DJ SHINE at Aria (457 Richmond West), Thursday (November 15), 10 pm. Free before 11:30 pm, $8 after. 416-603-2615. www.nicesmooth.com Rating: NNNNN
Toronto-based producer DJ Shine (aka Jason Spanu) has way too much energy. Talking to him at Studio Hideaway, the dance music production and DJ school he helped found, you get the sense that he never stops working.
"I have ADD, that's the thing -- attention deficit disorder right up the ass. I tried to develop a cure by using repetitive beats to keep my brain focused. The thing is, you end up getting addicted to your cure."
He's had a long career by dance music standards but hasn't been in the spotlight much, often contributing from the sidelines. Shine used to provide the programming behind live house band Directions before they moved on to a live rhythm section, and he did a remix on their debut.
He also released his own debut full-length, Thinque, a few weeks ago. Thinque reflects Shine's personality in its tendency to pull in opposing directions, one minute glitch techno, the next deep jazzy house. He was initially seduced into the scene by the underground parties and raves of the early 90s.
"I got into DJing in 91-92. It was Algorithm who really got me into it -- I used to hang out with him a lot. I'm pretty sure I used up my 'sleeping on your couch' points way early in our long-term relationship. There were, like, 15 of us who would do that. These are all the people who broke off and started techno.ca and other things. He was kind of a mentor to us. I think I secretly aspire to be him."
Shine's introduction to house came later, when he lucked into a job at Klublife magazine, a gig that also inspired his current theory regarding salaries.
"I was the music editor of Klublife from 1999 to 2000. I came in as technology editor, but about a week into it the opening for music editor came up. I said, 'OK, you guys can't pay me to do this, but I really want to do it, so let me live here and feed me.'
"That's when a really interesting part of my life started. In fact, I still work for free -- they (Studio Hideaway) pay my rent and feed me, and that's it. I don't even have a computer at home -- I have clothes and a few analog synths.
"Everyone's trying to get to the next level and step on each other. I stepped away from being a DJ in Toronto because everybody wants to be one. Doing this, teaching, it's selfish and self-centred, but it serves a purpose. I'm not trying to prove anything. I don't need to -- I'm the teacher."
Despite his cocky self-assurance, Shine does indulge in self-criticism and -examination.
"The reason I got into this in the beginning was because I love it, and because people treated me like a nerd and I wanted to get back at them. I have made so much shitty music. I made nine years of shit, all the while thinking it was the most amazing stuff in the world, and then you look back on it and it's shit, but at least I got it out of my system.
"You've got to kick yourself in the head once in a while and say that it's shit so you can get to the next level."