DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Information, Knowledge, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Reflections, Social Media, theshineprjct, Toronto

Demuir’s Digital Return – Local House Series – Installment 8 (2020 Vision Series)

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.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article about the ones bringing the spotlight to the genre-Honeycomb Label Owner Josh Milan’s interview, I discussed with Milan back then about being nominated for the Grammy twice which is (rare for House/Underground) and I brought the comparison to Drake at best (even though the genre is different,) the concept of keeping Toronto and Canada at-large on people’s minds and creative collaborations was VERY important then (pre-covid) and NOW.

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…..

Served Raw

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.

Looking to step your production game up? Visit Demuir over at Patreon>>>http://patreon.com/demuirofficial

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Knowledge, Music, promoters, Social Media, theshineprjct, Travel

Pastry Music DJs – Barbara Rose, Andrew Foley, Holland – International -House & Techno Music – 2020 Vision Series

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.

A perfect mix of Techno & House in one set!

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!

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Knowledge, Music, promoters, theshineprjct, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

DJ Colette – OM Records – (APT) Entertainment) Chicago’s – International – House Music – 2020 Vision Series – (Chicago) Pt.2

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.

DJ Colette & DJ Heather at LOFT Toronto (Second City Sessions)

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….

DJ Culture & Music, events, House Music, Movers & Shakers, promoters, Public Relations, Reflections, Social Media, theshineprjct, Toronto, Travel, women & entrepreneurship

theshineprjct (this blog) and Drumsradio UK presents-RALF GUM-Progressions – Part Deux with Sir LSG,Dave Rankin (Toronto)

I had to pull out an excerpt from our Skype interview almost 3 years ago! So I asked,’You mentioned at the beginning that you’ve been to Toronto once?’ Which he replied ‘Yes. In the Winter. It might have been 2009. Or 2010. I had a great, great night. It wasn’t at all what I expected. It was an amazing party! I can’t wait to come back’

Interviewed a few years ago at Toronto music lifestyle blog theshineprjct.com at the cusp of his last album release he talked about his first visit to Toronto and how unique he thought our scene was….he returns next month with theshineprjct.com and Drumsradio UK bringing you local and international selectas together…..can’t be missed!Please read it>>>>> https://bit.ly/2Tpd3fz

It’s 2019….and folks,HE’S BACK! I’d like to add that I’ve had a list of people I wanted to interview for years. He’s one of the DJ/Producers that I didn’t expect to return my requests and he did! It was a thought provoking interview and he’s made some banging hits! It’s Ralf GUM feat. Monique Bingham – Take Me To My Love (Ralf GUM Main Mix) – GOGO 053 – that lead me to speak to him.

With a solid Discography spanning more than a decade he gifts House with new,new album Progressions. He wraps instrumentals around vocals, he handcrafts each note to match the human voice (you definitely hear this with Monique Bingham’s tracks!)

theshinprjct.com & Drumsradio UK brings you RALF GUM Progressions with guests SIR LSG and Dave Rankin (Toronto)

German DJ/Producer and Label head Ralf Gum of GO GO Music re-visits #toronto with a long-planned intimate night of Deep and Soulful House. After 10 years he returns and brings forth his latest album Progressions (2019).

DJ/Producer SIR LSG joins Ralf (Luka ft. Jaidene Veda – Overstanding – Remixed with Anthony Nicholson – 2013) and (Gratitude feat. Melanie Scholtz – 2017) on first Traxsource charted album ‘Moving Circles’.

This year’s Canada Music Week selected country focus was South Africa- just because #CMW2019 is over doesn’t mean the electronic rhythms by way of SA aren’t…..theshineprjct.com held a ‘Tribal to AfroTech’ panel with guests Nick Holder and Ralf Gum this past May; to shed a little light on the Canadian and South African #djculture collaboration. Part Deux will be exciting!

These blog-to-live events are the first 2 of a series of #inspiredevents created by Owner/Creator Shanay Egwuenu with her PR/Digital Marketing agency urbcomgrp.com.

With a few years under her belt as a Digital and PR Marketer- I continue to mix my love of blogging,social media and organic promotion with Underground Music. I aim to deliver a fresh perspective on traditional media. Stay tuned for more!

Arrive early,
Come as you are,
We are Global,
It’s #aboutthemusic

drumheavy

Dancefloor Certified.

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, theshineprjct, Toronto

UNCDTNL SUPPORT: The future of publicity in Toronto is bright!


Meet the two women partially responsible for the next wave of women music executives in Toronto: Yvette Angela and Deneita Evans

From what I understand UNCDTNL Collective are women of colour executives mentoring women of colour?

UNCDTNL Collective is a company that specializes in project management that support underrepresented individuals and groups. It is this specific program where we’ve created a mentorship component.

At what point did you decide to connect and collaborate?

We met in 2017 during our volunteer run at Yonge-Dundas, where we were handing out flyers for that years’ Manifesto. We just clicked and from working with each other and learning about our love for music, putting on shows, and what we felt was missing from Toronto at that time. We started talking and a little bit later, UNCDTNL was on its way.

What are some of the things about hip hop and R&B that becomes a little more challenging (aside from event production and talent buying.)

Curating hip hop and r&b shows in spaces where they aren’t welcome. Toronto loves the aesthetic of hip hop but doesn’t want live performers. It’s challenging to find the space where we are not only welcomed but embraced, not policed.

For Yvette and Denieta: What makes a great event from start to finish

D: I’d say the most difficult thing about planning an event would be keeping organization the whole way through, to make sure we’re not skipping a beat and we’re covering all our bases. Especially when it’s a decent sized group taking on a huge event. Also, being prepared when things randomly change and you now have to quickly find solutions.

Y: For me, it’s the lack of resources. Sometimes we will have a vision and it might be hard or close to possible to execute. So we either need to find/create the sources. We usually work with what we got until we can get what need and want. But it’s a huge hurdle to overcome, but we always do and we end up with more than we hoped.

What do both of you feel about carving your own path vs. following the industry standard? (What are some of the things that you feel have to be followed or blazed “blazing your own path”-Explain front and back of house?

