PEOPLE IN THE BACK featuring NOëL NANTON, NICK HOLDER, MOONSTARR, STUART LI and REESHI CHOUHAN Friday (June 7) at Roxy Blu (12 Brant). $10 advance, $15 at the door. www.peopleintheback.com
It's becoming a cliché to complain about Toronto DJs having to hit it big in Europe before anyone cares locally, but the trend is nevertheless real.
The phenomenon is mostly due to the mechanics of underground dance music's mode of consumption: most 12-inch singles are bought by DJs who play them for crowds who can't know who produced a track until it starts appearing on compilations.
There's also the reality of a much smaller local industry -- as hopping as Toronto's club scene is, the market is definitely tinier than in Europe.
Producing music electronically can be a fairly solitary, anti-social activity, too, compared to the micro-community of a band. Although many artists are starting to play their own music live, most producers don't get much of a chance to test out their creations on an audience.
The People In The Back series has been an attempt to right these imbalances. The concept is to mix up unreleased tracks by local artists with current floor-fillers, turning on a light box whenever an unreleased track is being dropped.
Noël Nanton started the showcase four years ago at 52 Inc; it's since grown to the point of needing the larger venue of Roxy Blu.
"We kind of got the idea from hiphop and the open mike thing -- this is sort of the same thing except it's not an open mike," explains Nanton. "We get local producers to come out and play a half-hour set, within which they'll drop about three or four of their own unreleased tracks.
"In Toronto there are a lot of talented people, but you don't hear about them until after they go overseas and make it there."
Friday's event is also a CD release party for Nanton's debut full-length album, Fu.Cha Cul.Cha, on England's NRK label. Nanton's in good company at NRK, as he's now on the same roster as such heavy hitters as H-Foundation, Ian Pooley, Miguel Migs and Nick Holder.
The album -- already critically lauded -- is filled with Afro-Latin percussion, deep funky bass lines, filtered horn samples and spaced-out guitar solos.
Nanton started getting known over the past year as a result of the success of his single, El Ray, featuring Sandy Flores on vocals.
"It came out on DNH first, and then it got licensed on NRK and then it got remixed on Work, which is a big label in Holland, and now it's on the album. The single's been getting a lot of play in France and Holland especially.
"Sandy Flores is going to be singing live for the first time on Friday. It'll be the same version but a slightly different arrangement, maybe a bit more fun."