artist feature 021: Raf reza
For the 21st edition of our artist series we are pleased to welcome Toronto DJ, producer and all around analog aficionado - Raf Reza into the mix! Some of you may know Raf as the friendly face of downtown Toronto record shop, June Records. Or perhaps you've caught him on DJ duties at a local event, flipping stacks of wax like hotcakes and keeping the vibes fresh and funky. Whatever the setting, it doesn't take long to realize this vinyl junkie's passion for music runs deep. With a mixtape in 2016 that set partygoers palettes ablaze with it's spicy selections and smooth blends, Raf is looking to finish 2017 on a fiery note with the arrival of his debut EP- 'Proto'. Releasing this Friday November 3rd on Cosmic Resonance records, Proto serves as a fitting introduction to the multifaceted sounds of disco, funk, and all out space boogie that is Raf Reza.
Greets Raf, how was the Toronto summer?
It’s had its ups and downs… but this summer was a tremendously successful one for the wide variety of parties taking place within the city.
It looks like your DJ schedule has been quite busy the last few months, how have the events been going?
The party force has been very strong at almost every party I’ve attended, wish I could have attended, or DJ’d. Lots of hot international bookings coming to town and more and more open minded party people entering the mix. However, we could use more venues, could use more diversity, and could use more inter-scene mingling! I try my best to go out and check it all out so that I can broaden my understanding of the music, the people and the parties.
Talk to us about the record shop you work at, June records. What purpose do you think record shops still serve in our modern music landscape?
June records is an independent record shop located in the heart of Little Italy. Our mission is to be accessible for anyone that is into records from dads stuck in the Floyd Void to club DJs looking for white label balearic techno. We carry all styles, both new and used! Over the last year, I’ve been curating the Dance 12” section and I’m really happy the way things are going now. It’s nice to see the smile on peoples’ face when they find that hot European import in our shop!
I think record stores are an important pillar of the music community. It’s a place where a lot of different types of music heads can come together and enjoy the thrill of music both old and new. I think record stores are an exciting place because you can discover music that the online algorithms may have missed. It’s a place where you can meet a wide variety of people who share an intense passion for music.. And you never know what might come from record store connections!
Top 5 records from your shelves at the moment?
This changes seasonally for me but here are my 5 faves right now:
1. Mystic Jungle Tribe - Plenilunio [Early Sounds Recordings]
2. The Nick Jones Experience - Wake Up People [Massive B]
3. Righeira - Righeira [TELDEC]
4. West India Company - Ave Maria [London Records]
5. Nozzle Rhythm - Jazzwad [Scare Dem]
Talk to us a bit about the cassette only label you are involved with - coconut groove co.
Coconut Groove Co. is a boutique cassette label run by David Lee and Michael Cebo here in Toronto. They really nailed the DIY cassette label thing on the head. Every release is meticulously designed and all the music has a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek vibe. Their label has a playful innocence that I admire and it made it super fun to work with these guys! Check them out here:
You have some of your own music coming out on vinyl quite soon. Take us through the release and any inspirations that may have contributed to the sound.
The tracks on Proto were recorded over the last 3 years in my Toronto studio. I noticed that the majority of writing and arrangement for each track happened in a very short time frame. I find that the best tracks are the ones that quickly write themselves. I struggle with artistic hang-ups and find it difficult to let go but these tracks came out naturally for me and I think it helped things gel together real smoove.
At the time of working on this EP, I drew inspiration from a few of my favourite artists. The emotional synth lines of RAH Band, the call and response wizardry of Kashif and the cosmic atmospheres of Daniel Baldelli all contributed to the head space I was in when I wrote these tunes. Shoutout to the 80s for keeping it weird and wacky!
What’s coming up for the rest of 2017?
More gigs, more music and a new label for Toronto based artists… more on that next time!
Last shout outs?
Shoutout to everyone who has let the music open their mind and hearts.