UPSURGENCE: THE DUB PLATE SESSION featuring DJs Curtis SmitH, Abacus and Dubl.D at Una Mas (422 Adelaide West), Friday (July 26). $10. 416-703-4862.
Lately, there's been more speculation than usual on the club scene about what the next big trend might be. Partiers are hungry for something different, but there's also a suspicion of hyped-up imported fads.
What continues to come up in discussions is fatigue and frustration over the segregation and specialization of the various underground scenes. There is a growing awareness that all the music shares a common heritage, and in many cases a common audience as well.
UpSurgence: The Dub Plate Session aims to reconnect some of these communities by focusing on a broader spectrum of club music, from Jamaican soul to Afrobeat, from house to R&B.
"People are begging for it," insists UpSurgence organizer Claudia McKoy. "They don't want the homogenization. In the last few years, things became marketed in such a way that a lot of the people who supported the original underground scene fled and went to another underground.
"The spotlight was given to those who were more about drawing thousands of people and who were about isolating one sound and taking it away from its fellow family members. It doesn't make sense to remove the music from its context -- it takes away its life, which is why you see the scene caving in on itself."
Part of the UpSurgence concept is to draw connections between the use of dub plates within the 70s Jamaican sound clash tradition and the more contemporary idea of the remix.
Dub plates were specially made records, pressed in very limited quantities (often specific to a particular sound system), that reworked familiar songs into something radically new. It's this combination of the power of nostalgia and the thrill of the new that McKoy hopes to capture with this event.
All three DJs will be bringing personal remixes of party favourites new and old, made specifically for this party. This method also relieves the producers of the hassle of getting permissions, and allows them to quote and reference whatever they want.
"That's the thing," agrees DJ Curtis Smith. "When you go for a major release, you get into the confines of having to clear samples, and you get away from the essence of just doing something that feels good for you."
Smith has a long history as a DJ but has only recently been infected with the producer bug. His DJ sets transcend notions of old and new school, jumping easily from freshly pressed deep house to classic underground disco.
"Playing music from different eras helps keep things interesting, because you're not ignoring anyone at that point. The person who doesn't understand the music from 20 or 30 years ago will sit through one of those tracks or may very well get up and enjoy it. We have to be able to hand things down from generation to generation so that those coming up learn from the experiences of those who came before."