Biography, DJ Culture & Music, House Music, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Toronto

House Music Series – Lars Behrenroth – Deeper Shades of House – International- Don’t Let Your Friends Listen to Bad Music

 

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Don’t Let Your Friends Listen to Bad Music (Quite explanatory, but still explained)

‘I pick music that I want others to hear. I consider the people that tune in like friends. I want to supply them with what I call good music . The connotation can offend people but if its good it doesn’t matter the time, place or format its in. I have a hard time keeping myself to one sound so I like to share it with friends.’

I was pretty stoked to interview THEE Lars Behrenroth (the don’t-let-your-friends-listen-to-bad-music DJ,the hardest working DJ in show business) You know the Lars I’m talking about!! We open Skype screens both seated with shelves full of vinyl but his collection continues and continues on. My almost empty shelf of vinyl starts and ends with the span of the camera shot. This shows how long he’s been in the music game.

On the day of our interview he mentioned he was editing sets from a huge festival he played  in South Africa a few days prior….As we speak he is editing material from his recent set in Africa…Check it out here! http://www.deepershades.net/dsoh-shows/deeper-shades-of-house-502-guest-mix-by-paskal-urban-absolutes.html

Some really cool facts about Lars from back in the day…

  • As a young man he first found out about slip mats on TV prior to that he was using plastic mats
  • He’d been around music for some time-In 1984 he started breaking, he remarks about a scene he saw in Flashdance…watching a Breaking sequence. He tried it out and had no idea what he was doing …but loved it.
  • The acronym TALK is a collaboration by Lars Behrenroth, Kolai & Taha from T-Kolai featuring the lyrical stylings of Mustafa Akbar and collectively they produced the single ‘Touching You’ and released it on vinyl
  • 70-75% of the buzz and publicity for this single came from South Africa.

Production/The Art of Dj’ing: Where it all began….

He’d been around music for some time. I think it’s incredible that a musical revolution/wave influenced a whole generation that set another trend for a whole other generation how cool is that? He came from a very small town of 60,000 people in Germany. This musical phenomenon changed the game for him. He was enrolled for organ lessons by his grandparents, he was signed up for a musical program at 3 or 4 years old. As a teen he had no idea how to mix. He says, ‘I would play out songs by Kraftwerk and Frankie Goes To Hollywood at the time.The kids (ages 8-13) were always too shy to dance so I’d dim the lights at the school dances to create a night club feel.’

Much later he purchased a Commodore 64 computer and created his 1st SD6 computer sounds. The finished product was nothing musical. He says, ‘It was very ambient-ish, broken kind of beats and sounds. Almost experimental. He later bought a keyboard and recorded a 4 hour VHS set. He had an AMIGA and used his first sequencer software. It was only much later that he studied audio engineering to learn exactly what to do in the studio.

Speaking of experimental….I talked to him about CDR Toronto and he felt it was a great idea. He was aware of CDR Berlin and admitted he was ‘too self-critical to put music out so quickly’ (this is kinda how it is in Toronto.) He did mention that something like CDR would be a great platform to put out remixes.(Big ups Gavin  and Koray!)

You’ve been dj’ing officially since 1986. And you moved to LA in 2004. How’s LA been for you?I enjoy living in LA, I try to spin in the area as often as possible. I started a radio segment ‘Global House Connection’ with my then roommate when I first lived in LA (first a 4 hour and years later a 2 hour show.) When I first arrived to LA I was purely motivated by the music and was playing music for the ‘Nu Jazz and Broken Beat scenes’. I noticed that the scenes were VERY separate. (Sound familiar in your city?) I used to collaborate with LA DJ Veteran Wayne Lyons, we did a night BOTANICA in 2007 and played out 4-5 times a year. The great part about being a travelling DJ is that you get to experience different scenes and vibes in various cities.

You bring a slight Euro-Tech sound to productions that are clearly very Afro…how does the fusion occur? Do you intend for tracks to come out this way?  I like to pay respect the original as much as possible. Often times remixes are completely different than the original. I like the challenge. I’ve taken the shuffle sound from Techno and used it on many tracks.I never know what I’m gonna end up with. I’m somebody that makes, music one way or another. I’ve been a fan of bringing sounds that don’t necessarily go together.