We believe every path is different, we don’t think there is any industry standard. There’s space for everyone, you just need the passion and persistence to get there. The only thing in common with us, our mentors, mentees, colleagues is that we are all went for what we wanted. Sometimes that means volunteering internships, attending networking events – just putting yourself out there, working hard and you’ll see the fruits of your labour.

What you want to say to the next gen music entertainment women of colour executives in Canada?

Persistence, patience and passion is all you need. Sometimes it seems as though your goal will never get accomplished but it’s not true – it’s coming. But it only happens with hard work, be the best worker at every job that you do. Research and know your craft, and always be open to learning more.

What kind of events do you want to create in the future? Any company,client,group,biz,artists?

We are working on another volume of our show ‘Sunshine’, we plan on making some changes and doing it even better than our first one. We are planning on getting involved with more festivals in the country (such as Pop Montreal, VELD or NXNE) and also we want to continue to provide resources to those who don’t know where to go. We also are going to delve into art, Deneita is a huge art fan so that is in the works – to represent local visual artists.

How can people stay up-to-date with UNCDTNL? INSTAGRAM: @uncdtnl

Show Info:

CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK: Ebhoni, Witch Prophet and Sydanie.

May 8th at The Baby G (1608 Dundas St West)

Doors Open at 8pm / Show Starts at 9pm.

Tickets are $12 Online and $15 at the Door. 

Buy tickets: bit.ly/UNCDTNLCMW

DJ Culture & Music, events, Music, promoters, theshineprjct, Toronto

LUXELIFE SOUND Touches Toronto

A few minutes before I arrive at a Downtown Café last Fall, she sends a quick text identifying herself as the one with the big curly hair! Walked up to the glass doors and yes, she had the massive hair and the warmest bubbly smile. We just dived right in! Cleo Ellis, one half of LUXELIFE SOUND broke down for me how the business came about, and like most of the conversations I’ve had with shineprjct interviewees, it was soooo organic!!!!

With the strong ongoing 2018 theme of women-lifting-women up and the pride I can hear in her voice, this story  is definitely a huge accomplishment. She didn’t expect it to take the direction it did ‘it kinda just happened’ Ellis said.

Originally from Edmonton, she  moved to Toronto from Vancouver  in 2014  to pursue her Masters Degree in Professional Communication and almost immediately started a  volunteer position with Canadian PR Powerhouse Natasha Koifman of (NKPR) during their TIFF IT Lounge. That was also how she met her now business partner, DJ Lissa Monet — and unbeknownst to them both, that was the beginning of Toronto’s first all-female boutique DJ booking agency — LUXELIFE SOUND. JUST.LIKE.THAT.

Cleo Ellis – Partner
Photo: @djpplus

Anyone following Monet on Twitter will notice that she drops needles of wisdom navigating the industry as a tenured DJ and as a woman. She’s one of Toronto’s most well known DJs and has pioneered the way for a host of other DJs in the city, particularly female DJs.

DJ Lissa Monet – Partner

Even further ‘Our DJs are more than just a playlist. They actually have the skill needed to live-spin to the needs of the crowd’. LUXELIFE SOUND’s goal is to set a luxury standard of service for their clients, but also to ensure each and every DJ on their roster is paid their worth and treated fairly — the DJ industry, particularly in the club sector is notorious for these issues.  Cleo takes the time to educate each client on the expectations of hiring a DJ, while making the process seamless and simple on both ends. . One of the most engaging parts of our exchange was her communal ideology. ‘In our world, everyone gets a bag and everyone shines’ (Yeah, baby EVERYONE).

For years she was on the club circuit  and transitioned to corporate events , all while keeping a keen eye on other up and coming  lady DJs in the space. Many of whom  I’ve seen and heard at various events all over the city. The grouping of what is now LUXELIFE’S  roster includes a few definitive selectas from all over Canada. Cleo explains ‘we lucked out in that every DJ on the roster is so different; if the client requires a certain style, WE DELIVER and that is our strength’

Although business is flowing in from all over Canada they are not yet ready to expand nationwide but would like to continue reaching clients from coast-to-coast. “One day we hope to replicate this model on a larger scale in other cities, and maybe even expand to the US — but slow and steady wins the race. We want to be able to have the infrastructure to support a move like that”.

If you’re looking for more LUXELIFE SOUND has a dope SoundCloud channel  right now. Keep your ears open for the ladies at the next private party, it might be yours! Wishing LUXELIFE SOUND amazing success in 2019!

Follow ‘em IG: @luxelifesound

Follow ‘em on Facebook: @Luxelifesound

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, events, House Music, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

DJ Heather – Apollo Records – (APT) Chicago’s – International – House Music – Summer Series 2018 – (Chicago) Pt.1

With DJ Colette doing a sound check, I sat with DJ Heather instead: Instead, Heather and I had a REAL good chat.We talked about soooo much- from coming of age,to transitioning into motherhood and remaining artistically inspired. I’m glad the interview was split,we had more of a ‘let’s meet for drinks’ kinda chat.She took control of the energy and convo as I’d expected from a DJ and we journeyed through each topic pretty much like her set later on that night at Second City Sessions. Her energy and style are undeniable.

At 20 years in-she’s reflective and is now finally feeling that she is progressing,thriving,comfortable and starting to feel good….she said ‘as an artist you do have moments where you ebb and flow continuously’ So where does this endless motivation come from? ‘There’s an engine inside of you that continues to drive and regardless of what people think about age,gender-all those social mores fall to the wayside’

On coming of age and being a DJ she says one of her greatest moves forward is when she started focusing on herself and all the other chatter just disappeared- it didn’t matter anymore. The people who usually bring up the age or gender thing are those wondering how long its gonna take to achieve a certain status OR they feel that you’re not inspiring as much as you think you are. But along with that-there’s a clichéd phrase that ‘if you’re not inspired you should retire…..’I don’t really feel like I’m at that stage now to do that and there’s been many times through my life as I’ve DJ ‘ed and I remembered that making music hadn’t really been a thing that I grew up with-I never said I’m going to be a DJ, it kinda just happened’

What role has music played for you? Music was always been something that ran parallel with what I was doing with my life. Working for record labels, I was still always in the music industry but not truly focused on the art of DJ’ing. And over time I really enjoyed the element of DJ’ing because of the ability to TRAVEL. There were numerous friends I met and even still today I continue to meet more people and still enjoy what I do. It can be a struggle at times now because I have an added family element to it (just ask Colette) but it still gives me life, it still gives me enjoyment-the literal act of playing music for people is so satisfying but it becomes more of a difficult thing trying to make a living from your art…and I think that doesn’t matter what age you are-whether in your 20s,30s,40s,50s,60s-whatever 70; but in my personal experience I’m a big fan of artists regardless of the medium they choose.

