Meet Midsplit, EDM’s newest challenger from Montreal

Up-and-coming electronic music producer and artist Midsplit talks about his road to the Canadian music scene. 

Memories of Avril Lavigne blasting in his headphones still brings a smile to the face of Maxence Pepin. He’s come a long way from those first pivotal moments of music in his life. Now a 22-year-old music producer living in Montreal, he’s following his dream of being the Avril in someone else’s ears.

Growing up in Montreal, Pepin had a normal childhood. His life was spent in suburbia, as he took on normal tasks like working as a cook at an Italian restaurant and playing basketball with friends on a local court.

With the support and encouragement of his parents, he made the difficult choice to drop out of school and pursue his true passion: music production.

With the help of Dutch producer Steve Void, Pepin found his way through the obstacles of being an artist in the Canadian music industry. Electronic and house music maker Kayliox was Pepin’s local hero, and like Void, helped him gain the confidence he needed. Hard work and patience has paid off, as Maxence now produces and performs under his artist name, Midsplit.

After writing a song for a close friend going through a difficult time, Pepin discovered that making music had a genuine impact on those around him, and showed him why music mattered.

His first song released, “Either Way,” was a powerful, lyrically-driven song with eclectic production as he combined chill tropical house and trap for the first time. This sound made Pepin want to expand and pursue a real production career and get outside of his bedroom.

Like most people, Pepin has had his fair share of heartbreak. In tune, he channelled some of those emotions in songs.

He released his debut album For My Future Past on Oct. 19. Pepin hopes the child inside of him never dies and uses this idea as the inspiration behind the new project. Pop, punk and R&B vibes can be expected throughout the record.

While simultaneously building a start-up in the tech world, managing and owning his own record label, and working on more music, the future looks bright for Pepin. As he continues to work with artists like BRDGS, A-SHO, and Casey Cook, Pepin’s dream of one day producing for Avril Lavigne will never be far from his mind.

We sat down with Pepin to dig deeper into who he is as an artist and a person.

The Concordian: Who was the first person to tell you that you were really good at the thing you loved to do?

Maxence Pepin: The first people were my parents, they have believed in me since day one. They let me drop out of university and live with them to create a balanced financial life and have time to create my craft. I am blessed!

TC: You just released “Where U Belong,” a song with fellow Canadian artist BRDGS, how did your relationship start? 

MP: We met through a mutual friend, A-SHO! We hung out while I was on a business trip in Toronto. When I came back home to the studio, BRDGS sent me a very cool demo titled Where U Belong, and the rest is history.

TC: Heartbreak and loss can be daunting and hard to move on from, what are some techniques you use to heal? 

MP: My last heartbreak was a very long time ago… like four years ago! I closed myself up because I was extremely hurt, I am a very emotionally-driven person. I started getting over my heartbreak after I opened up to my friends and family, talking about the pain and being told that it’s okay to be hurt really took me a long way.

I also might have helped write a couple of love songs in the meantime, but those songs will probably never see the light of day.

TC: Your debut album is For My Future Past. What can you tell us about this project? 

MP: For My Future Past is my way of dealing with nostalgia. I hate becoming an adult and I hope I can continue to be the man-child that I am (in a good way!). The album is very inspired by the music of my childhood, which was mostly pop-punk and R&B. I think there is something for everyone on the album as it has a very diverse and accessible sound, even if the inspirations might seem far-fetched the end result is very modern and crisp and super easy to listen to.

TC: What was the first song you produced that you really wanted other people to hear?

MP: The first song I was beyond excited to put out was “Either Way” with Casey Cook. The production was — at that time — the most innovative I had ever made and the lyrics were so powerful. I feel like at that moment I knew I was stepping out of my shell of being a bedroom producer and that I wanted to pursue a real production career.

TC: You don’t just produce for yourself. Recently you produced “Vicious Circles” by KARLI, among others. Who else are you writing with/producing for?

