’m sure, DID move waistlines in the 6ix-I’m sure of it, easily. Actually-tracks like these can and do appeal to multiple crowds. These tracks dropped at the perfect post Caribana ‘hotter than a devil’s balls’ time frame; when we reminisce about how summer went while still enjoying it.
This heat dropped at the perfect time. I had to replay them both a few times to see where/what was different and how it moved me.Plans In Motion was already loved by crowds, both here and across the pond. The newer improved versions though,give it more life! Wize definitely has the Toronto and London crowds in mind with the heavier (grime sound) while Visionary kept it a little more soca (sub-soca to be exact.) These sounded carefully crafted,and still all the way bashment!Let the tunes hit your ears and hips for these potential final weeks of outside (I hope not.)Keep an eye (and both hips) out for more fire drops from Bare Selection.
What a time to be alive! 2020/2021 was one for the books in all areas of life-but for House Music, i’ll say bravo, bravo! I spent most of the lock watching DJOON and Detroit Movement lives and caught all kinds of dope shit that I would’ve planned to see at festivals. .
I don’t know about you but…these tracks moved me! Time is an illusion so I’ve mashed together last summer and some of this summer’s finest that I play for my own ears and soul. As I presently have them all and more on rotation, let me preface this by saying that with many shifts in pace and modes of socialization gradually changing, music has re-emerged as the pillar of strength that carried us through that was seen on programs like Verzuz as well as dedicated channels and pay per view events.
I’ve taken in so many live sets online of which I wouldn’t be privy to unless I’ve seen those artists live somewhere, somehow. I’ve taken in tons of material that I don’t believe I would’ve heard if these artists were on the road most of the year. Thanks to Twitch, YouTube and other online platforms I make sure to factor in new and existing artist lives-I check for hot new drops and I am steadily listening to while I work.
Here are some of my top Global House & Tech track favourites! As much of a House and Deep House Lover that I am, I do listen to music outside of my faves and have stumbled on some good, good stuff. There’s some Canadian tracks squeezed in and around on rotation here goes:
Like a Fool Fred Everything Lazy Vox Crazy P – 15 Years of Lazy Days
This is what I remember hearing so often at Li’lys in Toronto! 2021’s Lazy Vox version of Like A Fool is a smoother and groovier collaboration with Crazy P. I call this a more buss down version of the earlier release in 2015. It’s subtle but waaayy heavier! One thing I love the most is when a Montreal DJ/Producer like Fred Everything puts his spin or re-interpretation on already really good tracks. Just when you think it can’t be made any better….This track sounds like what he usually puts out. It’s honest, raw and right in the centre of that pure Deep House scale. 2015’s Mercyless feat.Wayne Tennant has that same bounce. I couple this up with his Madhouse Records release Imagination & Determination. It’s soothing to my ears and soul. Keep them coming!
