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NORTHMIX: Isis Graham

This mix melts hearts with hot vibes from one of the world's coldest cities.

Eric Shinn

Isis Graham snares this Northmix by the horns and doesn't let go for a bass-bucking second. Riding wild right out of the gate across a varied terrain of house and techno from Western Canada, this hour-long set is a tour-de-force of the veteran producer/DJs recent original productions and includes an exclusive preview of blistering remixes forthcoming next month on the Substation Recordings label, which she helms from Calgary.

An energetic selector of classic warehouse sounds since 1997, Graham is now resident DJ at Calgary's boutique nightclub Habitat Living Sound. There she goes big on the in-house PK Sound rig, while playing intimate to the warm room's capacity crowd of under 100 dancers. Many of these revellers are often fellow producers and collaborators from the Studio Social creative network she co-facilitates to help put her city on the map.

With releases in 2014 on Substation, Moonlight, Technofunk, Soulier, and JG Music, Graham has matured well since her debut with Neighbour in 2008. Her invite to perform at last year's Decibel Festival in Seattle affirms the international appeal of the sound and scene she champions. Her tears of joy on dance floors are testament to the warm soul with which she melts hearts and minds with hot vibes from one of the world's coldest cities.

THUMP: How would you describe the Substation sound?
Isis Graham: You can certainly hear the West Coast influence in the Adam All Day, Rusty Meeks & Audica releases. There's also a European and perhaps Eastern American flavour in the Sergio Levels, Isis Graham or Matt Caine releases. In Canada I feel that our music makers and DJs have so many external influences and the result is that our artists don't necessarily stick to one style of music.

Can you clarify what you mean by West Coast, European and Eastern American influence?
You can hear traces of labels like Greyhound and DJ Garth or DJ Buck in our releases, maybe a bit of Dirtybird and Claude VonStroke in some basslines and residuals of the '90s Mark Farina vibe in the sampling. I think San Francisco has always had an influence on Calgary's DJ culture since the 90's but central western Canadian music has always typically been a bit more lighthearted, deep and maybe organic than the sounds coming out of New York, Baltimore, Montreal or Toronto which to me have always been more serious, more in your face, maybe even faster at times and sometimes more technical. Every place has a sound, a way, a scene, a culture, and in Western Canada ours is a bit laid back, a bit sentimental and a bit funky but we like our bass. You can certainly hear on Substation tracks.

What sound do you think the music industry is moving towards?
My magic eight ball says this year we'll see the re-emergence of deep progressive house and also nu-disco and even both sounds mixed together except this time, it wont be at 129 BPM. That and hopefully a lot of new live sets.

Which are your favourite Substation tracks?
MannMade Rhodes' "Eviction" gets heavy rotation in my crates, as well as Matt Caine's "Crime Boss". I really loved the entire Sergio Levels EP and was impressed by Adam All Day's debut EP, the guy is an animal in the studio. I am really stoked about the upcoming remix EP, it has some serious fire on it, my favourite cut is the Sergio Levels remix of my track "That Thaang". Get ready for that, it's amazing.

I love "That Thang"! It brings out some serious sass on the dance floor. The Sergio Levels remix takes it so deep there's hardly any sass left. What lies beyond sass?
We need sass in our lives to break walls and feel strong. But after that, it's time to put your head down and listen to what the F is going on both within yourself and the music. That's why I personally love house and techno so much, it makes me work for it.

House and techno are about as sophisticated as the horse and carriage; they've been around for a long time, they stand around and wait for everyone else to catch up. They're reliable, so when the horse dies or has a break, you can get a new one or build a new carriage and the best part is that they inspired every machine that came after them. It may not be the smoothest ride but at least it outlasts stylistic fads by being useful and doesn't harm the environment.

Isis Graham is on Facebook // Twitter // SoundCloud

Tracklist:
1) Rusty Meeks - "The Reel" - Original Mix - Substation Recordings
2) Isis Graham - "Cause & Effect"
3) MannMade Rhodes - "Eviction" - Substation Recordings

4) Matt Caine - "Nocturnal" - Substation Recordings
5) Isis Graham - "You" - Original Mix
6) Sergio Levels - "Clue" - Audica Remix - Substation Recordings
7) Haakonsen - "Over the Ear" - Substation Recordings
8) Haakonsen - "Fekete" - Isis Graham Remix - Substation Recordings
9) Krystle Love B - "Aura" - Substation Recordings
10) Kris Schultz Feat Miss Fudge - "Cast Away" - Isis Graham Remix
11) Sergio Levels - "Broken Dub" - Substation Recordings
12) PLASM - "Plasmacoder" - JHNN Remix
13) Isis Graham - "Corda" - Dub Mix
14) Isis Graham - "That Thaang" - Sergio Levels Remix