Canada’s electronic music scene is up there with the world’s best and freshest. A steady stream of incoming artists, promoters and fans have boosted its scene to heights many would have thought unachievable only ten years ago. So we were keen to chat to someone in the thick of this progress to get their take on it.
Dane MacDonald, AKA Dane, has had a hand in various corners of the Canadian electronic music industry for quite some time, so we thought he was just the man to help us out. Read our interview with him below.
Hey Dane! Thanks for taking some time to answer our Qs.
Hey team! Thanks for having me! Stoked! Currently in Canada for the holidays so this feels right =)
Maybe you could start us off by talking about what kept you busy in 2018 and what some of the highlights were.
2018 was a really fun year for me. A year of highlights really, considering it was my first whole year living in Berlin. Was a busy one, with shows and life, moved into a new apartment with my bud Nathan and getting real cozy. Hit a load of new cities and clubs I’ve always hoped to play, Panorama Bar for the first time and even snuck in a second before the year was up, hit Cairo for the first time too and got to see the pyramids which was bananas! Got to go to Tbilisi for Bassiani and Bass Coast in British Columbia was a blast beyond comprehension as always, but really was just great year of meeting a bunch of lovely humans and having a turbo time.
Tell us a bit more about your mix you cooked for us?
Well! First half is some recent grips and stuff I’ve been playing a little lately but the last 10 tunes are purely Cancon, outside of one Anthony Naples jam. There are some older joints along with some new from Yu Su, Khotin, Pacific Rhythm and the ever missed Forbidden Planet label. Wanted to get into a little bit of ambient stuff too as I think Canada’s doin’ pretty great in that regard lately so it ends with that. A bit like a condensed night out for me. Head out, have a dance and then chill yourself to sleep.
What does 2019 look like for you? Can you share any plans, goals, hopes or fears you have?
2019 is looking tight! I’ve got a lovely spring mapped out already with a few new cities and clubs along the way which I’m really quite excited for. There’s a new Common Edit on the way as well which is shaping up real nice. Just sort of putting the finishing touches on it now really and my parents are coming out to Berlin for a visit! Really looking forward to that, can be tough living so far from family so it’s extra special having them come to visit. Goals are pretty simple though just keep on keepin on! Spread the boogie!
You’ve done an array of things in the music industry – DJing, managing labels / record stores, producing, promoting – which corner of the music industry does most of your energy go to these days?
The last couple years I’ve put more of the focus on Djing and producing. When I lived in Edmonton at the end I was deeply focused in the club “9910” that we’d opened in town so it’s been really nice to get back to me I guess. Been working on a project with a pal in Berlin and we’re starting to get to the point where we might start shopping some tunes around which is fun and exciting. 2019 will be much of the same but now that Berlin’s the home base it’s actually time to start throwing some parties again too, got some plans in the mix which will hopefully involve some Canadians and other pals as they pass through Berlin. Now that life’s a little more under control after the move it’s time to start getting a little more involved with things locally.
Are there things outside music that take up a significant amount of your time at the moment?
Not so much these days, I love seeing my friends and playing some ping pong during the week over the spring and summer. I watch a lot of hockey too, haha, big time Edmonton Oilers fan so I’m often up pretty late during the winter months watching. I think some people think I’m a little nuts considering the games don’t start until 3am in Berlin, nothin but time over here. But the lovely thing about moving to Berlin for music is it’s a rabbit hole of fun and weather it’s digging for new tunes, ripping records or going out for a dance, there’s always something to do, can keep one pretty busy.
When did you move to Berlin? And can you see yourself staying there for a while?
Moved here in the spring of 2017 and certainly, really just depends as long as I’m having fun and enjoying the process of it all I’m quite happy doing it. Pretty fortunate to do music fulltime these days and wouldn’t have it any other way =)
The Canadian electronic music scene has demanded a lot of international attention recently. Can you paint a picture of the scene for us?
To be honest it’s a lot like any other round the globe but I think one thing that might be a bit different is how tight knit everyone involved is. Canada is a massive country, but there is only 37 million people that live here so the scene is pretty small in relation to its size. Everyone is a pal which is really beautiful and it sort of nurtures itself. Everyone more or less gets along and works together. It can be tougher in smaller cities but people and crews tend to fill in the gaps and we’re starting to see more international artists roll through.
How is Canada’s scene different to those of other electronic music culture’s you’ve experienced?
It’s a bit more difficult in some ways, at least being a DJ or artist who wants to start taking things to another level and start touring more. Domestic travel is dumb expensive which makes it really tough to get from one end to the other. So things tend to get pretty focused at home and often just a lineup of locals is the best jam around. Rad that way too, I think that might lend to why there’s been a bit of a resurgence, everyone gets a chance to play a bangin party rather than needing a big name to fill the room.
Can you explain its rapid growth?
I think it’s mostly cyclical to be fair in some ways, it’s just kind of made it’s way around again. Back during the earlier days of Mutek or the strong years of Toronto’s Rave and DnB scene in the 90’s there were a lot of great Canadian artists and parties going on. But as time goes a lot of those people moved over seas or went on to do other things and there was a bit of a lull. But new people come around and with the strength of community that exists out west and in the east a new group has blossomed and started making great music and throwing extraordinary parties. Fun to see really, go Canada!
Can you describe the musical relationships between Canadian regions? Do you think the scene here is generally quite unified and supportive on a national level? Is there a bit of competition between areas/cities?
Like I mentioned everyone tends to be pretty tight, shouldn’t be any other way really. All this is really supposed to be about good times and sharing songs and feelings. If there is any competition between cities it’s healthy and pushes everyone to keep up.
Could you give us the names of a few Canadian artists to look out for next year?
Loads! Too many to mention. Some really great gear coming out of the Pacific Rhythm camp this year. Ciel is crushing right now and i think 2019 is going to be a huge year for Khotin with another album scheduled for this year sometime. Stuff brewing in the Mood Hut and Yu Su also seems to have amassed a pile of great music between her solo stuff and You’re Me Band. D. Tiff just moved out your way to Montreal as well so I’m excited to hear what new inspirations come with that.
And lastly, what are some exciting trends you’ve noticed in the development of electronic music right now?
Trends I’m not so good at! I’m still stuck playing old disco, boogie and house records from the 80’s and 90’s. The only real trend I’m seeing is just a load of new faces which is really great, the worlds pretty connected these days and every time you open the internet someone or something new is popping up! You do you friends!
Thanks for your time!
Thanks for having me! Hope you dig blends!
Interview by Jacob