I (shine)personally enjoy guest features…I noticed you started using guest features on DSOH. (How did that come about?) Lars was one of the first and few  to broadcast music online. He always like to share the space when possible. Some of the DJs don’t get the exposure they deserve except for their 10 friends. He was trying to attract a different crowds. ‘I figured I couldn’t record 3 hrs every week-so why not share the space with others. It’s more interesting too!’

Speaking of internet radio:  ‘There are only a few internet radio stations that have a full listenership. Even with a small audience radio stations still fuel music discovery. Especially in South Africa! House music fans are getting younger and younger…Just like Rap-House Music gets kids out of shit. You see this with success stories like Black Coffee’

What is it about SA that keeps you going back? Honestly, they (South Afrikans) party like it’s the last party on Earth. It’s the only country I get the recognition, they embrace the music the way in which it is intended to be reached. The musical education is so much higher than the rest of the world. North America used to be like that. EDM is popping up here and there and you know as production people, DJs, House Heads, Musicians you know what we do in a place like SA. We gravitate there. 70-75% of the buzz and publicity for this single (Touching You) came from SA. This is why Lars contributes to the scene there. The single was re-played/re-introduced in 2010 and VERY WELL received. The original for ‘Touching You’ came out on label ‘Perfect Toy’ NU Jazz (which was big in the early 2000s) 2003 was the first release and again re-released in 2010. I thought it was new “originally released on vinyl in 2003 and licensed by DJ Mbuso for Soul Candi Sessions Two, this remix marked the beginning of Lars Behrenroth’s growing exposure in South Africa.

What is the European/German sound in 2015? What do you enjoy about it then and now? The Euro sound is very much connected to real House Music. It’s true to the feeling we connect to. (Early House music era). It’s the music that people gravitate to and are nostalgic about….Old Skool Larry Heard, emotional deepness. You know stoned. Str8 to the heart. Deep Sound. It’s not over produced. It’s raw. The feeling is modest and pure. ‘I envy the people who after a studio session say, the track is done, that’s it’

With the amount of recordings you’ve worked on or re-worked and released over a 20 year span, what is it about production you enjoy?  What’s your creative process? Every song has it’s own approach. I’ve re-visited a song after 8 years and I’ve just finished it now. Collaborations with old material sounds like new. I’m working with labels…I never know what I will receive either vocals or beats….. With remixes you have no deadline and its easier to create hits and re-visit the tracks even to see if you can enhance them.

Casamena used to always say on his radio hour that you are ‘one of the hardest working in the biz’. You’ve built a SOLID brand. What was the vision you had, years ago? Did you foresee this taking shape the way it did today? I started a label to expose people to music. It should be about the exposure of the music and artist. Tools to move music forward to a broader audience. Starting yesterday and every week will be Download Tuesdays. Fans are bound to download a fresh new track instead of going for full albums. (He loves online number and analytics, I would argue that this is why he has also seen tremendous success in other areas of his business.) He questions how someone can buy 1000s of tracks when trends are rapidly changing.

Vinyl or Digital?Everything I do, I like to get multiple use of it. A new fan base is always emerging it’s always re-introducing new ways of music consumption. If you don’t point out that a track was old, many wouldn’t know that it was. Digital is always timeless and vinyl has a shelf life.You don’t need to play hits unless you DJ for weddings <True, true Mr. Lars.

Where are you headed next?Any more trips to SA in 2016? One more time to SA. I play where I’m needed. I’m really pushing the label approach. I’m into the digital side of things. I predict for Indie labels that DJ sale downloads will disappear in 2016 i.e. Fileshare, Youtube etc. I’m looking at maybe going on tour more often and if time permits-the promotion of my DSOH parties when I visit cities worldwide.

https://www.facebook.com/larsbehrenroth

https://twitter.com/LarsLB

https://twitter.com/DeeperShades

lars

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

House Music Series – Toronto LOCAL -The Boxing Loft Social Club – Installment 4 – A Commitment to Excellence (Original article no misquotes here) :D

*Please be mindful, there may be multiple versions of the article posted elsewhere. This is THE original article. There are many House DJs,artists,promoters all over Toronto. Be sure to check HERE. No one is above anyone else. No one is more supported than anyone else. The House Community should be a place where many people can showcase their work,make people move and most importantly show the world what we have here. (Not divisive in nature.) I would never support one movement,genre,sound,crew,mixer,club-over the other. I would never post anything that suggested that either. It’s highly unfortunate that more interviews couldn’t be successfully completed throughout the city…..oh well 👍🏾

The language used in the other versions were NOT the words spoken or recorded during the interview. Please check for misquotes and re-structured sentences and phrasing. Fact check for accurate info. I repeat there are so many people who contribute to the scene all over the city. As I started this section, my intention wasn’t to say one thing was better than another.