I admire the fact that she has continued with what she does cause you know, it ain’t a regular job. She explains as an artist that ‘the ones who continue to create probably do it because it’s an ever-present thing like a scratch’ and in this case she has to itch……..lol

We are very aware that in accordance to society, even with modernization and some changing values-regardless of what they do,women often take pause from their paths,careers or jobs. Heather re-iterates ‘we do struggle with stuff and even I took time off after he (her son) was born. I was off for five months give or take, maybe three months?…..And my first gig was New Years Eve the following year!’

About how IT (pregnancy) went: I played up until my seventh month- so yeah, I was at the club and my husband was leading me through the venue and I was playing and literally he helped me up onto this stool. But it was a part of my life that I wanted to experience. Being in a relationship with a person (knowing this is the person I’d love to have a child with) and with this  addition it made me change the way I operate in terms of the flexibility of working when I wanted to (that was gone.) Being regimented,being scheduled and disciplined came back-it was like being in college again. (In a strange way.) You still have all this time but you have to learn again how to make that time work for you because you don’t have a lot of it- and between trying to compartmentalize the childcare with everything else, it kind of dampened. I’ve come out of that little ‘baby-ness’ stage. He’s got his own schedule now-he’s got his own feet. He’s in school so that gives me the opportunity to drop him off and I can work as much as I can during the time that he’s at school.

Do you travel with your son yet? He’s yet to come with me on a trip but he’s seen me play at street festivals and stuff. So he feels at home.

Have you noticed his musicality? I see it- but it translates into the fact that he thinks the DJ stuff is cool and he likes to dance. He’s still kind of figuring out what he likes. He’ll pretend to play…We’re just letting him pursue what he wants to pursue and just kinda find his feet. He’s in the studio sometimes, other times he doesn’t want to be in there. Yesterday he came on his own and gave her a sticker installation with labels to be there for her in the room and she put it on a speaker. He left a piece of himself there with her.

How important is it to have a partner that understands what it takes? Has it been easy? It’s been helpful for sure-I wouldn’t say ideal; but it’s great. We’re in total opposite worlds. He’s in corporate construction and I’m in art and music so we’re not really perpetually talking about the same thing. We appreciate each other and we appreciate what we can offer. He’s more in the tactile side of corporate design so he works with colour and fabrics.He’s more on the art side of his business as well. So we still appreciate art in very different ways.

Mind if I ask how you met? He met me as a DJ, he arrived at my show early and met at the booth. And here we are quite a few years later….. 😉

DJ Heather on relationships: As any relationship goes whether it’s a friendship,marriage or partnership (it is work) but if you both know that your end goal is the same and you don’t want to bail and you’re ready to work through it- that’s half the battle and that’s what’s kept us going and it’s just that awareness. It’s difficult when you’re polar opposites.I wanna be able to do my thing and express myself but I’m also a Mommy and if I weren’t doing this I wouldn’t be the mother I am.Being myself means that I won’t ever have a sense of animosity-so there is a lot of freedom I’m given for sure- and I’m very lucky…..

It’s a powerful conversation to have at this time when women are making bold movements to balance work,purpose,entrepreneurship and identity-This had to have been the highlight of our discussion as the theme running globally is women’s empowerment. There’s no direct path…..I explained my level of concern at this juncture in my own life. She admits ‘I never thought I’d be married, I never thought I’d have a child. And both have happened and I’m still maintaining some sort of career that I’m happy with. I’m still always trying to find out methods that feel organic and natural and very honest. And I’m still trying to maintain that honesty, its very difficult to do. She still feels very fortunate to have people that she can still play records for and can share music with them for this long! And I said surprisingly WHY NOT! Fabric 21 and the House of OM Mix CD were stellar projects-Her insightful breaks from my questions had me looking at her role from many angles.

 

She explained this to me: As a DJ you know that the number of DJs-per-capita has grown. There’s the myth about what a DJ does and what a DJ actually does. Many of those who are discovering the art now are finding that there is no way to kind of ‘break in’ to the scene-unless you have a big record or a ‘team’ or unless you have ‘followers’. Now there are all these other things that you don’t have the luxury of cultivating over time. It’s more instantaneous (Where’s the lie? It’s true-this is one of the industry’s biggest changes!) 

Let’s humanize DJ Heather for a moment: She’s grateful for the opportunity to learn a lot of stuff through trial and error. Hopefully she says,’I’ve built a reputation of being a solid DJ but all the other stuff comes with it. The music stuff is great but hopefully being known as a decent human being and the other stuff falls in line. And of course your relationships should be great. I’ve always tried to make life ‘normal’ and not take it as seriously but only take things as serious because its important to me-this is where I’ve found more balance. It’s about balance. Balance is a good thing.’

It’s about the music: I asked her about new Apollo Records track ‘The Acid’ with Berlin based Detroit producer Lauren Flax (June 8). She’s a great producer,Lauren is one of  her fave persons and can produce her butt off. It dropped June 8th and this ‘Acid’ track Heather describes as raw, to the point and machine based. They collaborated on this track and there are remixes out on her label. (partnered with Dann X and Little Mark) At the time, (May 2018) teasers and promo packs had gone out-the single is now available on Traxsource and the acidity is fresh!

Is there a revival of the Acid sound? There’s a kind of revival but just like Nu Jazz it comes in waves. When people say Deep House is back or Acid Jazz is back-it doesn’t really leave. IT sort of appears in waves of consciousness and you hear these records and they’re kind of throwback but they are also sounds that people really love to hear. There’s warmth,grit and depth.

