if you follow me on twitter, you’ll know i’ve been fairly evangelical about montreal producer tazz‘s debut full length (and the proceeding taster ep which i reviewed here). it’s due out soon on tsuba and, without repeating myself too much, is exactly the sort of epic house and techno workout sorely missing from the contemporary sound scape. drawing on the influence of brightly coloured, spacey and far reaching planet e stuff from back in the day, it’s a warm, propulsive analogue work out with sojourns into seriously emotional little pockets and mind melting melodies along the way… not bad considering tazz has only a few eps to his name before now (on tsuba and the ever excellent underground quality).
as such i was quick to track down the man behind the (beard) album and ask him for a mix: what he’s turned in is a genuine 90 minute adventure which builds skilfully from stripped grooves to deep house and naturally on to more raucous techno. check it out after the interview…
how are you? how’s 2012 so far?
great so far! happy the album is done. there’s some relief actually! it’s done!
so, how was the album writing process for you? did you enjoy it now you look back?
well there’s no real process and there was no specific goal. just put a bunch of tracks that i had started or started for the album and put them together. if you aren’t enjoying it then why are you doing it in the first place, right?
after relatively few productions in all, what made you decide to do an album? had you been thinking about it a while or…?
kevin [griffiths, tsuba boss] offered and i said yes. simple as that!
and how did you come to release it on tsuba? how did you first hook up with kev?
actually he hunted me down. i already knew of tsuba and had already bought some records a while back. i asked a bunch of friends. i remember i was at club u.n checking out a dj maus and anton night and i asked both and they where pretty much “go for it!” and the rest is history!
was there an aim with it from the start or did you just start writing and see where you ended up?
that’s how it goes for all my productions. sometime you start with one thing and end up with a complete other monster!
it has a certain timelessness to it – was that an aim or has it just happened? or are you more of the moment than that?
i’m in the moment 100%. apart from that i know i want to make underground dance tracks. i don’t sit and think, today i will make a minimal track and tomorrow i will make a techno track.
melody is a big focus for the album i’d say – how easy do you find it to write melodies? do you have any formal training?
none, zilch, nada! credit goes 100% to bacanito and giovanni. who by the way are also great producers in their own right. but i have slowly started to tinker a bit with the keyboard and am starting to get it! we sit and just do. sometimes i’ll have a groove going, basslines are usually easiest to stab out on a keyboard to have a base note and then the guys will do their magic. yes, i have even gone as far as to hum shit out to them.
where and when was the album written, and does that have an impact on the sounds you make?
at home in my work area. it’s cozy. being comfortable helps obviously!
can you pinpoint any specific influences or inspirations? do you work like that or does it more come from inside you?
carl craig for sure! i do like the deeper dub stuff so i get lots of inspiration there. and recently i have been wanting to have mike denhert’s love child!
what’s the scene like in toronto? apart from the friends you collaborate with on the album – is there much of a scene? do you feel isolated and ever wished you were in london or berlin or…?
that’s a fudge up. i have greek parents and i’m 100% born and raised in montreal. i think in europe in general accessibility is easier which allows more people to work with each other dj wise and production wise. bacanito and giovanni are my main guys, but there’s also some collabo attempts in the works – we’ll see how that goes!
is it the same city where you first came to electronic music and went clubbing? what impact did it have on you in your formative years?
big impact. montreal has a diverse culture, which in turn influences the music. from what i know back in the days, montreal was huge in disco and a lot of the djs growing up got their influences from new york\chicago as well. i’ve been told stories about the travelling back and forth between montreal and new york and bring up the latest and hottest house records at the time.
at some point montreal was also the mecca of after hours clubs, to the point where the city made zoning laws about them. unfortunately there was an overdose of such clubs. i pretty much spent my weekends at sona, aria and stereo. but there was also good small venue clubs that operated within the regular club hours and hosted great parties such as: soulmeka and therapy. i was more into “soulful” deep house back then.
is the music you heard then responsible for the artist you are now? what sort of stuff was it? why did you like it?
i grew up listening to standard radio music so i got to hear: bon jovi, duran duran, micheal jackson stuff like culture beat, mr vain – which by the way, right before they made mr vain, they produced a lovely track called ‘cherry lips’. look up the youtube video you will be disturbingly amused! then one day an older friend of mine took me to a rave which forever changed my musical landscape…
my first techno record was luke slater – ‘freefunk’.
where and when was the mix recorded, and on what?
the mix was simply recorded at home. i had a bunch of digital stuff i liked plus the album so i used cdjs for it. i use turntables and records when i can. i even like the idea of usb and once in a while i tinker with traktor as well.
what was the aim with it? is it like a dj set of yours?
there was some digital tracks i had that i liked and didn’t get a chance to play them much so i used them plus i wanted to feature some of the albums tracks and there you go!
what else you got coming up?
there my cosmic sex ep on new kanada comming up. this one is definitely for the techno guys!
what do you like to do outside of music?
i play basketball when i can to keep fit. i’m also a huge movie freak. i pretty much watch anything lol it also helps distract me from the music making when i’m stuck.
listen below or download teshcast q ~ tazz
basic soul unit – flying through the fog – new kanada
a made up sound – take the plunge (beat mix)
peter o – formerly known as (kris wadsworth’s hypnotize you hoez remix)
herman – for some – new kanada
unbalance – unbalance 3.2
tazz – captain groove and the oscillators – tsuba recordings
moodtrap – movement
midnight magi – drop me a line (steffi rmx)
basic soul unit – soulspeak – new kanada
tornado wallace – insect overlords – delusions of grandeur
tazz – many reasons – tsuba recordings
tazz – that’s what it said – tsuba recordings
raiz, truncate – rhythm – degrees of motion
tazz – wobble theory – tsuba recordings
milton bradley – sequence #1
sp-x – supressor grid
tazz and giovanni randisi – mermaids and mermen – new kanada
mike huckaby – the tresor track
tazz – hats off (unreleased)