TEAM CANADA with LUPE FIASCO, ARTHUR BAKER, ELI ESCOBAR, DJ ILLO, CIRCLE RESEARCH and more at Circa (126 John), Friday (December 14). $15 before 1 am, $20 after or in advance. www.circatoronto.com Rating: NNNNN
It seems like a distant memory that back in 1999 there was a brief crackdown on selling unauthorized DJ mixtapes. Of course, since those days, the recording industry's attention has shifted toward file sharing, and the homemade mix CD that replaced tapes has quietly found its way back onto shelves. Strangely enough, it also continues to be a great marketing tool, despite the declining fortunes of CDs in general.
"Our first mix CD really made a big difference," recalls Team Canada's D.R.one . "We did a few remixes that people played all over Canada and the States. We never sold any vinyl of it or even put it online, but DJs dubbed it off the mix disc and started trading it with each other. In particular, that Johnny Cash remix became a big party song all over."
D.R.one and his partner, Grandtheft, emerged out of the Montreal club scene a few years back and quickly made a name for themselves with their cross-genre, anything-goes DJ sets. Through the success of their homemade mashups, they suddenly found themselves touring constantly across Canada and the U.S.
The term mashup is a bit passé by now, so it's not surprising that they see their cheeky bootleg remixes as simply an extension of their DJing, rather than part of the larger trend.
"We were playing all different kinds of records four or five years ago when it wasn't the popular thing to do," Grandtheft recalls. "Given that we were still using vinyl, we were doing it like hiphop -- stickering up these rock records and scratching, which at the time was a crazy thing.
"For us it's always been about playing a full mix of music live -- we both scratch, we both do lots of blends, so I don't even think about them as mashups. We do play a lot of our own remixes and edits, but we don't just do that."
"If it's a hipster party, we'll play a whole set of our own productions, but if it's a really commercial party, we'll cut up the original records," D.R.one clarifies.
Applying hiphop skills to cross-genre DJing has allowed them to tread that line between commercial and underground. You can still catch them playing hipster parties, but you can also hear them play on Flow 93.5 each week, along with the other members of the Eh! Team, a management company they recently started to solidify relationships with other like-minded DJs across Canada.
Additional Interview Audio Clips
Team Canada talk about the Eh! Team