Stay Inside (Girls of the Internet Extended Remix) JT Donaldson, Liv.e, Girls of the Internet Classic Music Company |
I think upon hearing this I really didn’t mind being inside at all!!! Soulful vocals like this were definitely heard across most 90s tracks for them to be a certified bop; this revival is a solid new classic. This is what I was saying earlier about songs being created at the time for that perfect moment in history- it feels very authentic. I don’t know how else to say this; but black female vocals are unmatched. This is smooth and renews a place in time for 2021 and beyond! Accolades for the both of you putting something as dope as this! More please! https://bit.ly/3eV6sph
China Charmeleon – I Want My Soul – Tribute To George Floyd (My Father’s Records) Stay True Sounds
Soulful and timely for the year that everything changed. His death touched many around the globe including our brothers and sisters in Africa South. Something special about 2020 and 2021 brought forth cuts like this. This tune has the signature classic sound that moves us House heads. This is fresher. This track brought me to look a little deeper at China’s pre Stay True Sounds discography and remixes. China literally lights up any previously released track in a multitude of ways. We see that in Sculptured Music’s fire track re-do of Sad To Think. Check out China’s set at Djoon’s presentation of the Stay True Sounds roster to capture a more direct taste of his kind of vibe! https://bit.ly/3kQo3Cu
Boiler Original Mix Sydney Blu Release: Conviction I love to dance and this is it for me. It took me a minute to release that this was a punchier and persuasively Housier version of theUndr The Radrrelease in 2020. This track is an example of a period in time where Dance music had some very lit energy! The vocals are catchy and this to me stood out on the Conviction release. This goes with me to the gym, this sits with me as I work! I have to add in that she is also Canadian! You can hear this album here at this presentation from earlier this year! Mr. Afterparty presents Sydney Blu – Conviction Album Set https://bit.ly/3l64ir1
Devotion by Fred P devotion W&P by Fred P
A good friend put me on to his music years ago as he ventured out to Berlin from the U.S. years ago -and his sound imprint has only gotten clearer and deeper over the years. I’m a huge fan of Fred P’s Private Society on Bandcamp and look forward to all the new vibrations he puts forth on this platform quite often. His genre is described as ambient, electronic and it really does sound like this. Devotion is that perfect background music used to gather inspo to create masterpieces and is one of 7 beautifully crafted cerebral tracks released a few months ago. I look forward to anything under Perpetual Sound. How distinct is he as a DJ/Producer? Have a listen to this Fred P remix for Electro Pop artist St. Vincent featured on Nina Kraviz presents release compilation from 2019. I love to chill and lounge with some wicked thought provoking tunes and Fred P did THAT! (listen to the original as well!) He changed that tune into a whole other genre in his distinct style! https://bit.ly/3iLzKaV
I’ve loved Portia Monique’s sound for quite sometime. She captured my ears in (2013) on The Layabouts – Colours of Love. In addition to that I stayed listening in (2019) on Ralf Gum’s (Go Go Music) album Progressions with sneaky link track After Midnight and right now, this year with Who You Know and Flower. This song intends to nurture the soul and it does just that! The most beautiful tracks are the ones with the strongest messages. She can effortlessly ride these beats so if you’re more into the beauty and strength of vocals-check this out and take it in. Her voice is gorgeous and her sound is unforgettable! She knows her voice (lyrically and soulfully)-you should get to know it too!
The Way (Jazzuelle Darkside Remix) Luka, Jaidene Veda, Jazzuelle Re:Vibe Music (Afro Creations Vol.10 Compilation) – Spotify Reunited again and it sounds so good! Three artists on the House/Deep House circuit that I absolutely enjoy listening to when they collaborate with others but together-is some synergy. One signature style/sound I’ve come to recognize about Luka is what I personally call dark and jazzy which is rarely captured ensemble in ‘House’ anything. I first took notice on 2 out of 3 of them collaborating on the 2013 release Overstanding with the We Go Deep label remixed by sir lsg & Anthony Nicholson. Jazzuelle definitely demonstrates the deviation from his signature futuristic sound on his own projects. I love to hear it! https://bit.ly/371nQUW
Listen, I could go on and on but these are just a few of the things I listen to- maybe I’ll check in with some stuff in the fall or winter! Enjoy being outside and keep dancing!
As we have reached the final days of February, we reflect on the new way we talk about Black artists in the Underground and all over the globe. Before I make this seem like another Black Artist asking for flowers, let’s consider how many we don’t really pay attention to even though they’ve delivered some excellent projects for the last decade. I’m proud to say he’s Canadian and even more so, he’s represented Toronto on a number of platforms most recently on his own over at IG,Patreon, Demuir DJ set – ReConnect: Deep House | @Beatport Live and Demuir Live From CODA in Toronto also last year. One of the things that caught my attention at first was the poster I saw at ADE a few years back with Demuir among many on a line up (he was at ADE) Demuir became a leader right before our eyes in a space where few speak up about issues that matter. Not only did he speak on multiple elephants in the room in 2020,he spoke on topics that get ignored but still affect the culture year after year.
