Seven Artists Tell Us Why Canadian Electronic Music Rules

This post appeared originally on THUMP Canada.

Being three hours north of the Canadian/American border, and three hours away from Alberta’s capital city, Calgary is a bit of an island. It’s too far from Vancouver for big touring acts to make it a part of their west coast routes, and pretty removed from the eastern half of the country, meaning it’s rare for Canada’s third-largest city to be a destination on musicians’ itineraries. But for the past 11 years, there’s one week where all of that changes.

During the Sled Island Music & Arts Festival, the city hosts one of the best à la carte club-hopping experiences, drawing both international and homegrown headliners. Past editions have seen performances from the likes of De La Soul, Kaytranada, Kelela, Oneohtrix Point Never, and more, and thanks to guest curators including Peaches, Dan Deacon, and Tim Hecker, the programming has never been short of eclectic.

This year, the festival handed over the keys to Brainfeeder boss Flying Lotus and he didn’t disappoint, with DJ Quik, Dedekind Cut, Ash Koosha, Yves Tumor, and others answering his call. Given Sled Island’s commitment to showcasing diverse music from Vancouver to Halifax, we thought it was an opportune time to ask a handful of acts about what Canadian music, or Canadian electronic music, looks like to them. Unsurprisingly, the results were as varied as the lineup itself, and they present a picture of a young country with an abundance of talent, despite the distances.


Actress
Hometown: London, UK

The one that comes to mind is actually one of the first records that I bought when I started to study electronic music in a deeper context. I moved to London and started buying more electronic, IDM, and one of the first records that stood out to me was an artist who was known as Manitoba at the time, and obviously as Caribou now, Dan Snaith.

That was just a really great album, Start Breaking My Heart, and I listened to it on repeat for quite a long time. I remember the sleeve vividly as well, so I guess that was the first picture of Canada from an artist’s perspective that I’d seen. I actually came quite close to moving to Canada when I was really young, my dad got offered a job, but it never happened.

ANAMAI
Hometown: Toronto, ON

Anna Mayberry: I would say that I’m really into people who make stuff that’s raw and has the potential for failure. Anything that’s premade and clean I get bored of it.

David Psutka [not pictured]: To be honest, I don’t think my mind registers whether music might be classified as “electronic” or if it originates in Canada. It’s a big country with a plurality of artists/cities/sounds, so maybe the easy answer is “many, many things,” which is a totally weak answer. I think this question made me realize the extent to which my current experience with music is actually very genre-agnostic and post-regional—which are both beautiful things and in my opinion, honest reflections of how media consumption and human interaction work in 2017.

DIANA
Hometown: Toronto, ON

Joseph Shabason: I don’t know if I’m biased because Thom is in the band, but Bernice is one of the most special electronic Canadian bands that I’ve heard. They’re one of the most special bands in Canada, period, and they’re just tops in my book.

Kieran Adams: New Chance. Just really unique approach to making something that has familiar textures, but is also its own thing. It’s like vocal house music, but with a heavy, ambient approach. The thing that Victoria (Cheong) does that’s really unique is incorporating lyrics and phrasing in such a way that doesn’t sound out of place.

Thom Gill: Sergio SP, Sandro Petrillo’s project, now in Toronto but from Calgary originally. Or D. Tiffany from Vancouver. E-Saggila, from Toronto, who’s quite dark and ambient.

FOONYAP
Hometown: Calgary, AB

Null Command from Victoria, BC. They’re very simple, broken down, glitchy electronic music. An Ant And An Atom, who I’m touring with, a drone, post-rock, really meditative kind of act. Morning Coup, who I love, and is a really great friend of mine. It’s kind of otherworldly, experimental pop. Someone who’s highly electronic-influenced, as a loop artist like myself, would be Respectfulchild from Saskatoon. White Poppy, so dreamy. And of course, Loscil.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

I don’t really search where music is coming from, unless it’s an obvious thing, but usually I don’t search for the location. The kind of music I listen to changes all the time. I have a [NTS] radio show because I’m always listening to new music and finding new music, and I’ll go all over the place with it. Anything but blues and country, I can’t stand them. It makes me tired.

