ADSR Mix 001: Emilio Del Canto
June. 27. 2014
We caught up with Saskatoon deep house ambassador Emilio Del Canto to talk production, DJing, music, and influences. Founding member of the Fuse Collective and currently releasing on Liquid Soul Recordings, Emilio is poised for a big 2014. Oh he also left us with an exclusive hour of soulful house goodness.
So tell us about yourself… what was your introduction to electronic music, and what were your early influences?
Well, I started out DJing when my older brother hooked me up with my first set of turntables at age 15. I was living in Regina at the time and was always passionate about electronic music. I never had any formal training but always loved to listen. Front Line Assembly, Jean Michel Jarre, Enigma, and Crystal Method were some of the most relevant artists throughout my upbringing. At the time though, electronic music wasn’t really a cool thing, it was weird. Anyway, I started out DJing my highschool dances which primarily consisted of top 40 from the time, but I’d always try to fit in electronic tunes where I could. Those were my first experiences playing out.
How do you feel growing up in Regina and now living in Saskatoon has shaped you musically? What is the current scene like in Saskatoon?
Well, I started going to “raves” in Regina when I started dating an older girl while in high school. That’s when I realized that there was an entire industry of the music I was into and started doing the occasional opening spot. At the time I was really into Terry Lee Brown Jr and The Timewriter, deep tech stuff. Actually though, when I went to Africa after high school, I held a residency there at a club called KASS in a town called Lokosa, Benin. That was pretty massively influential. This was really when I learned about crowd dynamics and reading a room. But it was also influential from a musical standpoint, the music that I had to play was very different from what you’d hear in a club in North America. They really like latin music which I was already very familiar with as a result of my heritage. But I also had to learn how to play new music, like Zouk, and Saga, which actually have completely different time signatures from anything we hear today. So overall it was extremely challenging, in a good way, but also very eye opening as far as what a DJ is and what their role is.
and the current scene in Saskatoon?
The scene here? Well, it’s actually pretty sweet, there are lots of events going on that various individuals around town organize. Techno, Electro, Breaks, DnB, and that kind of stuff are pretty popular. Though it is sort of divided, I’ve been finding that there isn’t a lot of crossover between crowds that prefer different genres. In my case, I’m a lot more about the deep, soulful house type stuff, that’s what I make and that’s what I play. I have a number of different nights that I’ve run throughout my time here, passed through a number of different venues, and my whole thing now is about exposing music to a more general audience, as opposed to the people who are already into it. One of the nights I run is at a place called the Freehouse. It’s probably one of the few places you can see a crowd going bonkers to a deep house track at 2:00 AM. I’m now in the process of setting up a new night in town as well that I’d like to run along the same lines. We’ve got a lot of really good DJs here in town, so I generally book local talent. There isn’t really enough of a market yet to be booking larger deep house acts, but I’m hoping to get there within the near future, as the music’s exposure grows. My biggest struggle throughout my time here has been distinguishing our sound from the “rave” culture. Historically, lot of establishments shy away from electronic music because they associate it with drugs and candy and whatever else. Now that electronic music has broken into the masses though, it’s become more socially accepted and less underground, so we’re sort of in a very unique position at this point as a result.
Sounds like an interesting time to be involved! Tell us a bit more about The Fuse Collective.
Fuse Collective… to be honest, I’m really not sure how to define it. It started with the idea that myself and a few friends came up with. There wasn’t really much going on in Saskatoon at the time, so we started throwing these nights in the second story of a local live music venue called Lydia’s. Unfortunately it’s closed now, but it was one of those things where it ended up really taking off. We’d have like 150 people crammed into this small room, dancing, sweating, going nuts, it was awesome. That really helped us raise our profile in the city. Really though, at it’s core, fuse is just a bunch of dudes who are passionate about music and very talented, and we also play gigs together. We throw the occasional event, but stick primarily to our residencies at different spots around town. At one point we actually had Luke McKeehan and Jay Tripwire down for some shows. But really we’re just a few goofy guys who like to party and play music.
It sounds like you’re involved in many different roles as well : DJ, producer, promoter. How do you balance these? Does one take priority over the other?
Haha, I’m just Emilio… I’ve learned a lot about marketing and social media throughout my time as a promoter, but the biggest hurdle was being able to get to a point where what I do is sustainable from a financial standpoint. I’ve done a lot of shows where I’ve lost a lot of money, and to be honest, it shouldn’t be that way. With all of the costs involved from graphics, to talent, to spaces, gear, etc. it’s not realistic to do anything consistent without getting paid. I believe firmly that DJs, promoters, whoever should be getting paid for their time and the work that they do. I always pay my acts, and always make sure I get paid. Not because I do it for the money, but because everyone should be compensated for their contributions. Ultimately, if you can be consistent with what you’re doing, you’ll be able to attain your objectives.