There’s something to be said as COVID-19 has socially and culturally transitioned Canada into a new era-maybe I’m only speaking for Ontario and Quebec-There are frontrunners like Demuir that can beautifully represent being Black and Canadian in the electronic space at home and abroad. If not him then who? I pose this question because every win is a spotlight for the collective (it ain’t a competition or a point of contention, it’s motivation and in my case shine for all.)
There’s also something to be said where governing Canadian music entities (FACTOR,CBC,Ministry of Culture ,Sports & Tourism,CMW,Junos,Spotify,Apple,Live Nation to name a few) to take a look at nightlife as a viable cultural entity in and beyond the nightclub arena across the country especially now. Why? Now’s the time to anchor deeper roots and build an immovable legacy. It’s more than just pre-colonial museums, artefacts,colonial landmarks and I still say this: Canadian music and talent has always been lucrative and electronic music production has made a sharp boost in the last few years with remote production and tech tools being a little more readily available to most who are serious enough to take the craft to higher levels than most. Pay attention, people forget that Canadians have always supported other components of the local and international dance music landscape for long.
One of the hashtags I’ve used for years is #itsaboutthemusic and I still believe it is, but what happens in and around that though? Well, when Demuir decided to do this (online) he looked at the tools he could gather to assist his journey, the credibility he had developed over the years and the platform he already had and started putting informative pieces out. Demuir explains, ‘you see, apart from the music it’s also great to be in a position to serve people because it creates good vibes. It is about how I can help people. It’s a great feeling- people hit me up to thank me or something as simple as a personal email reply to a purchase or an exchange sets an impression…..going in with a perspective to serve others is rewarding ten fold.’
This chat meant alot because I was met with an incredible challenge a few years ago where at one point I was not able to reach, arrange and talk to DJs at home (Toronto) from a Canadian perspective for a number of years. This interview is VERY important. And in order to truly make a huge difference from a systemic standpoint; discussions should be had. I was pretty stoked to talk to an Electronic music focused DJ from this city who had a lot to say with no holds barred. If you follow him on IG, you’ll know. @Demuir
The Zoom age has actually pulled the communication standard up in that it is one of the only ideal ways available to make change and exchange. Demuir Pierre, owner/founder of Purveyor Underground contributes in more ways than one. He shares knowledge on sound & production, shows expertise on track development and genre specific techniques and very much an expert in music arrangement & instrumentation. And finally-he tells folks where to go. In addition to being informed it’s excellent to see it all come together. We talked about a lot of things and I made sure to ask about his opinion on media and press even small ones like mine and what it meant as an artist, we’ll get into that…..
His take on print and online media: ‘I think media and writers who are actively invested in what they are writing is a good thing for the music. Good and bad feedback in terms of the music itself. It comes down to the media and writer intentions. It should move between both quality and quantity.
How has COVID changed the game? Congratulations on your progress. I did notice how you’re bringing stuff on to the social space. ‘I think social media is the way. Whatever your niche, the tips and tricks is dope. Alot of people are good, but they need to level up. We talked about the huge pause levelling EVERYHING up and everyone up and the way it was reposted multiple times over. The people who get mad, with opinions are the people who pay $10,000 a month to make fans and the public think they’re the shit and then pay someone to make the music sound good with no talent.’ That’s pretty direct….but it’s the truth. If you really have to show us what you’ve got,these situations now have placed folks in a position where it forces people to re-think things-it’s an opportune time to do what is you. Be your authentic self with your craft.
What he thinks about social media platforms: With the SM tips and tricks and YouTube you have to tackle it with purpose. I’ve always had a global focus in mind. It’s (social media) is just a natural inclination to being connected to the world. By leveraging the power of socials he gets to work at what and who he likes, respectfully!