MP: A-SHO and KARLI wrote [Vicious Circles] a very long time ago. A duo friend of ours, Lucky Rose, made a really good demo out of it but they could never quite finish the song. So they ended up sending me the stems of what they had and I redid most of the production on the track.

Sometimes having someone outside the track is the best person to produce it as that person is not attached to a specific sound. I do quite a lot of productions for artists on my record label, Sadboy Records but I usually don’t build the whole songs, I’m quite good at finishing tracks. I would love to work with Charlotte Cardin or Avril Lavigne. I grew up blasting Avril’s music in my headphones and Charlotte is just pure artistic perfection to my taste.

TC: Is it easier to produce for yourself or for someone else?

MP: It is MUCH easier to produce for someone else as you are often far less attached to the end product. By no means is the end product ever bad but it is never exactly on-brand for what I enjoy putting out under my Midsplit alias.

TC: Who are people in music who have helped you? What are the obstacles of being a Canadian in music?

MP: I have received a lot of help from Steve Void, who is a Dutch producer. I have permanent respect for the helping hand he gave me in the music industry. Another important figure in my career is A-SHO, who I met through another important person named Kayliox. Kayliox gave me a lot of confidence on his live streams while he was touring the world and giving producers feedback on their tracks, funnily enough, I was (and still am) a huge fan of his and today we are very good friends! A-SHO taught me a lot about songwriting and the need to perfect my craft, to a point where I am compulsive about it. A huge obstacle of being a Canadian in music is that the local industry is very tough and very closed off, it’s very hard to get any recognition, especially in dance as there are so many Canadian artists for such a small country.


Photo Credits: Samuel Bourget Photography


PHOTO GALLERY: MEUTE at Société des arts technologiques (SAT)

MEUTE at Société des arts technologiques (SAT) on October 10, 2019

Photos by Guillaume Knobloch



The Chainsmokers know how to get lit

Flames, fireworks, motor bikes, lasers and suspended metal fixtures — this and more were part of The Chainsmokers’ show at the Bell Centre on Oct. 9. But before all that, Lennon Stella and 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) performed their sets.

Visually, Stella’s stage production was underwhelming. There was no décor or props of her own. All we got was Stella, her guitarist, and drummer. Unfortunately, she was often overtaken by backing tracks or aggressive, auto-tuned-sounding vocoder harmonies. The crowd was only able to hear Stella’s true voice during an acoustic version of “Like Everybody Else.” This was the highlight of her 30-minute set along with her performance of “La Di Da.”

After an excruciating near-20 minute wait, four-man band 5SOS hit the stage – Luke Hemmings, lead vocals; Calum Hood, bassist; Michael Clifford, lead guitarist; and Ashton Irwin, drums. They started with their 2014 hit-single “She Looks So Perfect,” the perfect tune to kick-start the show, both for nostalgic 5SOS fans and anyone prone to tapping their feet to a catchy beat.

There was a well-balanced assortment of tracks off their newest album Youngblood like “Want You Back” and “Ghost of You,” current singles “Teeth” and “Easier,” and hits from the past like “Amnesia” and “Jet Black Heart.” The 17-song set, which lasted a little over an hour, was enjoyable and it looked like they were having as much fun performing as we were watching.

Each member took the time to say a few words. Like many artists that visit Montreal, they seemed to unashamedly proclaim their affinity for the city. Hemmings jokingly tried his hand at French while Clifford, on behalf of the band, expressed their unique connection with the city and its creatives. While Hood most notably expressed his enthusiasm through the use of several profanities, Irwin’s comments caused quite a stir. He excitedly let fans know how happy they were about playing in Montreal after a five year absence. However, dedicated fans let him know that they had, in fact, visited July 13, 2016.

After ending their set with “Youngblood,” the band walked off stage and there was another nearly 20-minute wait for the duo everyone was waiting for.

