DUBIOUS with JOE SALVATORE and TONY PHATAK at the Labyrinth Lounge (298 Brunswick), Saturday (December 17). $2 after 11 pm. 416-925-7775.
Over the past year, Toronto-based producer Jon Dacey (aka Dubious) has signed tracks to some of the best weirdo-disco labels in the world, including upcoming releases on Bear Funk, Deep Freeze, Loop:Recordings and a soon-to-be-released single on up-and-coming local label Truffle.
Not bad for a guy the vast majority of clubgoers have never heard of.
Most label owners will tell you that putting out 12-inch singles is a great way to lose money. Dacey must not have been paying attention when he launched Prize Records early last year. But thanks in part to early support from NYC-based Toronto expat Brennan Green, his first three releases sold out quickly, and word started spreading to the various scenes internationally where quirky instrumental disco tracks are cherished.
"I always wanted to have a label; all the bands I ever really liked were independent," recalls Dacey in the lounge of a Parkdale recording studio where we've both been making music lately.
"Coming from a punk rock background, I found that everybody owned their own label -- we'd make tapes, save up to make a 7-inch and try to sell it on tour. Over the years, my concept of how to get my music out grew, and I always thought it was better to do it yourself than to make a demo and send it to labels, which almost inevitably turns out to be a bad situation.
"I can't afford to release as much material as I'd like -- vinyl costs a lot of money to press, and there's a very limited market these days. At the same time, though, those 500 records can get to people who are really paying attention. Most of them are DJs, some of them own labels, and they eventually get in touch. Everything that's happening has all been as a result of the label."
This is also true on the local level. Steve Yanko asked him for music for the Truffle label after being impressed by the first Dubious release. The crew throwing the party Saturday (December 17) were also strangers who sought him out through the label. I was surprised to find out, after contacting him for a review copy of his first single, that he was my next-door neighbour.
While not all the Prize releases have been Dubious tracks, Dacey has ended up playing on all of them in some capacity. This has led him to come up with a novel way to present the songs live, one that hopefully will be tested on the festival circuit next year.
"What I want to do with this live band is to play versions of all the tracks from all the artists, kind of like those label revues that old soul labels would do -- one band playing all the songs with different vocalists, except we don't have a bunch of vocalists.
"It'll be like a classic power trio, but with this kind of music instead."