About Blackcherry Recordings, it says House and Downtempo…….is that something you prefer? Do you like that sound? Yeah, as it pertains to Black Cherry I try to have it perpetuate the Chicago sound-It’s more trackier (polished) stuff as well as Downtempo stuff so it’s a kind of homage to Classic House sounds-let’s say upfront tracky stuff (that’s what I tend to focus on with Blackcherry so I was happy to bring it back with that J-Fader EP and I’ve got something coming out with another artist she’s from Chicago T Mixwell….She’s fantastic and she produces lovely music……the track is currently untitled but its’ coming out before the end of the Summer/early Fall.

For artists on the label are you looking for something specific (sound?feel?) When you receive submissions?You know if I feel something, again-its an honesty thing. It’s like this is right..someone’ll send me a track and a few pieces. I might play it out to see or get a sense of where it could go, if it’s perfect or if I think it’s super hot. I play it and get a response and see the initial feeling about it. That helps me verify in that moment. Its like oh yeah…this is pretty dope. I decide if I’ll make some changes and that kinda thing-I kinda like to test run stuff. I do the same with Apollo Records music as well. I test it out at the club and how a room responds to it spatially. It’s not always in the spirit of House Music. For example Derek Dunbar submitted some stuff and I gave it the nod. It’s nice for people to have it (new stuff) so they can put it out because there’s a market for it.

Do you ever have people approach to ask you to help them out or hook them up? (a leg into the industry) Sometimes,but it’s not that blatant, the help now people are looking for are things like ‘could you say something about my track or could you chart it? could you tweet about it?..but again I do share stuff that I feel connected to. So if someone asks me and its kinda weird, I’m not sure but if I kinda know them and they need a little push I’ll do it, its no problem as I’d want anyone to do the same for me.  In the past I would usually reach out to people and tell them their track was awesome and because they were so enthused, they would literally help me out and PUT ME ON tour and let me open-but there’s plenty of that stuff that clubs don’t wanna do anymore.

She explains the way being PUT ON works today: They’ll have these tours where the headlining DJ picks their supporting cast…..unless you have a camp like Dirty Bird they’ve created a culture where everyone’s in-house and literally everyone who’s with the label throws their own events and showcases their own artists, that’s a  formula that has worked for them.So from top to bottom all night,you’re gonna see people who’ve put music on the label or down with their crew and it’s worked! And when they’ve put their people on they’ve added a particular flavour. People are trying to replicate that formula-sometimes it works other times it doesn’t. Or you’ve had stages that are set up at one event or big festival….and let’s say  for example you have Green Velvet, he’ll have a stage with people he really likes and it works.

I tried to do that at my Smartbar residency by kinda mixing it up with people who haven’t played at the club before. I want to get them in the rotation-so they can get used to the club setting…..(it helps them build confidence too!) Sometimes the club sees the new DJ’s potential and they might want to put that person on. By doing that-new people bring a network of friends OR FAMILY, that’s what it should be about! She’s passing the torch in a sense…..Having friends & family who come out to her events gave Heather confidence back in the day. In an encouraging way she says ‘they can put these on their resumes,get other gigs or put that flyer aside as part of their archival information’ It’s almost like passing the torch……

Imagine what kind of advice she’s going to offer which such an in-depth interview…..Must read. 

  • Don’t be limited with what you think you should be doing versus what you truly want to do. Take risks when you feel like you should. Even now- She still feels nervous before a show and (the fear factor is good.)
  • Never assume what’s going to happen at a venue-even with a sound check (you may have an idea of what to expect but you never know…..all those things are nice to know, but you won’t always know)
  • Make sure you have all your tools (part of your arsenal) to rock the crowd. There might be people at a club, festival or rave who have no clue who you are….its a reality. Don’t forget that you’re there to entertain, to bait and switch…. sometimes it’s okay to give people something that’s relatable. That’s where the balance is.(Starting out as a primarily HipHop DJ gave her another tool to use-because Hip Hop audiences usually only dance to shit they know (truth lol) and that’s the commercial aspect of it. But she was able to squeeze in stuff during sets back then- she really understood the art of DJ’ing, whether it was with Downtempo or Hip Hop

 

What about the way women connect on an emotional level with what they do musically and artistically (Production/DJ’ing/Music?)  I shared with Heather  recording artist Kelela’s Opinion piece from earlier this year at  Resident Advisor and it  then spurred a whole conversation on how to proceed beyond that context. She clearly has had different experiences but the future is here. She says, ‘All Women, Women of colour,Transwomen and LGBTQ groups- these are the voices in vogue now…how long will this platform be in place? Will it stay a trend? Being in the industry for as long as she has been-she doesn’t really feel that it’s no longer about the ‘shine’ on music or artists that has changed-it’s just something people are used to now. After all IT IS entertainment. But women have always been behind the scenes and contributing for a long time. From management, to artists, to DJ’ing, to production and just now we’re seeing women as par for the course. Her advice with these changes is to take advantage of this platform, the visibility, the people paying attention and to not be afraid to ask questions and speak out-especially within a learning capacity. If people think you’re being ridiculous it’s okay….don’t worry about the boys club. There are plenty of women,spaces and places where you can find help, get questions answered, obtain resources from blogs, online and printed media outlets and even platforms like YouTube tutorials for example to learn production, DJ’ing techniques and still maintain anonymity. Feel free to learn your craft the way you’d like.

Just like any other city in the world Toronto’s tempo has changed and what people enjoy has changed as well. DJ Heather from sister city Chicago is excited to still be able to play from a fresh spectrum and it sounds like that! Second City Sessions is a collaborative project that was born from their (DJ Colette and DJ Heather’s) House of OM CD release back in 2006 when they toured and traveled with Fred Everything and Andy Caldwell. Fans love to hear Colette and Heather spin together and they deliver the synergy that works between them whenever they play. DJ Heather will be playing alongside Gene Farris, Jason Hodges,Teeloo and Mike Gleeson on Saturday July 27, 2018 after the lunar eclipse at Toronto’s CODA-it’s gonna be an electric one!!!

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DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, Music, promoters, Public Relations, Reflections, Toronto

Canadian Music Week – CMW 2018 – The Information Age

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A full week of non-stop music, panel discussions and mentorship all here in the T-Dot! This has to be one of the largest Music Week’s held in Canada this year! The official program guide was jam-packed with dozens of events hourly (Held at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel and all over the city.)

