Tag Archives: dance music

82 Year Old DJ Sumirock’s Solid

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exy

 

Let’s face it: at 82, society thinks you’re washed up. Why, you’d be considered lucky if you could knit a scarf and walk to the corner store without falling down. You are old and for the most part invisible, a useless relic of a vibrantly youthful past. Or so they would have us believe.

ENTER DJ SUMIROCK

This senior, seriously funky Japanese citizen is making jaws drop around the world. At an age where most people want the music turned down, she’s turning it up! Sumiko Iwamuro started spinning in her 70’s after her husband passed away and now has a monthly club residency in Tokyo’s infamous red light district. On top of that, she still works as a full-time cook at a Chinese resto which she has been doing for 60 years. I bet she makes a mean teriyaki!

According to CGTN, Iwamuro said, “My setlist is based on music that I feel like dancing to. I’m physically very strong. I stand all day in the kitchen, ride my bicycle home, walk my dog for half an hour so I don’t have a lot of free time. I can deejay at this age because I’m very healthy and I’m very lucky to have a place to work.”

Does this sound like an “old person?” Definitely not! An elderly lady with a taste for techno and dark glasses – most defo!

Kudos to DJ Sumirock for showing us that as long as you have health, you’re never too old to pursue your dream. In a world intent on discarding the elderly and invalidating women especially as we approach middle age, Sumiko Iwamuro defies the narrow minded stupidity of youth obsessed society. As I observe her on the decks, I admire her relaxed approach, calm focus and pure enjoyment, not to mention her sexy outfit!

DJ Sumirock, I hope you get to play in New York someday. You are a brave soul, a true inspiration and I know you will do a fantastic job. Domo arigato!

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

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CODA: REUNION or “There Comes a Time in Every Raver’s Life…”

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L. to r. Jeff, Ed and Frankenräver

L. to r: Jeff, Ed and Frankenräver

It was great seeing my former rave champion bud Ed after an 8 year absence. And the ol skool crew: Uncle Steve, Jeff and Turtle. The reunion took place at CODA, 1 of Toronto’s few remaining nightclubs. Guy Gerber headlined alongside Jeff Button, Gera and Jonathan Rosa. Only the prospect of seeing Ed could convince me to part with $35 for the “reduced guestlist” – a feat I don’t plan to repeat. Come to think of it, 3 + 5 = 8; looks like I was destined to be overcharged! Fortunately, Fate sent Frankenräver a hefty rebate in the form of money bills scattered on the floor in random places.

I could complain about the ridiculous overuse of dry ice but when the Universe gifts you crisp, beautiful moola, why bother?

Ironcially, CODA was memorable as an interesting exercise in the evolutionary curve of a raver’s life. Back in the 90’s, most of the crew were single and living at home with a fair amount of disposable income to burn. We would party every weekend at the drop of a dime. Peeps would bring their boyfriends and girlfriends. As ravers mature, priorities shift. Decadent party life becomes a thing of the past, something to wax nostalgic over a glass of wine or a YouTube playlist. People establish careers (hopefully), get married, have kids, divorce (often), and grow disenchanted, relegating all remnants of Rave to the back of the broom closet.

The couple that plays together stays together. Ricky and Lisa

The couple that plays together stays together. Ricky and Lisa

Some manage to retain a certain spark with the knowledge that life is different but not in a bad way. Now you party with people’s spouses. Someone’s wife is expecting a baby yet she is there on the dancefloor. Pretty impressive. You notice stuff…folks have gained weight, lost some, acquired a few laugh lines here and there. It’s a mental readjustment but thankfully, one that’s not too painful to make. All that’s required is a good dose of common sense (hi-5ives are OK, impromptu massages on your married friends DEFINITELY NOT!).

Mandy, Ed's wife bought me a drink. “Ed's friend is my friend,” she said. Respect!

Mandy, Ed’s wife bought me a drink. “Ed’s friend is my friend,” she said. Respect!

