Fresh Beats w/ DEMI

The best DJs can be broken down into two parts: style and substance.  Today’s most popular seem to be made of just one.  Much of the talent on this site probably relies a little too much on the other.  A select few possess a proper dose of both. Place DEMI in that category.

DEMIDEMI’s definitely the right mix of everything required to be a top EDM artist. He’s endured through the rapidly changing times of our culture and continues to endear to all that come across his effervescent personality. He has the skills to produce and spin tracks against conventional hype and the will to market himself so those tracks are heard. DEMI’s one of the few ‘music people’ who embraces both variables mentioned above and the responsibility that goes with such talent. He’s an example to the countless nu-breed who wish to follow a similar path.

His all-around, ultra-cool style has made him a legend in the Toronto scene. The party people have latched onto his energy in the booth and what we hear from the speakers grants him legendary status in our ears. From his bimonthly residency at Boa/Sonic, guest performances at System Soundbar, This is London, Footwork and Labour of Love events at the Guvernment, DEMI has an uncanny ability to captivate both crowds.

To commemorate the next chapter in DEMI’s Toronto legacy at INTIMATE & UNDERGROUND v13 at Toika Lounge on Saturday September 8th, he’s compiled an exclusive Fresh Beats mix to be added to the archive of DEMI dj sets - which includes loads of unreleased mixes – on the bringthebeats GLOBAL NETWORK.

We try to keep the genre classification in our archive as generic as possible so the listener has an accurate idea of what to expect in the mix.  bGN sets are either house, deep house, progressive house or tech house, but it’s always super difficult to place DEMI in only one of these classifications.  His own description, “genre buster” seems more appropriate for most everything he compiles.

We’ve placed this exclusive in the tech house category, but it’s incredibly deep and soulful at the same time.  It’s a perfect bringthebeats submission in that it’s unique and not something you’d hear played out too often.  Nevertheless, if this is the groove we hear from DEMI on September 8, I&U v13 is sure to be unbelievably great.

While you’re listening to DEMI’s substance, read on to delve a little deeper into this Brit’s impeccable style… you’ll realize there’s a lot of substance to it as well. 

You’ve recently succeeded in something way out of the ordinary for any DJ I know… You ran a marathon!! And for an amazing cause close to your heart.  What was the experience like?  I’m sure you had to make some incredible sacrifices.

The London marathon was four months ago (April 2012). My decision to sign up and run was two months prior to that, so the whole experience was super intense and fuelled by emotions from a scenario in our family we had never experienced before. It was the most testing of times for us all and something I wouldn’t ever wish upon any family.

London Marathon 2012 in memory of my nephew SOL..xMine was one of 37,500 heartfelt stories participating this year. I never imagined undertaking such a task as the studio bod I’ve become at the moment.  With my current health, it certainly wasn’t ideal. And when I asked my cousin for his blessing, family members thought I had a few more loose marbles in my head than usual. In truth, they weren’t all that enthused, which was born out of a concern for me and if I could adapt and train my body to run that distance in such a short space of time.

Impulsive? Admittedly it was. But I’ve always known I could overcome and accomplish anything with the right will. And compelled I did feel. Running for my nephew Sol and the hospital he was being treated in (Great Ormond Street), before his untimely passing, was the only motivation I needed.

Let’s just say I placed myself out of my ‘comfort zone’. My life, for the most part, had centered on music and giving in that form. But you need to put yourself through these kinds of situations to get to the core of self-discovery… and often in the most unpredictable of circumstance. So now I realize and feel I was more than just uncle DEMI to Sol and he in turn was more than just the gorgeous, brave nephew I had in my life. Sol’s a saviour of love.

To raise over £25,000 with my cousin for the hospital, and complete the marathon in just less than five hours, I think we did alright by Sol…x

In a recent interview, David Guetta accused the underground of killing dance music for being unwilling to embrace its full commercial potential, but on the other hand, he goes on about his “Daft Punk-like” instrumental track and forthcoming “electronic-only” label.  Can you be both mainstream and underground?

Before I answer your question, let’s make it clear what the term ‘selling out’ means because there is a slight relevance. In my eyes and heart, it’s devaluing the integrity of your craft in your art; plain and simple.

Now to answer your question: of course you can be both. It’s a chain of events and a natural order…that doesn’t equate to ‘selling out’. And it doesn’t mean if you’re one, you’re not the other. They’re not exclusive but the complete opposite. One feeds the other… and we know how that works. It’s often a beautiful accident and never intended… except in the case of the example you’ve just given!!!

There’s an inner conflict inside myself when it comes to the ‘likes’ of David Guetta, who have recently followed this chain of events and been slightly more calculating in their approach. Simplifying things a bit more ruthlessly… there are similar artists who have the circus around them and consequently skewed their own message to the masses. And one could argue that it’s the expectation of the audience that also fuels this circus act.

