Techno and house with a Montreal touch

Marbré is ready to take over the city’s electronic music scene

At the end of a corridor, mimicking the atmosphere of the Paris catacombs, lasers are skimming through the room, creating an atmosphere blending visuals and sound draped in blue light. While Jean, also known under his stage name Salem, is behind the turntables for his first set, other members of Marbré are getting ready to take over the set until 3 a.m.

But before becoming a music collective, these young men were primarily a group of friends. Hector, Jean, Pierre, Benjamin, Jules, Simons, Lucas, Ezer, and Nico, who wish to remain anonymous as part of their collective image, all share a passion for electronic music that pushed them to form Marbré in September of 2019.

The eight McGill students created Marbré with the main goal being to democratize all aspects of electronic music through their passion for mixing. “We are on a large spectrum of electronic music; listening to different styles,” said Jean, who is in charge of communications. “We can give the people a taste of all the other genres that exist.”

“That’s what we are trying to do in our sets, to transfer from techno, to tech-house, to deep-house,” said Lucas, the graphic designer of the collective. “To gather as many genres as possible.” They demystify what is happening behind the turntables and shed light on the creative process behind DJing.

The collective found a frenetic audience at both of their house-style shows that promises them a bright future. “We have to learn how to control the energy we get as this project begins,” said Nico, one of Marbré’s DJs. “The hype that we got from the night at the Belmont was not expected.”

Yet, the success of their performances does not seem to trouble the members of Marbré. “We need to stay in contact with reality, keep our feet on the ground, our hands on the plates,” said Lucas, with a laugh.

On Jan. 23 at the Velvet-Auberge St-Gabriel, Marbré had their first show as La Marbre, the name used to distinguish their techno performances. “The idea was to develop something that was more tech,” said Hector. “To continue the big house events that everyone loves but also to develop a more techno branch—something deeper.”

La Marbre will also allow them to incorporate visuals and VJing, starting with the lasers at the Velvet, which is more adapted to techno music.

Electronic music has a whole community, mostly based on SoundCloud, who come together to “dig” and share their favourite tracks. Artists dig tracks that they intend to analyze up to the last beat to use them during their performances.

“Mixing is about knowing your tracks,” said Pierre, another of the group’s DJs. “You have to listen to a track again and again to know what comes next. If you had cut the treble when a voice comes in, you’re fucked!”

According to all the members of the collective, this aspect of DJing is crucial to a set: they all talk about their hours of digging to find the “gem,” as they call it.

“Groups like Chasse et Pêche, Kizi Garden and Turning Point paved the way for us,” Pierre said. “Here in Montreal, we can really do whatever we want. There is a saturation in larger markets that makes it more professional.” The scene allows them to express their diverse style and have complete freedom in their sets.

Their upcoming performance on Feb.13 will be the next chapter of La Marbre at the Velvet, further exploring the darker musical side of the collective.     


Photo courtesy of Ezer Berdugo


Montreal’s eclectic DJ: Amir Javasoul

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.

Photo Courtesy of Amir 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.

Amir Javasoul Djing live in Fabric, London. Photo by Nick Ensing Photography.

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.


Porter Robinson & Madeon at Metropolis

The electronic dance DJs are in Montreal for their Shelter Live Tour

DJs Porter Robinson and Madeon (Hugo Leclercq) will be in Montreal for their Shelter Live Tour on Nov. 14 at Metropolis. The tour follows the release of their 2016 collaborative song, “Shelter.” “We wanted to be able to celebrate at least 10 years of knowing each other, our discography and this collaborative song, ‘Shelter,’” said Robinson.

Robinson specializes in electro house, dubstep and synthpop sounds, while Leclercq focuses more on electro pop and nu-disco, adding a definite European electro sound to his beats. The Shelter Live Tour is about the two complementing each other’s music and adding new spins to original songs. By switching between songs from each artist, they incorporate remixes and samples of each other’s work. “We both kind of came from the DJ world, and I think we pretty much completely threw that aside in our respective albums,” said Robinson.

The two electronic dance music producers have created a live music experience that is more dynamic than the usual EDM-techno feel. Both DJs will be multi-tasking during their performance by singing and playing various instruments simultaneously. The Shelter Live Tour is more than just an electronic show of their most recent albums, Robinson’s Worlds and Leclercq’s Adventure.

As a companion to the song “Shelter,” Robinson released an animated short film reminiscent of Japanese anime. Robinson has great interest in producing anime, since his love for electronic music started with his early passion for video games. He said the visuals for the live show will be more abstract than his character-based film. There will be flashing, colourful lights following the beats of the music, as both DJs dance energetically along with the rhythm.

The two friends met through an online forum when they were teenagers. Robinson hails from the U.S. and Leclercq is from France. The common interest they shared was music production, a passion they each developed during their teenage years. “We think about music pretty similarly but we don’t have an overlapping taste,” said Leclercq. “I think Porter is more trance music and I’m really into more soulful songwriting.” While their individual sounds differs, the duo said their similar musical mindsets create a space for complementary creation and new musical directions.

“It’s a much larger scale than anything I’ve done before,” said Leclercq, referring to the 38 shows of their North American tour. As a French native, Montreal will be a special stop on the tour trail for Leclercq. “I’m super excited,” he said. “I’m gonna get on the mic and speak in French, and Porter will not understand.”

Montreal is a musical epicenter for young, up-and-coming artists just like Robinson and Leclercq when they first got into music as teenagers. “The tools are very available for making music and for sharing it, and so many more people are making music, which is wonderful,” said Leclercq. “I would encourage people to find what’s unique about their tastes and explore that, and try not to be too influenced by everything they hear around them.”

Porter Robinson and Madeon will be performing at Metropolis on Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. A few tickets are still available online, with prices ranging from $34 to $92.

Music Quickspins

Roosevelt – Roosevelt

Roosevelt – Roosevelt (City Slang, 2016)

Roosevelt takes the classic ‘80s-electro beats and combines them with soft house music rhythms. His melodies are all feel-good, happy sounds with a touch of nostalgia. His song “Wait Up” has a lounge music feel with that ‘80s influence. It’s a song that you will want your favourite club to blast. The beat makes you feel like you are enjoying the sun in Ibiza. His song “Colours” has a more disco, house feel to it. Roosevelt’s soothing voice peaks through with such softness. It’s a dreamy tune that can put you in a trance on the dancefloor. The track “Hold On” starts off with a beautiful rhythm that calls your body to dance. It’s the perfect song for a house dance choreography. Overall, this album is a beautiful combination of ‘80s electro and house/lounge music.

Trial Track: “Wait Up”


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