featuring: the deep north’s dick diamonds

my newest “featuring” interview is a hybrid speaker sessions/interview with my brother from toronto, DJ/producer, co-founder of the deep north crew, promoter and one half of tech duo the hermans, dick diamonds!

quite a repertoire! after starting the deep north blog and associated crew of DJs and producers based out of toronto, dick diamonds is one of the driving forces in electronic music events in the city. alongside local heroes studiofeed, hushlamb and break & enter, the deep north played a huge role in the production of this year’s sound in motion festival! likewise responsible for this summer’s biggest jams, late & deep and late & dip, dick diamonds’ toronto is non fucking stop. as a DJ, he runs the same game – always in motion, and always with deep, nihilistitic vibes. read on!

[this session has been archived. for a downloadable version, get in touch here]

first of all – let’s talk briefly about your mix, nitty gritty little city!

it’s a dick diamond’s set through and through. there was absolutely no planning involved when i recorded it. i always just pick the first track and go from there. many of the tunes were unreleased when i recorded it a few weeks back, promos i had gotten from labels and/or producers i am friends with. some of the tunes were just classics i love, and some were tunes i was playing for the first time – – so it isn’t perfect, but fuck it, it is the way it is. uncensored, unadulterated dick diamonds. no gimmicks here folks…i hope you like it!

that’s the way we like it at little city! so, how did the deep north happen? how and when did this project start?

after graduating from my undergrad university program at mcgill in montreal, a bunch of my friends – – who were all DJs – – and i (an emcee at the time) moved back to toronto, and we decided that we wanted to perform some shows, but had zero experience. since no one would book any of us (what would become the “plugged not thugged” crew) we decided to throw our own jams, which we named the MAJOR RAGER party series, at the infamous augusta house, known for its awful sound system and amazingly wonderful staff and family. against the odds, we managed to build an epic shitshow party series at this spot. we then moved the series to andy poolhall, where it continues to rage on, albeit without me.

where did you go from there?

i left the crew in 2011. it seemed to be a natural move for me to start the deep north (initially a blog, now focused a bit more on events and our crew of DJs/producers) because i had just gone on a long solo backpacking mission through europe, where i came in touch with deep house, minimal and techno for the first time, well, on a significant level at least. the plan was to start this blog, build a crew of like minded individuals who shared a passion for the music, had fluid team chemistry and then use this team of residents to support a series of late night events.

awesome! so, tell me a bit about the rest of your crew.

our crew is amazing. i mean that wholeheartedly. many of us are complete nooblets in the game of production and DJing, and my vision was always to bring in people who connected with one another on a personal level as friends, comrades and ultimately brothers. others are seasoned veterans who definitely could join other, more skilled associations, but choose us because of the wicked chemistry our team, or family, has. chemistry is the most important – – along with attitude, motivation and loyalty – everything else can be taught, learned and passed on between members. the team shares the identity, the reputation and the benefits of success, as well as the negatives that come along with failure or performing below par.  it’s all about teamwork. a lot of people think that the deep north is me, dick diamonds (it sure was in the beginning), but it’s actually the other way around: dick diamonds is a complete product of the deep north.

our crew officially consists of 11 guys:

bones mcleod …. paul beazy aka paul mcleod 
book …………………. benjamin wood (co-founder)
dick diamonds ….. dan tracy (me / founder)
douglas carter …. douglas carter
GCue ………………… gerrard valdez
hermans …… dick diamonds & maxwell church
jeff breen …………. jeff breen (aka breezno)
max the fax ………. maxwell church (co-founder)
sean roman …….. sean roman
sid frisk ……………. mike davis
white lions .. sean roman, rob steal & cody LG

unofficially, we can’t forget some important extended family members: chris bosnojackie spade, wes bonaventure, the hushlamb crew, zidan, monsanto, ellaD, markis augustus, and at least another handful of people who deserve to be mentioned for their support for what we do.

huge family network! so, why “the deep north” for your blog and crew’s name?

well because we are based in canada, and because we focus on the “deeper” side of house music, techno and all that. in essence, to the rest of the world, canada (even southern ontario) is the deep north, and by hell we like deep house, dubby UK house, techno and all sorts of dirty underground music, deep below the crap on the superficial surface most of the world considers music. but we don’t hate – – to each their own!

damn straight! i want to talk a bit about blogging, since the deep north is a blog as well.

