Q&A with SATOSHI TOMIIE
SATOSHI TOMIIE, co-founder of SAW Recordings, is no stranger to Montreal. He has proven that there is no slowing him down as he constantly reinvents and adapts his sound, while continuing to stay true to himself and his music. With the month of January usually being the month he takes time off from touring, Satoshi makes an exception on January 25th to return and grace the decks at STEREO after almost a two-year absence. The very lovely and talented Mayssam will be on warmup duties for the evening.
1. As of 2012 you’ve been more proactive on the production front. Most notably is the recent success of your Backside Wave EP, which has picked up quite a bit of attention from the industry heads. Your sound seems to have taken a new deeper direction. Is this something we can expect to hear more often in the future? Can you tell us what are some of your favorite studio machinery?
My studio was finally ready and last year I took some time off from traveling for a few weeks and focused on beat making. I sat down in front of my setup and I was really digging deep into music making once again. Although it’s not impossible, it’s quite difficult to produce between gigging and traveling, at least for me. Those weeks were absolutely necessary and I realized how much I love making music.
From time to time I play ‘open to closing’ sets and what I love about it is creating a musical journey throughout the night, starting with very deep and intelligent electronic music. Over the years a lot of my inspiration originates from music I would drop during ‘warm up’ hours, and these years I hear more and more quality music in this category, which I would call ‘modern deep house’. I also rediscovered some classics from late 80’s on labels such as Trax, DJ International, Transmat, etc. Just by pulling out those vinyl and putting them on my trusted SL1200’s is refreshing. I don’t play vinyl in my set anymore, but doing this actually gives me a drive in the studio to make something new. I am in the studio as I write and I’m sitting next to my TR909, TB303 and SH101. With modern technology these classic Roland boxes sound better than ever, and the simplicity and the freedom of these machines are actually inspiring.
2. SAW Recordings has been running for over 10 years strong. Are you still pressing vinyl or are your releases strictly digital? Going through the catalogue of the past decade, which releases are you most proud of? Any forthcoming EPs you’d like to highlight, or recent artists who you’ve signed to the label for the coming year?
We are a US based label so we were forced to stop pressing vinyl years ago when those distributors had gone bust and so many record stores stateside closed their doors forever. We manufactured and distributed our vinyl ourselves. So after these things happened we decided to go digital all the way. It made me sad but it was a necessary change. I am so happy to see that there are still a lot of DJ’s plays mainly, or strictly, vinyl especially in Europe.
I don’t have a particular record in mind, but the most memorable ones were the first ones, Bipath with Stephane K, Nathan Fake, Echomen, Chab and most recently Guti’s single.
Speaking of Echomen, we are preparing their new single called ‘Don’t Hold Back’ featuring Mark Nigrelli.
3. You’ve recently started a series of parties called “Popup”. Can you explain how this came to light, what it’s all about, and what prompted this direction? Where have you held these parties, and what are you planning in 2013?
The idea came about when I was in the studio during those weeks. The music I came up with was perfect for small venues with an intimate vibe and I thought to myself “why don’t I make a new party series?” After all, this is a very good chance to feature music I have been inspired by as well. Check out the website http://www.satoshitomiiepopup.com
4. How often do you visit your hometown in Japan? I recall you telling me that you often spend your birthdays in Japan. Do you still try to maintain this tradition? It has been said that the Japanese record stores tend to stock quite a lot of treasures if you’re willing to dig for them. Are you still an avid record collector, and do you frequent these stores upon your visits?
I visit twice a year normally, around my birthday (Nov 22) and Golden Week (from the end of April to early May, a series of bank holidays) and yes it has been a tradition over the years. Every 6 months is perfect. I don’t miss home too much, but at the same time I don’t miss a lot happening in Tokyo/Japan either. You can easily get lost while record store hopping in Shibuya. I miss those days.
5. Do you have a favorite quote or some words of advice you’d like to share?
Know yourself, believe yourself and don’t give up. If you can find something you really like doing and you are actually good at, then everything flows and everything else follows if you don’t stop doing it
I’ll be completely honest, I was a little sceptical once the announcement was made that you were releasing an LP only after putting out 1 track. I remember thinking to myself here’s another publicity stunt that many producer/DJs attempts in the hopes of prompting a world tour. But WOW did you prove me wrong! Your debut artist album “Tessa” is dope! Why didn’t you choose to gradually release several EPs with remixes instead of an album? Did Loco Dice and Martin Buttrich ask you to lock yourself in the studio for a few months to work on it, or was it a project you’ve been hard at work on for quite some time?