Jointly presented by San Rafael and Amsterdam Brewery-I don’t even know WHERE to begin-this Canadian Music Week was PACKED with current information; From the Mentors’ Cafe to the panels, to industry organization exhibitors (SOCAN, MROC,FACTOR)

It was refreshing to see all the various organizations that work behind the scenes to assist artists in bringing forth new-ish ways of tackling the good ole industry…..

Their app was quite good! I loved the high touch accessibility of the app and it was much easier to navigate than look through the program and section it off with post-its like I did in the past…..or maybe I like apps. My favourite was the scheduling tool! You know where to be and at what time……

Blockchain

With the app I found Blockchain Music:Set It and Forget It,You’re Getting Paid it’s been a hot topic for a minute and this was a conversation circulation at ADE2017! Panelists (Dino Celotti,Jason Robert,Jesse Grushack,Ritesh Patel and Steven Masur) all part of the Music Production and Indie Label industries,collectively explained Blockchain and how it benefits the artists and the cascading industry as a whole. It’s great to see that many panels across the board had a heavy focus on the future of the industry with all the new talent and new technology. It’s interesting to see how they’ll connect and grow to make things a little more efficient (especially for the artist.)

My takeaway from this presentation: Blockchain could work if implemented correctly by making sure who gets paid at what point in the process of the file sharing process-and that this is a huge task and a bit of a lengthy process.

Lemme re-iterate here: The idea of being able to move assets between artists or from business to business in a seamless process, can make distribution simpler. With Blockchain promotion is still primary and editing and recordings can’t be remixed or altered. Blockchain is great for tracking transactions and artists still maintains rights to their music.

I ventured over to the SOCAN,!eDDS and travel booths-What’s travel got to do with it? Hundreds of people came through all week (May 7-13, 2018) especially very specific cities all over the U.S. and Canada. What makes this so important is that the cities closest to us all play a role in boosting the travel,tourism and music industries!

Part of the infrastructure built around the music industry depends not only on the talent, businesses and establishments but it may partially coincide on the neighbouring cities closest to us.

Discover America located in Mississauga,Ontario in conjunction with city states nearby- ‘promotes U.S. Travel and Tourism to Canadians in Canada. They offer ‘a variety of initiatives that connect travel and tourism stakeholders on both sides of the border’
Hotels, travel agents and Motor Coach Airlines are members of this organization.

I spoke to Dream America Canadian representative and Montreal native Pedro Barbosa who delved a little more into the topic of music festival tourism and the mandate in place for the cities involved in boosting their travel and tourism initiatives for any of the music festival seasons. Barbosa mentioned that ‘most of these places present today have routes covered by Air Canada or Porter Airlines-so there’s the routes that bring Canadians and Americans from all over the country, it gets the word out across the country and it’s kind of like a trade and exchange…..some of the places exhibiting here at #CMW2018 are even closer to Montreal than Toronto is’.

We talked about the benefits of visiting cities that have broad musical varieties. He’s big into Jazz and Metal but some city scenes he feels ‘are much smaller and there appears to be less of a fan base even when the scene is popular in that city.’

Barbosa did mention though that ‘when it comes to niche [music] markets, it’s the markets themselves that don’t always reach tourist outlets. Tourism boards tend to focus on specific genres and in order for Tourism Boards to present music venues,events and seasonal programs in their plans and more liaisons can be formed in the future to promote all music across the board.

All representatives for each city/state were highly informative and provided tons of info on the vibrant nightlife for each of these cities. Surprisingly,Portland has a very vibrant Underground House scene and Choose Chicago (sister city to Toronto,) representative spoke in detail about Chicago’s House and Underground scenes…..it’s looks like a coincidence that just a few days ago it was announced that there would be a lunch hour dance party at Daley Plaza! (Yaassss Chicago!)

Portland – The cities represented at this year’s CMW all had one thing in common: thousands of Canadians commute from all over Canada to all these places-each booth was set to highlight their musical influences,entertainment and nightlife. I spoke to Director of Content Strategy Karen Martwick about Portland’s offerings and was presented with information about Craft Beer, Independent Design both Interior and Graphic by Independent Artists. The other booths held tons of information for Canadians on: Myrtle Beach, NC (undergoing major reconstruction), Georgia (Explore Georgia-Macon/Decatur and other historic sites.) And finally Austin,Texas. I look forward to delving into their Underground scenes in the future!

!Earshot for Indie Artists !Earshot Digital Distribution (!eDDS) really stood out among all the booths because of its slant on music distribution.Partially funded by the NCRA (National Campus & Community Radio Association)  It’s an online platform that is designed to get music from the Canadian music industry to the Canadian College campus and community radio sector.) With so many platforms internationally available in 2018 it’s easy to overlook a distribution system like this. Canadian College and University radio is still a powerful method to chart Canadian music and with Canadian Pride at it’s all time high over the last few years, I think this is an essential resource alongside all other local and global platforms. Over 90 stations are on this roster in May 2018.

Independent artists will be able to fully access this database this September. The cost is $7 per song and $50 per album! College Campus radio is still one of the most powerful outlets for pushing new and local music.  The list will grow by September especially after Canadian Music Week-check out the details here: I highly recommend any new or existing artists getting their feet wet and/or would like to do a little more national radio promo…..Tap into this resource as a starter or accompanying promotional tool.This is exciting!

Late Night Delights

What I missed: the Drake Underground with Amber Mark (her vocals possess Rihanna’s abruptness and Sade’s familiar sounding velvety Contralto. Live Nation artist tickets were sold out right away-no luck in May, I’m sure she’ll be visiting Toronto again!

What was recommended: Taiwan Beats (ABAO) Aljenljeng, JADE EYES and Dizparity

What I enjoyed: Ottawa MC @draemusic. He closed out for two of T.O.s hottest crooners: Tika and Sophia Danai! That night was electrifying (TIKA, HMLT,Sophia Danai and BAYLA.)  Drae laid some strong lyrics with a very. live. band. I’m lovin’ the live band and MC sound all over again!

Can’t wait to hear what next year’ll bring!