For others, it can be tough letting go of the past. As you age, your once nubile body can no longer tolerate the abuse you dished out week after week, ingesting all manner of pharmaceuticals, intoxicants and combinations thereof outlandish and simultaneously reckless. The urge to recapture those fleeting carefree days of yore can prove to be an irresistible temptation. It comes at a price not just to one’s physical health. In the push to prolong an experience that cannot be relived, some mature ravers can put themselves in danger of a dysfunctional life, stuck in limbo between a tenuous yesterday and a precarious now. The only way to strike a healthy balance is to accept the 90’s are gone and focus on building a healthy productive life. Be kind to your body but above all, be kind to yourself! Aging is a part of the human experience; it is what you make of it, nothing more. You will need to either reduce recreational drug use, cut it out altogether or find a more body friendly alternative. That is, if you wish to avoid looking haggard and bloated by the time you hit 40. Party when you need to. Celebrate your friends and cherish every moment shared, even on Facebook. Start a blog, write a book (does any of this sound familiar?

Turtle gains perspective in a sea of dry ice

Turtle gains some perspective in a sea of dry ice

Ok, enough of the generalisms. This is where I stand. I’m meeting my friend and his wife with my single self. That means I need to forget about wearing that neon fishnet navelbreaker or risk looking like a tramp to raver wives. Skip G and stick with booze or potentially wind up twitching on a sofa like my fellow mature raver. Last but not least, marriage life ain’t so bad, judging from the happy couples at CODA. Just hook up with a like-minded, positively attuned party lover and everything should be fine.

Ed, it was a pleasure seeing you again! And meeting your adorable wife. Hang in there bud, we’re going to Ibiza! One day. By the way, did you notice that pot-bellied juicemonkey who looked like he was wondering where the fuck the party went? Down south most likely.

Still a long way from the retirement home

Still a long way from the retirement home!

Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Life After Clubland

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denisbe benson article

Veteran local DJ and author Denise Benson dishes on the state of Toronto’s nightlife in this article for MetroNews dated September 24th 2015. The famed “Clubland” district on Richmond and Adelaide streets is now a bland, sanitized smorgasbord with no hint of its semi-seedy past. It’s a crying shame, one that for all intents and purposes Toronto is proudly living up to. Benson is bang on when she states, “The closing of a number of venues in the early to mid-2000s, to me, signals a serious change that we haven’t entirely recovered from.” Well, that’s putting it nicely!

Actually, the death knell for the city’s clubscene has been sounding for quite some time, most notably in a revealing article by TorStar journalist Shawn Micallef in 2013. Gone is the bleeding ear dynamics of System Soundbar (I was there on opening night). Or giggling when you find out Jerry got kicked out of The Guvernment for doing coke in the bathroom. Or developing a mild crush on a jet-lagged Joey Beltram spinning at Turbo. What gives? Like I said before in a previous article, it’s time for suburbia to open up a can of kickass. Heck, even other provinces can pony up a slice of dance music pie – it’s up for grabs really. If pow wow step as popularized by A Tribe Called Red can come out of Ottawa, who knows what could emerge from Kingston? Foxstep maybe. Or reverbia in Cornwall. How about rattlecore from Rexdale? Only time will tell.

Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

A Tribe Called Red Stirs Things Up

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tribecalledred decks

For many years, the Indigenous people of (the stolen land known as) Canada remained under the mainstream cultural radar. They simply didn’t seem to exist anywhere; in magazines, radio, newsprint or television. They were spoken of in whispers and when I did see them, they kept very much to themselves. In the back of my mind I found this disparity rather disquieting but had no idea what was wrong. I had yet to know anything about the horrific legacy of residential schools and the effects of post-colonialism.

Along came Idle No More and changed all that. Suddenly First Nations and Aboriginals were in the spotlight, standing up for environmental issues and shaking things up. The pendulum was finally swinging in the other direction. And the time was right for A Tribe Called Red to enter the spotlight.

After the release of their eponymous album as a free download in 2012, things gained considerable momentum for the trio of DJ’s from Ottawa, namely Tim “2oolman” Hill, Bear Witness and Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau. Glowing reviews in NOW magazine tagged them as a group to watch. The plaintive tribal wail of Electric Pow Wow Drum fused with infectious dubby rhythms made millions of heads bop and take notice. Technically their music can be described as pow wow music married with electronica and hip-hop elements. On a deeper level, their aforementioned signature track is a protest song; the singers’ visceral war like cry contrasts sharply with the playfully condescending voiceover of a white American comedian making off the cuff remarks about “Indians.” In an unobtrusive manner, A Tribe Called Red brings deep seated racism to the forefront while making you shake a leg. Which is no small accomplishment, given how uncomfortable a subject matter this is for so many.