I’ve got many friends who visit this city and don’t know where to go if they want to hear good sounds and many are not aware that Toronto has a burgeoning House or Techno scene. We had an amazing interview, Emile. This is NOT what was said. No loss in translation. (Names of artists, hosts, promoters or venues might be preferential to the individual expressing that in the interview but if anyone has ever quoted anything sounding very odd-know that it is edited before it is posted here.)

(Emile, please don’t misquote our discussion, that’s not what was said.)* 

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From a gig as paralegal to event party planner to disciplined athlete turned boxing instructor and now accomplished business man-Emile Awe Reed is one focused individual seeking excellence.

I’d been to Loft SC a few times…I wondered who was behind  its open concept. I chatted with Emile via Skype a little over a week ago and talked about it quite a bit….

How House Music has influenced his life: Music has always been a part of his life. He was in the choir at school. He attended North Western State University and was a member of their Choir. He grew up listening to Nana Maskari, Harry Belafonte among very many unique artists. He grew up listening to Classic Rock and loved bands like The Who and Led Zeppelin. He still hadn’t embraced House by then yet but by the 80s and 90s  (the most influential era in my House Music opinion) and really got into Reggae.

He notes that it was not until one of the longest running Toronto parties (Twilight Zone) that created the connection. He started attending events in (2004).
During a difficult time in his life he truly embraced House. He eventually met DJ Gene King who always mentioned the importance of an ‘open mind’.They are now business partners! Look out for UDM (Underground Dance Music) parties they throw twice a year!

House Music IS Just So Cool: He opened The Boxing Loft Social Club. House music’s sole purpose at the Boxing Club serves as a pace-setter for boxing technique (shadowboxing) and foot technique. ‘Boxing still uses rhythm just like dance….. Reed tells me with conviction,’most of the House I hear, I love…if you want to be a good boxer, you’ve got to be good at everything-a complete fighter…this is why I fight to music’.

Unlike many…..I had no idea ‘The Boxing Loft’ was an actual boxing gym! As a brand marketing pro-star I thought it was a well-crafted brand image that simply brought people together-along with a prop stage boxing ring (silly me)! With ‘Inspired Gatherings’ happening frequently, ‘Social Club’ is exactly what it is. There are arts focused events, boxing instruction and dance party events all happening within those four walls! The social component never ends!

Reed started running events at 199 Queen St. E in 2004 and ran into snags with liquor permits for locations and capacity violations. It made sense to find a permanent home for events and voilà: The Boxing Loft was born! Growing up he watched Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and learnt that during their time social clubs were VERY popular. People with similar interests gathered to socialize and grow their memberships. This is what the future will look like at the Boxing Loft!

The Way Emile Sees It: Reed has a way he does business with co-organizers in the scene. ‘I’m always gonna be upfront and real with people…I’m a new cat, I’m still learning….I like to work with anyone who is willing to learn, you need others in order to attain wealth….With more people there’s power…I’m a business person first….You have to be respectful…It’s not just about me’. <<<shine’s thing too!

Misquoted elsewhere. Working With the Local Toronto House Behind-the-scenes promo people: If it wasn’t for my team, I wouldn’t be here without hosts and promoters. (if I didn’t mention you, I apologize) I removed the names because it seemed to cause issue. You are the ones that enable my name to get out there. I appreciate that they have helped me brand The Boxing Loft. Even though I’m the boss-I don’t stand alone…..I’d be nowhere if the DJs didnt play in my space.

shine’s words added here>>>SO MANY AMAZING KEY PLAYERS THAT MAKE UP THE CITY’s scene-I WISH IT WAS AN EVEN BIGGER SCENE with a unified platform to bring more people from overseas to (Toronto). Absolutely no shade. 

