every saturday night for the past three years, my go-to pre-party soundtrack has been dutifully provided by a certain toronto-via-montreal DJ named esther benoit and her live radio show, rebel mix. you might recognize the name – as dj e.steria, esther has been on the little city rotation since its inception. undoubtedly our biggest fan and most loyal supporter, rebel mix and little city have been intertwined since day one, and there’s no one in the world i’d rather show equal love to.
rebel mix was born in 2010, the creative collaboration of esther and fellow torontonian by way of montreal DJ/photographer steve diabo. “it all started in steve diabo’s plateau apartment in Montreal, when i was still relatively new to the DJ world,” esther tells me. “steve was absolutely fundamental to birth of the show – without him; it wouldn’t have existed in the first place.”
“the beginnings were simply a combination of his vision and my creative energy,” she goes on, “the initial vision and mission of rebel mix revolved around a pure love and enthusiasm for quality underground house music, with a focus on showcasing the brimming local house music talent to the rest of the world.” my first time sitting in on a rebel mix session was back in 2011, when steve still had a hand in the show’s production. we gathered at steve’s place to hear a set from little city favourites nolan brown and logan hollow, who played together as a phenomenal min tech duo known as creature. the night was a very special one in my time spent in montreal, but what was perhaps the most special was the way that rebel mix brought the crew together, and continues to do so today. even though esther now produces the show solo out of her studio in toronto, rebel mix is, undeniably, the ties that bind. “the first year or so of the show was particularly special – we either co-hosted the show or took turns playing the full two hours,” esther says, “we started having guests on the show, and this format in turn gave birth to a series of small house parties which revolved around the show. rebel mix was a weekly happening in the plateau for a lot of people.” during another studio session, we listed off the different countries that listeners were tuning in from: everywhere from poland to canada to the states to italy, japan, brazil, france, germany and beyond. rebel mix is living proof that regardless of time or distance, music – the universal language – connects.
streaming from the live channel on techno.fm (rebel mix’s home base for the last three years), you can tune in to the show from 7 to 9 pm EST on saturday nights. featuring the best (and i really mean the BEST) in underground electronic music, the show spotlights minimal, techno, tech house and deep house artists from all over the world. as hostess, esther not only hypnotizes with sultry introductions but continually pushes the envelope with her mixing and track selections. you’d be hard pressed to find another artist that keeps things as fresh as esther. rebel mix 69 (listen above) – a personal favourite – opens with strings before morphing into nina kraviz’s “ghetto kraviz,” easily the sexiest throwdown i’ve ever heard.
as for guests, the show has grown in truly inspiring measures. where once rebel mix was home to local talent exclusively – esther, steve d, jackie spade, zeina, daoust, dani drops, ella d, nigel, ohm hourani, claire, and zaid edghaim, to name a few – the roster has expanded to include international talent like victor frias, dainty doll, and sebastian albrecht, who will be dropping an exclusive set in honour of the show’s three year anniversary this saturday, september 21st.
“a lot has changed over the last 3 years: the show has moved exclusively to toronto and is now produced/hosted by solely myself. since then, it’s evolved in so many ways. building a website and created a strong social media presence is opening up connections with a whole new fan base, and helping to expand it,” esther explains of the brand’s growth since its inception. and as for the future? “im not sure – i’m open to all the opportunities and possibilities for the show. no end in sight, that’s for sure. i’m excited to see more great local names on the show, as well as DJs from around the world. there’s so much good music house music out there for us to discover – and there’s room for all of it – keep it coming!”