blogging serves an important function, well at least for me, in helping you get your name out there, your image and opinion to be heard. it is an outlet, a space where you can speak out about what you want to – – share your opinions regularly to an audience that will grow with time. it’s a platform from which to build an identity and launch into bigger things, and its a wicked way to keep people informed about what you are doing. for me, it was and still is a very important way to build a brand, to market what you have and to let people know that your brand exists. much like a music label or company is a brand which you stand behind, for those of us lacking money or the proper networks to launch something big, we can build a blog as starting point. i want to start a label eventually, but for now i have the blog.

 do you feel it’s difficult to keep up with such an oversaturation of writers and bloggers?

oversaturation is hands down the biggest difficulty. just like everyone is a DJ these days, everyone is also a blogger. who wants to read about my shitty opinion? who wants to read about my shitty opinion over the next guy or gal’s shitty opinions? that is the challenge. you have to offer something unique, something credible and worth coming back to check on. in the beginning, i was on top of the blogging shit…but now, i find it hard to sit down and write a blog post – – there is so much on my plate these days and i find it hard to keep the reader informed, while handling all the other stuff. blogging is not easy at all, at least not for extended periods of time.

i think a lot of people take for granted the amount of work that goes in to running a blog.

definitely. competition for audience, remaining fresh and continuously delivering engaging content makes blogging a lot harder than one would think. it’s a job. one that pays fuck all.

preach! let’s move on to your events, late & deep and late & dip – what’s your mission when throwing jams like these?

the mission is simple: throw quality partys with AMAZING artists who are really doing good things in music – – both locally and more importantly, internationally, in order to educate the canadian market on what real electronic music is, and should be here.

i take big risks on my bookings, most of which were completely unknown out here (ie. sacha robotti / remain / t-bone / jphlip / populette / jet project / chris woodward / sishi rosch / derek marin ) until i brought them, and who have little to no draw in toronto. our city plays it safe all the time… most promoters only bring in the acts that will sell out and are on the ultimate waves of popularity. how many times has the city seen manik, the martinez brothers, derrick carter, lee foss, green velvet, rusko, etc etc? how many times will we see them again? i’m not saying these artists aren’t amazing or that these promoters are not smart. i fly out artists just to do a single show, which in many cases are not profitable at all. but if i don’t do it, then no one will ever know about these guys who are smashing it out in europe and are super well known for their incredible skill and undeniable showmanship.

i want to build our market, i want to keep canadian artists here for longer, because right now, they are essentially forced to move abroad to make a living, we just can’t support them here. i may lose money, but it’s so worth it – – people come up to me an say “holy shit, populette was incredible” for almost every act i have risked it on. and i know for a fact that the next time around, the show will be sold out. it’s a long term vision i have…. who knows how long i can do it for, because hell – – it sure is not easy. take risks, people.

aside from promotion and events, you’re also a DJ, both in a solo project, dick diamonds and as one-half of the hermans. tell me a bit about your style in each project and what it’s like working with fellow deep north member maxwell church aka max the fax?

you bet. i love to DJ, and have been into it for about a year and a half now – – nearly two. as you mentioned, dick diamonds is my solo gig and i like to focus on deeper house and techno, as is the case with my work with sean roman – – we produce and play both, however we definitely lean more on the side of house music. with maxwell, we focus almost exclusively on the production of techno music, while when we play, it touches both sides of the spectrum. i love working with both of these dudes, they are both incredibly talented producers, each with a completely different style of production, and both teach me a lot.

producing is definitely becoming a serious addiction – – but i see it as a good thing. between us, i think we have like 8 EPs coming out on 7 different labels (4 labels with sean, 3 with max), so our hard work is paying off in a big way. the three of us plan to go to europe in november to play some gigs, which is terribly exciting, and also nerve racking as well. we can’t wait!

speaking of exciting gigs, the hermans recently played footwork for the first time for nathan barato’s birthday bash. what was it like playing at such an iconic venue? any specific moments or memories you want to share from the night?

there is not much more to say other than that it was definitely the highlight of my short career as a DJ/producer. nathan barato was the first guy I saw play at footwork back in 2007/8 – – before i was even into this kind of music as a real fan – – and back then he was playing as ½ of the roaches with carlo lio. although i didn’t know how important they were to toronto’s underground scene, they moved me like few have in my life and that was when i first started to take a real interest in late night parties and underground electronic music. the roaches showed me something i had never experienced before – – the undeniable power of music, and the visceral reaction it can elicit. i was blown away, and it changed me forever.