This first question already makes me smile. First of all thanks for the flowers here, I’m glad that I left such an impression with you. The story of “Tessa” goes like this:
Neither Dice, nor Martin asked or told me to produce an album. I didn’t even know, that this would happen as it did. It was my first Ibiza season in 2010; I spent a lot of time in my little sea view room and worked on tracks. After the summer season I received a request from Dice, asking for a new tINI track he could put on the yearly Desolat Sampler, so I just sent him about 15 new tracks and waited for feedback. After a while there was this call from Dice and Martin out of the studio, telling me that they were listening to my album now for the 3rd time in a row…That was one of the best calls of my life, I think I squealed for several minutes.
You’ve recently made the move to NYC. What prompted this decision? Are you expecting to stay there as long as it takes to finish your second artist album? Are you hoping to stay at 7 Dunham Place?
I love to get inspired from places and people around the world. Ibiza did, as well as Berlin. I am blessed with my job being able to live in almost every place in the world. New York has intrigued me right from the first visit. So I had the idea earlier this year and when I told Dice about it, he was super happy about my idea and supported me from the beginning. Now that I am here, I hope to stay as long as possible, at least till the Ibiza season starts up again. I am not staying at 7 Dunham Place, I decided East Village as my new headquarter. I love this area. I try to walk around and absorb this city as much as possible. And who knows, maybe I’ll finish my second artist album here. I’m working on it, that’s safe to say.
What’s your take on the vinyl vs. laptop DJ debate?
It’s a boring debate to me, to be honest. As of lately I’ve stopped defending myself for being a laptop DJ. I spent a lot of time, love and money into a really huge vinyl collection of my own. I used to play vinyl only for almost 7 years, but for several reasons I started using Traktor with vinyl TC and I am very happy. Nothing left to say from my side. If people want to waste time on thinking what is better, cooler, or whatever… I care about the quality of music that comes out of the speakers.
You’ve just recently played at Fabric and Stereo is on the horizon this coming weekend. Both clubs have been in operation for 13 years respectively, and are globally recognized as being a routine stop for pilgrims from near and far. We had the Desolat crew (Dice, Buttrich, Livio & Roby) play at the club a few years back, have they told you any stories about Stereo?
I just got back from my UK weekend with the boys and I only heard good stories about Stereo. So I am pretty excited to see what it’s all about!
You’re closing out the night right after Guy Gerber on Friday. What can your fans expect to hear from you? Any parting words of advice for aspiring DJ/producers who might be overwhelmed with the amount of work one has to dedicate in their careers in order to get recognized on an international level?
What to expect? I never plan a set or night so it’s hard to give an idea. But I will play my definition of good music and I will try to catch the vibe of the night and make people dance and have a good time. My words of advice: love what you do and do what you love. The rest will follow, if it’s meant to be.
In September, we are quite happy to share a new edition of our Diggin’ series, mixed by none else than local wonders Chase & Patrol.
The two dudes have been working hard, and it started paying: they recently inaugurated their new residency at Salon Daomé, as part of the Safari weekly on Tuesdays.
Here’s the track listing:
1. Party Jacktrack (Oracy’s House Call Edit) – Bernard Badie 2. Shapes (Aki Bergen Remix) – Huxley 3. Parapanda – Gorge 4. Groove (Supernova Remix) – Ramon Tapia 5. Multicolours (Nima Gorji Remix) – Manu-L & Paul Cart 6. Hit The Floor (Audiojack Remix) – Ante Perry 7. Black In My Soul (Tiger Stripes Main Remix) – Roland Clark 8. The W Factor (Aziz Mix) – Duniq 9. Candy (Per Hammar Tech House Mix) – SpekrFreks, Melleefresh, Billy Newton-Davis 10. In My Arms Frida Mae – Ferdinand Dreyssig 11. Her Circus Mind – Dave Rosario 12. Adjective feat. Gabby (Private Mix) – NTFO 13. Until The Day (Uners 909 Mix) – Honey Dijon Feat Dajae 14. Lone Gone Home (Ian Pooley’s Nearly Home Rmx) – Marcel Knopf 15. Play House – Alex Niggemann & Superlounge
In between his secret day job, nights of partying and numerous walks with Paco the dog, our Royal Marinelli sometimes takes days off to get in touch with his inner self, wind down, and record a podcast.