DJs as Artists:How Does That Work? (Misquoted section)<<<click here

DJs should be validated as artists. I have an idea of how DJs should play. This is how/why I choose who plays at The Boxing Loft. DJs like Yogi,Stan Zeff, Zepherin Saint,Ian Friday, Josh Milan, Joe Rizla. DJs of THAT calibre-this is how I choose. I try to keep the DJ guest choices at a certain level…..you know that standard…..As an athlete I strive to be the best, same as the DJs. I have to make sure I shine so the DJ shines and the underground’ll shine. I want The Boxing Loft to act like an advocate for House Music. <<<<<<<(there are many groups, that are very good, that sound good and have large, medium or small followings all over Toronto-it doesn’t make anyone better or worse.)

What to expect at The Boxing Loft:

No drugs allowed inside (it’s a sports venue and creative space too!)

Make sure as you enter TBL you can somehow relate to what you’re taking in (art/music/sport)

Come in with an open mind

You will always be treated well

It’s a place with an incredible vibe

You too can box or dance at The Boxing Loft Social Club….For events visit Twitter @TheBoxingLoftSC  or their website http://theboxingloft.com/

*Please be mindful, there may be multiple versions of the article posted elsewhere. This is the original article. There are many House DJs,artists,promoters all over Toronto. Be sure to fact check HERE. No one is above anyone else.All key players as a WHOLE contribute in many ways. People visiting Toronto internationally should be able to visit many venues to party safely during their stay here. Please check for misquotes. Fact check for real info. All media outlets are used as informative vehicles for change and to build legacy. The section of this blog was intended to bring all types of people to Toronto to embrace all genres of House. This article was not intended to be divisive in nature. I enjoy House music. And this section is all about it.Don’t take offense until you know what you’re reading is TRUE. Don’t misquote or force something that wasn’t said. (Updated in 2018-had no idea this was altered elsewhere!)

-shine

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

Teedra Moses – Cognac and Conversations – Live! – Revival TO – The Main Ingredient

Teedra Moses - The Main Ingredient

Bravo, bravo, bravo! I had a ball at this show! I found out last-minute and was pretty excited to see her live! I didn’t get a chance to see her the last time she was in Toronto….Here’s a little story about when I found her music….

I was in Japan in 2003. I strolled into a massive Tower Records in Downtown Osaka. I used to run in there to purchase vinyl for my weekend gigs but I also went in there because I missed music I could easily hear at home! Japan has this thing about separating their music by genre.

Japanese are HUGE purveyors of music and devote full floors and/or sections to musical genres. I was a little put off when I found the ‘Black Music’ section (this is what they call RnB, Hip Hop, Soul, Reggae etc.) But DAMN it had its own floor!!!

I looked around and they had a huge display with multiple magazines and articles about Teedra Moses. I looked at her dress and shoes on the CD cover and first thing I thought was ‘classic 80s look….I’m buying this’! I took ‘Complex Simplicity’ home and that was it! The album hadn’t been released in Canada yet so I brought it home with me the following year when I came home for Christmas……it got  scratched and my sister took it…..it was hers.

I got back to Osaka-bought another copy…..that was also acquired by another friend. Bought another copy and that was scratched and eventually cracked. Bought another copy and I only have the page insert now. lol (Now we’ve got iTunes so I’m good!)

Ask anyone who was there last Saturday at Revival and they’ll tell you- she’s got this ‘it’ factor. Her music is heartfelt and captures a point in time where music was REAL. She sings about love and heartbreak in a very pure way; almost matter-of-factly. She’s fierce and sweet at the same time! With songs like ‘Complex Simplicity’ and ‘Caught Up’, ‘R U 4 Real’, ‘Kisses Never Tasted So Sweet’, ‘All I Ever Wanted’ she just hits that sentiment called love…..The crowd sang along both men and women…! During the show she paid ode to ballad greats Evelyn Champagne and Caron Wheeler…..dope!

It’s unbelievable that Complex Simplicity didn’t sell when it debuted in 2004 but as per last Saturday……the proof is in the crowd’s presence. She’s considered Indie as she released her first album with TVT Records. Most recently she is signed to rapper Rick Ross’ (Maybach Music Group). Super kudos to CMW(@CMW_Week), The Main Ingredient (@TMIParty) for bringing her out here!Homegrown artist (Toronto) Leila Dey warmed up the show nicely. She’s got a gorgeous voice! Complemented the Teedra Moses show!