At the end of the day, their music is essentially geared to make you forget all your troubles and dance your ass off. Which they managed to do successfully during Panamania at Nathan Phillips Square on August 12th. It was immensely gratifying to see my taxpaying dollars do something useful for a change! Though at times I sensed they needed to stretch themselves artistically, (as if they’d become a wee bit bored with playing certain songs) they were a definite crowd pleaser. It was pretty dope to see the athletically gifted hoop dancer interpret a remix of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Award Tour.”

Anyone who’s ever attended a pow wow can attest to the raw power of traditional chanting with men screaming at the top of their lungs as they whack a huge drum in syncopation while dancers dressed in fine regalia move in a slow circle around the drummers. Big ups to A Tribe Called Red for bringing traditional music to the masses in an easy to digest format. It can only get better from here on out.

Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

R.I.P. Frankie Knuckles

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Honestly, I feel like giving myself a knuckle sandwich for taking this long to pay my respects, but I gotta give it up to the late, great pioneer of Chicago house, Frankie Knuckles. Born Francis Nicholls in the Bronx, Knuckles first began DJ’ing in the 70’s alongside the legendary Larry Levan at the notoriously gay Continental Baths in New York City. The hybrid disco-bathhouse featured top notch entertainers and Frankie was no exception. Being at the right place at the right time certainly helped to cement his reputation as a pioneer in dance music. Arguably, disco helped to lay the foundation for house and Frankie was fortunate to be there live and direct, soaking up the sizzling influences of that era. After moving to Chicago in 1977, he began spinning at The Warehouse where he developed the style of music that has come to be known as “house.” His open-minded approach led him to experiment with combining elements of R&B with synths and a drum-machine to develop this rebelliously scintillating genre. It must have been exciting to be on the cutting edge of a new frontier as Frankie was at that time, along with fellow pioneers like Derrick May and Ron Hardy.

After his Chicago club, Power Plant, closed in 1987, Frankie headed off to the U.K. to play a residence at infamous house of rave, Delirium. Are you beginning to see a pattern emerging here? This man was definitely chosen to accomplish great things in the music world. I would give anything to be a fly on the wall witnessing the “Second Summer of Love” unfold, but Frankie was right up there in the mix. Respect.

Knuckles first grabbed my attention with “The Whistle Song” back in the 90’s. That track got heavy rotation and helped put him out into the mainstream. Frankie reached new heights in his career when he earned a 1997 Grammy award for Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical. A slew of remixes for noteworthy artists followed: Lisa Stansfield, Diana Ross, Toni Braxton and Michael Jackson, to name a few. And then, one of the greatest forms of recognition any artist could receive; a street renamed in his honour, “Frankie Knuckles Way” by the city of Chicago. To put further icing on the cake, August 25th 2004 was declared “Frankie Knuckles Day” by none other than Illinois senator, Barack Obama. It’s comforting to know that this openly gay, Afro-American DJ has received such tremendous respect and recognition for his abilities as opposed to his sexual orientation. A great blessing indeed, and a true testament to his hard-working, positive attitude and joyful approach to life.

Sadly, Frankie left us on March 31st, 2014 due to complications from Type II diabetes. Apparently he’d developed the condition after a skiing accident in which he’d fractured the metatarsals in his foot. He eventually ended up losing the leg, but still soldiered on like a true warrior. If anything, we should be happy for him. It might seem that he passed away prematurely, but I think he lived a full life, accomplishing so many wonderful feats and leaving musical treats to tantalize headz for generations to come. This raises the issue that we all have to face at some point: our own mortality. Most of electronic music’s pioneers are at advanced stages in their lives, and they will all leave in the coming decades. Once they’re gone, it will be interesting to see how EDM will continue to evolve. Will that soulful quality born from the early days still be present? Times change, people change and of course, the music will change. As long as there’s electricity, there will always be EDM. It is, however, important to note that consciousness affects sound, so the level of integrity is reliant upon where the majority focus their thoughts, for better or for worse.

Normally I don’t mess with politics, but kudos to The Obamas for remembering Frankie Knuckles in this letter from The White House:

ObamaFrankie
‘Nuff said!
Peace out, my fellow Ecstaticans. Take a moment to listen to “Your Love,” undoubtedly one of the greatest house tracks of all time has a smooth, chilled out ambience that is truly timeless.

