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Melding Old and New, The Minds of Foundry Have Shaped Otherland

We spoke to Joey Beltram, a pioneer in Hoover sound and a member of the Otherland parties.

Geoff Harricks

Geoff Harricks

All photos courtesy of Katherine Kwan.

The Otherland parties were a promise to Toronto to bring the innovators and elevators of electronic music while removing the bottle service mentality and its parallel crowd. The fresh and tailored experience they have been presenting through Tattoo has lived up to this promise. The main room has been redesigned with new a sound system and lights, and the basement has been devised to look like a bunker. The two floors uniquely complement each other and give club goers an experience that few venues in Toronto offer: choice.

Joey Beltram is a musical innovator brought in by the Otherland team. He's watched the Hoover sound he presented to the world in 1991 emulated by the likes of Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Die Antwood. As a technical pioneer, Joey was credited within Daft Punk's track "Teachers" on their album Homework [1997]. He's been playing Toronto for over 20 years and noted that one of the coolest experiences he's had in this city was a warehouse party in the early '90s with the Detroit techno producers of that day. We were able to catch up with him before his monstrous set at Tattoo for Otherland and share a few words.

THUMP: As a pioneer within the electronic music industry, how would you describe the shifts that have occurred since the early 1990s and their impact on you as an artist?
Joey:
There have been so many over the years. I don't really pay attention to genres. Although I'm usually associated with techno, I've done my share of house music over the years as well. I just make and play the music I like and don't really focus on where it's going to fit in.

Talking about your multifaceted approach to music, how was your musical process at the beginning? Has the emergence of new technologies changed this process?
I usually (and still do) start with a beat, get the groove going and build from there. Back in the days before DAW's, I didn't even have a chair in the studio. The thought of sitting down and making music was crazy to me. My main "groove maker" was the MPC-60 and later the MPC-3000 till the late '90s. When I moved to using a DAW, it definitely took some getting used to [things like] staring at a screen and clicking a mouse. That was probably the biggest change in my work process.

You weren't sitting down in the studio?
When I'm DJing I'm standing up. So it seemed natural, especially with the studio gear in the early '90s, to have everything suited for standing instead of sitting. The keyboards, etc., were wall mounted on racks so I'd be moving around a lot. On a side note, I started producing in the first place back in the late '80s so I could get some DJ work. Funny when I look back and see how it has turned out. I like to make stuff that works well in my DJ sets. I like to play my own stuff. Everything must work cohesively. My DJ sets should have a quality that represents my style.

So producing was secondary to your passion for DJing?
In the very beginning, yes.

You would say that has evolved over time?
Of course now I enjoy both equally. Making and writing music is very satisfying creatively. And the interaction with people as a DJ in like nothing else.

Throughout the electronic music community you are undeniably the presenter of the Hoover sound. When you were creating the mentasm riff did you know how influential it would become?
I knew it was a sound with a lot of potential. When Mundo and I worked on the track, we knew we had something. The sound just needed the right line and we got it.

Back in an interview in '95 you commented that people tend to be into one style and there are pockets of different sounds, do you think this has changed over time? If so, in what way?
Wow, it's hard to remember what I said 20 years ago. So I'm not sure I feel that way now. I think trends in music styles, especially in dance music change so frequently now, I don't even pay attention anymore. I think people grow tired of things a lot quicker now. It's not necessarily a bad thing if it keeps artists on their 'A' game.

How do you think the parties have changed over time? Do you have any specific memories of parties within Toronto or Canada that really stand out?
I don't think they've changed all that much. People and DJ's alike wanted to go out and have a memorable experience, and they still do. Most of the difference is behind the scenes. The over all production might be better these days. For instance, better sound systems are expected and usually are than what they were several years ago.

In closing, do you have anything you would like to say to your fans and future fans?
I'm fortunate that I've been able to do this for so long. Thank you for listening to the music.

The event series has one night left (Machinedrum on Oct. 24th), and with the finale right around the corner, the momentum is building.

You can follow Geoff on Twitter @gpharricks