But the whole Canadian vibe really resonates. Whenever I’m in Canada or close to it I’m just like “ahhh, nice people.” There’s just like an authenticity, there’s an earnest vibe.

Lou Phelps
Hometown: Montréal, QC

My brother, Kaytanada. He’s a pioneer. The radio in Canada is so centered around the same type of genre and sounds, you can’t really explore much outside of that, but he’s changing that without really being on the radio. He has the opportunity to work with artists that are super major and is changing it from the inside.

Un Blonde
Hometown: Montréal, QC

It’s going to sound incredibly cliche, but when I think of Canadian music, I think of the community aspect. There are so many cities that are just these dense bubbles that bear so much fruit. That’s been my experience. I had a show on [Calgary radio station] CSJW and I only played Canadian music, and I would focus on a specific scene each show. There would always be a specific vibe to each town. And I see that when I tour too, hearing how I fit into each scene.

All photos by Kate Killet.

Michael Rancic is on Twitter.

Catch a Lonely Vibe on Kaytranada and Buddy’s New Collaboration, “Find Me”

Montreal producer Kaytranada has teamed up with Compton rapper Buddy for a new collaborative EP titled Ocean & Montana. As Pitchfork reports, the record comes out May 19 via Cool LIL Company. Ahead of its release, you can stream”Find Me,” an introspective track perfect for, as one of its lyrics goes, “late nights catching a vibe” by yourself.

Ocean & Montana is just the latest in a long list of collaborations for Kaytranada, who in the last few months has worked with artists such as Mick Jenkins, Alicia Keys, Goldlink, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, and his brother Lou Phelps. Most recently, the JUNO Award winner produced a track, “Your Time,” for Nick Murphy’s (f.k.a. Chet Faker) new Missing Link EP.

It doesn’t seem like he’s planning on stopping the collaborations anytime soon—at least, not if revered singer-songwriter and producer Pharrell Williams can help it. As FADER points out, Kaytranada is guesting on the next episode of Williams’ OTHERtone radio show (scheduled to air this Monday, May 15, on Beats 1), and a preview shows Williams proposing a collaboration inspired by Kaytranada’s Haitian heritage.

“You show me Haitian music so I can make it musically,” said Williams. “Then I’ll give it to you and you can fuck it up and do whatever you want to do and take it somewhere else. Let’s just do it, and find sick Haitian artists to sing on it.”

“I’m sure it would work well,” Kaytranada replied. We’re inclined to agree. Watch the clip below.

Kaytranada to Feature on New Kendrick Lamar Record

Los Angeles rapper Kendrick Lamar today announced the title, cover, and tracklist for his new album DAMN., due to come out this Friday, April 14. In the social media storm that inevitably followed, Juno Award-winning producer Kaytranada came out of the woodwork to announce that he makes an appearance on the album.

It doesn’t look like he’s a K-Dot collaborator in his usual, Juno Award-winning capacity as a producer, though. In fact, Kaytranada tweeted this afternoon that he sings in autotune on the album cut “Lust,” which is a highly unusual move for the beatmaker. 

Fellow Candians BADBADNOTGOOD similarly took to Twitter to announce that they were on the track, where they said that it features production from DJ Dahi and Soundwave.

Last week, it was reported that U2, Mike WiLL Made-It, 9th Wonder, the Alchemist, Greg Kurstin, and someone called “J. Blake” (is that you James?) would feature on Lamar’s upcoming album.