Which is exactly what he’s done today. This is the quintessential Mirrorballs May sound: some sun, some hoodies, girls walking around with tight leggings, sunglasses, cold drinks and cool nights. The incredible duo ROUX Soundsystem has just secured a new residency at Up Club one Monday a month, they’re still regular faces at Salon Daomé, and I’m pretty sure you’ll hear them again some time soon in your friendly neighborhood.
In the meantime, enjoy this fine selection right here.
NoD is far from being a newcomer. Hailing from Quebec City and having lots of musical experience under his belt, he went from singing in multiple bands to sharing the decks all over our capital with the Music & Friends gang. Since moving to Montreal in 2011, he has been hanging out at Salon Daomé a lot, and recently became a Beat Boutique resident.
And here’s the track list:
1. Donna Summer – Last Dance
2. Kaine feat. Kathy Diamond – Love Saves The Day (Soul Clap remix)
3. Jamie Jones – Summertime
4. Motor City Drum Ensemble – L.O.V.E.
5. Storm Queen – Look Right Through (Vox)
6. Evan Evans – Repetition (Art Of Tones remix)
7. Loin Brothers – Heavy Helmet (Mock & Toof remix)
8. The Revenge – Just Be Good To Mario
9. Bonar Bradberry – Siula Grande (Pete Herbert remix)
10. Ajello – Moody Bang (Tensnake remix)
If you were afraid that the true masters of house music were all from the distant pass, fear no more – there’s some new blood on the assembly line, slaving away in the studio, and sweating in the club. Jordan Peak is a newcomer, but he has already released his tracks on labels such as One, Tsuba and Robsoul, and is gaining an increasingly building buzz. We snatched him up on his way to play his first gig in Montreal.
I heard some rumors saying your dad was a DJ and you grew up practically having your diapers changed on vinyl stacks. Any truth in that?
No, he wasn’t a DJ, but he did love House music. He had lots of the US House and Garage records and early mix cd’s full of tracks by Todd Terry, Armand Van Helden, DJ Sneak, Kerri Chandler, Masters At Work, etc. It’s through his collection that I was exposed to the music .
Among your already impressive body of work, my favorites are the two “Club Cuts” EPs you released on Robsoul. How did you come up with the sheer fun and old school vibe of the tracks?
Thanks, I’m glad you like. It was a real personal honour to put out those tracks on Robsoul, one of my favourite record labels, and definitely one of my biggest influences. In terms of production, I just did what I always do when working on tracks, jam with ideas until I get a groove going that I like. I’m more into raw, analogue sounds than really clean and polished tracks, I just prefer the warmth and charm that people tend to label as ‘old school’. I’m not saying it’s wrong to like the really clean stuff, everyone’s different and has their own taste, I’m just more drawn to that classic vibe…
Music is a cycle and trends come and go in circles. How do you explain house music staying at the forefront for such a long time?
Like you say, music, trends and the trends of music come, go, return, leave and then reappear time and time again. The thing with House is that it’s such a vast and entrancing creature that everyone has their own interpretation of what House music is. Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Detroit, Berlin, Paris, London, Leeds and more and more cities globally have people that listen to that repetitive, electronic 4/4 beat, and contribute their own ideas and expressions of that notorious, nocturnal beast, thus helping the sound to evolve and find new ears and audiences in places all over the world, from all different cultures and walks of life.
The London scene is huge at the moment. Was it always this way? How do ‘bass culture’ and house heads cohabit?
London and the rest of the UK have always had a great nightlife and party ethic. People just like to go out and have a really, really good time over here. I’m guessing that by ‘bass culture’, you’re referring to dubstep, drum and bass, etc? Well, we seem to get a long pretty fine. With some guys like Scuba and the music on labels such as Techtonic and Hotflush, for example, you can hear the house and techno influences in dubstep and vice versa, with Maya Jane Coles for instance, exploring both fields under different guises. I listen to some Dubstep as I have friends that produce and play that sound, but it’s not something, personally, that I’d experiment with.
Will this be your first time in North America? What are your expectations?
Not the first time, but I’m still incredibly excited to get off that transatlantic plane and set foot on North American soil. I’m expecting to meet some new friendly people, play some records and generally have a very good time.
Microzoo Records is an idea that’s been floating in Nathan Burns’ head for years. And luckily, some people work hard enough to make their dreams come true. Since the end of 2010, the Montreal-based label has been putting out a steady output of quality releases, from the likes of Leland McWilliams and Tapesh. Nathan was kind enough to grant Mirrorballs an intimate glimpse of his decadent lifestyle.
