Photo: Maria Jose Govea, Red Bull content pool
If you’ve been following our posts about our favourite new Canadian labels, you’ll have surely encountered the Alberta-B.C.-based electronic imprint Modern Math. That’s largely because, in their infancy, the label’s been releasing some of our favourite forward-looking beat music—and we especially love the work of Sanctums, the production duo featuring MM label honcho Dan Solo and Evangelos Typist.
Over multiple releases—like the instrumental hip-hop leaning Tongue, Teeth, Lips EP, released on Close to Modern, the cerebral, techno-leaning self-titled EP that followed, or the wonderfully subtle Truth Lifting Up Its Head Against Scandals—Sanctums became one of our favourite acts in Canada. Oscillating between ambient, home-listening fare and experimental dance music, the project is, according to its creators, partly inspired by leftist writing. No surprise, considering Typist has a degree in critical media studies. “For me personally any art is an extension of what the artist is living through,” he says. “I would say my overall disappointments with modern societies globally defiantly come through in the sound.”
Oh, and about that sound? It’s an amalgam of Solo and Typist’s strengths. “Dan is the producer’s producer. His sensibilities are rooted in engineering, sequencing, and complex drum programming, which is essential to our project,” he says. “I think i bring a more of a musical and experimental approach with melodies and bizarre sampling.”
As a better indicator of Typist’s abilities, here’s a just-dropped song in tandem with the Calgary Underground Film Fest.
Typist, for his part, finds himself as part of an emerging scene in Calgary—he plans to start a cassette label to document the movement, while the scene boasts an Ableton production school run by Sergio Levels. But he’s also kept a close tab on Canada’s other regional scenes: Along with being invited to Red Bull’s Music Academy in Montreal last month, he professes admiration for Vancouver’s electronic scene (thanks to the Lighta! crew) and Hamilton’s output (see: Junior Boys, Jeremy Greenspan, and Jessy Lanza).
So, as a celebration of Canada’s regional electronic pockets, we had Typist curate this list of his fave up-and-coming producers.
The first name Typist suggests? A soft-focus Calgary r&b group, with only two tracks on their Bandcamp. “[They’re] stupidly talented low-fi soulful r&b Pakistani brothers from the immigrant suburbs of Calgary,” says Typist. “I’m helping them produce and release their first EP.”
[bandcamp id=”1718713981″ mode=”track”]
Kline, like Sanctums, are recent Red Bull Bass Camp alumnus—for those not familiar with the program, it’s a crash course of lectures, studio sessions, workshops, and performances, all centred around the art of production. “Taylor Kline is easily one of the most talented young producers in the game… and he recently moved to Calgary,” says Typist. “His blend of dark field recordings and smooth downtempo beats leave the listener with chills.”
Calling Vancouver home, this duo uses crisp production to produce music that’s sun-drenched, dreamy, and endlessly listenable. “It’s the pet project of Max Ulis and Robbie [Slade] from Humans,” says Typist. “Their debut album just took off on Hybridity, with support from Skream. Easily one of the best releases of 2014.”
The aforementioned levels—he of Calgary’s Ableton production school—is up next. “The young don of the Calgary electronic music scene,” adds Typist. “[He’s the] Hi-Fi resident DJ, Modern Math label head and teacher at Calgary’s producer school Beat Drop. Sandro, a.k.a., Sergio makes insanely well-produced techno: clear, cohesive and daring song writing in the vein of New Kanada.”
8prn is Patrick Holland’s production project—he’s also a part of Vancouver’s ASL Singles Club. (Who, if we’re on the topic, recently cut a pure, uncut house EP by Sleepyhead. Consider us addicted.) As for 8prn himself? “He’s Base Camp alumni, and a young and talented dude from Van,” says Typist. “Had a blast with him in Montreal at Base Camp. His stuff swims between Swamp 81 two step and west coast techno. Very excited to see what he comes out with in 2014.”
“Jeff [-Antoine Cote] is the representer on this list for PhilthKids, a group of people from all over the country making pretty crazy booty bass and ghetto stuff,” says Typist. “Jeff has got a pretty sick EP coming out on Aufect pretty soon,” says Typist. “Dude is super talented and has a really good ear for studio engineering.”
Typist says Bryce Maruk—who goes by Orthicon—provided video work for Sanctums. “He’s worked closely with us,” he says. “It wasn’t until last year I found out he was making James Blake-esque downtempo r&b. He’s a super-talented producer and visual artist who’s got a few not-yet-announced releases lined up for 2014.”
Though he’s cut from a different cloth than many on this list—he’s a rapper—Young Braised has been a longtime AUX fave. He released Japanese Tendencies, a mind-melting future rap outing, on 1080p, a Vancouver electronic label we counted among our favourites. “I got a chance to meet this guy last weekend when we played in Calgary,” adds Typist. “Hilarious, challenging, but totally not ironic west coast white-guy rap. He’s probably the first white-guy rap project I’ve been able to take seriously, and his live show is an impressive setup of security cameras and screens. He’s the wild card on this list.”
Photo: Maria Jose Govea, Red Bull content pool
Let’s get this straight: Typist didn’t nominate Sanctums to this list. But we’d feel ridiculous leaving them off. Having performed at Shambhala and Bass Coast, this duo has perfected a wide-open aesthetic: Their LP established them as a largely ambient project; Truth Lifting Its Head Against Scandals dabbled with drone and downtempo; their self-titled EP, cut last May, inched them closer to the dancefloor (even if parts certainly felt like home-listening techno). Here’s the best part, though: All their output, thus far, has been fantastic.