Moses is a classified Indie artist, you won’t see too much of her but when you find her stuff…..you’ll be blown. Teedra Moses Soundcloud right here. DO IT.

For my two-step heads- there’s a (Kaytranada Version) of ‘Be Your Girl’. Well selected set. She commands the stage. Her styling is on point. She’s got the pipes.She’s Old School, she’s Nu Skool!  Her wing man was quite the vocalist. You just had to be there!

 

teedra tmi

 

 

 

Back to our regular programming.

-shine

 

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, events, Music, promoters, Tags, Toronto

FRONTMAN: DJ NaNa IS POISED TO LEAD (Hip hop don’t stop)

EAR2MUCH COLOUR

NaNa didn’t know he’d be a DJ after his debut performance on CKCO’s Big Top Talent some odd 20 + years ago. His love of singing and dancing brought him to “The Big Smoke”. Toronto has done many things thus far, extracting the only son of Ghanaian born parents living in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario and transplanting him to Toronto.

With few urban alternative music outlets for a hip-hop DJ, what more could he do but emerge amongst his fellow artists and assist? As a DJ, collaborative work has its benefits and his move to Toronto provided more than a simple opportunity to escape.

“Toronto is very competitive with many things going on-anything can be done…. it’s a positive place…over the years, I’ve had exposure nationally….” NaNa had visited Toronto as a teenager bringing mix tapes and vinyl back to Waterloo for hip-hop hungry friends. He wasn’t a post-secondary student at the time, but  was doing various promotions and DJ work on University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier campuses.

He noticed that Waterloo’s music scene mainly focused on up-and- coming musicians from the big cities, he asked himself “Do I want to stay here or try to pursue (DJ’ing) out in Toronto?”  In the summer of 1999,he eventually moved to Toronto to attend York University and later graduated with Bachelor of Arts Degree in Cultural Studies.

Over the years dj NaNa has developed a very unique portfolio, lending his DJ skills to various artist projects. Honourable mentions include opening for Questlove, Common, Mos Def, Dead Prez, Saul Williams, working with K-OS, K’naan & Sol Guy during the mid to late 2000s- traveling and collaborating throughout North America as well as South Africa with 2009 Juno nominated Neo-Electronic Soul songstress Zaki Ibrahim.

He has also worked and travelled with D.O., Slakah the Beatchild through North America, Europe and Asia (as a CIMA Canadian International Music Association Ambassador). NaNa was the only DJ to ever appear on Canadian Idol. On Canadian Idol he assisted top 5 finalist Mookie Morris ‘cutting and scratching’ during his rendition of Steppenwolf’s ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ for the show’s sixth and final season.

Dee jay nana

Not only has he joined forces with other artists but he’s also lent a hand to worthy causes. (He is now poised to lead the way with his signature hip-hop appeal and persona.) This has made him quite popular with young people within local community settings. He has previously volunteered as a DJ instructor (props) for Toronto’s Regent Park Focus and participated in numerous fundraisers; 4 Unity Parkdale, The Loft Bloor West, WaterCan, and ArtBound to name a few.

NaNa places heavy emphasis on the idea of integrity. He mentions this a few times during our interview. When asked on the importance of integrity he pauses and responds pensively; describing it as “standing up for what you believe in and doing things the right way,” he continues… “going cookie cutter is one of many methods – it’s never been the end all of doing things… taking risks, getting up from making mistakes, finding your niche, being a visionary while branding your own lane is what I’m about.”

In 2004, David Guenette created District Six Music – a collective of artists operating as an interchangeable network of entertainers lending skills and creativity to projects. NaNa, was one of many artists that contributed to this collective – CBC Television and Radio Broadcasting noticed this and produced pieces recognizing each member’s contribution.

In May 2008 NOW Magazine (a publication based out of Toronto like New York City’s Village Voice) placed NaNa as the lone DJ to grace the cover along with five emcees.  As a whole, the featured artists were recognized for ‘Representin’ the TDOT:Surging on the Hip-Hop Scene Ready to Blow Up’.

nana now cover

Whether in collaboration with others or alone dj NaNa is an active member of many music circles. He is open to all musical genres and has a continued interest to create songs, sounds and remixes.  He continues to showcase his skills on mixtapes, guest podcasting or by simply lending his talents to corporate or trailblazing events and venues.

