Public Transit Recordings three-Year Anniversary featuring Moonstarr (live) with DJs Abacus, Murr, Frankie Gunns and David Cooper at Blue Moon (725 Queen East) Friday (September 28). $8 at the door (free CD to first 50 people), proceeds to Anishnawbe Health Centre. www.ptr music.com.
Toronto's Public Transit Recordings is having a good year. The personal mission of Moonstarr (aka Kevin Moon) and Mano Narayanan to expose their friends' work is starting to pay off with international attention.
"Gilles Peterson charted my album in the August issue of Straight No Chaser," says Moon. "Then Rainer Truby from Compost Records charted it as well, which really helped create a buzz."
"Peterson also charted the LAL record," adds Narayanan, "and he kept playing us on his BBC radio show."
"I just licensed one of my tracks to Compost in Germany," says Moon, "and I also licensed an unreleased hiphop track to Reinforced Records, 4Hero's label."
Things have changed since the days when they were selling their first compilation on consignment in Toronto stores.
"Public Transit started around the summer of 98, when everyone's music in our circle of friends was at a level that was ready to come out," remembers Moon.
"I was doing a show on CIUT at the time," says Narayanan, "and I would play everyone's demos. It was just, like, 'This has to get out.'"
Most electronic music labels set out to create an identity and sound for themselves so DJs will check out their records based on the labels' previous releases.
PTR have done the opposite, releasing music that crosses genres.
"We've set a precedent that we can put out a hiphop record and then a drum 'n' bass record and then a house record," says Moon. "Toronto isn't one sound -- it's a multitude of sounds and cultures. A lot of labels don't want to get out of their little boxes, but we're hitting people with everything, and they're responding."
"It's obviously going to hinder us in the beginning, but as long as we maintain a high standard, it'll reach out to people," adds Narayanan.
"What we've been doing is giving a voice to artists who couldn't necessarily get their stuff out on their own. We can take an artist and develop them, which is what we did with LAL."
"The real task for us over the next few years," says Moon, "is to change the money structure so that some of the starving artists get paid."