From Jazz to Techno, How Electronic Music Speaks to Jamie Kidd
"You follow your heart and mind, which makes DJing very raw and organic."
If you've been around Toronto long enough to witness the scene transition from drum and bass to techno, then chances are you've heard the name Jamie Kidd. After partnering with Platform events and joining the Box of Kittens party collective, Jamie has been part of the build up of Toronto's vibrant underground scene. With his busy schedule of planning weekly events and DJing at Toronto's newest nightclub CODA, we sat down with him for a quick chat about his past and future plans.
THUMP: 15 years ago, what were you doing?
Jamie: 15 years ago I was just getting out of high school and getting ready to go to Humber College for their Jazz Composition and Performance program, which is a highly esteemed program. I studied double bass and electric bass for large bands as well.
You have a huge background in music theory with studying jazz—how did you get into electronic music production?
I got into a lot of it later than some of my friends because I was doing more jazz and a lot of rock. I was in a live drum and bass, dub group called Chameleon Project for a bunch of years, so I started getting into more electronic music when I was about 22. It first started with going to events and getting turned onto the music. Being a bassist, I was always very intrigued by complex rhythms and syncopation. Techno and progressive house at the time really spoke to that desire in me. Plus, it was a response to my jazz training at the time. I loved jazz and I loved playing it. I did a couple of albums, but at that point in my life from studying it for a few years, I sort of needed something that was completely different from what I was doing, and electronic music gave me that.
What made you decide to get more serious about DJing and production?
I just saw some doors opening up. People were giving me really encouraging words about what they were hearing even when I was DJing house parties. Through friends who were doing events with Platform, one of my closest affiliations who was around before Box of Kittens, was my good friend Alex. They started booking me for shows in Toronto and the rest is history, really.
Most of your early work was with Frederik Hatsav as Metalogic. How did you two get together to produce?
We played together at one of the first parties with Platform, it was a Cherry Beach party. I think it was 2006 and I had just started playing out regularly then. So I was there and he heard me play, and he enjoyed it. I heard him and I enjoyed it. We got talking, we got in the studio together and it clicked.
We took a break for a while but we still do stuff here and there. Metalogic is sort of retired, but we are working on some new music that we're going to put under a different name in the future. He's doing amazingly well right now with a project called Desonanz. It's more dirty, raw, industrial techno.
In comparison to Canada, how is the experience of European club culture different?
Well the people are on average more educated about the music. That's a big generalization, though. I do find many Toronto people know their history as well. Not so much the rest of Canada other than Montreal, of course. There are so many differences to name so I can't really bring it down to only one, but one difference would be the unconventional spaces that are used. It's a very broad atmosphere. Most of the clubs aren't in posh, shiny rooms. It's more old warehouses, factories and vacated buildings that have been converted. They maintain the character of the structure. It's just the way it is, very raw. It's also refreshing for clubs to have 'no camera' rules because it allows people to truly let go and sink into the music. Rational liquor laws help too!
Out of all the nights you've played in Toronto, was there a particular one that stood out to you the most?
Wow, that's hard to pick. Opening up for Ritchie Hawtin was definitely a highlight because he's supported a few of my records in the past. He's definitely one of the DJs who got me into techno and really blew me away in the early 2000's with his Decks, EFX & 909 album. He was incredible back in the day, serious and dedicated to a vision. He was really trying to create something of the moment. That's one thing that attracted me to many forms of electronic music. The fact that when things are going right with a live DJ set, certain combinations can be created that you may never hear again. The way the songs are being blended, or the way the live PA is being performed; it's similar in the way a jazz musician improvises. You follow your heart and mind, which makes it very raw and organic. I would always rather hear a DJ take chances to try to create something unique and in the moment with the possibility of mistakes rather than someone who plays it safe or predictable to appear flawless.
How did the guys at Platform approach you?
I was actually working at a music store, and I sold Alex, the main guy from Platform, some equipment. We got to know each other a bit then, and at that time he was doing some small parties. They were running a studio on Queen Street and I worked just down the street. Platform was born in 2006. Our first big party was at 99 Sudbury with Adam Bayer.
Since you were in Toronto before the whole electronic music boom, what's the biggest change you've seen?
Hard to say because I've been away for two years. Since I've been back I don't know a lot of the kids in the clubs or the events now. When I left it seemed like I knew half the people in the room. In a way that's a great thing because there's new blood and younger people getting involved so it's definitely growing. Since I started playing it's been on the up and up. I'd say it started growing in 2004—it's great now. It seemed like the techno scene died for a couple years. Things got too serious—too many chin strokers and people not really dancing or having fun. The music was great, but it lost that positive community feeling which is one of the main things about dance music that people love. At the time even though I was playing techno, I had first started DJing a lot of breaks and electro breaks, then I got more bookings as a techno DJ. There was sort of a lull in the techno scene there. From '05 and upwards it's just been growing steadily every year.
Where do you see yourself 15 years from now?
Definitely still doing music 'cause that's the only thing I know how to do. I want to start a record label soon. That's something I've been putting off for years. I'd love to have a proper studio, performing and producing for more bands and more live music. I've always done live music, whether it be my own or for others. I think it would be nice at that point to be in the producer chair for other bands.
You can catch Jamie Kidd this weekend on Saturday, April 5th at Foundry with Carl Craig.