Staying positive; they’re human beings and I’m sure very pleasant chaps as well. I really want to think that and do.  But they consistently appear to shatter any hope he/she (since we’re in the age of equality) could be a credible ‘torch-bearer’ for the evolution of electronic music. Something we all wish to continue and see flourish with the next wave of talented artists that are emerging wanting a slice of the pie.

In direct reference to Mr Guetta: I’ve often heard many a comment that what he does is totally detached from the underground scene. But that’s bullshit; it’s one whole and that which is being represented wholly by all. The key differential is the now blurry line between the ‘DJ’ and ‘Producer’, because both are art forms.

If there’s one thing I would say, it’s that he’s bastardized the notion of the DJ by not detaching his professed love for DJing with the success he gained from ‘those’ productions and collaborations. As a producer he’s always been a one trick pony…and it’s not even a good trick. It makes it even more alarming when these mainstream artists give someone like Guetta kudos for the one-dimensional garbage he puts out. This is forward thinking…??? No it’s opportunist behaviour in its ugliest form.

Maybe as God intended, David Guetta’s purpose in life is to open the doors to the mainstream regardless of the substance of his music… Maybe my conscious needs to sit with that for now. So David Guetta, I loathe you and thank you…LOL!

I’m a firm believer in the now and the notion of living for the moment, but my heart belongs to the next level and the thrill that brings. If this might induce a level of stubbornness in my approach to performing and writing and involve a certain sacrifice for now…??…..then so be it!! I know there’s an element of ‘right’ in my thinking and that sits quite comfortably with my conscious.

Fortunately I think the positive strides forward in our culture are being made anyway. By those with a bit more integrity and the power to give back >> ultimately representing infinitely better than David Guetta. Integrity never dies, it only strengthens.

You’ve always promoted your music in very creative ways. Your SOS appearance on b@ TV looked mad fun and your new production’s inclusion on the Traktor tutorials (here and here) is some seriously clever promo. How important are these relationships and how are things going in the studio?

SOS on b@ TVOur relationship with b@ TV is a fantastic one.  Stay tuned for future collaboration and projects with those guys. I think they’ve embraced the future and harnessed the technology for a wider audience and the mainstream, as has Traktor.

As far as my music is concerned, with the few years downtime I’ve had, it’s been a slow, deliberate and self-taught process of learning and evolving in the studio. This wasn’t possible before because for almost eight years I’d been holding a hectic tour schedule that took me across the globe, whether by myself or with SOS. I found it impossible to attempt to apply myself in such an intense and soul-baring way.

Unfortunately I didn’t spend my younger years absorbing life in a studio, which I now curse, because those are the years when you are at your ‘sponging best’. There’s less distractions because you’re more naive and less aware…it’s a beautiful time.

But on the upside, this sustained time on the road is now coming into play in the studio during – dare I say – a more mature period in my life. All the main stage performances, festivals, after-party events, boat parties, social connections and situations I’ve experienced during ‘that beautiful time’, I’m now trying to harness and manifest through my music.  Ultimately, I’m mastering the art of expression and extension of self through this medium. The results are proving spectacular and I’m very much looking forward to sharing some of those secrets at INTIMATE & UNDERGROUND.

Since you’ll be in town during the Toronto International Film Festival (Get your tickets here!), we figured we’d wrap this up with a little Hollywood rapid fire.  Let’s call it the DEMI Awards!!

The DEMI Award for Best Actor goes to…

BUD SPENCER & TERENCE HILL (two that are one)

The DEMI Award for Best Actress goes to…

Queen Elizabeth II for THAT performance at the Olympics opening ceremony here in London

The DEMI Award for Best Director goes to…

Clint Eastwood

The DEMI Award for Best Picture goes to…

Any Richard Pryor film bar Superman 3

And last but not least, the DEMI Award for Best Motion Picture Soundtrack goes to…

ENTER THE DRAGON

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  1. Squirtle says:

    This is an interesting article which has an argument that deserves some observations. Demi’s points are clear and his critique of the actual state of affairs is worth the read. EDM is going through a shift which not too many have recognized as that and instead have decided to be blind and deaf to what has been transpiring in the scene. Some would call it a shame, others might say this is something expected after all the years that EDM remained in the underground. It was about time for EDM to go mainstream and this has brought some downfalls such as the ones mentioned and others which are probably obvious such as the explosion of fans at every big outdoor event that city promoters have organized so far this year. The list goes on but overall it can be said that some are ok with it whereas the purists have decided to go against it. Basic human interaction at play which is nothing out of the ordinary. Still, Demi calls out certain DJs in reference to some points and that, in my opinion, is what makes the article interesting. The point is not to take any sides until one is sure of having an idea of what both sides are arguing for and against. Especially in this scene where the mentality of dog-eats-dog tends to be a common trait. A very faulty mentality where apparently, the strongest prevails, in common parallelism to Darwin’s theory of species though in his argument, to be a bit more precise, the strongest does prevail but as long as cooperative bonds are formed in conjunction with values and costumes that are shared among members. So it can be argued that Darwin’s argument in the scene, and to some extent in broader society, misses some key points and dog does eat dog but then is left to a state of anomie given how the equilibrium among species is broken.