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, promoters, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto, Travel

In the Land of Windmills and Dance Music: 11 Things a House Head Should do at #ADE2017

25 years in the making and it shows! I was looking at where to visit and I chose the Netherlands (Amsterdam Dance Event) mostly because of their emphasis on technology. Amsterdam has been known to be forward thinking and many steps ahead in the way they run their society among other things…….Amsterdam Dance Event describes itself as ‘the leading electronic music platform and the biggest club festival in the world for the whole spectrum of electronic sub-genres’.

I absolutely admired ADE’s strong support for all genres. They welcome all sorts of DJ culture-regardless of colour, gender and preference.What I loved the most is the way the city embraced  & all the artists,press,delegates that were participating! There were posters,stickers and promo EVERYWHERE!

I personally loved this scene so much and in several days I took in some DNB, Classic,Deep, Tech and Afro House-it was all-inclusive. It was crazy fun! I met all kinds of people-all music enthusiasts from all over the world in town for ONE thing: music! I met some of the same people at many events. Some enthusiasts from Belgium asked me where I was headed because they were so used to checking out the same artists everywhere.

Before and After a Music FestivalI truly wished I had gone a few years prior. I can’t wait until they expand even more. Jokes aside with memes depicting festival burnout, after the 6 hour flight from Toronto to Schipol Airport it was not tiring at first…… but after 48 hours………with all the excitement and party line-up-I crashed!

 

The one thing that really caught my attention was the Health and Wellness program dedicated to festival burnout and Dance Music/Club Culture. With all the networking events,panel discussions and parties-there were daily yoga and meditation sessions available for whoever needed it. Panel discussions like  [Protecting Mental & Physical Health for Fans & Professionals], and “Who is Responsible for the Mental Health of an Artist?” are very important discussions to be had in any industry.

I was floored by the holistic/health and wellness shops on every corner-shops all over the city carrying products I still have to order online lol! From sprinkles on buttered toast and fresh fruit and smoothies on Albert Cuyp Straat……the contrast was so refreshing. Everything was within walking distance-once you get the subway/streetcar line down pat-you can get anywhere within minutes. A sleek UBER from Schipol Airport takes you to the main city in a 15 min car ride!

The drivers, airport staff and city all expectedly ask you if you’re there for ADE and they have tons of information at their fingertips to help you navigate the city! (LOVE IT!) October is a bit chilly so bundle up with layers and your favourite walking shoes!

DRUGS and ADE! Everyone is aware ADE exists here and speak highly of the event. All drugs are tested before they are brought into venues to avoid injury and/or death! I highly respect this approach because Dance is often intertwined with hard drugs and this is a primary method to eradicate the misconception behind it.Total props!!!!!

Testlocaties-ADE-2017They push for body positive health awareness. I praise their drug education and push for ‘healthier’ usage instead of the ‘war on drugs’.

As drugs are often synonymous with club culture they do encourage safe usage and responsibility for fellow party-goers. It’s impressive.

All aspects of the scene are considered, and openly discussed. Room is made available to talk about the future of the industry. Panel discussions covering technology from equipment- to vinyl’s revival all had a space to showcase,teach and exchange ideas. ADE University teamed up with labels to discuss how they can improve websites, apps and ticket sales to boost revenue and allocate funds in an organized fashion.

I’m not sure if it’s organization is a Dutch thing or that it’s 25 years in the making, but whatever they are doing is beyond music for music’s sake.

I did find their app a little complicated to maneuver and also found it hard to navigate some of the workshops and networking locations around the city. However, all the flags and physical landmarks labelled everywhere made up for the app. I really wanted to attend more events but there are so many programs happening at the same time and back to back that by week’s end-I knew I’d be coming back! All these years I’d only stopped over at Schipol Airport and was finally able to visit and was  so grateful for!

The highlights of the week were the Detroit Love Party (Mirko Loko,Waajeed,Carl Craig,Kenny Larkin,Stacey Pullen,Kevin Saunderson and Moodyman) EPIC partay.

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Detroit Love 2

One of the final night parties at Paradiso (Louie Vega, Joey Negro, Francois K,Space Dimension Controller,Prins Thomas,Amine K,Beesmunt Soundsystem,Jan van Kampen) was memorable!

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Honourable mentions go to the guys over at Cuisine 020 (Bar Karakter)-DJ Migosy (Offering Recordings), DJ Andrew Foley (Deep Rooted Soul), and AMW Gill Charleston-it was a tight-knit LIVE joint! Had a great time! I’m sure by October this year………

11 things to do in Amsterdam (during ADE ) if you’re a House Head or purveyor of Dance Music

  • Go to the Amsterdam Dance Event, check out as many genres as you can……
  • Take naps in between events-you’ll wake up refreshed for your next workshop
  • Go to the artist panels/talks (they are so informative and inspirational)
  • Check out the good eats (so many amazing restaurants-if the locals are in it- it’s the shit!)
  • Buy some records, take in new music say hello to your fave and upcoming DJs (the environment is so chill out there!)
  • Club Hop, there are so MANY amazing events, all on the same night, check out all of them!
  • Purchase tickets in advance from home (they sell out FAST-months in advance), make sure you can actually attend all the events once you arrive!
  • Check out the Heineken Museum
  • Go to a local Coffee House and meet some interesting people, try out the green (if you feel like it!) It feels fabulous to be at a place where there are no issues with green treats-you’ll find many,many,many strains and flavoured paper 🙂
  • Don’t forget to browse in as many weed shops as you can-Many of the shops get most of their best strains from Canada (betcha didn’t know that!) *wink,wink
  • Link up with people who you’ll be able to work with later on-you just never know!!!!

Bravo #ADE2017 see you people at #ADE2018!

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, events, House Music, Movers & Shakers, Music, New Jersey, New York, promoters, theshineprjct

Honeycomb Music – Josh Milan :Two Time Grammy Nominated, One For The Team (January 2018)

Photo Josh Milan

I enjoy writing spiritual lyrics, conscious lyrics that touch your very soul. I love writing lyrics like that-just because I love it so much!  …..and in rolls anotha one *cue DJ Khaled

The journey to the Grammys is not quite as straight a path as it appears and as this article is being published mid–January 2018, Honeycomb Music Label Owner Josh Milan is a certified two-time Grammy nominee. To see someone in the community reppin’ a music genre that is marginally recognized by the greater music industry-is amazing!

shine – I’m thinking there’s no way that he’s not going to take home a trophy. No way. Not this year…..

