TODD SINES as part of Mission at Element (553 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, January 31). Free before 11 pm, $5 until midnight, $8 after. 416-359-1919.
Todd Sines's early records sound so much like Detroit techno that he could pass for a Motowner.
"I had so many people think I was black and from Detroit," Sines laughs from a beach in Miami.
He first came to the attention of techno fans in the mid-90s with a string of releases on Peacefrog, Planet E and 7th City and an appearance on Ritchie Hawtin's Mixmag compilation.
Not bad for a kid from Ohio.
"I lived in the very rural suburbs of Ohio, and I don't think there's ever been a big house scene in Ohio.
"There were no real Detroit compilations available at the time. It seemed like it was really hard to find this stuff in the suburbs of Cleveland.
"One store got in a compilation called Bio-Rhythms, and the track From Beyond by Carl Craig just completely hit me. It was this melancholy, very moody track, like a combination of This Mortal Coil and Kraftwerk.
"From then on I was Detroit, Detroit, Detroit -- I tried to find anything I could."
After making the huge leap from idolizing Carl Craig to having his idol release Sines's material on Craig's Planet E label, Sines disappeared from the techno map for the last few years of the 90s.
"I had this stupid idea in 96 to rack-mount all my analog gear, so I took apart all these really expensive drum machines and synths that are worthless now because they're all in pieces.
"Then I got married and didn't really feel like music was such an important part of my life any more. At the time, I thought I was more interested in growing a garden and cutting grass and painting my house."
After divorcing, Sines re-emerged in 1999 with the HI8US LP on Residual Recordings and a new drive to say goodbye to Detroit and define his own sound.
He's since been busy performing all over the world and has upcoming releases planned for Perlon, Beta Bodega and Force Tracks.
Currently living in Toronto, Sines has ditched most of his vintage analog gear and embraced the laptop.
"I'm averaging a month per song now, whereas I used to spend no more then a week before. I think part of it is that I'm not using a keyboard any more. I spend a lot more time trying to make the overall sound more listenable on a variety of sound systems.
"A lot of my new sounds have been generated by processing vocals or filtering stuff so much that a melody starts to come out that wasn't there before."
The new set-up lets him be more mobile, too.
"I've been travelling a lot over the past four months. My home was in Columbus until about three weeks ago, but since October 1 I'd only been there for about two weeks total.
"It's a very nomadic life. All I need is my cellphone and my laptop and I can get almost anything done anywhere."