His take on copying and emulation:There used to be an old school gatekeeping mentality about sharing your signature/trademark production secrets because the thought was that someone is going to copy and your sound is gonna be out there-it doesn’t really matter.I can put you in a studio with me for a week, a month even and you will never be like me (it’s true) in terms on intuitively, that’s what makes us unique. There’s more depth to people. He has no problem sharing tips for this reason. And he feels that this way you can inspire someone today to be even better at what they do.Copying and pasting is a moment in time. It’s a form of flattery. It’s funny and frustrating. But it happens.The tips and tricks,plug ins can create something completely different than what Demuir has shown them.
What’s your musical style? For those who don’t know…..’I represent the Underground’s harder stuff.’ He does point out that some other DJ/Producers tend to represent the more commercial side of things but he points out that his stuff is more likened to artists like DJ Sneak, Sea Moss, Besassi. Real heavy hitters.
This symbol the accompanies the label name what is it? What does it represent? (Black History Moment) He brought my attention on the symbol-the concept goes back to the slave trade with the underground railroad. It’s a big part of his heritage and with Trinidadian roots he meaning is quite profound. He explains that ‘when slaves would escape to freedom this symbol would be etched into the ground for direction to the northern star.’ That’s deep.
About the labels: He goes on to explain-‘I’m a seller of free thought of artists and pushing Underground culture. The music is raw sounding, house jacking & tech house.’ He is definitive about the way it sounds. The label represents free thought of artists integrity and artists 100% in the forefront. It’s his 3rd label (Peetaah Music was in the early 2000s) He took a huge hiatus for about 10 years at the time and things had changed dramatically once Apple iTunes was just introduced. He introduced Purveyor Underground in November 2017.Purveyor Underground is an extension of Demuir. He has another joint venture Kultur with Junior Sanchez and it’s inception pays ode to Black and Hispanic roots to Underground sounds.
Strong statement about BLM/Racism in Underground – He doesn’t believe the industry is inherently racist but the method and/or practices with respect to business is an output or consequence of a systemic business model that’s been followed for a number years and must stop. They try to package the music in a way that it’s more easily consumed. He speaks very clearly in 2020 that as many Black artists should and could be on the line up representing their music and should be present at lives and festivals. ‘Factors such as the right look, age and race have affected representation. It’s about action now, visibility and no more long talk. It always should come back to the music. Let’s have more, more, more and in 2021 it looks like MORE is being shown!
What do you wanna work on the last quarter of the year?2020 Continue cultivating direct to consumer avenues particularly making music and focusing on licensing and publishing. He also enjoys the impact his music has at the creator level as well as the fans and supporters. People commend him about the progress he has helped them make when working on music production and it’s indeed fulfilling to receive the feedback. At that time of our interview he had about 11 hours worth of material ready for teaching courses so it’s coming soon. (Expect some tracks out on labels, at home still creating, connecting with true friends. And of course dealing with real people who like what he does.)
The advice about growing, building and establishing in the scene/industry? Alot of producers get caught up with others who look locally and worry about the same line up on every flyer. Work around some of the same things that seem to be deeply connected ,limiting opportunities and blocking the way. Start thinking on a global level. Work harder-think about the person across the globe who has no connections and less resources. Every city has it’s own thing, build yourself up. As an artist you’ve got to define who and where you want to be in this game. Don’t look at it from this city’s perspective. Be concerned about everything that’s happening in the city but find your place.
Amsterdam duo Barbara Rose and Andrew Foley bring sounds and styles that do not overlap. A set with them live at the hotel or pre-recorded on SoundCloud are incongruent and yet still mesh well. Lemme explain this: times are changing but prior to now, especially in Dance Music genres were quite distinct and remained separate. This is changing and can exist creatively together and I sat down with the two of them and recalled what it was like to meet them both on my first and second trip to Amsterdam’s Dance Event (ADE) and boy, do those trips REALLY mean so much to me this year! During my 2nd ADE focused visit I followed them out to a city limits radio venue (AMW for one of her very first live Techno sets) and two things stood out the most 1) #blackgirlmagic behind the decks and 2)what her story was- you see Barbara, former professional dancer was seriously looking for a comparable but creatively rewarding outlet after suffering from a dancing injury and musically paired up with Foley (Deep Rooted Soul) to form PASTRY MUSIC.