In February 2011 NaNa flew the mother of the late James ‘J Dilla’ Yancey, Maureen ‘Ma Dukes’ Yancey to Toronto for her first ever visit and speaking engagement. Over the years dj NaNa has held residencies in Montreal, Waterloo and in Toronto. His most recent acquired in the trendy Queen Street West area; Brookylnn is where you can find him now every Friday night!

During the course of the interview NaNa talks about the importance of roots from a cultural and musical perspective placing himself separately not only as a DJ but as an artist, DJ, performer, hype man, producer, music supervisor and promoter – but ultimately a DJ.

As a DJ/Producer/Emcee NaNa has released three albums; ‘543’released independently in 2006 (the number five representing where he had grown up; Kitchener/Waterloo’s area code is 519 – four representing his move and transition to Toronto (416) – three for the fact that he is one of three children and birth date July 3rd), the first 100 copies came with a Beat CD showcasing his variety of production styles dubbed ‘The World Inside My Head’.

He was signed by Urbnet Recordings (Classified, Moka Only) for two albums where he released ‘The World Inside My Head Vol. 2’ November 2007 and ‘The World Inside My Head Vol. 3’ July 2008; both received glowing reviews.

In 2009 dj NaNa released ‘Let the Beat Go’ a collaboration featuring some of South Africa’s most prolific MCs; HHP, Tumi and Zubz.  The track is infectious and garnered  heavy rotation from South Africa’s Channel O.
In 2010 dj NaNa teamed up with two-time Juno Nominated emcee/producer Rich Kidd’s and became his official tour and performance DJ. They released Rich Kidd VS. dj NaNa & Rich Kidd VS. dj NaNa 2.

In 2008 ear2muchcollective was created to specialize in coordination and  management of themed events in the Greater Toronto Area.  In 2011 the group The Names are Known with wordsmith I.JAMES.JONES was established as a Hip Hop in exploration; equal parts time capsule, time machine and preservative of the present; yet set to move forward. He’s been collaborative, but the work done behind the scenes- recording, mixing, production are standalone.

So what’s next? What can we expect this year? To reach all parts of the globe, to explore other parts of the music industry. 2014 is off to a great start.  With a well-earned win last month at the Ghana DJ Awards, NaNa was voted ‘Best International Ghanaian DJ’ proof of how far DJ NaNa can go!

He’s got some awesome pieces out right now: The Names Are Known-Man’s World feat. Rich Kidd (CLEAN VERSION), Props (DATS WASSUP) and lastest single for the J(N)AMES Mixtape – CLOSE2U.  Check out other DJ NaNa produced tracks, mixtapes and musings at soundcloud! If you’re not a hip-hop fan you’ll get into it- TRUST me! If you fell off you’ll get back on the wagon! Check him out,

on twitter: twitter.com/deejayNaNa and twitter.com/NamesAreKnown

-shine

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Japan, Knowledge, Movers & Shakers, Music, Osaka, promoters, Reflections, Toronto, Travel

END OF YEAR House Music Series – House of Pela – Afrobeta Bodega Boston

I got a flyer from the SecSeeTemp<3 ladies of house (Brigette,Denise) a few weeks back that read ‘House of Pela’.  It looked like the sticker label for a bottle of hot sauce. Hot sauce ain’t bad….. What’s a House of Pela? What’s an ‘Afrobeta Bodega’?  I asked proud Dominican DJ via Boston all that. So you buy House of Pela products at the Afrobeta Bodega….now I understand. You get a variety of beats, sounds and ideas at the Afrobeta Bodega on the corner all the way from Boston. Sooo…Afro sound, culture, vibe,essence+Beta (first test version)=Afrobeta.