House/Dance Music-singled out and officially categorized in and around the main ‘streams’ is a BIG deal. Not that it makes it any less underground or exclusive but it keeps the culture alive and well. Good music, good lyrics and great instrumentation are definitely a BIG deal in the Land of Josh Milan. I was surprised; not that he shouldn’t be a contender on that list, but mostly that the Dance category was added to the newer category list! Again, right next to Louie Vega!

Milan feels that things need to change (with respect to the Grammy Nominations Review Committee)he says, ‘there are some excellent recording artists, producers and musicians coming out of the scene/community from all over and it’s something that needs to be recognized. This is how the culture needs to be kept alive. ‘Something needs to change in the industry’

I asked him how he felt about the Grammys transitioning into a more digital judging process-he felt that the decision-making process, as advanced as it has become, indeed makes voting easier and more inclusive of all artists-but life still remains modest as a recording artist.

Milan fully understands that many still may not know who Louie Vega or Josh Milan are but he does feel that, ‘it would still be our position whether we win or not; to teach and direct our people through music…..it’s challenging he says, ‘because there’s no money in it, NO MONEY chinedu!!!!’ lol

(I had to laugh about the way he said this BUT he really emphasized that there is STILL no money in music.)

The second surprising transition on top of the 3 new musical categories is that key players contributing to an album now include (Producers, Songwriters, Sound Engineers and Mixers!)

According to Billboard.com, any supporting roles ‘credited with at least 33 percent or more playing time on the winning album will be eligible to receive a Grammy in the Album Of The Year category’.  The biggest and most groundbreaking move is that full albums from the Classical, Jazz and Dance categories will now be included. This is a subtle but very successful way to pull the ‘Underground’ to the forefront and keep the culture alive.

It’s sad that the Grammy Association took so long to wholly recognize other genres but exciting that these genres can be introduced to broader audiences to build and sustain the scene. With the ‘best’ artists embraced by the Academy its’ a great starting platform for vast audiences to focus on strong artists in each category. With Canada and Canadian Artists making waves globally in other genres-especially at this year’s Grammy Awards Show, this huge path widening for Dance Music lends exponential opportunities here up north. Especially those artists known to us.(Yay, Canada!)

Dance is broad but Dance encompasses so much and that’s the beautiful thing about this move! Milan feels that it’s truly an honour to be acknowledged by his peers and it may enhance the types of projects he’s going to work on from here onwards. It might even expand his artists network. But no matter what-He is focused on doing more music.

Being in the scene,working in the industry, loving the industry doesn’t have to be solely about the money if you have a clear idea of what you want to do.

Milan has left a huge imprint on the music scene over the last three decades. His participation has spurred musical movements and global scenes.That picture is BIGGER than money right? We talked about his career and the future of Honeycomb Music:

shine – Congratulations on your first and second Grammy Nomination!

JM- Thanks so much!It’s a great thing to say that I’m a Grammy nominated guy-it would be nice to say Grammy Award Winning Recording Artist Josh Milan….BUT mostly it feels good because I’m being acknowledged by my peers!

shine – How passionate are you about this music?

JM – I enjoy writing spiritual lyrics, conscious lyrics that touch the soul. I just love it so much! I know as artists that ‘we outta know better because when people approach me and tell me that the sounds and lyrics really resonated with their spirit, it makes it all worth it. We’re still gonna be doing what we do. What do we call ourselves? Musical heroes? Yeah, we try to save the world with our lyrics’. That’s what I’m tryna do. I’m still gonna do that! I’ll be that guy forever!

shine – Where would you like your career to go now?

JM – I want my music to be the kind of music that people are going to remember 20 years from now. I think at this point that’s where I’d like my career to head-in that direction. I’d like to have the kind of music that lasts forever, not so much what’s hot in the club right now. I want my nieces and nephews to listen to my music and be able to remember the lyrics. Longevity and all of that. I’m going for that timeless sound.

shine – When did your journey with music start?

JM – Back in the day, I started playing the organ in church. As I discovered my musicality I was unaware of my family’s church rules on playing instruments. You’re chosen to play. And with me being so young, I begged my cousin to show me everything and he showed me and I kept at it everyday, all the time. It was a natural thing at the time, and so I jumped on the organ and figured it out…… I started playing TV shows and anything I could remember in my head. I played it. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned I had a gift. I knew I could play- but I didn’t think it was a miraculous thing to play by ear.’ (yes, it is JM!)

shine – Studying piano is hard. I appreciate those who do what they do musically. It’s mostly hard when you’re taught and it’s not your learning style, its a lot harder when you’re older than school age. It’s not impossible but IT’s challenging.

JM – I don’t know how to read music, but I tried once. It was sooo hard…it just boxed me in so thoroughly. IT turned me off and I couldn’t do it. I know what it’s like for something that comes to you naturally.

After his revelation it made me wonder about school and how it turns kids off of learning….all it takes is just one person all it takes is a good teacher that’s able to recognize that a kid has a talent.He mentions one of his favourite writers and greatest Nobel Laureates of contemporary American literature (James Baldwin) who was given tools (books by classic authors) at such an early stage by his teachers at a time when African-Americans were given very little opportunities-this story inspires him.

JM – Kids have so many tools available to them these days due to technology. Kids can maneuver all that (tech) with ease and this is a huge step forward especially with very specific things like music and music production

Milan noted that nothing about the music business and musical content is intended to create inspiration or direction because music is sold and made for profit. That’s why he enjoys making and playing the music so much. This is the main reason he decided to make and distribute all his music on private label Honey Comb Music. At Honeycomb he says,’we keep it nice and clean’.

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shine – Transitioning from a recording artist in the early 80s to an independent label owner and artist today-what are some of the biggest changes?

JM – One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is the steady decline in content and talent. The entire industry and record labels particularly has taken a complete turn/change. The excitement of good music has turned into the excitement of a lot of money. The good music suffers, y’know? Rarely do you find a great full album anymore. Back in the day you’d find just every song is like ‘ahhh man I love this’ its a rarity now. And of course, artists aren’t making the kinda money they are making today. Another is the cash grab.

