with a moniker like matrixxman, it’s no surprise that charlie duff has time on his mind. a san francisco based DJ/producer with roots in arlington, virginia, duff has only been making music as matrixxman for a handful of years, sparked by an early listen to a juan atkins mix cd. although his musical history spans hip-hop and chicago house, his techno is hard-edged, restrained, impeccably produced with the gravitas of an artist who’s been in the game for decades. an infatuation with computers, AI, and technology has led duff to a kind of intrinsic interest in futurism — a techno DJ fundamental that, whether he likes it or not, permeates everything from his DJ sets to his productions.
do you believe in time travel?
i have mixed feelings on the subject. it’s something that i wouldn’t rule out of the realm of possibility for other highly advanced civilizations although i’m inclined to think we don’t realize said technology here on earth. or that if we do, maybe it’s only one-sided — like we can travel forward but not backward, otherwise we most likely would have undone things like the holocaust, slavery, or other events that we deeply regret as a species.
you might recognize the album artwork from a feature i put together with paris-based artist andrea many moons ago — now the producer teams up with fellow parisian julia losfelt on this dreamy number called “early bird.”
we’re already late. i had promised friends that we’d be heading down to 99 sudbury street in toronto for the last foundry event of 2014 at around 10:30 pm. it’s midnight and we’re still drinking at my friend’s place near kensington market. we’re chatting about carl craig – the night’s headliner – swapping stories about the times we’ve heard him play, when someone timidly asks “what exactly is detroit techno?” a half hour later, i’m still explaining the history of techno and craig’s part in popularizing the genre when we realize the time.
still late. i’ve managed to get in an argument with the man at the convenience store, but we’re on our way. there’s no line up at the venue and the bouncers are super nice. we’re not in kansas anymore.
foundry is one of a kind in toronto. the toronto music scene suffers a lot from government crackdowns and laws that prohibit events from running late/early. the city saw its first outdoor electronic music fest just 2 years ago, so events like foundry have been a long time coming. this is foundry’s second year. i heard talk of last year’s closing event with DVS1, and i knew tonight’s final event would be well worth the roadtrip from montreal.
last week, i had the pleasure of being invited to the opening night of a new musical called to be: in concert, directed by montreal’s own trevor barrette. you might recognize his name – i reviewed his production of none of the above last month. trevor is the owner of kaleidoscope theatre, a new production company based here in montreal; the company has thus far put up four productions, and is well on its way to making a name for itself here.
i had no idea what to expect from to be: in concert. the book and lyrics were both written by barrette, with music by gabriel frank and stephan bradshaw. a true home grown production. if you know me at all, you know how much of a lady boner i have for musicals, so needless to say, i was excited. all i knew of the plotline was that the show was about a young guy, adam, whose estranged father had passed away. a year later, adam is coming to terms with his father’s death, helped along by his cousin benny (played by none of the above‘s scott humphrey). the two get a little tips and hit up a local drag show. i expected a “coming of age” story, a lesson about life and death. to be: in concert was much more than that. what surprised me most was the way the show dealt with adam’s new found sexuality. adam realizes part way through act one that he is gay, and the show builds an intensely deep relationship between adam and the supporting male, seb. what struck me most was how honest the show was – the love scenes in particular were something i’d never quite experienced in theatre before: raw, gritty, honest, nothing was held back. i think the grandmother sitting next to me actually had a stroke when seb and adam ripped off one another’s shirts in a fit of passion. that said, it never felt inappropriate, and that’s tough to make happen.
damn, there is some serious music on the horizon for 2014. the new year is shaping up to be a good one, and with so many artists coming out of the woodwork, it’s always a bit of a task to keep up. so, for those of you that are looking to expand your musical libraries, aka not listen to the same james blake track on loop for a month (cough cough) i’ve put together a list of artist i’ll be listening to this year. there’s a wee something for everyone in here, and i would love for you to share which artists will be on your rotation in 2014.
i know you didn’t think i could write an artists to watch list without including a folk songstress. and oh have i got THE folk artist for you. cold specks calls both london and toronto home, and although she’s not new to the scene, i have high hopes for her for 2014. i mean, would you listen to that voice? she’s like the love child of macy gray and amy winehouse mixed with the civil wars backing production. she has an incredible tour lined up for the coming year, and i really hope we get to see more of her. her latest effort, blank maps, is also a favourite.