Tazz is one of a clutch of Canadian producers that’s been bubbling under the surface over the past few years, but rather than making the sleek modern house of some of his contemporaries, his music stands astride the past and present, taking Detroit’s analogue sounds and blending them with Montreal’s new decade. The result is unashamedly raw and vibrant, scoring him EPs on London imprint Tsuba and Jus Ed’s Underground Quality. And 2012 is yet another step forward, with his debut album released on Kevin Griffith’s label. We caught up with the DJ of ten years to talk about The Adventures of Tazz, Hockey, beards, and Joe Dolce.
So, how are you and where are you at the moment? Great thanks! Writing to you between a mountain of records and gear. There’s just never enough space!
Your debut album debuts on Tsuba soon. There’s artists that only ever make EPs and those for whom the longer format works. What puts you in the second camp? Some of these guys are like little House/Techno factories, they pump that music out like mad! Personally I’m not that fast and I would actually consider myself to be part of the first camp. The album is my first but I would consider another album given the right opportunity.
How long did it take to put together from start to finish? Did you hole yourself up in a bunker or was it a case of working around your gigs and day-to-day routine? A few months, some tracks were already sitting on the drives while others were started for the album. I usually work on music during the evening and weekends on my spare time.
You’ve put out enough on the label to be considered a ‘Tsuba artist’. How did you get to know Kevin (Griffiths)? Did it always feel like the logical place to put out The Adventures of Tazz? Kevin simply hunted me down. He liked my work and asked me if I would put out a record on his label. I guess I done good! Then Kevin offered the album I was quite happy to oblige.
Did it feel like a privilege to be the first long player on the label? Yes, Kevin must see a lot of potential in me and gave me this great opportunity. It allowed me to showcase my unique brand of Deep House and Techno. I always try to do that something special with my music and I try not to follow any rules. There’s allot of stuff that’s coming out there that although it is well put together there’s just something missing. My stuff is the complete opposite: it’s experimentation, raw, quirky, fun a complete mess! But watch out I’m starting to get it more.
It’s fair to say that the album is a journey through the spectrum of analogue, with obvious nods, but not simple tracing over, Detroit’s historic sound. Are you conscious that your influences are worn so much on your sleeve? Yeah I’m totally into the more eclectic sounds. No shame! Love me my deepdubyhousedetroitgermantechno.
Listening to the album there’s an overarching feeling of enjoyment in the music, a sense of joy running every track. Was that something you really wanted to come across? God knows there’s way too many professionally ‘serious’ people in this industry. Yes there’s definitely to many people who take it way to “Serious” like it has to be a specific style to what label they will sign it on to who will play it and so on. Music is about expression and feelings. It’s about creating, evoking emotions, making people want to dance.
You’ve been a playing records for over a decade, so when did you start producing? Was it an obvious career path looking back to the start? It seems to be the default option these days.That’s right, and I have only started producing seriously for three years ago, but have been dabbling in it for a bit longer that. I never saw it as an obvious career path it was more hobby then anything else.
Where do you stand on the hardware v software debate, as you use a mixture of both? It does seem to polarise some people. Ha, those people are full of it and they need to get over themselves! I challenge people to figure what is digital and what is analog in the album and sure they can debate it till the cows come home!
What was your musical upbringing when you were a kid? What were the albums back then you played to death? Thriller was probably the most on the turn table and that music video scared the shit out of me back then. Another one that was played way to much was Shaddap Your Face by Joe Dolce. And throw in there some John Bon Jovi and Cindy Lauper. We had a small record collection, but quite eclectic!
What was your exposure to electronic music? Who inspired you back then? My first electronic album was Orbital and my first Techno record was Luke Slater. I got into the whole underground music through a bunch of older friends who took me to my first rave which showcased Bran Van 3000, Prodigy and then the main rave with a few local Montreal DJs and internationals. My friends were there mostly for the acts then the rave so I don’t really remember who the DJs were later.