Rose recently returned to Holland after a one year foray in Spain and as many globe trotters all abruptly had to return to their respective hometowns because of COVID, she talks to me about her journey and what the take-aways were. She talks about how different it was: Djs play with passion, ‘from the heart’ Even if they aren’t spinning Deep House-whatever it is they play more deeply. In this way she learned how to listen more. She listens to music with more intention because of that kind of depth. Only a 2 hour flight from Holland and in Spain she found a whole ‘nother culture, culture. In light of her travel experience, this interview would’ve gone differently but in the thick of a global revolution, Barbara Rose put the topic out on the table about being Black in Spain.
On one side Spain is absolutely beautiful….’the food is amazing,the cultural experience is exciting….the night life is enchanting…..she describes it with fresh nostalgia. ‘You know we are world travellers,we are well-travelled. I got to know alot of Djs with the music,rent is cheap,food is great. Finding and securing gigs is an easier process….but the thing with Spain,they don’t even look at your music. If they like your vibe,they’ll book you,it’s as if nightlife has a completely place in the city. It is it’s own encapsulated experience.
This is synonymous what I’ve heard frequently. After all these positives with one huge BUT. At this very moment in out global history we as people can cross reference our POV’s soooo…with a poignant swiftness she says,’ once you’re there you feel like a minority’. Is it possible to have 2 experiences on two sides of a Euro? Absolutely.
Andrew recalls on his visit to Spain-‘they live in a bubble, bureacracy is thick’ This is pre-COVID we’re talking about here. Rose talks about not expecting it to be as intense, especially being a Black Woman when dealing with people in Spain….. But yeah, it was…..
Andrew Foley 2nd half of Pastry DJs crew shared so much about his love of Disco, Hip Hop and later and longstanding, House. He enjoyed the sounds from era to era but he also enjoyed the signature feel of what what each genre brought to the next. ‘I used to buy alot of vinyl and the sound is vintage, which is why it’s still so good.’ I didn’t know Andrew at all but I got to understand what he was like based off of the way he played on the night I met him at a late, late night party at really super tiny place after a day at ADE (Bar Karakter) I walked in really you would think we were at a place in 2004-5.
If I’m saying this don’t every think that I’m pre-dating this musical era as old or out of touch! But House Music between 2003-2006 had some of the dopest sounds I think I’ve ever heard; and from the greatest musical minds, so many great sounds came out of that era. Maybe it’s a regional thing on my part, I consume ALOT of music but I have NEVER heard some of the music I heard that night and he played the shit out of that.
I thought that this was a first listen on my part and coming from Toronto, I thought that maybe my tastes and preferences had fallen off. Then I heard Andrew (Deeprooted Soul) again at another ADE live event. Andrew, your extensive catalogue and knowledge of the genre is incredible and your delivery of this stuff is impeccable. He captures a time and space in Dance Music and if you know, you know. I urge you to tune in and give it a listen at some point with all this downtime we’re about to have. It’s nostalgic, it’s euphoric, it’s precise and it’s well seasoned-most of all the passion is in there. Check them out: starting 09 jul. | Moxy Houthavens presents:
P A S T R Y M U S I C L I V E S T R E A M a fresh weekly concept every Thursday live from Moxy Houthavens Amsterdam.
They announced their collaboration with MOXY Houthavens Amsterdam this past summer. As of Thursday the 16th of July they have been streaming live on location bringing a fresh vibe to the lockdown blahs every week! It’s the hotel party of parties. (It’s called the PAS T R Y M U S I C show.) From 19:00 till 21:00 giving you the best in House & Tech Music with a touch of R&B every week with a new set of guest DJs. Join them live! They are definitely one of many DJs helping us enter the new global #livestream life on Twitch (@pastrymusicdjs.) It’s a different vibe over there. They’ve got some feel good energy!