Would it be a stretch to say that you ain’t the new kid on the block anymore – you’ve been around for a while? Since, when, exactly, and how did you start?
Growing up, I was a music lover, and so were my friends. Digging for new artist and listening sessions were common activities… I got introduced to the DJ thing in the mid nineties. My best friend had gotten a pair of Technics and a collection of eighties records from his brother-in-law. He showed me how to use the mixer and turntables, bit of beat matching & scratching. I fell in love with it…
I’m from a small town on the north shore of Montréal, so in late nineties I moved to the big city, got a new job and got the money to buy my own gear. It’s around the same time that I started collecting records.
Practiced a lot and recorded a few demos, but I couldn’t get any bookings. So like a lot of other DJs did before me, in 2001 I decided to organize a small event in some weird location with DJ friends so we could play a couple of records outside of my basement. This was my first gig, and I kept on going from there…
What made you want to transition from DJ and producer to label owner, at a time when the music industry is in a pretty bad shape?
When you’re in love with a woman, you don’t really care if she’s broke you just make it happen…
It’s the same with music; I do it for the love. I’ve been involved in the Montréal EDM scene for more than 10 years now; DJing, organizing events, promoting club nights and more recently working in the studio. Starting the label was just the next logic step for me.
It’s a project that I always wanted to do. I was just waiting for the right timing and people to work with.
Last year I met the right partner, my friend Loic and we did it.
The industry is in sort of a transition state at the moment but the music is still there and maybe more than ever! Times like this force us to be more creative in the way we do business. If Microzoo can make it pass this “crisis” it will just make it stronger. I think…
You’ve started more confidentially, with lesser known artists, but are now getting bigger names. Was that the strategy from the start, or did this happen because your label rapidly aquired some street cred?
When Loic and I started the label, we didn’t really know how to go about it so there wasn’t really a strategy. But we quickly realized that trying to convince established artists to work with us on our new born label could be quite expensive. So for our first releases we just dug to find great emerging artist that would fit within the sound boundaries we had imagined for Microzoo. We were very lucky to find some really good artists like Patryk Molinari, Sunju Hargun, Ohm Hourani & Philip Arruda, that agreed to work with us even if our label was brand new. It really gave us a good base to work on. I would say that this is the main reason why bigger names agreed to work with us after… That, and the fact that we got better at the art of convincing people… Haha!
You’re also doing monthly microzoo nights at Le Salon Daomé. How’s that going?
Yes! Like every club night, it has its ups and downs, but overall it’s doing very good. The Microzoo night is a label showcase. Aside from being a great lab to test our upcoming releases, we also bring artists that collaborate closely with the label to play at the club. Just in the last few months we had international act like: Claire Ripley, Soulrack & Mikel_E, Timid Boy, Philip Arruda & Leland McWilliams. It’s a great opportunity for peoples that follow the label to see the artists live & and for the label, a good way to promote the artists.
Is there an artist you’re courting, and that has yet to acknowledge your unmistakable charm?
There are a few but its part of the game. In due time…
We’ve seen with Chicoutimi-based Monique Musique that location isn’t very important for a label – can you say the same about being based in Montreal?
Obviously not… I guess it all depends on your contacts and how much money you are willing to invest.
For us, being based in Montréal and already being familiar with the local scene was a good asset. Our following and network really helped us to spread the word when we started the label.
Plus since we also do events, we have the opportunity to add a booking in the negotiation with the artist. It usually helps.
Now that the label’s co-founder has moved to Spain, how do you guys make it happen?
With this thing called the internet… Seriously, we have our little set up. We each have tasks to do, and we communicate by e-mail and skype. It’s not always easy to have a virtual work relation but we intend to visit each other on a regular base in the near future.
What’s coming up for y’all?
Man, we have some really good releases coming! Just next Monday, an awesome EP from Zoe Xenia is coming out with remixes from Leland McWilliams & Andre Buljat – very excited about that. After that, Toronto-based Philip Arruda comes up with his second EP on Microzoo with remixes from Dirty Culture and Andrea Ferlin… huge! Claire Ripley & Zeitgeist have also graced us with a solid EP, we added remixes from Fog & Emanuel Satie. We also have the Microzoo night at Salon Daomé coming up on Friday March 2th. It will feature the great DJ Maus, member of the early Microzoo crew, an opening set from Le Binch, young and upcoming talent + myself. Should be a great party!