A-TRAK with SINDEN, SAMMY BANANAS, JOKERS OF THE SCENE and NACHO LOVERS at State Theatre (69 Bathurst), Friday (April 11). $15 early bird tickets. www.ticketbreak.com. Rating: NNNNN
A-Trak is recuperating in Montreal for a few days before hitting the road again to promote his Fool’s Gold label, and it’s a well-deserved rest. Fool’s Gold’s first release was less than a year ago, but it’s already a major player at the centre of that yet-to-be-named hipster dance scene. “Bloghouse” was a joke that’s been taken too far, as was “nu-rave,” and “electro” already describes something else, so for now we’re stuck with awkward overly hyphenated terms that just add to the confusion.
“Whatever it is, there’s a scene out there that we stand for. It’s just so immediate that there’s no time to name it,” says A-Trak.
Once a DMC turntablist champion, A-Trak has earned renown for his role as Kanye West’s
tour DJ, and in some circles for being the younger brother of Chromeo’s Dave 1. However, Fool’s Gold is beginning to overshadow that history, doing its part to better define this emerging movement of party music.
“There is very much a North American component to this sound, and one of the ideas behind Fool’s Gold was to cement that. It’s funny – I go to Europe and people talk about this northeast American scene that they perceive, and it seems they’ve defined it a lot more than we have over here. One of our missions is to brand this scene a little more.”
This ambiguity comes from an honest place. At its core, it’s about kids from different musical backgrounds discovering one another’s sounds and throwing them together into a big melting pot.
“A couple of years ago, my DJ friends and I started playing a lot more danceable music, more uptempo records in the range of 120 to 130 BPM. The focus really shifted toward playing good party sets. We were all hip-hop DJs, so the way we mix is from that perspective, but it didn’t have to be a hip-hop record any more. It’s like back in the era of Planet Rock, when you could mix a breakbeat with a Kraftwerk record. I think it’s gone full circle in the past few years, and it’s become possible to play like that again. The scenes merged, and it suddenly made sense.”
When asked if the media has exaggerated the influence of Daft Punk on current dance trends, his response is refreshingly honest.
“I don’t think the influence is overstated – they’re the Zeppelin of our generation. For a hip-hop kid like me, Da Funk was the only electronic record I would listen to, in part just because Spike Jonze did the video and I loved his Beastie Boys videos. I wasn’t going to the techno store back then, but I’m doing my homework now.”