Courtesy of 2+2 Management
How long have you been making music?
I've been making music since 2002 or 2003, but I did start in punk bands from like '98 or '99. Playing drums was the segue, but I was also a big fan of the Prodigy and Aphex Twin and that left-field approach to writing music. So I applied it less in terms of sound palette, but in the philosophy of how I write music, a more brash approach.
There are a lot of labels thrown around these nebulous, emergent, hybrid genres. How would you describe your sound in your own words?
It takes cues from the '90s DJ garage house movement and is bass-driven, broken beat, but with a darker spin. I'd say it's nestled somewhere between dubstep and house. I wouldn't call it dubstep-house, but maybe dark garage?
Rusko is the big name linked to dubstep and you're credited with being first to bring him to Toronto. Do you remember what it was that pulled you in?
Yeah, this was in 2009. We had this night called Subtrac, which was the first dubstep night in the city, and brought in a lot of the big headlining acts that have continued to tour to this day. I was definitely taken in by the digital influence by his music -- what got me into dubstep was the reggae and dub influence. Rusko, prior, was more of a digi-dub producer. His early stuff was digital roots that made people want to party and it was an interesting and direct take on the sound that I like.
What do you make of the recent-ish backlash against dudes like him who are linked to the 'brostep' scene?
It's interesting. I was talking to a friend who has enjoyed the more aggressive side of dubstep that's come through over time and playing older Rusko and Caspa. He was surprised to see how it's changed from that era. I don't know. Rusko's stuff has more of a lighthearted party vibe that I enjoy; it's smile-inducing music. Brostep -- which he may or may not be miscredited for kicking off -- is more aggressive and less happy. For me, the main difference lies in his influences -- MC Hammer references, funky bass lines, garage -- which his protégés may not have grasped.
The music you're making now didn't necessarily exist in this form when you were younger. What influences did you pull from to reach this point?
Sonically, I pretty much owe most of my landscaping to Massive Attack, the Deftones, Depeche Mode, stuff like that. There's a serendipitous influence from the house side and my partying, jungle background that's come into what I like performance-wise. But the direction of music I like has gone in a more house-centric direction. My classic house knowledge ... I don't have much. But my UK garage knowledge is pretty comprehensive.
How did you experience dance music growing up in Toronto?
When I first started DJing, around 16 or 17, I didn't have money to collect multiple genres and I wanted to play jungle or really deep, almost 'gay,' house. I decided on jungle because I liked it more and through that I ended up being exposed to a massive electronic music movement. The funny parallel is that I've almost moved into playing deep house now!
System Soundbar was the spot we'd go to. I was super excited to find out Paradox was coming to town so I went there to see him do a set. The performance was on the most basic gear possible: super old MIDI keyboards and a tower PC running on DOS that he built himself! We watched him perform from the front; holding on to the railing while everyone around us was dancing. I remember feeling like it was a really affirming moment for jungle.