Everybody is fighting for pennies whereas in the past people were chasing larger sums of cash. From 1989-2017 numbers/dollars/publishing and royalties have dipped a considerable amount. That’s a DRASTIC change. People (accomplished musicians even) hold extra regular gigs just trying to keep a roof over their heads. And finally, label ownership. Don’t come in thinking you’re gonna be making all this money.

It’s just not gonna happen. Everything’s rented. From women to vehicles. That’s why I have my own label. If money is gonna be shrunken and swallowed up-I’d like to be the one in control of it at least. That’s my position. I would politely decline any label offers-especially with creative direction and control. I’d like to have that. They (big music companies) need to make money.

shine – At what point did you decide you wanted to become a recording artist? 

JM – I wasn’t.  got looped into this thing, it was an accident. I was enjoying my musicality and I met a guy at church. I was playing and doing my music thing. Chris, lead singer of Blaze told me about a DJ that could make beats. We had no idea what a record deal was. We had no idea what a record label was-we would make tapes. We’d play music against record beats and come up with songs. Those recorded tapes we handed over to a guy in the neighbourhood who had just started a record label.

At that time in 1984, a record label was a real BIG deal. We had no idea about studios. IT was unbelievable. We made $500 for that and eventually Kevin sold his tables and we gathered $1000 and recorded something in the studio. We became recording artists after that. The 2nd label we signed with was Quark Records.

We got on the radio. 1987 was the last time you could hear a House record on regular rotation on major radio. Then the 90s came-that’s what ended it all. Those were the last days….. it was the end of commercial House as I knew it. The other genres started to take over. The New Jack Swing and Hip Hop was becoming the future. We were slowly fading away. Shortly after that we were signed to Motown. That was HUGE.

shine – Did you meet Berry Gordy?

JM – Yes, I got to meet my heroes. I met Berry Gordy and Diana Ross. I’ve seen major things!!! I wouldn’t trade my independent for any of that.

shine – What happened at Motown?

JM – We were (Blaze) was dropped from Motown. They looked at us as the next Earth, Wind and Fire. A fully planned Marketing strategy was set up…….it was a big plan. Motown signed Boyz II Men and included them on very many promotions with the other big Motown artists at the time. Heavy D being one of them……Boyz II Men would go on to be one of the biggest acts for mainstream Adult/Contemporary but Josh Milan remained connected to the people.

After Boyz II Men’s debut- Blaze was dropped. They didn’t start anything or develop anything with us. House was seen as a bad idea and all projects related to Blaze were dropped. We were fortunate to have huge records in the scene. Many artists were supported by the masses. We had a good run. We got gigs. (this is possibly birth of the Underground maybe?) We had a good run……I realized very quickly that I had to create Underground sounding House Music.

That’s the only way I could survive. At the same time-commercial acts Robin S,Cece Peniston,Black Box,Neneh Cherry,Martha Wash and Technotronic were dominating the charts. I decided to go hardcore. My lyrics have been consistent to this day-but the sound was almost more dark and club-definitely not a place for the radio anymore.

shine – Who’s Alexander Hope?

JM – I used the name Alexander Hope. I did a bunch of songs under that name. Blaze made a few hits at the time too-I Found Love, Consequences and a song called Saturday (it was huge). We (Blaze) survived the 90s!

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shine – What was it like trying to make it in NY then?

JM – At times like those are when I loved the industry the most- any scene is supported by the locals in NY-you could be part of any scene in NY and make a living. Of course it would be a modest living. But you can survive.

shine – What are you working on right now?

JM – I try to find artists that make noise vocally. Reminiscent of Earth, Wind & Fire style music [loud with horns] I’m looking for loud music with horns and good lyrics. I look for strong instrumentation and solid production are key components I strive to re-create a 70s for 2018 sound. I’m currently working on a few singles with artists Ramona, Dawn Tallman and New York based Afro Latin group Ritmo Y Tumbao (percussionists who embrace African and Latin Rhythms) I add vocals and more rhythm to their music.

shine – Are there any favourite artists you’ve met over the years?

JM – Over the years I’ve met so many greats-from Phyllis Hyman to Bobby McFerrin but really, I would like to work with Chaka Khan. (Even accomplished individuals have people they admire!) I’m not sure if she’d work with me though. She’s my shero. I channel my inner Chaka Khan for #inspiration. I feel that maybe she wouldn’t take me seriously. I’ve wanted to work with her my whole career! (Ahem Ms. Khan are you reading this???)

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shine – What are some of the new rules to learn about the good ole’ music biz?

JM – It’s really important for artists to learn the rules of this biz, don’t come into the studio thinking that you’d like to work on music wanting it to sound a certain way. If you don’t know the rules, how can you win? Learn about publishing which is extremely important. (One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned.) Publishing rights for music and lyrics are even bigger than gigs. Keep all rights to your publishing. It IS a business. Treat it as a business first and foremost. Louie Vega is someone who has taught me about the business first. He taught me a lot. We both took different routes towards our careers. Louie to DJ’ing and myself to the studio.

I’m sharing this kind of advice so no one has to go through this walking into the industry. Many singers and vocalists arrive to the studio with no conversation or agreement and talk nothing about being paid. Many artists passionately want to perform and sing but this forewarning is solid. Lofty and dreamy ideas are great but before entering the studio, there should be some discussion about what you’re doing and how it looks financially.

Producers reading this might not like the candid advice I’m giving but it’s truth. Artists, don’t get burned! It’s rare that all-encompassing details are so direct-with these financial times we’re all really fighting for the dollars and if you don’t know something; nobody’s gonna try to tell you-be forewarned from here! You gotta get what you need for yourself. It’s an ugly business. Get it? Got it!

Stay Tuned

Every year he holds a birthday boat ride in NYC. Louie Vega, Jihad Mohammed hosted a House Music cruise on the Atlantic last year with guest DJ Mike Dunn (Chicago) and he brought it! This cruise happens every year!

The shine prjct wishes Josh Milan and Louie Vega all the best this month at the Grammy’s. Take one home for the Global House Team! 

-shine

Credits: https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/grammys/7832881/grammy-awards-changes-online-voting-album-rap-categories