DAMN. tracklist:

1. Blood
2. DNA
3. Yah
4. Element
5. Feel
6. Loyalty (ft. Rihanna)
7. Pride
8. Humble
9. Lust
10. Love
11. xxx (ft. U2)
12. Fear
13. God
14. Duckworth

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Kaytranada Wins 2017 Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year

At the 2017 Juno Awards this weekend, Montreal producer Kaytranada added another trophy to his collection, taking home Electronic Album of the Year for his 2016 debut album, 99.9%.

In a non-televised ceremony, Grimes won Video of the Year for “Kill V. Maim,” A Tribe Called Red won Producer of the Year, and Bit Funk won Dance Recording of the Year for “Off the Ground.”

The Weeknd‘s Starboy won R&B/Soul Recording of the Year, and Jazz Cartier’s Hotel Paranoia won Rap Recording of the Year, with the Toronto rapper later taking to Instagram to call for the Canadian awards show to recognize hip-hop categories during the primetime event.

See a list of all the winners here and check out Kaytranada’s recent collaboration with his brother Lou Phelps, “My Forte.”

Max Mertens is on Twitter.

Kaytranada To Feature On Mary J. Blige’s New Album, ‘Strength Of A Woman’

Photo by Jacqueline Ashton

Polaris Prize-winning and JUNO award-nominated Montreal producer Kaytranada has been revealed as one of a small but stacked cast of collaborators for R&B star Mary J. Blige’s upcoming album, Strength of a Woman.

The LP, due out April 28, will also see Blige working alongside hip-hop heavyweights Kanye West, Missy Elliott, DJ Khaled, and Migos member Quavo. On Instagram, Blige described the project as one of her most “powerful albums.”

Kaytranada’s worked on some high-profile collaborations in the past, including with Chance the Rapper, Mobb Deep, Alicia Keys, and Anderson .Paak. His 2016 debut album, 99.9%, was also a heavy exercise in partnership, with guest appearances from Craig David, Syd tha Kid, BadBadNotGood, Little Dragon, Phonte, and others.

Read More: Kaytranada Calls Bad EDM/Pop Star Collaborations ‘Boiled Chicken with No Seasoning’

This isn’t the first time Blige has dipped into the dance-music world. In 2014, she hopped on a remix of Disclosure’s “F For You” before recruiting the duo to produce two tracks for her own 2014 album The London Sessions, which also featured production from UK garage staple MJ Cole.

View the tracklist for Strength of a Woman below.

Photo via Mary J. Blige’s Instagram

New York DJ Darling Chuck Found A Song That "Hella Slaps"

Photo of Darling Chuck by Ja Tecson.

Whether it’s for playing out at a club or listening at home, DJs and producers typically have an encyclopedic hoard of music, new and old. In The Last Record, they tell us about the last three songs or albums they’ve purchased, and why these were important additions to their music collection.

This week, we spoke to Darling Chuck, who is maybe one of the busiest DJs around. You can catch her every third Saturday at Trophy Bar, at the #FOMOPARTY dance party every fourth Friday at Friends and Lovers, at GIGGLES every first Friday at C’mon Everybody, and the Oui R&B party every second Thursday at Kinfolk 90. She is also a weekly resident at the Samsung 837 Experience store and co-hosts Goodside Radio with Spree Wilson on WAXX.FM every fourth Tuesday.

Empress Of – “Woman is a Word”

I just really love the way that song sounds. I got it over the weekend. Noodle from Gorillaz released a mix just featuring women in the music industry that have influenced that character. She released a playlist on Soundcloud and on Spotify. I first heard it on that mix. I just fell in love with that song. I had never heard of her.

Kaytranada – “Cranes in the Sky” remix

I don’t think that was for sale, though. I think I just downloaded that on his Soundcloud.

1-O.A.K. – “Lost & Found”

1-O.A.K., also from the Bay Area, is an artist that I have DJed for in the past. I’ve played this song out in clubs for the past eight months or so and I’m just so hyped the single is finally out! This song hella slaps. It’s one of those songs that makes you think you know the words. It’s just that familiar.

