In the last year it feels like there is a Renaissance happening in Montreal’s Drum n Bass scene. There are now at least five crews that are regularly putting on quality events that feature bad ass international headliners. Local promoters like D32, Musik Me Luv, Alpha Squadron, The Session and Drum&Bass Collider are elevating the scene! Combine that with the new crop of talented up and coming local DJ’s and it’s starting to feel like the late 1990’s once again! I am gleefully caught up in the zeitgeist!
The latest big coup is that The Session & Drum&Bass Collider have teamed up to bring Ed Rush & Optical to Foufounes Électriques! These two British producers are pioneers of the DnB sub genres Techstep and Neuro. They founded the seminal record label Virus Recordings and are touring to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The duo have produced and released a dizzying arsenal of bangers.
They both came out of the British Hardcore scene in the 1980s. As solo artists in the early 1990’s, they were an integral part of the movement that transformed hardcore into the emerging genre of Jungle. A good example of this is Ed Rush’s 1993 track “Bludclot Artattack“. They each released a flurry of singles as solo artists on labels such as Metalheadz and Prototype Recordings which created some serious buzz. Optical also had a day job where he was engineering and producing classic albums by Grooverider & Goldie!
The duo met for the first time in 1995 at a dubplate mastering studio and hit it off. Soon after they decided to team up and they founded Virus Recordings to release their collabs. In 1998 they dropped their first album “Wormhole” and it cemented their status as pioneers. It has been described as the greatest drum and bass album of all time.
They followed it up with killer releases like Gas Mask / Bacteria, Watermelon and the Socom EP. The duo went on to release six full length albums and many more singles that have stood the test of time. They have toured the world playing massive festivals and remixed popular artists like Skunk Anansie and Rudimental’s anthem “Not Giving In“. This is the first DnB song that crossed over and became a legit mainstream hit. Helped in no small part by its heartbreaking music video. That song accomplished what David Bowie’s DnB album “Earthling” could not. So it’s fitting that they brought in Ed Rush to make a savage dark DnB remix to inject some edge back into it!
Watching Rudimental perform their hit song at Glastonbury was eerily similar to seeing Nirvana, Sonic Youth & Dinosaur Jr performing at the Reading Festival in the documentary “1991 : The Year Punk Broke“. One of those truly rare feel-good moments where underground music takes the world by storm! 2014 was the year DnB broke!
MEET YOUR HOSTS
To open for these DnB pioneers, a motley crew of local talent has been assembled. The event was co-created by Corey Kloda AKA CRIMEWAVE. Corey has become synonymous with Drum & Bass in Montreal. He began DJing in 1996, founded the record shop DNA Records soon after and began promoting concerts. For the past ten years he throws events as The Session. He has hosted a veritable who’s who of the major players in DnB, from old school heroes like Goldie, Marcus Intalex and DJ Hype, to cutting edge heavyweights Friction, Teebee & Calyx, and Chase & Status. The last time I saw Crimewave perform was in 2018 and he absolutely killed it opening for Ltj Bukem!
The other co-creator is Tobi Chamberland AKA STLKR who runs Drum&Bass Collider, an electrifying monthly event. For the past 4 years it has been energizing Montreal nightlife with its unique festive atmosphere. With its new residency at the legendary punk rock venue Foufounes Électriques he has booked some heavyweight out of town talent like Marcus Visionary, Remedy and Adred. Since the beginning of the millennium, STLKR’s mission has always been the same: to share his love of Drum & Bass. He has a contagious passion and delivers authentic performances. His heart runs at 170 BPM!
BEETEES has been DJing for the past 5 years. Heavily inspired by the UK scene, he delivers high energy sets that are a mix of the DnB sub genres Rollers, Jump Up and Dancefloor. Gig highlights include performing at Club Soda and at the Origins Music Festival.
THIS IS RAY got his start in 2011 in the duo Chaos & Disarray. Their concept was to think outside the box, experimenting with Mid-tempo, Glitch up and Fidget at a time when more conservative dubstep was omnipresent in the scene. Since going solo, house-y jams and drum n’ bass been a constant in his sets. He is in charge of Artist Relations for the Alpha Squadron crew and the Origins Festival.
VINCE GRAVE is a newcomer to the Montreal bass music scene. Inspired by influences from video games, to death metal, to grime, his style of dubstep and DnB blend dark atmospheres with abrasive sound design. His original songs are often featured on the popular twitch stream Gunfingaz Thurdayz. His track “Breakthrough” was included on their latest compilation. He recently opened for popular Toronto DnB artist Bensley.
