The house DJ performed at Igloofest’s opening weekend
Igloofest brings thousands of people together to dance in the ice-cold winter to the beats of the world’s best DJs. The festival kicked off on Thursday, Jan. 12 and will be going on until Feb 19. On Saturday, Jan. 14, Amir Javasoul, a house DJ based in Montreal, closed the Videotron stage from 10 p.m. until midnight. His high energy techno beats kept the crowd warm throughout the night. The audience danced enthusiastically to his European style techno sounds until the very last minute. Javasoul has been Djing at Igloofest for the past 10 years and is known for performing at other festivals and clubs in the city, including Piknic Electronik and Stereo. “Igloofest is something unique. I can’t think of any other festival in the world that brings over 10,000 people to dance in the cold,” said Javasoul. According to the Igloofest website, 2016 welcomed 79,000 people to the festival, 25,000 of which attended the opening weekend last year.
A computer engineer by day and a renowned DJ by night, Javasoul began spinning vinyl 20 years ago. Growing up in Montreal, he started going to clubs which, he said sparked his passion for electronic music. “I just really liked the complexity of electronic music,” he said. “At the time, most people were listening to rock or pop. Techno and house was a new type of music that had endless possibilities.”
According to Javasoul, It was Derrick Carter, a legendary Chicago house DJ and producer, who first inspired him to take on the art of mastering house and electro beats. Javasoul said there are three cities that are important in house music: New York, Detroit and Chicago. New York house was a by-product of disco. Detroit experimented more with new technology and machinery—it was more industrial and techno-oriented. Chicago was in between, combining elements of house and techno.“Usually, people who started Djing back in the days, they connect to these original sounds. I connect most with Chicago house, ” said Javasoul.
It can be easy to confuse house and techno music. “House music has a more organic sound to it. It derives from disco, and when you listen to a house track you hear more instruments, baselines and percussions,” said Javasoul. “Techno is much more linear. It is more industrialized and computerized.” According to Javasoul, today’s technology makes it easier to mix a lot of different sounds and genres together. “There is less of a need to distinguish between house and techno,” said Javasoul. “You can create a beat that has both elements combined. We can simply start to call all of it electronic music.” He said technology has also taken away the actual need to know how to mix records. Today, a computer software can do it all for you. “When I started, it was about mixing vinyl records together. You learned the real craft of mixing records,” said Javasoul.
Whether Javasoul plays at Igloofest for 10,000 people or at Stereo for 1000 people, he said he needs to adapt his music to the crowd’s ambiance. “I never plan in advance. It’s always on the fly,” he said. “I get there, I feel the crowd, I test some tracks here and there to see how the reaction goes. It’s always been an impulsive process.” He said his number one rule about Djing is to never program a set—it’s what makes electronic music different from all other genres of music. “You have the liberty of creating on stage. DJs can play live sets and create beats right on the spot,” said Javasoul.
In 2001, Javasoul moved to Paris, where his musical career bloomed. He got to try out his music with a completely different crowd and was able to gain experience Djing around Europe. “I got to play in many cities such as Paris, Berlin, London and Ibiza,” he said. “I was in France for 10 years and it was the most important years of my DJ career.” He played in renowned clubs such as Queen, Studio 287, The End, Ministry of Sound, Pacha Ibiza, Crystal Istanbul and Fabric.
In January 2015, Javasoul played in the main room of club Fabric in London alongside Craig Richards and Ricardo Villalobos who are both renowned DJs in the underground scene. DJ Ricardo Villalobos also came to Montreal for the MUTEK festival in 2014. “Fabric was the most important gig of my life,” said Javasoul. “I played with the two best DJs in the world in one of the best clubs in the world.” Javasoul has also performed at the Burning Man festival and multiple times for Piknic Electronik. “Piknic Electronik and Igloofest organizers are the same crew. They love to showcase local and international talent and they find a good way to blend both together,” said Javasoul.
It’s Javasoul’s interaction with the audience and sharing his love for music that makes the experience of performing most worth it, he said.“The best part is when you get the reactions of the people you play for. Being an international DJ has also made me a lot of friends from around the world. You become friends because of the music and then your friendship grows” said Javasoul. Recently, Javasoul has been working on a collaboration called “Creatures of Habit” with DJ producer Maher Daniel. Together, they released a vinyl record last month. Stay tuned for Javasoul’s upcoming shows, where his house beats will send you running to the dance floor.