Let There Be House

STFU & DANCE :: Sunday May 19th 2013 :: Interview with Stuart Li

May 9th, 2013  |  Published in Events, Interviews, Recent, Upcoming

This is a great interview from a couple of years ago with Stuart Li by Little White Earbuds. In a city where different sounds were always mixed up back in the day, we’ve also been feeling this way for a while now…


Toronto doesn’t have the name recognition in dance music of, say, Chicago or Detroit. What was the scene like when you were coming up, and what’s happening dance music wise in Toronto today?

Stuart Li: From my experience (not to say that I’m an authority on the subject) Toronto may not have been an emanating source of dance music but it was a point of convergence and absorption. That is to say there wasn’t a definitive Toronto sound (of course we had a few known exports like Nick Holder, Strobe Records, Stickmen, etc.) but being in-between Chicago, Detroit and New York we took in all the influences and sounds coming from those places. Europe too had an influence on Toronto, not just musically but a lot of British expat DJs and promoters would pass on their knowledge of European club culture to the city. I was too young to go clubbing in the late 80′s (the main club at that time was Twilight Zone, which was described as Toronto’s answer to the Paradise Garage or the Warehouse). However, I discovered dance music through the local college stations on shows like Dave’s Dance Music (they would play a wide range of music including house, hip-hop, electro, R ‘n B and freestyle). When I was going out in the early 90s’ there was a big warehouse scene (some of the DJs were Mark & Aki, Dino & Terry, and PTS). You would hear a spectrum of house music from jacking Chicago, to deep Detroit house & techno to “vocal garage” and also the rougher styles (think Todd Terry) from New York. The crowd was mixed, a large percentage gay and very much into music. It was definitely a liberating experience. From about the mid-90′s as the sound was getting bumpier and harder I exited house music for a bit and got into jazz, soul, disco and so on. I was more into the soulful end of things and excited about finding out the source material for a lot of the samples in house and hip-hop. I did eventually find my way back to house during the late 90′s and early millennium with a revival of sorts in Toronto (it was the time of Roy Davis Jr., Spiritual Life, Ibadan, Body n Soul, Ron Trent re-emerging, Moodymann and Theo of course). Almost fittingly, I kept traveling back in time back to my roots and ended up getting back into Chicago and Detroit influenced material.

… There are a couple of good small and medium clubs with good programming. Most of the good nights though are loft/warehouse style and after hour parties with local DJs. There are nights for those that like it soulful and nights for those that like it bumpy or techy. But I wish there was a bit more mixture and a night with a wider spectrum of deep sounds. 

(Read the full article here)

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