Duckwrth – I’m Uugly


He’s from the Bay Area and I’m from the Bay Area. He’s someone I really support. The project’s really good. I don’t know him from the Bay, but I know he’s a friend of a lot of other friends at the Bay. He’s performed at FOMO party twice. We were fortunate to have him because he opened up for Anderson .Paak on his last tour. It’s nice seeing him grow from where he started to where he is now.

Grimes, Kaytranada, Zeds Dead, And More Nominated For 2017 JUNO Awards

Screenshot from Grimes’ “Kill V. Maim” video.

The 46th annual JUNO Awards nominations were announced today by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Science (CARAS),with Kaytranada and Grimes leading the pack for electronic artists with three nods apiece.

Claire Boucher’s Art Angels is up for Recording Package of the Year, Alternative Album of the Year, and Video of the Year for “Kill V. Maim.” Kaytranada’s debut LP 99.9% is nominated for Electronic Album of the Year, against A Tribe Called Red‘s We Are The Halluci Nation, Harrison‘s Checkpoint Titanium, Holy Fuck‘s Congrats, and Bob MosesDays Gone By. The Montreal producer is also up for Breakthrough Artist of the Year and Video of the Year for “Lite Spots.”

In addition, Zeds Dead‘s “Northern Lights” has received a nod in the Dance Recording of the Year category, alongside songs by Jacques Greene, Adventure Club, Shaun Frank, and Bit Funk. A Tribe Called Red has been nominated for Jack Richardson Producer of the Year and Video of the Year for “R.E.D.,” while the Weeknd and Daft Punk’s collab “Starboy” is up for Single of the Year. Bob Moses is also up for Breakthrough Artist of the Year.

The 2017 JUNO Awards will be held on April 2 in Ottawa, more info here.

Listen To "Average," A New Collaboration Between Rapper Lou Phelps And His Brother Kaytranada

Screenshot via YouTube.

Although Kaytranada has made a name for himself as a successful solo artist and producer, he is not afraid to collaborate with his friends, family and peers. In 2014, the producer released Supreme Laziness, a mixtape with Lou Phelps (Kaytranada’s brother), under the name The Celestics.

Now, the two have joined forced again on the song, “Average,” with Kaytranada manning the beats and Phelps providing the flow. The track is the first single from Phelps’ debut solo mixtape, Lou Phelps Experiments.

Phelps describes the mixtape as, “a compilation of music that I like and me experimenting things musically.” Besides Kaytranada, the mixtape will feature Key!, Bishop Nehru, Innanet James and more.

Watch the video for “Average” below. In 2016, we named Kaytranada’s debut album, 99.9%, as one of the best 33 albums of the year.

Kaytranada, Richie Hawtin, And Bonobo To Headline Lightning In A Bottle 2017

Photo of Kaytranada by Jacqueline Ashton

Montreal producer Kaytranada, Canadian musician and entrepreneur Richie Hawtin, and Los Angeles-based artist Bonobo are among the electronic musicians to headline this year’s Lightning in a Bottle festival. The event will take place at the San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, California on Memorial Day weekend, from May 2427.

Among the other artists booked to play the 12th edition of the festival are Leon Vynehall, Bassnectar, Bob Moses, Machinedrum, Julia Govor, and more.

Grimes, Jamie xx, and Four Tet headlined last year’s iteration of the festival, which ended up attracting 20,000 people. A lot of those attendees were hippies, and THUMP asked them what being a hippy is all about.

General sale tickets for this year’s festival will be available tomorrow starting at 1 PM EST.

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Kaytranada And Alicia Keys Collaborate On New Ode To "Sweet F'in Love"

Photo by Jacqueline Ashton

2016 Polaris Prize winner Kaytranada shared a new collaboration with veteran vocalist Alicia Keys last night, called “Sweet F’in Love.” The track finds the Haitian-Canadian producer working with a familiar pairing of lush smoothness and funky glitchiness, while Keys skillfully draws out variations on the track’s titular phrase.