Copyright © 2014 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

DJ Blend Takes YouTube by Storm

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If you don’t know who DJ Blend is by now, you definitely will after watching this video. So far, this clip has racked up over 56 million views on YouTube – a staggering success for a rising star. This uber-young upstart is changing the game in a huge way. Said to be originally from Texas and of Mexican descent (rumour has it he might be British), Blend is taking DJ’ing to another level. His jaw-dropping mixes combine ol skool acid house with dubstep, synth pop, hip-hop and electro to create hugely entertaining sets. Not to mention, his energetic dancing in a Chucky style dolly mask in a variety of settings. There are clips of him mixing in a bedroom and kitchen, obviously enjoying the hell out of himself. Simple concept, brilliant marketing strategy.

Love him or hate him, you have to give the man props for innovation. DJ Blend apparently took matters into his own hands after being shunned by clubs when he tried to get some exposure as a 15 year old. Since then, he started streaming his sets online, and the rest as they say is history.  In this interview excerpt taken from http://www.theindiechannel.com, Blend states, “I’d get one to four viewers per day. It was kind of sad, but I was happy for my four viewers. I started watching YouTube videos to improve my skills, but I noticed they would just focus on the turntables and hands, and the videos weren’t  that entertaining. So I found this mask – I wanted to be as crazy as I wanted without people knowing my identity.” It’s a strategy that’s working in his favour; think Daft Punk and Deadmau5. Notice how Blend was not discouraged by the small number of views he started off with; he was grateful for what he got. Therein lies the key to success – an attitude of gratitude. The fact that Blend is mixing vinyl in this video is commendable in this age where laptop DJ’s have become the norm. I can easily envision a stadium filled with tens of thousands of ravers throwing their hands up to Blend’s stimulating sets. Anytime this guy decides to swing by Toronto, I AM SO THERE >>>

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

Kenny Glasgow featured in NOW mag

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(l to r) Jonny White and Kenny Glasgow

Those of you lucky enough to have heard Kenny Glasgow in the 90’s knows this brotha’s got some serious vinyl humping skills. This Canadian icon never ceased to amaze me and my ravemates with his versatile mixing chops. When it came to hard, slamming house, Glasgow was the man. Whether it be full blown raves or spectacular showdowns at Industry, Kenny’s sets always managed to tickle the shit out of our cerebral folds with raw edged nastiness that pounded the living daylights out of our skulls. Some of us were rather disappointed when he switched to industrial in the late 90’s – that harsh, grating sound really wasn’t my thing – but we realized he was evolving as an artist. I remember saying, “Damn he’s so good! – what’s he doing in Toronto? He needs to go somewhere else with that kind of talent.” According to NOW magazine, Kenny relocated to London and recently teamed up with DJ / producer Jonny White to form Art Department. They’ve apparently found success in Europe, which really doesn’t come as much of a surprise (read second page of article for more details). See Kenny? Leaving Toronto was a good idea after all…

Obviously I had some catching up to do, so I scoped out a selection of canvasses in the Art Department. “Without You” has this strange, pathological vibe that sounds like some mean ol vixen chewed up Kenny’s poor little heart and spat it back out in a cube. Imagine a guy’s feelings being reduced to a mere bouillon of morosity to flavour a bubbling stew of discontent – that’s what this track entails, more or less.”Tell me Why” has a slightly more upbeat arrangement, with Kenny’s yearning vocals teetering on the edge of despair. “Living the Life,” a collaboration with Seth Troxler, is more my speed; soulful house augmented with edgy synths. There’s even a jibe about Canadians halfway through the track as Kenny intones with dark humour: “I’m sure to read the book when it comes out…but if you’re like a broad number of Canadians, chances are…NO.” (Yes Kenny, you really hit the nail on the head with that one).

To be honest, I’m not a fan of the commercial sound Art Department has embraced, but it seems to be working wonders for them. Evidently, international success is finally catching up with Kenny. And I’m glad for him and Jonny White who I’ve never heard of til now. Jonny took credit for getting Kenny to step up his game on the production side of things. By the way, if any of you’s got an ol skool mix of Kenny Glasgow’s in mp3, hit me up. I’d love to hear some dutty beats 4 real >>>

For more info on Kenny Glasgow’s involvement in Toronto’s early rave scene, check out the link below:

http://www.plurkids.com/kenny_bio.html

Support Your Local Talent!

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.