Have you reached the point where you can think “this is my job”? Are are the parents still asking when you’re going to get a ‘proper’ one? Not even close, but I have this part of life pretty much figured out by now. I have been working as a computer programmer for the past 12 years. Though the DJ/Producing thing is of course very tempting!
You’ve been heavily involved in the Montreal scene for over a decade now. For those that aren’t familiar with it, where have you played over the years and what is the scene like over there? We have a little vibrant scene with quite a few things going on. We also probably have the most DJs per capita. I think it’s probably the same everywhere anyways. There’s always someone somewhere trying to do something right? Some work hard and do it for the right reasons, others don’t. Over the years there’s been some really good places. I started DJing with my friend DJ Cruz from DeepNSound Recordings at the infamous Shed Cafe. My weekends consisted of going record shopping and then hanging at the DJ booth with him playing the new records. I would say Parking was another one of my favorite gigs. Picture this, Sunday night, 600 gay people going absolutely bananas! As if no one had to work the next day! Unfortunately the club was closed to be turned into condos. Go figure! And most recently the clubs that I have had a chance to party and DJ at: Cherry, Le Salon Daome, Club U.N and Velvet.
For the first-time visitor to the city, what’s your best hidden gems and tips for a week in Montreal? Lots of churches. Take a break and go hang with Jesus for a while! I think every corner has one. My neighborhood alone has 5! If you are into architecture definitely worth checking some of the bigger ones. Montreal also has lots of food. Definitely try out Poutine: Cheese Curds, French Fries and loads of Gravy. Make sure you have health insurance, haha. I would say La Parise is one of my favorite places to go have a good ol Burger and Fries. For the guys, strip clubs! That’s almost like church, haha. Piano Rouge Lounge in the old port. If you are looking for a bit of a distraction from the electronic music and dance clubs!
There’s so much great music coming out of Canada at the moment with the likes of No.19 Music, Art Department, James Teej, and forerunners like Cobblestone Jazz and Richie Hawtin. Do you feel a part of the scene there, or are the cities so far apart (certainly to Vancouver) that it’s more disparate than that? Unfortunately no, they’re too far apart and the air carriers and government don’t help at all. A trip from Montreal to Toronto is almost 400$ and 300$ of that is taxes. I have had a chance to catch all these great artist at their gigs but it has never been more then that. Everyone is busy flying in and out especially the bigger names. Hopefully that will change. I think there should be more Canada pride. Adam Marshall got something going with New Kanada and Canadian artist, maybe there could be a great Canadian colabo album!
What artists in Montreal should we be watching out for alongside yourself this year? I would definitely like to see Giovanni Randissi come out with some of his own EPs. There’s also Paolo Rocco and Michael Gracioppo. All Italians, go figure! And of course Bacanito, he’s doing it up on the soulful side of things!
Now that the album is out of the way, what’s next in store? 6 months of promo? Another album? Put out more music! Colabos! More music!
I see you rock a fine beard. Is this a pre-requisite for the winter in Canada rather than a bona fide fashion option, as it is for many more superficial characters in London? Mine is simply through laziness. It’s THE perfect beard! But it’s purely laziness. Been called the bearded DJ once!
What do you get up to in your downtime? Are you a hockey fan? Nah! It’s to much of a religion here. I get into it once in a while, but I rather be cranking out the tracks!
Will we see you in London at all this year? Where else is in the diary for the next few months? There has been some discussions for the summer! I hope to see you guys to! So much love coming from over there. There’s the album launch party at Salon Daome on the 17th of March. Would definitely love to Dj more. It’s fun being behind the decks. Maybe some colabo work as well!
What’s the best and worst thing about being Tazz? The best thing about bing Tazz is, I’m Tazz! The worst is everyone asking me to get there shit heard or signed!
If you had to give it all up tomorrow, how would you like to be remembered? This question sounds more like “If you were run over by a bus tomorrow how would you like to be remembered?” Are we writing my eulogy? I kid, I kid! For the good music I hope!