The tune doesn’t really build toward anything, choosing instead to luxuriate in simmering sensuality. It follows Kaytranada’s recent spaced-out collaboration with Chicago MC Mick Jenkins, “Aurora Borealis.”

NYC producer Swizz Beatz, Keys’ husband, shared “Sweet F’in Love” on his SoundCloud.

Kaytranada was recently announced as one of the many electronic acts to play Coachella 2017, alongside Radiohead, Justice, and more.

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The Xx, Radiohead, And Justice To Play Coachella 2017

Image courtesy of the artist

English trio The xx, veteran experimentalists Radiohead, French producer DJ Snake, and Ed Banger duo Justice were announced today as some of the biggest acts set to play Coachella 2017. The six-day festival will take place over two weekends in April at the usual location of Indio, California’s Empire Polo Club, and feature the same lineup on both weekends.

The bill features a substantial number of electronic musicians across the genre spectrum, from Maya Jane Coles, Richie Hawtin, and Loco Dice to Steve Angello, Galantis, and Martin Garrix. Other notable artists set to play include Porter Robinson alongside Madeon, as well as Four Tet, Nicolas Jaar, Anna Lunoe, Phantogram, Kaytranada, and Marshmello.

For those that needed proof, last year’s edition of Coachella that dance music didn’t need EDM to thrive. On another note, if you’ve ever been to the festival, you probably know the ten types of freaks you meet at Coachella parties.

Passes for the festival will go on sale this Wednesday, January 4 at 2 PM EST.

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2016 In Focus: THUMP's 40 Best Electronic Music Photos Of The Year

Michael Alig (Rebecca Smeyne)

Chino Amobi (Sam Clarke)

Jessy Lanza (Aaron Wynia)

Movement 2016, Detroit (Lyndon French)

Pulse nightclub vigil, Orlando (Dylan Flynn)

Pulse nightclub vigil at Stonewall Inn, NYC (Rebecca Smeyne)

Gud (Damien Maloney)

Afropunk NYC 2016 (Christelle de Castro)

Harrison (Aaron Wynia)

Jeff Mills (Rebecca Camphens)

Carla Dal Forno (Tonje Thilesen)

Kaytranada (Jacqueline Ashton)

Red Bull Music Academy 2016, Montreal (Cindy Lopez)

Pauline Oliveros (Kate Killet)

Sporting Life (Tonje Thilesen)

Justice (Emma Le Doyen)

House of Kenzo’s Nate Ryan (Jackie Lee Young)

Mykki Blanco (Keenan MacWilliam)

DJ Marfox (Marta Pina)

Palmistry (Tonje Thilesen)

James K (Rob Kusilek)

Moodymann’s house, Detroit (Luis Nieto Dickens)

MikeQ (Cait Oppermann)

Joris Voorn (Rebecca Camphens)

Crowd at It’s Not U It’s Me event, Toronto (Aaron Wynia)

Mala (Dave O’Donnell)

Discwoman’s Emma Burgess Olson, Christine Tran, and Frankie Hutchinson (Erez Avissar)

MSTRKRFT (James Ellis)

DJ Jige (Jude Goergen)

Evian Christ at Unsound Toronto (Andrew Williamson)

Wolfgang Tillmans (Luis Mora)

Flying Lotus at Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles (Philip Cosores)

DJ Earl (Eric Zaworski)

Essaie Pas at MUTEK 2016, Montreal (Cindy Lopez)

ANOHNI (Annie Collinge)

RJD2 (Nick Fancher)

DJ Shadow (Mark Madeo)

A Tribe Called Red at WayHome 2016, Oro-Medonte, Ontario (SR)

serpentwithfeet (Sam Clarke)

Crowd at Ben Klock show, Bogota, Columbia (El Gato Fotgrafo)