GHISLAIN POIRIER at the Drake Hotel Underground (1150 Queen West), Friday (November 2), 10 pm. $5. 416-531-5042. Rating: NNNNN
Montreal producer/DJ Ghislain Poirier pulled the plug on his well-loved monthly party Bounce Le Gros last spring. While he misses having a home base from which to launch his bass-fuelled vision, the extra time has allowed him to concentrate on breaking into the lucrative European market, with both a solo DJ tour and a recent live tour supporting Sixtoo.
"I miss it a little bit, but I'm really happy it's done, too," explains Poirier from his Montreal home. "It was really involving - fun, but at the same time cutting into my time for playing live and touring. I'm still DJing a lot, but it's very different when it's not your own party."
Taking his sound to the world is an important step. Much of his style is about looking at how the world at large has reinterpreted and redefined urban music in recent years. In a typical Poirier DJ set, you might hear hiphop from Africa, Portugal and France, as well as Baltimore club, UK grime, dancehall reggae, funk carioca and other obscure regional takes on hiphop and dance music.
Some question whether the current interest in outsider hiphop is just another level of cultural appropriation similar to the worldbeat craze. But Poirier puts it down to the equalizing effect that the personal computer has had on the music industry.
"Sometimes it takes years before a style or a city pops into the attention of the world. What I see from traveling, talking to other producers and looking at blogs is that urban music has become accessible to everybody, and you can see scenes in all kinds of countries where you wouldn't expect them. Doors are open - you just need a computer and you can do it, and it's brought new perspectives into this music."
His musical journey has been very much about bringing his unique perspective into party music.
Although interested in big distorted hiphop beats from the outset, he made a name for himself as an ambient techno artist before becoming confident enough in his beats to push into that world.
His newest album, No Ground Under (Ninja Tune), is his most overtly dance-floor-oriented offering to date, combining textures and concepts from intelligent dance music with the edge and raw funk of dancehall and hiphop. Employing a large arsenal of guest vocalists, it's in that perfect middle ground between accessible and experimental, familiar and exotic.