The west coast of Canada has never been a hotbed for electronic music. The country’s most exalted names in house and techno have tended to hail from Quebec and Ontario where influence from New York, Chicago and Detroit is at its most pronounced. Vancouver has rarely figured in Canadian counter culture but a creative collective of musicians and producers are trying their best to address that geographical and cultural balance. Mood Hut is a small independent label that is spearheading this insurgency. Over the past two years releases from Jack J, Pender Street Steppers and Aquarian Foundation have captured the imagination of a wider audience and have served to shine fresh light on a microcosmic scene in British Colombia that is influencing far beyond the borders of North America.
Cloudface, who played in London last Saturday, was the first artist to release via Mood Hut. His superb Devonian Gardens EP (MH001) set down a firm marker and helped to encourage favourable response to the releases that would follow it. Since that initial success, he has gone onto release via Brixton’s Going Good and Opal Tapes (Black Opal) both justifiably, receiving high praise and acclaim. In Europe for the first time to play a host of shows, his live performance is definitely worth experiencing as he carves sonic waves from a myriad of analogue equipment. A gentleman wholly, it was a pleasure to ask him a few questions about life on the west coast and how he’s adapting his studio setup to life on the road;
There's a ton of great music emanating from British Columbia right now. Can you describe the scene there at the moment?
The scene here in Vancouver is really good at the moment. The majority of parties/gigs are thrown by people who are actively involved in making music, and due to the restrictive liquor license laws the spaces where these events are held are more underground, off the map type places. Venues where people are free to be creative and do whtaever they want to make the party special.
To your mind, what is encouraging and inspiring this particular crop of producers and musicians?
The city bylaws in Vancouver have forced the dance music scene underground and it's really thriving. Parties are fun and inspirational, you leave feeling energized.
Also with rental prices being so expensive the only way to keep a good studio space is to share with a bunch of people. This leads to people dropping in and hanging out, working on tracks together or just talking about gear and interesting new tricks or techniques that you may have just discovered. I think that because of this it makes everyone better at what they do. There's always a veil of mystery behind what people do to make certain tracks or certain types of sound, and at least in our studio that curtain is pulled aside slightly 🙂
Tell us a little about the music that has helped you to form your sound and who you listened to growing up.
I grew up listening to a lot of DIY punk/hardcore music and while I don't think this really influenced my musical style it definitely influenced the process of making tracks.
I focus a lot on capturing a certain vibe or atmosphere in the moment rather than stressing about things like noise floor or perfect performances.
How did you get involved with Mood Hut?
I've known Liam, Jack (Pender Street Steppers) and Ian (local artist) for years through the local music scene here. As I said earlier, finding studio space is tough in this city but they had a sweet little spot that they were using and they were looking for people to move in and share it. This was before Mood Hut started… When I moved in there it was around the same time as Aquarian Foundation moved in and we were all just making music and having fun.
Once the label started they asked me if I'd be the first release. There was so much good stuff for them to pick from that was happening in the studio, I felt super honoured that they wanted to launch with the cloudface record.
You're coming to Europe soon to play some shows, how are you feeling about that?
I'm really excited. It's been crazy trying to figure out all the gear and what to bring/not bring but I'm really looking forward to the shows and meeting some of the people that have reached out and corresponded over the last few years.
You perform live, as oppose to DJing, can you describe what your live setup/set entails?
My live set is very similar to how I work on tracks in the studio. I basically pick a bunch of synths and drum machines, make some sequences and then improvise the arrangements live. This gives me the option to really play with the direction of the tracks but still have solid melodic structures to work with and come back to.
Who among your contemporary artists and producers is really inspiring you at the moment?
I'm lucky enough to be mostly influenced by my friends music, there's so many people making good music in Vancouver. To name a few; Neo image, local artist, Aquarian foundation, PSS, d.tiffany, c3deee/arnp/PLO man, Hashman, Bluntman, bobby draino, florist… Too many to list.
What is upcoming for you in terms of releases this year?
I have a bunch of stuff planned but nothing has been announced just yet… There should be at least two Cloudface records out this year though.