What’s in Boston? I’d visited a few months back to visit a friend working there. I desperately checked all house outlets for shows, parties, events…..maybe it was Winter. Yes, that’s it. No house events happen in Boston because it’s too cold. I checked all my fave ‘selecta’ websites to see tour dates….NOTHING. I took to Twitter -my hub of information and asked a former BET VJ who happens to be a Boston native and she told me:

Free response on Twitter

Soooo to meet a Max Pela from Boston….I had some questions. Where’s the community? Where’s the underground? Who’s the audience? How did Afrobeta start? Why are you in Toronto? Boston seems VERY straight-laced is what I thought….I got schooled. NAGA  has a laid back vibe as a lounge, restaurant and club.  The home of House of Pela is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The home of MIT….the prestigious school. This is always where the underground thrives. Near the schools…the house community must be pretty awesome. Pela sites all kinds of musical influences that he enjoyed in phases- Afro Dominican roots music like Palo, Salve and Gaja from Haiti.

He grew up with rural Dominican cultural influences and he really emphasizes Haitian musical influences which is great to hear considering many of the sociopolitical cultural divides that’s rocked the Dominican Republic for many years. He transitioned from Rock to Old School Hip-Hop to 90s house (this is where it all begins), Tribal, Progressive overall he gravitated to anything with deeper content….

So what does Afrobeta do? Max describes on the site that he is constantly searching ‘ for a specific sound….and has a fondness for non-conventional producers’….what’s non-conventional? He answers ‘anyone can  make music, there many unknowns out there’d like to give them a platform to show what they have….show what makes them unique ; it could even be the old school music production’ I told him that I checked the roster of artists on the site:

All of them have a great body of work. But Marquez- Is the person who told him about US in Toronto! He gave Max the thumbs up and props to come to Toronto! (Shout out to all supporters and enthusiasts of the Toronto house scene!) At afrobetabodega you’ll find live sets, studio recordings, podcasts, news and general musings of  underground house. It’s a work in progress and he mentions that an international expansion is in order.

In 2014 Max wants to make House of Pela a household name and continue to throw successful events. He wants to continue putting Boston on the map. See: TRAXSOURCE. I always ask this because I do feel its important for anyone embarking down creative paths; What advice does House of Pela founder give? – Take risks. ‘If you’ve gotta leave the 9-5 makes sure it’s planned and calculated…..do what makes you happy. If it’s the energy of what you do that drives you, let it be the driving force…there will be times you want to quit…rest assured there will be that one person who will wake you up to keep you going’

House of Pela It’s been fun putting these blog posts out! Follow me in 2014 as I take @theshineprjct  in other directions…. -shine

Establishments, Food, women & entrepreneurship

Cake Opera – Not Your Average Cake Boss

With the holidays here, I thought that a feature blog post on Cake Opera Co. would be an amazing  way to share the pleasure of cakes and goodies for office parties, potlucks and family dinners. Cake Opera has made incredible strides and is taking their expertise on the road! Head over there while they’re still around in 2013! http://www.cakeoperaco.com/

cake

 

It was something like September or October 2011,I was walking along Eglinton West Village. There was some sort of customer appreciation weekend where all establishments pull their wares outdoors and give samples or sell items and services at discount. Fairly standard in Toronto. I strolled along the area and stumbled on a gem of a shop and I was offered a mini cupcake. There are so many notable pastry and cupcake shops in Toronto but this one was quite unique……

Cupcakes

I walked in-looked around, asked for the owner. I spoke to the owner’s mother-asked if I can interview her about this ‘Victorian Era Opera-styled’ boutique cake shop and returned a few days later!

I went in and had a more in depth look at the place-the cakes on the shelves were pieces of art! I had tons of questions about where and how this was all created…..I might add that Cake Opera made the cake for Nicole Ritchie’s wedding and that a gorgeous ‘ hobby’ cake model project featured on the Spring/Summer 2006 cover edition of a very well-known wedding magazine!

boutique

When did this all click for her?

She was an OCAD art major with a concentration on painting and drawing. She also enjoyed horror films.Her love of art was more selfish in nature. She wanted to make things she didn’t have. Her drawings often reflected things she coveted more than what she actually had. She also loved cooking. Alexandria says ‘I played around with fondant and bread….I made installations and incorporated string and shapes….I love making sickening pretty things’

Looking at you cake models on display in the shop, you’ve got a style or theme-please explain:

I’m very comfortable cooking, I love the Parisienne esthetic, I wanted a strong background in cake making so I attended Le Cordon Bleu…..I moved to Italy for 8 months, they take pastries and baking seriously there’

Her journey to Cake Opera wasn’t an easy one-true pastry and baking artistry takes many years of training and experience in Europe.

