We’ve featured a number of Canadian producers here on FatKidOnFire over the years, but the next producers to land in the FKOF Artist Highlight spotlight are a duo we’ve had our eyes on for a while.
Daega Sound‘s latest release dropped a few weeks back on TUBA; a pretty solid vinyl/ digital release called the Under Pressure EP. I bumped into label boss Ric when he was in town on his way to Outlook and discovered he’d put pen to paper and sat down with the Canadian brothers in bass…
We’d love to hear about how you guys got involved with producing bass music. Was there a particular experience or artist(s) that crystallised your interest? Kind of have to go back a ways here. We both went to our first underground party in Toronto, the same event a friend of ours had already been going to for a little while. We went back a few times – pretty sure it was Medicine Muffin playing jungle that introduced us to the drum and bass sound. That definitely started something.
Prior to that, we were already listening to stuff like Bjork, The Orb, The Prodigy, Orbital, Aphex – all that stuff has some cool bass and trippy atmospherics. We’ve always been fans of the low-end and syncopated beats.
The turntables soon came, along with influential records such as the Bricolage album from Amon Tobin, Patterns by Speedy J, New Forms by Roni Size. From there, the whole thing sort of progressed on its own.
We both started DJing techno, DnB and tech house, experimenting with production and writing all kinds of genres (ambient, downtempo, techno, DnB, house, tech metal etc). This went on until we were introduced to dubstep and grime. The sound really clicked for both of us because at its tempo it can have a little piece of every genre in it.
How did the name Daega Sound come about? It’s not an easy thing to find a name that can represent all the things you’d like to. We wanted the name to somehow convey our sound – which we imagined to be big and ethereal, atmospheric, best heard outdoors on a massive sound system sort of thing. We opened an obscure old English dictionary and came to this word “dega” which is a word that means “dawning”. That moment when the suns rays peek the horizon, night begins its shift into day, the sky is dark blue but fading to black still; a time of transformation. It also means “dawning” as in to come to an understanding, which we felt was kind of indicative of the moments that can happen when listening to music.
We decided to keep the word sounding phonetically the same, but added an “a” to it making it read Daega which would make it a bit more unique. Shortly after the inception of the name, a friend hosted us at an event and started calling us the Daega Sound System which kind of stuck for a bit, then we dropped the “System”. The thinking was maybe we would reserve that for if we involve other members or something along those lines, it was also handy to shorten the name down a little bit. We also have kind of a sound to what we do, so our name kind of describes it too – it’s the Daega Sound.
What separates Daega Sound from everyone else? Our sound. That sound is a result of decades of music and performances in the musical world, but never in the mainstream. Our combination of training, one of us studied percussion and drums and the other guitar and french horn, means we have a good mix of melody and rhythm. The easiest way to understand what makes us different from everyone else is to have a listen to one of our records though!
How would you describe the sound of your latest 12″ on TUBA? It’s somehow hard to talk about our sound. Over the years, we’ve found that it can matter just as much who is listening and how they interpret the sound as the song itself. That being said, this record is very true to our sound and dedication and covers some ground with the three tracks all having their own personality.
Under Pressure is energetic, has heavy low end but also has these ethereal almost introspective melodies. Spirit is also energetic but more in a hypnotic dancefloor kind of way while Abyss brings the record full circle with its heavy low end and melodic and contemplative undertones. All the tunes on the record are geared towards the dancefloor and sound system experience.
You guys are brothers right? What role, if any, does this play in your creative approach? What advantages does it have? We have the benefit of knowing and working together on all kinds of musical projects in the past. We can anticipate each other’s moves. We shared very similar training when we were young. At the same time, we do have different approaches and bring different skills to the table. We are both pretty serious about what we do so when ideas are on the table they have to be cleared by both of us before they get the nod.
Physical surroundings can play an interesting role in the music making process. How do you think the landscape of western Canada has contributed to your sound? In a pretty big way, we live in a really beautiful place north west of Vancouver. It’s accessible by boat and air, very close to the sea, mountains and rainforest. There’s lots of wildlife close by; deer, eagles, whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, hawks, bears, coyotes, wolves, cougars. The only thing on that list that we haven’t seen is the wolf – yet! We both find it’s good to have a balance to all the time spent on computers and devices. The winter is also a bit rainy here (for some), so lots of opportunity to spend time with a cup of tea or coffee in the studio.
We know you’ve been busy with a number of festival appearances this summer. How do you approach your live performances? Which festival has been your favorite so far? Which ones would you like to play? Growing up in a household with a father who was both piano teacher and a composer and a mother who was a ballet choreographer, things were pretty strict when it came to practice. One of our father’s favourite sayings was “Practice doesn’t make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.” So we get together as early as we can before a show and we jam out ideas. Our mum also had an influential poster up in her dance studio, it read “Discipline turns talent into ability.” So it’s always been important to stay dedicated and disciplined so when the time came that we would need the skills, we would be ready.
Our approach seems to evolve as we grow and have different ideas of how we can perform. Generally we’ll decide on two or four CDJs, or Traktor and two CDJs or Ableton live on two computers. Then it’ll depend on where we are playing and what time. Then there’s the vibe of the new tunes and where that’ll take us. We’ve had so many good times at the festivals we don’t know where to start! Bass Coast, Shambhala and New Forms stand out for West Coast festivals and Mutek for East Coast. We’d love to play Outlook and SXSW – Lightning in a Bottle looks cool, as does Symbiosis.
We hear your live sets are very energetic. What sounds do you guys showcase when playing live and what are your favorite pieces of gear for this? Whether we play live or DJ or our new set up (four decks, two Traktor, two CDJs and two mixers), we always play our newest stuff – the tunes we feel are ready – alongside our upcoming releases. Then only the tunes we feel really strongly about make it into the set, there is a lot of chopping that can happen before we arrive at the tunes that make the final cut. The tunes have to get a pass from both of us before they can go in the library. It’s about taking the listeners or dancefloor on a bit of a journey, with lots of heavy hypnotic bass.
Favourite gear for DJ sets – CDJs, Allen and Heath xone62, MacBook running Traktor and a controller. For live sets, one Allen and Heath mixer, two MacBooks, two iPads, two controllers – and sometimes we add an Access Virus C.
Do you have any non-musical influences you embrace when making music? It’s all about setting the vibe!
Any final words or shoutouts? So many shoutouts! To our mum, dad and brother Jonathan. All our listeners and supporters and the inspiring people in our journey. Our brother Ron for starting the production fire. Peter Grove, Andrew Carr, Scott Farmer, Mathew Jonson, Michael Red, Max Ulis, Taal Mala, Tusk, the whole Lighta! Crew and fam.
Love to the Theory and Subdiv fam, Shah DJs, Modern Math crew, Livingstone and the High On Beats crew, Ben BunZer0, Loxy and Reza, DJ Thinking, Joe Nice, Pinch, Headhunter/Addison Groove, Grenier, and anyone we missed!