THE FUTURE SOUND OF TORONTO Featuring Egyptrixx, Syntonics, Sta, Loe tech, Autoerotique, Mansion, Pilotpriest and TMDP at Circa (126 John), Friday (January 30), 10 pm. $15. circatoronto.com.
Toronto is finally poised to make the transition from being a great town to party in to being the town that provides the soundtrack for the rest of the world to party to.
DJs all over the planet have noticed there's something going on here, and it's high time we recognized this ourselves.
So writing a cover story about a local up-and-coming dance producer, someone on the verge of breaking on an international level, was a no-brainer. Except when the list of candidates was tossed around, it was obvious that picking only one wouldn't do the scene justice. There's just too much talent here.
Toronto has had a number of club music success stories. Nick Holder, Hatiras, Deadmau5, MSTRKRFT and Moonstarr all come quickly to mind, and that's not even touching on all the minimal techno and drum 'n' bass artists who've put out quality records.
But there's never been such an overwhelming volume of beats coming out of this town before. Still, in many ways, it's surprising that it took this long for us to get here.
We've long had an exceptionally strong club scene, but for whatever reason we've always partied to the sounds coming out of other cities rather than trying to forge our own identity.
In the 80s, the Twilight Zone was our respected equivalent of legendary clubs like Chicago's Warehouse and NYC's Paradise Garage, and our rave scene in the 90s was one of the biggest in the world. Industry Nightclub was cited by many international DJs as one of their favourite places to play. More recently, the Guvernment and Circa have made a big impression on the global mega-club scene.
On the underground level, you can find a Toronto exemplar for pretty much any niche genre. If you want deep soulful house, promoters like Garage 416 still bring out big crowds after more than a decade; if you want scrappy digital hardcore, you've got parties like Embryon. And it's long been true that lots of international DJs play for bigger crowds here than in their own hometowns.
Despite having so many places to dance, Toronto has never been associated with a particular sound, and likely never will be, thanks to our famously ambiguous, amorphous identity. In the past, that might have held us back, but now that dance music sub-genres are less segregated, there's finally an opportunity for our crazy-quilt approach to get the attention it deserves.
So we settled not on one artist for our cover story, but 10. The acts we're spotlighting all have their own sound and influences but aren't tied closely to any previous established scene. They do, however, often cross paths, and you'll see many of the same faces in the crowd at each of their gigs, even if Loetech's throbbing take on dubstep is miles away from Mansion's upbeat stadium house, and Syntonics' updated booty bass has little in common with TMDP's synth disco.
This cross-pollination of scenes and sounds will lead the way for Toronto and the world. The days of trying to emulate the regional genres of other cities are over - people want to dance to a variety of sounds in the course of an evening, and variety is exactly what Toronto excels at.
On that note, here's who we predict will come out with the next Toronto dance floor anthems. They're also a reminder to everybody that there's more to club music than NYC, Ibiza, Berlin, Paris and London.
To prove the point, we've teamed up with Circa to present a party featuring most of our picks, commissioned AD/D's Mario J to do an exclusive online DJ mix featuring all 10 artists, and you can stream individual tracks online from everyone as well.