At Cordon Bleu she met Jessica. Jessica and Alexandria became co-owners in 2010 after working from an industrial kitchen created by her parents at home! Business picked up where they were constructing 1 cake a week with maximum time spent at 150 hours per cake!

At one point I ask her about the in between time-the time she returned from schooling in Italy to the time span she started actually building a career she recalls, ‘There was a gap of time where NOTHING was happening…I would be at home making cake models and sketching….not finding a job’. She smiles and says ‘I have massive balls, I’m highly confident, I feel strongly about my aesthetic…these cakes aren’t for everybody…the people who want these kinds of caked found me-their desire for what I make; made me do it’

Who are her clients?

  • Word-of-mouth clients
  • People who trust her expertise
  • People who want food to imitate art

How does she create the work?

She daydreams for inspiration, she used to watch Fashion Television to tap into subtle trends on the runway, the feeling of a movie or song…..

How has the economy affected business?

The decorative cake and pastry industry is a very particular one. We are not a cake business for regular people with regular cake/dessert tastes. People budget for cakes-business hasn’t slowed down at all. We now make 5-6 cakes a week!

Alexandria’s advice for entrepreneurs trying to break into the market:

  • Just do it!
  • It’s a business not a hobby; it isn’t play time!
  • Take it (what you choose to do) seriously
  • Believe in yourself
  • Treat it like a job
  • The initial trade-off will not always be rewarding
  • Start small and slow, feel out the direction you’d like to take it….you’ll grow from that
  • Push yourself while being patient, it’s the only way you’ll grow

cake 4

cakes

cake 2

And yes, I ate two cupcakes out of the box! They were pretty tasty!

-shine

 

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House Music Series – Jellybean Returns to Revival – International

Behind the Decks

Trust your instincts. These are the parting words of a talented artist whose career has spanned many decades.

Trusting his instincts has taken him to  places unimaginable. Literally. As a child from South Bronx, NY he says, ‘there were only two options amongst my friends…’ to be a drug dealer or a bouncer at a club…..I wasn’t gonna get into drugs and I was too short to be a bouncer’……that broke the ice! lol

Jellybean enthusiasts kept passing by; uttering comments, props and questions about when he was gonna  hit the stage. I’m not gonna lie-I knew about Jellybean as a kid because of Madonna.  I mentioned that to him-but what is fascinating is the kind of work he’s amassed in this many years, as well as the industries that he’s crossed. It is truly remarkable BUT also makes sense as he’s always ‘trusted his instincts’.

Another thing I noticed about what always came up while he responded to my questions was his need for CREATIVITY and his focus of wanting to simply MAKE MUSIC. Watching the crowd’s response on the dance floor Benitez said ‘is like GM testing cars…..as a creator of  sounds, tunes, records…..the dance floor allows you to see what works, what’s fresh and what’ll sell’

In his earlier years after Dj’ing for friends parties, his phone started ringing and requests to collaborate with big artists (Madonna, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson) to name a few- brought him into the studio. By working in the studio with recording artists,  it validated his production skills and allowed him to reach more people.  He left DJ‘ing for 10 years and produced music and soundtracks for films. This instinctual departure added more to his musical talents and skills.

Studio54 and Funhouse residencies allowed him to flaunt his production skills in the clubs and he would go on to produce (3-4 records a week???? Damn!) The music industry has definitely changed! The New York house scene is a very  different one than it was back in the day- in that it strictly thrived as an underground scene. This underground no longer exists. Perhaps this underground scene now thrives online?

I asked him about his XM Satellite Sirius Radio station that started in 2011. He was asked to program the station because of  his expertise, tenure and experience. This allowed him free reign over the design of the station’s music catalogue.  He plays FULL tracks when mixing on air  and that he mentions, has also lost its way with the new style of music mixing. He’s able to give back and educate new  listeners by introducing Disco and Classic House styles within the programming.  So every time, you tune in, and listen to Studio54 satellite radio, YOU learn something new! And just like that, our interview had to end……

Jellybean hit the decks at Revival  and  the  song he plays that draws me in is Louie Vega’s ‘Brand New Day’ feat Blaze. I almost forgot what I was gonna  write tonight.  LOL

I danced the night away 🙂

-shine

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