A Bit of Basic Soul

Interview by Dean Dixon 

What do you see to be the future of dance music?

For better or worse, I think the future is already here: ease of access to production tools for everyone, live mix casts (a la Boiler Room or Dommune), digital downloads (legal or not), discogs. But whatever tools you choose whether vinyl, Traktor or Ableton, for me its still about physically being on a dance floor, feeling the music and moving your body.

What are the methods behind getting your mad vibes out and into the dancers earlobes?

I just try to do my thing and enjoy myself. I think if you’re into it and the crowd feels that, then they pick up the vibe from you. I also watch and try to feed off what the crowd is feeling too. Its a give and take kinda thing.

MUTEK is not only one of Canada’s but also one of the worlds most forward thinking festivals with regards to music and the arts. Considering you just played there, can you give us the low down from your eyes? What was is like? What did you get up too? How do you see MUTEK and similar festivals around the world with regards to their relation to dance music? Do you think it benefits in any way and if so how?

Mutek is great, for a festival its size, they are very forward thinking. Its mostly concentrated on live sets and performances (though they do include DJs too of course). Outside of some bigger names, you can find a lots of interesting unknown artists both local and international. And I think that’s where it’s benefit is. Its not a mainstream focused festival and many attendees will find artists and music that might interest them outside of what they normally hear. Another thing is because it is spread over various venues in the city, you get to experience the city and its culture as well.

So what makes you tick? What makes you wake up everyday and say, let’s do this thing!

I haven’t given up the day job of graphic design. Music is my passion so its not too hard for me to want to do it when I get the time, especially when money is not a part of the equation.

ANALOG or DIGITAL? VINYL or MP3?…….Why?

I will use Vinyl, Serato and/or CDs depending on the situation, but my preference is for vinyl. It’s just what I’m most comfortable using, I hate staring at the laptop screen or CD books squinting my eyes trying to read the titles. However, weight or border restrictions usually dictate that I carry at least a combo. But the bottom line is it’s not what you got but how you use it. If you can use it well and rock the crowd, then why not. As long as you use the technology properly and to it’s potential (ie not just pressing play and being lazy).

What’s coming up on the BASIC SOUL UNIT horizon? Any special releases, gigs or other stuff coming up you’re excited about?!

I’m looking forward to my first long player which will be released on Still Music (hopefully end of year). There’s also an ep coming out on Nonplus+ I’m excited about. Besides that, I have tracks on eps or comps for Midnight Shift (of Singapore), Aesthetic Audio. A few remixes for Gerd’s 4Lux label, Alland Byallo’s Bad Animal label, and Parages (Montreal). Really looking into starting my own label one day, we have a family of upcoming and established artists from Toronto that I’d love to connect the dots with!!!

What can we expect from your first set for us here in Sydney?

I guess that depends on whether I’m going live or DJ 🙂 With a DJ set, I always go with the flow so it depends on how I think I’m reading the crowd, but always expect a wide range of music as long as its deep, soulful and funky. Well with the live thing, I’m still a beginner, so I’m just trying not to screw up, lol. But I’ve had positive response so far and it seems to make people dance, so that’s a good sign.

Basic Soul Unit from StudioFeed on Vimeo.

We’re not sure how aware you are of the Sydney dance music scene, but we’ve got a pretty thriving underground music scene here at the moment that involves great warehouse spaces as well as warm, welcoming, priceless gems just a touch off the grid. We know Toronto had a similar type of thing going on in the past, but how is it at the moment? Can you name a few of your favorite local haunts to drop sounds at over there?

I’ve heard good things about Sydney and of Australia in general, so can’t wait to see it first hand! Regarding Toronto….ok, to be honest I have not been out much in the past few years (I’m a family man w a daughter). There are definitely some promoters out there doing it proper though. Breakandenter, Deep North, Evening Standard, Bang The Party, and more! The regular joints are The Drake Underground, Footwork or Wrong Bar but the best parties are usually at loft or warehouse spaces

What’s the most legendary space you’ve every played at in Toronto? And overseas while touring?

In Toronto, its got to be the original Octapus Lounge back in the mid to late 90’s and also Roxy Blu during the late 90‘s to the early 00’s. Octapus Lounge was a tiny space on a side street. Every Weds, Jason Palma (something of a local legend) would rock the joint playing everything from house, disco, broken beat, soul, funk, latin, jazz and more. Anyhow I guess I eventually hung around long enough that he let me drop a few sets now and then. It was school time for me. We’re good friends now and still do a monthly soul/funk based eclectic night called Footprints (along w another member General Eclectic). Roxy Blu was probably the mecca for underground dance music of varying styles during its heyday. It held about 1500-2000 people and was a warm and unpretentious place with wooden floors.

Overseas, Panorama Bar definitely makes the top of the list. There’s not too many clubs left in the world at that size with the level of music programming that they do. I’m also honoured to have played at the legendary Yellow in Tokyo (now Eleven). It was a quieter Thursday night a long long time ago probably before anybody knew who I was. But I was still amazed to have stepped into that booth (having been on the dance floor side few times before).

What is the one thing you absolutely MUST do before leaving down under?

I am always up for trying some local culinary specialties 🙂

Catch Basic Soul Unit in action at HAHA, Saturday 7th July

Select Discography

Soul Patterns Ep / Versatile / 2005
Deep Blue Ep / Versatile / 2006
Lotus Roots Ep / Mathematics / 2008
Dank Ep / Philpot / 2009
Basic Necessity Ep / New Kanada / 2009
Things Pass (exclusive track for Panorama Bar II ) /
Ostgut Ton / 2009
Tuff Luv Ep / Creme Organization / 2010
Night Heat Ep / Mule Electronic / 2010
Soulspeak Ep / Dolly / 2011
Deep Diving Ep / New Kanada / 2011