MATTHIAS HEILBRONN with ANDY ROBERTS and HALI at Gypsy Co-op (817 Queen West), Friday (February 24). $12 advance, $15 at the door. 416-703-5069. Rating: NNNNN
You might think that Matthias Heilbronn would be considering leaving the Big Apple for greener pastures by now.
When Heilbronn relocated from Germany to NYC in 1989, he was moving into the centre of the dance music universe and quickly ended up immersed in the studio life, learning to edit and produce at Axis Studios under François K, a NYC legend who also immigrated from Europe almost 20 years earlier. Since then, the dance music world has changed dramatically, with the big markets now overseas in Europe and Japan.
"New York is not what it used to be, but I'm sure people say the same in London," laughs Heilbronn from his apartment. "If I was going to move, it would be more about my child's education, and I'd probably want to be somewhere warmer with cheaper rent. I mean, paying for the privilege of living in New York is fine, but when New York isn't all that any more, $2,000 for a one-bedroom apartment seems kind of crazy."
Of course, geography is no longer as important to a producer and DJ as it used to be. As Heilbronn points out, he can produce wherever he is as long as he has a computer, and he can also continue to arrange his bookings through e-mail wherever he lives.
He sees the Internet as having great potential for resuscitating the struggling dance music record industry as well.
"I produce because I love producing. That's what I always saw myself doing, but it's hard to make money off producing these days, and I don't want to be a DJ for the rest of my life. Something has to happen, and I think something is happening with this whole digital download thing. If we're smart about it, we can reach a much larger market than through specialist DJ record stores."
Heilbronn is best known for his deep soulful house productions, but over the years also worked in the studio for pop artists like Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, Cher and others as a programmer, remixer or editor. He's also produced his share of techy minimal house, and originally DJed hiphop and reggae in Germany. Despite this wide and varied history, he's still found himself typecast as a soulful house DJ.
"One kind of house that I'm really into right now is that minimal techy house, which I've produced in the past, but people don't really know me for. When I try to get DJ gigs playing that sound, they're not interested because they see me as a deep house DJ.
"Playing all across the board is basically the New York style -- that's what Larry Levan used to do, and that's what you still hear François K doing now every Monday here at Cielo."