    To come back at Demi’s argument, there is a critique towards David Guetta, a renowned French DJ and producer, whose hits and performance-it is worth mentioning- have in some sense contributed to EDM going mainstream. It is not the only one responsible for this nor his words and actions should be conclusive of this. There have been others who have decided to follow the path of superstars and deservedly so without being deliberate about it. A case that comes to mind is Canadian DJ Carlo Lio which in his own right is one of the best musicians of the moment out there and still has kept true to his roots. It can be argued that Carlo is also a superstar, which might be disputed or not, depending on the view provided. The point is to show how there are still DJs that practice the craft and remain dedicated to it without caring too much for what else can be gotten out of the jam you are playing at. It takes up a lot of time and effort and that is something that the ones after them should be paying attention to instead of going explosive after having played at a couple of parties and believing that, for some reason, the world has to shift its view towards them because of the fact they are actually playing. Hold it there cowboys and cowgirls because as they say, the party just started.

    It is this type of mentality the one I’m referring to which has become the status quo and the issue at stake is that it is not being challenged. At least, not enough, and this is where Demi comes in as he rightly calls out on someone who is not respecting the craft as much as he should or could. However, I’m of the opinion that opportunist might not be the right word to be used as in some sense it is broad. Calling someone like that might have nothing to do with the fact that the person does it for a purpose different from that of opportunity. In the case provided, Guetta could do it for the money, the booze or any other reason that he thinks is suitable to satisfy his objectives. To me, it’s got to do with the attitude that I’ve been alluding to during this note. This type of behaviour reflects more of an enterist attitude when, in this case, DJs jump from group to group to attain their own agendas. There’s nothing wrong with that. DJs don’t have the obligation to remain with a certain crew. Interests and priorities change and what is good for one might not be necessarily good for the rest anymore. The issue comes when they do it for mere self-serving interests that resonate with whatever objectives they have in mind. There is a misalignment of objectives as one party is seeking to maximize the benefits of the group at the latter’s own expense without regarding the overall well being of the collective. Results might not be positive, and to give the example of Guetta, he took advantage of the underground and learned the craft there. When he no longer saw the necessity of being there, he simply went to the mainstream and made a fortune.

    Nothing intinsically wrong with that except for the fact that after he’d left he regarded the mainstream as the place to be at and dismissed his origins as nothing else but memories. That is, I think, the mistake he and others are doing without necessarily thinking in what consequences this might bring about. A practice of division where bad deeds might be multiplied? Only time will tell.

  2. barney says:

    Thanks for the commentary bro. There’s so much here, so I won’t specifically comment on what you’ve written… we pretty much agree anyway. I’ll just give my two cents based on what DEMI’s written…

    And where I totally agree with Demz is that it’s different to fall into mainstream success than it is to search it out as David Guetta has.

    Guetta lucked out into some celebrity connections – probably through his geographic location – made some crappy music for them and instead of falling back into an underground groove, he’s ridden the celebrity wave to become the biggest artist in the world. The likes of Simon Baker and William Orbital could’ve done the same after working with Madonna, but they didn’t and that was their choice… and they’ve obviously not completely blown up like Guetta has.

    It’s great that Guetta has found pop-sized success and fame, but for him to now bash the underground for not following the same path is total crap and kills his credibility as an artist. Own your choices and don’t compare them to anyone else’s. Who cares if the underground thinks you’re a sell out?? You obviously didn’t start making music with washed-up rappers to make quality underground beats… you did it to make $$!! Just live with that and don’t belittle those who didn’t choose that path.

    I just saw Dennis Ferrer this past weekend. He’s a guy that has enjoyed some mainstream fame, but for the right reasons. He’s made accessible music that has appeal to the commercial crowd. You could say the same for Daft Punk and the Chemical Brothers back in the day. People outside the underground became interested almost by accident, but mostly because its quality music that touches everyone in one way or another. I can almost guarantee mainstream success wasn’t on their mind in the studio… but I know that’s all that’s on David Guetta’s mine and this Observer interview exposed his struggle with it.

    Trying to bring people down to help you feel better is so childish… but what can you expect from someone who makes music for kids??

  3. squirtle says:

    barney. A staunch advocate of liberalism. Your points sum up the views postulated within said framework. The digression I’d have, in a similar though asymmetrical vein, is that selling out in the mainstream is not the same as selling out in the underground. I think this might be a topic for another thread so in a nutshell I’ll quote the following: “Not everyone is equal but every dollar is just worth the same”.

  4. Stephen Scott says:

    Great reading Demi – i concur.

  5. Gregor says:

    Thanks for checking it out Stephen… its really an interview that needs to be read.

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