DAN BELL with NOAH PRED , LEE OSBORNE , IAN GUTHRIE at Footwork (425 Adelaide West), Saturday (February 18). $10 before 11:30 pm, more after. www.fukhouse.ca.
Lately, it seems like there are more Canadians making techno in Germany than there are here. While Dan Bell is often described as a Detroit minimal producer and DJ, he actually grew up in Canada and, like fellow expats Richie Hawtin, Jeremy P Caulfield, Pan/Tone and Jacob Fairley, he's found a welcoming home base in Germany.
"I've been living in Berlin off and on for six years now, but recently I've been spending more time DJing and working on music in the U.S.," says Bell on a break between European gigs.
"I moved to Berlin because the U.S. scene seemed stuck and there was no place to DJ in the style that I wanted to. Being in Berlin gave me hope that things would change -- even in North America -- because the scene here is so strong you felt sure it would make waves around the world, and slowly it's happening."
Considering that Richie Hawtin's minimal techno was used in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games last week, he may be right about those waves. Incidentally, Bell's first records came out on Hawtin's Plus-8 label, and they were both deeply inspired by the Electrifying Mojo's radio shows coming across the border in the mid-90s.
Bell may not be the techno superstar Hawtin has become, but his early productions as DBX earned a place for him in the dance music history books as a key influence on the minimal side of house. Despite the heavy Detroit techno influence on his music, though, that wasn't what got him into production initially.
"I loved the early hiphop records from New York specifically -- the very raw, basement-style productions from around 1982 to 88, and then later productions from RZA, Premier, etc. But re-cently, let's say the last few years, I've really lost interest in it; many songs sound formulaic and disposable."
In the near future he's re-releasing some of his back catalogue to satisfy demand for older out-of-print records. While he's flattered that his old tracks have so much staying power, he's focused on seeing his own sound evolve, while remaining tight-lipped about the material he's working on.
"What helps things progress fastest is when you have a scene where the DJs and club owners are actively taking chances to push the music forward, and a crowd that's receptive to it. That usually inspires producers to make more interesting records, and that helps the music to take a step forward."