JESKA is one of my new favourite local dj’s! I recently saw her performing a killer Bass House set at a loft party and she had that place bumping! She has great stage presence, impeccable musical taste and tight mixing skills. I’m really stoked to see her play some DnB! Since 2011 she has built a solid rep with performances at venues & festivals like Beachclub, Ile Soniq, Circus, Belmont, Newspeak and at the Théâtre Sans-Fils.
Finally, to take the Ed Rush & Optical event to the next level, VJ Line Katcho will perform throughout the evening. She will integrate the works of illustrators Stephane Dumais and Maxime Girard, and the 3D art of Najim Filali Saksak into her set. The projections will be seen on a custom-made screen conceptualized by Joseph Gervelli. Sounds like some serious production values are in store for us!
TALES FROM THE TRENCHES
In closing, I’ll share some anecdotes about my experiences with Ed Rush & Optical. When I first heard drum n bass in 1996 it blew my mind. It left the other genres of electronic music I was listening to in the dust. I began learning how to produce and DJ this fresh new genre that felt like music from the future. The rhythmic structure was so much more complex than the predictable repetitive 4/4 beats of the other genres. It was cerebral music with jazzy time signatures that was challenging to dance to. But with a bass that was so deep and heavy that it elicited a visceral sensation in your mid section. Which was contrasted by how the ambient synth pads lifted you up and gave your mind the feeling of floating in space. The beats being in double time and the bass being in half time created such a unique effect.
I distinctly remember the first time I heard the music of Ed Rush & Optical. It was 1998 at Jai Bar at their weekly DnB party. The DJ played “Custlo” and my life was forever changed. The breakdown in the middle led to the most incredibly evil sub bass sound I had ever heard! It sounded like an army of giant mutated killer bees swarming out of the speakers. This was the edge I had been missing in electronic music! I made a beeline to the DJ booth to find out who made this incredible track. And for the next year I spent a lot of time in the studio trying to figure out how to make distorted bass sounds that sounded like their swarm of angry robot hornets!
In the next few years I bought every vinyl of theirs that appeared in the local record shops, like at Corey’s old spot DNA Records. But I never got the chance to see them perform. The closest I ever came was at Winter Music Conference in Miami in the year 2000. I had just founded a record label so I went to the conference with a stack of demo cd’s to try and find a distributor. One night I had a few hours to kill before going to see Ed Rush & Optical perform at an event that didn’t start until 3am. So I tagged along with some friends to the infamous club Crobar to see Moby.
For the climax of his set he cranked the delay to the max and just stood there shirtless in a Jesus Christ pose for like 10 minutes as the strobe lights went berserk. It was a really lame finale so I made my way towards the bar. Now at the time I had long blonde dreadlocks. In the dark club lighting one of the inebriated Crobar promoters thought I was Josh Wink! For those who are unfamiliar he is a world class DJ & producer from Philadelphia.
The promoter gave me a VIP bracelet and a bunch of drink tickets and invited me to join his crew. I had lost track of my friends so I went along with it. He led us into an seemingly endless labyrinth of VIP rooms. There was always another more exclusive secret VIP room he wanted to show us. Along the way I met this lovely Latina lady and we had instant chemistry. I let her in on the joke and she was the perfect partner in crime! She made a point of calling me Josh with a straight face, waiting until we were alone to burst out laughing.
A few hours went by and suddenly the promoter gathered his crew and said “Danny Tenaglia‘s set at Space is starting in 20 minutes! Let’s go!”. I had to make a hard choice : do I ditch my new found posse and go alone to see Ed Rush & Optical? Drunk and caught up in the moment, I just couldn’t resist following the mischievous path I was already on. I had to see how far I could take this mistaken identity adventure!
We arrived at Space and the bouncer greeted me by my fake name. Once again I was given a VIP bracelet and our posse was ushered past the massive line and straight into the club. A wild night ensued as Danny played one of his legendary marathon sets. I played my cards right and never got exposed as a fraud. When the sun came up I ended up at a rooftop pool party. It was a truly memorable evening! In the months that followed the lady and I corresponded by email before eventually losing touch. Long distance flings were much harder to sustain before social media & texting existed!
Suffice it to say that despite my best intentions, forces beyond my control prevented me from seeing Ed Rush & Optical perform that night. I plan to make up for lost time on Saturday and dance my ass off! But to this day I still wonder whether Josh Wink was planning to attend that event at Space and I caused him some chaos at the door. So as a gentleman, I feel honour bound to offer him my guest list spot this Saturday as restitution. Sorry homie my hands were tied. An adventure came knocking and I couldn’t refuse the call!
Saturday April 22nd
Drum&Bass Collider + The Session present
Ed Rush & Optical
Virus Recording 25th anniversary
87 Ste Catherine Street East
Simon is 20 years into a life sentence in the music biz. He's performed at major international festivals and worked with Grammy Award winners. As Music Curator for BKM he gives you a sneak peek behind the curtain...