Her take on passion is insightful: what will her children take from what she puts forth today? Her response were a very different type of introspection that would have quite possibly rolled out a whole lot differently if we had done this exact interview 3 years ago-at this stage she tries to really focus on staying healthy and balanced and to show her kids that she has passion for music. ‘I want them to be around that…. not so they can go out and make music but I’m definitely open to them finding their passions in their own life’.
I talked about last year’s Canada Music Week focus (South Africa) and she matched my excitement and threw in that she toured SA. I told her about the the South African connection program I had put together last year-she added that they (the roster) went in the early 2000s! ‘IT was a long time ago’…..in 2001. She visited Capetown, Durban and Johannesburg it was incredible and with it being her first time, she reminisced about what a beautiful place it was and that over there she felt the love. That feeling ‘the love’ we talk about was felt wherever she went to perform.
About travel and performances: I’ve been on tours to so many countries because of DJ’ing. I’ve been able to visit so many parts of the world. Seeing how connected everyone is-is quite amazing. You can speak a completely different language and still be so connected to each other. Music is universal and when I started going outside of Chicago I saw how connected we all are. We have so much in common because of music y’know? And that’s what is so incredible about us (as people) and it continues to keep us unified. And that’s what is so incredible. Thankfully because of Dj’ing I’ve been able to visit all parts of the world to just see the community between us dj’ing and dancing and how connected how we all are……
One thing I noticed Colette talks about music,arts,dj culture with deep vivid passion. Isn’t that what inspires people the most when it is what you are most authentically passionate about? It really had me thinking how much of this year’s events had changed the trajectory of our lives – our interconnectedness is critical to the survival and sustainability of the culture.
She knew what I meant when I asked how do DJs do life? How does she balance everything? I take it day by day-I started releasing music in 1996 and started touring in 1998 and have always been working on something but having children does take so much time and diligence….. So making music and being a parent is definitely never boring which is good. I don’t sleep as much. When you’re making music and being a parent, being a wife it kind of suddenly is all about juggling and balancing time-So I can do the things that I love.(for me it’s music.)I want them (my kids) to grow up around that and be inspired by that.-I’m open to them finding their own loves in life. But I want them to see that I’m very passionate about something and it’s been like that my entire life.
How has this whole quarantine life been for you? DJ Community especially? Everything is on pause. We both say in unison (Everything is on pause.) At the time of this interview she says, ‘so far it’s been just over a week and I just try to take it day-to-day and spend one part of the day paying attention to the news but at the same time I’m not trying to spend my whole day on there. And my kids are here and we’re homeschooling here and still trying to work on music and y’know not trying to have too much concern and daily thoughts on this change. (wise perspective) I think that these are unprecedented times (how many times have we read this in the promo emails that keep coming through?) There’s no way to really plan for it, all you really can do is focus on the day. (I love that she said this)
Seriously it sounded like a mantra: Colette said, ‘Today I am healthy, today I am safe. What can I do that will bring joy to myself, my children (you know I’d rather show something light or entertaining online because I think that is what everyone needs right now (Don’t we, we really do!) We need some ‘lightness’ in our lives (I’ve been trying to stick to that!) Firm stance is positive. Love this.
She let me know that music is still always coming out. And she wanted to remind us all that as much as it can be disappointing with plenty of events cancelled worldwide-at least for now; it is also for everyone’s safety, health and well being.
Did she have anything that was released this year prior to lockdown? Absolutely! People can still listen to music, can still experience the music and she encourages everyone to look out for new albums that are dropping. She’s got music coming out this year celebrating 10 years of Candy Talk (her label) and will be releasing a bunch of compilations with stuff from the very beginning of DJ Colette’s journey along with new drops as well.