With metal structures falling into place over the stage, the DJ duo of The ChainsmokersAlex Pall and Drew Taggart – along with drummer Matt McGuire, walked on stage holding up a flaming stick each (Olympics style). The crowd went wild when they started their set with insane visuals of smoke, steam bursts, and lasers.

The Chainsmokers performed the next two hours with such intensity and energy that resonated with and through the crowd. Without expectations of how their set would pan out (we mostly went for 5SOS), there was a certain shock value with everything the DJs did on stage.

After “Sick Boy,” which Taggart performed in a metal sphere suspended in the air, 5SOS came back on stage to perform a rigorous rendition of “Who Do You Love” halfway through The Chainsmokers’s 15-song set. Taggart asked the crowd who was ready to dance and picked a young woman out of the crowd. As soon as the bass dropped, she did the floss, kicked up her leg, did a cartwheel and landed in the splits.

Throughout the rest of the show, there were more flames, lasers, steam bursts and a light show happening all at once. By the last song, Taggart was standing at the top of the metal structure on stage, maybe 50 feet up, looking like he was living his best life.

All in all, The Chainsmokers put on an impressive performance. It might have been because we had no idea of what to expect, but it was definitely a show to remember.


Photo by Jesse Di Meo


Electronic Dance Music is a passing craze

Unfortunately we can’t always choose what genres gain mass audiences

From the droning sound orgies of Skrillex and Zedd, to more digestible beats synergized by artists like Daft Punk, EDM (Electronic Dance Music) has found itself into the nightclubs, raves and in the ‘drops’ of tacky radio singles that seem to plague so many of our generation’s sound systems. Seldom listened to at low volumes and difficult to get really passionate about while not working out or being completely sober, distinctly mainstream EDM as a new and yet slowly dying fad (depending on who’s talking), covers a range of electronica sub-genres whose purpose is to induce intense dance fits in its users. For the time being, these mainstream branches including millionaire mixers and celebrity DJs will be the main target of this discussion (think late night radio club remixes without their corresponding Dr. Jekylls). Slithering its way into pop culture using catchy calculated beats, the unavoidable intrusiveness so characteristic of the genre is hardly a reflection of a capitalist-hedonist society obsessed with a vain sense of escapism. Cough. Too harsh?

Alright, so it is simply impossible to argue why a genre as a whole is good or bad based on how it sounds, and yet objectively speaking, EDM has been a hot topic on quite a few different levels. The genre has been under fire not only for its characteristic bass drops devoid of emotion, but also the amount (or lack) of knowledge and skill required to pull off a live performance. Critics often attack the alleged mental traffic that the genre induces, as well as the fact that EDM performances usually don’t require a band up on stage but rather a single button-pusher staring blankly out into the crowd (See “David Guetta Completely lost @ Tomorrowland 2014” on YouTube).

Back in 2012 on his Tumblr blog, Deadmau5 had written a short manifesto highlighting what exactly was needed for a live EDM concert to be successful: “It’s not about performance art, it’s not about talent either … I think given about one hour of instruction, anyone with minimal knowledge of ableton and music tech in general could DO what I’m doing at a Deadmau5 concert.” So there you have it, a genre that, as far as live performances go, simply requires a basic understanding of computers. However, according to Deadmau5, that’s not the point: his skills shine “in the goddamned studio, and on the fucking releases.” That being said, it would seem that for the consumers, while EDM studio tracks are the more frequented method of listening, raves and concerts are the real apex of the experience.

Pushing aside the genre’s aesthetic squabbles, it’s important to note that drug use is inherently interwoven with EDM culture, where the genre’s primary focus on mindless pleasure might be to blame. And while drug use in and of itself is a matter of personal decision, EDM festivals are notorious for their frequent overdoses and death counts that never fail to attract the attention of the media. While it’s not always bad to enhance a listening experience with illegal substances, being able to appreciate the genre only when high or drunk might be an indication of its artistic scope.