As far as DJing goes, everything I know about music I’ve learned just from DJing, and I just love bringing forward the music that I’m passionate about. In a lot of ways, the music does most of the work for me. True there some tedious aspects to all of the above roles, but in reality my biggest struggle is often keeping perspective of why I’m doing it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming the stereotypical identity of a DJ or a promoter or a producer. A lot of the time we can lose ourselves in the recognition or the popularity. To be honest, I don’t even like promoting, it’s a huge pain in the ass, but I’m doing it because I believe in the music, and I believe in peoples inert desire to relate to it. To answer the question: music takes priority over all else, because in the end, it’s the reason that I’m doing it all. I love to make music, listen to it, play it, and whatever other things you can think of doing with it.
Speaking of making music… lets talk a little bit about producing. What is your current setup and what is your creative process for putting together a tune?
Well, I’m currently signing tracks to this record label Liquid Soul Recordings. They’re not the hugest label, but it’s sort of an outlet to just get my stuff out there and make it available to the people who like it. I view it as a platform for expanding and developing my repertoire. When I starting putting out tunes, they already had a lot of stuff that I identified with. Having said that, the music I make is first and foremost house, but it’s sexy, that’s really what I’m into. I really like rich, warm sounds, and deep emotional chord progressions. I also like to play with interchanging elements, whether it’s percussion and synths that compliment each other, or having contrast between vocals and and melodies. I dunno… I really just sorta sit down and see what comes out. I never really know what I’m going for until I make it, so I guess I have a really improvisational approach to my music. I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s total garbage, but I’ll keep going until I’m onto something I like. Though my sound is definitely not “mainstream” I also like to remix popular music. It’s sort of cheesy but I don’t care, it’s just something that I like doing, it’s like exercising my technical skills. I use Ableton Live 9 with an Akai MPK Mini and an Akai APC 40. I’m actually in the process of building a room in my house for a studio: walls, soundproofing, acoustic treatment, so I have a bunch of gear that I’m not using yet.
Nice one! How about the DJ setup these days?
I use an Ecler Evo 5, an Allen & Heath Xone 1D and Xone 2D, and some nu-marks. I really love using midi controllers while I play, throwing in effects and and fucking with stuff, maybe delaying drops or hooks. I love harmonic mixing as well, there’s nothing quite like a shift in energy created by a key change, as opposed to a massive drop with a bunch of white noise.
Can you give us one funny gig story?
Well, when I was in Africa, I also had a radio show that I used to host, playing a combination of electronic music and local stuff. Anyway, the locals have this word “Yovo”, which means white guy, so I started using that. Believe it or not, I actually gained a bunch of weight while I was there… So they gave me this name at the club I had the residency at. DJ “Yovo Adogo Daho” which literally means DJ Fat White Guy… I was cool with it…
Haha! So what does 2014 have in store for Emilio Del Canto?
This year I plan to finish my studio, and keep working on developing my style and my sound as an artist. Keep putting out music, keep putting on shows, and just enjoy what I’m doing. Once I’ve got a more developed repertoire of music, I’m probably going to go after some bigger labels. Really, now that everything is sustainable, I’m going to keep doing what I’m already doing while attempting to expand the Fuse Collective’s fanbase. I’d like to work on making house more accessible to everyone who has an interest in it. Local support is so important in this industry, especially when you’re just starting out, so I’m really thankful that we’ve had the support of everyone who’s been involved with us over the years. It’s always so fulfilling to connect with new people who have a shared appreciation for the music you love. I love it, I really do, and I’m going to keep on following this path.
Wishing you the best in 2014 Emilio, Tell us a bit about the mix you have for us.
This set is a good encapsulation of my sound. Mainly house music, it has a mixture of Deep House, Tech House, a lot of Garage, and a flare of Electro House. It’s a good mixture of mediums, and consists of a combination of records, my digital library, as well as one of my own productions. This set was recorded live at The Freehouse, Saskatoon in May of 2014, and is a good example of how I play out live at a club.
I’m also releasing a 3 track EP that you can Preview on Beatport in August 2014. Omg already… Enjoy!
Thanks again to Emilio for dropping in. Have a listen to the mix he left for us below, and find more of his music by following the links below.
Connect with Emilio on Soundcloud and Mixcloud
Emlio Del Canto
Live at the Freehouse
1. Disclosure - White Noise (Endor Remix)
2. DIsclosure, Elisa Doolittle - You (Original Mix)
3. Martin Ikin - Rhythm (Original Mix)
4. Turntable Orchestra - You’re Gonna Miss Me (Ejeca Remix)
5. Disclosure - F For You (TEED Remix)
6. Justin Jay - Into the Night (Original Mix)
7. Celsius - Incoming (Original Mix)
8. Daft Punk & Pharell - Get Lucky (Endor Remix)
9. Jeremy Sylvester - C’est Cool (Original Mix)
10. Linkoban - Like This (Tom Shorterz Remix)
11. Eats Everything - Hevvie (Original Mix)
12. Martin Ikin Hold Dis (Original Mix)
13. Endor - WIggle (Original Mix)
14. Codes - Guzzlin Champagne (Codes 2012 Rework)
15. De Sluwe Vos - OG Anthem (Original Mix)
16. Peter Dildo - Tripper (Original Mix)
17. Emilio Del Canto - The Sound (Original Mix)
18. Desos - House Music (James Johnston Remix)