It’s really all about being patient and not getting overwhelmed by everything she reassuringly explained. And she’s right about this across the board. I asked her if we’d be expecting any Second City Sessions next year because I really like those-Her reply to that: ‘Heather and I are always doing tour dates together and we just celebrated 10 years of those…we’ve always toured together. We did have something set up for May at Smartbar…..we’ll play together again sometime soon! It might get pushed back. We have always had the best times playing records together and that’s not going to stop anytime soon!’ And for real those Second City Sessions are where get to really hear and feel their taste for music! These nights are the result of some very tenured music connoisseurs.
It’s changed so much in the last 20 years for female DJs and even this year alone the level of exposure that is even more possible with our favourites livestreaming more frequently- and on platforms with wide reaching audiences. Any advice for those who want to break into the scene? Into production? What should they prepare themselves for? What should they do? I think for anyone when diving into the world of music and art is to really focus on what’s inspiring to you instead of going with what the trends of music are….for me I think for anyone….We all have our own special flare and once you’ve learnt your craft and figured out ways to translate music-this is what makes us unique. And that’s what people want. It’s so much more fun to just play and make music that you feel and not worry if it’s popular or if people are gonna like it. First and foremost it has to be honest. And that is what will make you the dj, producer, vocalist, songwriter etc….the happiest. And when you can create music that you really feel-People will gravitate towards that. I find it weird when people are chasing a trends musically because if you don’t like the trend then what are you trying to do? Creating art is magical and you just have to tap into that inner voice, make what inspires you.
I asked about other labelmates she told me it OM was one of her favourite labels…and she gave me a little history ‘My first album debuted on OM, I’ve been signed to OM since 2005…..being on that label changed the course of my music, it changed so many things for me. I support everything they do.’ So I got a little rundown and schooling. I knew Marques Wyatt and Miguel Migs were on there BUT Kaskade?! OM is a big deal to me and even still- I had no idea about that…! I got new info and the correct details (these mean everything to me.)
This entire convo was a vibe. As deeply reflective as she was in the way in which she responds, remarks and teaches- I walked away with a sense of strength and understanding. All in one go I asked specific questions and got waves of info! Having this chat meant I’d now possess an even greater appreciation for her music and the style she’s delivered all these years: It’s flawless. The Second City Sessions event tour date I attended at The Loft (#toronto) almost 3 years ago was where I was introduced to her live vocals on tracks which I’ve never heard live and I listen in more now.
What are some of the projects/lives we can catch again or in the future? She joined the #ChicagoKids crew on Sneak’s Feast of Beats last month (https://futurestream.tv/djsneak exclusive with pay for play access) She was one of many artists providing entertainment at this year’s MCH Virtual Weekend and Fundraiser (MiCasaHoliday) in partnership with Build Chicago and YourPassion1st where artists performed and participants were able to connect with international & local talent! Content was streamed for 7 days, 24 hours a day. Check the snippets out all over FB and YouTube! Most of the lives are grouped together in segments of 5-6 hours, check it out-it’s really good-definitely something to take in while we’ve got a bit more time on our hands for the holidays and the global lockdowns! And at the time we interviewed, the uplifting video dance challenge for 2010 Club Hit Remix ‘Call On Me’ with Joshua Heath was released too! She announced that within a few days that she’d be working on a collaborative music video. Asking folks to contribute their own little videos of new dancing so put together a nice montage of people at home relaxing and dancing around (this is an excellent idea- an all inclusive video) and folks being silly and just letting go. It’s fun to watch!
To sum up this year, she said ‘I’m taking this day-by-day, my kids are healthy-what else can we do? It’s not an easy moment- we’re all trying to get through something that we’ve never seen in our lifetime-I don’t even watch the news more than once a day. It’s too much to process.’
Her daughter entered the room as our talk came to a close and I can’t help but wondering if she’ll get into the industry in the distant future making folks remember again that HOUSE is back and it’s never left! Only time will tell….