the hermans aka max the fax & dick diamonds

it was an absolute honour to be asked by him to play his birthday party at one of toronto’s premier venues for house music and techno – – legendary in fact. few people can say they had the chance to play footie, and that is definitely something we are proud of. max and i were thrilled to play, and we worked hard and it was totally worth it. all of the DJ’s killed it, especially nathan – – the dude slays it every single time. he’s the real deal.

toronto is obviously very different from montreal in terms of musical outlets. montreal is home to a ton of electronic music venues, versus few very well-rounded, established venues in toronto. in fact, this year was the first year that toronto was home to open air music festivals: what are your thoughts on all of this? would you say you’ve seen a big change in the way that toronto interacts with music?

i am pretty new to this city (i moved here 4 years ago and only started DJing and really caring about this scene 2 or so years ago) but this year was definitely the “year of the festivals”. i think it was a good thing, and i was super happy to be a part of the sound in motion festival along with the deep north, break and enter, hushlamb and studiofeed. that was a real undertaking in a highly competitive environment and i think it was a success. toronto needs a festival or two, and i think the city saw some great ones this summer. i like the direction our city is moving. let’s just see what happens next year!

what is the best thing about being a DJ in toronto? 

the city is in a golden age right now, there is more and more interest and excitement around house music and electronic music in general. there are nearly limitless possibilities for growth and the excitement of being a part of that growth is probably what i would characterize as the best thing about being a DJ in our city.

and the worst?

the worst would have to be the lack of venues, as you mentioned, insane amounts of competition and most of all our 2am curfew for booze/bars. that shit sucks the big one. canada needs to get real and be like the rest of the world… booze should be sold until 4am, no earlier. i hope that changes sometime soon….in my lifetime!

let’s go back to sound in motion for a second. how do you think that sound in motion has contributed to the way toronto understands independent music? what are the next moves that crews like the deep north, break and enter, studiofeed and hushlamb are taking to continue breaking ground in terms of independent electronic music? what changes can we expect to see (or start to see) in toronto’s music scene?

there is still a long road ahead of us in terms of getting toronto to “understand” independent electronic music. baby steps is the way to go…toronto does not “get” real underground music yet, at least not the music sound in motion focused on – – true underground music cut away from the bullshit and money grabbing.

as for sound in motion (SIM) next year, i can’t really comment on what will happen in terms of the crews involved. so i guess we can only see what happens next year. i can’t speak for anyone but myself, but sound in motion will be back for sure. it was definitely a learning experience, and a super fun one at that, i am excited to see where it goes from here!

what would you say is the biggest issue in the toronto electronic music industry, or the music industry in general? what is being done to overcome it?

money is essential for things to keep moving forward. but we as promoters need to not only focus on that but we can never forget the music and that it is our responsibility to help build a sustainable environment for our artists and local scene to thrive in. toronto promoters need to take more risks and go out on a limb sometimes – – or else toronto will never be a favourable place for international acts to come visit and play, nor for local acts to stay in.

ideally we all want to focus on pushing the bar higher – – and it’s not just the promoter who must make this happen. the partygoer must do their part too. people need to understand that and pay their cover at the door. stop asking for deals because you know the promoter or the promoters cousin’s dog’s veterinarian. shows cost big money so everyone has to do their part to keep these events alive.

what’s next for the deep north?

we are gonna keep pushing the limits and we will continue to do good things for the crew and the city. i hope that by this time in 2013 every one of us will have at least one production signed to a label – – something i think is very possible. i also want to make a deep north record label somethime soon, but not until next year. i hate planning, so i guess we will see!

okay, time for some fun questions!! if you could switch places with anyone in the world for one day, who would it be and why?

any member of the wu tang clan. well maybe not u-god.

your music is the illegitimate love child of _________ and __________ ?

bubba & siopis (i wish…)

if you were a superhero, what would your powers be?

to arrange tracks as fast as sean roman!

any last words for littlecity readers?!

excuse the absurdly long answers….. first person to read it all gets free entry to the next late & deep.

follow dick diamonds on twitter
like the deep north on facebook
tune in to the deep north on soundcloud

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