Whilst on the topic of drug use and music, head-banging on ‘Molly’ with all the ‘cool’ kids seems almost flat and self-defeating especially in contrast with using similar drugs (or not) with a friend or two.

Even on the outskirts of the genre itself artists like Flying Lotus have managed to transcend monotony by incorporating a distinct jazz feel, even MGMT’s 2013 self-titled album is a perfect example of a band that merges with electronic elements to amplify a more well-defined and exploratory sound. So while EDM is considered to be a part of electronica, other subcategories that fall into the electronica field are in no way limited to the dull predictability that’s found within the excessive pulses typical of mainstream EDM. It’s hard to believe people are dropping Lucy and shrooms with Skrillex being blasted into their skulls.

Whether one is searching for meaning and catharsis or looking for a distraction from the horrors of reality (why can’t we have both?), EDM is diving headfirst into the bland vanity of the mainstream. It will inevitably result in its swift self-destruction, while the underground scene of musicians and artists will effervesce and rise up from the mud of EDM as a past pop-culture mishap, (seriously though, is there, and will there ever be anyone over fifty who genuinely enjoys EDM?), only to result in new genres finding themselves in the same mainstream cul-de-sac.

At any rate, it simply boils down to individual taste and in this case maybe even philosophical point of view. EDM is just one of many art forms which has a brilliant effect on some and can be the instigator of a bad trip for others. It’s hard to say whether the more popular streams of EDM are a hallmark of capitalism that is harming the music industry, or if it actually is the glorious product of pampered artists meant to inspire a generation to ‘party hard.’


The blurred lines of electronic dance music copyright

Graphic Jenny Kwan

Musicians often call each other out if they feel their music or their words have been ripped off or incorrectly accredited by their peers; some have even taken each other to court over it to be properly recognized.

For example, Marvin Gaye’s children are suing Robin Thicke and those involved with his summer hit “Blurred Lines.” According to CBC News, Thicke and company are being accused of copyright infringement.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines copyright as “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work).”

Normally, in this situation, you would be shunned by your peers and ostracized, but in the world of electronic dance music (EDM), this is not necessarily the case.

In EDM culture, underground producers will often take parts of famous songs and use them to create their own unofficial bootleg remix. These artists aim to generate a following through their remixes, even though it was never technically allowed in the first place. Despite the lack of accreditation, the EDM community does not frown upon those producers at all. Rather, artists are praised when they outdo themselves and spawn a fanbase from said remixes.

Examples have been seen in the early projects by Zedd, as well as Porter Robinson. Other artists such as W&W, Jump Smokers, David A, and many more have contributed to the world of bootlegs resulting in hundreds of thousands of views, according to SoundCloud.
Another form of musical ‘copy-cating’  that exists in this scene is much more controversial to say the least. Sometimes, famous artists use the work of underground producers as their own without crediting them in the song, but credit them as an artist in their circle of “friends.” Briefly put, someone steals your song, calls it their own, and tells the world that you are – indirectly – talented.

The best example of this music fraud is showcased all over the Internet, especially on the music blog Do Androids Dance. Apparently, DJ Snake, a recognized producer who is signed to Diplo’s record label, Mad Decent, uploaded a remix of the song “Breathe” by The Prodigy and Mercer and labeled it his “DJ Snake Parisian Remix.” Upon further inspection, an underground artist named Breaux also released the same remix. Many believed DJ Snake stole Breaux’s work but, in the end, the former got off scot-free and the latter gained supporters and fans alike from this mess and was satisfied with the outcome.

“Original work is hard to come by these days and people just get accustomed to hearing regurgitated music,” said Andru, a trap music producer from Montreal. “It’s all the same stuff and people love it.”

Surprisingly enough, situations like these happen on a daily basis in the world of EDM, for better or for worse. Artists often become famous for using the work of others and can build careers as DJs from it.

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