Tell us a bit about growing up in Canada…
I’m from a really small town in the countryside on the west side of Canada, about a 10-hour drive into the mountains away from Vancouver. It has an exceptional music scene…probably because it’s full of open minded, marijuana-smoking hippies!
There’s a festival that takes place in the area called Shambhala that was hugely influential for me growing up.
They had a lot of UK DJ’s and breaks guys like Adam Freeland and Krafty Kuts playing. I saw Bassnectar and Grooverider for the first time there when I was still a teenager, and that’s where I first met Skream, back when we were only 18. Mathew Jonson is also from nearby. Musically speaking it’s a really healthy place.
So when did you move to Vancouver?
In 2004 after I finished high school. I had been DJing for a few years already, but more as a hobby than a job. So I had to get a part-time job to meet ends meet, which happened to be across the street from Vancouver’s best record store.
So I’d end up spending loads of time in the store, and soon became involved in the drum & bass scene in the city. Soon enough I was seeing guys like Goldie and Shy FX come play, and the UK guys had a massive influence on my sound. Then I heard Kemistry and Storm, and that was a complete game-changer for me. Two incredible female drum & bass DJs…that’s when shit hit the fan!
Did they sort of inspire you to take DJing even more seriously?
Well I knew I wanted to be a DJ from the first time I saw a local DJ play live in my hometown. I was always making mix tapes in school and was actually break-dancing at the time, so I traded some dance lessons with a DJ who taught me how to beat-match.
I was given a pair of 1210s for my birthday and have never looked back. But it was when I first started getting bookings in Vancouver that I really began to think of DJing as a profession. I started promoting my own club night in Whistler, and that’s how I started to make a name for myself in the UK because there were so many international skiers and snowboarders that would live in Whistler for the snow season.
I had already been producing music for a while and was doing very well as a DJ playing all over Canada and the USA, but when I decided to make the move to the UK in 2010, that’s when things stepped up a notch.
Considering your eclecticism, were you ever worried about how your sound would be perceived in Ibiza?
Honestly, no, even though I tend to tailor my sets a bit when I’m over here. I play a lot of different genres and styles, I play a lot of house and techno but I also am not afraid to throw a curve ball; play a drum n bass track or completely slow things down with something atmospheric and beat-less.
I think there are too many DJs that tend to play it safe… that just play sets full of classics or bangers. By all means, play a few when the moment is right, but try and interest and educate your audience at the same time. One thing I personally appreciate when i’m out just as a spectator is when a DJ plays something i’ve never heard before.
I’m guessing you’ll be busy over here this summer?
Yes! I’ll be a regular at Sankeys this summer for Steve Lawler’s night, Viva Warriors and I’ll also be involved in the 20th anniversary of Radio 1 on the island at the beginning of August. Then there’ll be loads of festivals too, so I’m really excited for it all to kick off.
And what has you in Ibiza this week?
I’m here for the IMS as they approached me about hosting my ‘State of Mind’ panel. I did a BBC documentary last year called ‘How Safe are my Drugs?’ so I rounded up a number of figureheads in the ‘safe raving’ community to talk about the drug issues we face in the electronic music scene.
So it’s all about how we can help each other and make everything safer. I don’t think the current approach to drugs in clubs is working at all, so we’re trying to be proactive and come up with ways to minimize accidents. Even just acknowledging the issue and getting people to talk about it is a big step in the right direction.