ADAM JAY with GREG GOW , IAN GUTHRIE , BEN MURKO , ARTHUR OSKAN and L-TRAIN at Surface (12 Brant), Saturday (January 10). $10. www.restructured.net Rating: NNNNN
At the young age of 23, Adam Jay is already one of this decade's techno producers to watch. It's generally tough for an up-and-coming DJ/producer to break through, but support from big names like Marco Carola and Funk D'Void has made people in the scene pay attention him despite his unlikely home base of Indianapolis.
"Indianapolis has had its ups and downs concerning electronic music, just like every other North American city," Jay admits. "Right now, support is low but present. There are a couple of successful weekly events and your occasional special engagement. All are 21+ bar events, though, so that does limit the audience."
The classically trained Jay played in funk and jazz bands as a teenager, but none of these factors explains how he fell in love with the often amelodic sounds of hard techno, or why he'd want to forgo playing a "real" instrument in favour of pushing buttons and twisting knobs.
"I fell into techno in a really roundabout way," he explains. "My older sister was a college radio DJ with very diverse tastes. She wasn't so much into techno, but there was enough diversity to influence me to challenge what I was hearing.
"On a whim, in 1996, I went to the only record store in Indianapolis that I knew was selling DJ vinyl to see what the whole DJ culture was about."
Jay bought his first techno record that day, Flowerchild, by Dan Morgan, on Synewave sub-label Geometric, and by the end of the month he had accumulated more vinyl and taught himself to match beats with a couple of old, cheap turntables.
"All the newness I discovered in performing music this way really accelerated the music I was writing at the time. I was in funk and jazz bands as an instrumentalist, but now I could envision writing and performing my own arrangements on my own with samplers, drum machines and turntables."
Four years ago, Jay launched his own record label, Azure Records, which has just released his first full-length album, Self Exile. His sound is hard and fast, but the pounding is tempered by airy synth chords and melodies. It's not quite austere minimalism, but neither is it pounding rave-inspired giddiness. As might be expected of a young producer, there's not a huge variety in his sound, though a more complex artistic aesthetic is slowly developing with each release.
As well as travelling the world DJing, Jay is also known for his live sets. Performing on a laptop computer has come a long way in the past five years due to advances in processor speeds and new programs that allow for more improvisation.
Jay assures fans he'll be DJing in Toronto, but his perspective on mixing other people's records versus creating his own beats live varies depending on his mood.
"For the larger events in Europe and Australia I prefer to play live, because I feel I can set a mood for larger crowds with live performance and never could by DJing.
"By the same token, I absolutely love to DJ for more intimate and club-oriented crowds. I'm thankful I can choose my weapon, so to speak, and always bring my A-game to the crowd."