Preview: Daniel Bell

Electro pioneer returns to T.O. for the first time as DBX

DBX with JAMIE KIDD and MARTIN FAZEKAS at Wrongbar (1279 Queen West), Saturday (December 13), 10 pm. $25.

This Saturday’s performance at Breakandenter‘s seventh anniversary party will be the first time Detroit techno pioneer Daniel Bell has played live in Toronto as his DBX persona, even though he spent years discovering early house music in the late 80s at local clubs like the Twilight Zone.

“I went to high school and film school in St. Catharines, but I was in Toronto a lot because that’s where we’d go to clubs,” says Bell over the phone from Berlin as he prepares for a marathon gig at that city’s iconic Panorama Bar.

Born in California, Bell’s time living in Canada also put him within a bus ride of Detroit. He eventually relocated there and made a name for himself in the early 90s with a string of underground hits – under various names – that combined the minimalist electronic funk of Chicago house with the futuristic experimentalism of Detroit techno.

These days he splits his time between his Berlin apartment and his home in Detroit, where he returned to live with his family three years ago. He keeps a busy DJ schedule while he’s in Europe, but he’s also been quietly reworking and fine-tuning his live show in preparation for a tour that will support an upcoming new DBX release on his Accelerate label.

“The one thing I really didn’t want to use was a laptop. Having that big screen in front of me kills the whole performance for me. It’s not interesting to watch,” he says. “I do think there’s a big void in terms of people trying to make a more personal show and not having this wall between you and the audience.”

For the sake of reliability, he’s cut down on the number of vintage drum machines and synths he’s carting around, but he’s also put his gear in racks to give the audience a better perspective on how he’s actually generating sounds onstage.

“It’s not like a guitar, where people can see actual notes being played, so it lacks that context,” he says. 

“But at least if I can push a button and then something happens, we’re getting closer to what people usually look for in a performance, which is action and reaction.” | @benjaminboles

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