Last month one of Canada’s biggest exports, Jokers of the Scene, delivered big with the November Reign Beatport Mix just a handful of days after their Killing Jokes EP was released on Fool’s Gold Records. Their brand of dance music reveals an aptitude for making powerful productions that are also evocative of a classic era. Their latest mix shows more of their command, out from behind the studio doors and into the DJ booth.
While we had the guys on line for a mix, we also took the opportunity to bother Toronto-based member Chris Macintyre with a couple questions. Their after-Christmas homecoming party happens tonight in Ottawa.
Tell us a good joke.
What’s the difference between a DJ and a puppy? The puppy will stop whining after a couple of months.
You guys are known for a night called Disorganised. How and where did it start? Would you attribute the foundation of the sound that you’ve developed to Disorganised?
Disorganised started in Ottawa, Canada, back in 2003, in a small loft venue called Zibibbo. Back then, Linus had his record store (called Organised Sound) and I had a small indie label, and I would sell music on consignment through his store. I was also in there every week buying records, and eventually Linus approached myself and Ian Swain (aka Pho, currently one half of Bonjay) to see if we were interested in throwing a small monthly party together. The Ottawa underground scene was pretty dormant at the time, and there was a sense that we could come up with some sort of alternative. We all came from different backgrounds and our tastes had a nice overlap in the middle, so musically the night was really diverse. There were no rules or preconceptions about anything, so it attracted a wide variety of followers. Punk, disco, techno, house, hip-hop, etc… anything was fair game. Almost immediately the night exploded and grew into something that lasted through three venues and seven years. We still do an annual reunion every year after Christmas.
Once we started producing together, I think we unintentionally attributed the open-ended approach of Disorganised to our music, so we’ve always felt comfortable exploring new territory.
Before you signed anything with Fool’s Gold, what was your production practice? Were you making music just to play at Disorganised, or were you hoping to take it further?
I had been producing weird electronic stuff for years before we started the night, so I had a home studio. After a year or two of Disorganised and realizing we had such similar tastes, Linus and I started DJing closer together and eventually started messing around in the studio, making fun club edits and experimenting with tracks we could play at our night. I don’t think that we were initially thinking in terms of releasing music through any particular labels, or taking it further than music for our events and friends. But once we produced “Juggle It” and “Y’all Know The Name” and traded them with a few friends online, the songs fell into A-Trak’s hands just as he was conceiving his future label. The rest is history.
You guys strike a balance between audial adventures and dancefloor decimations. Does bridging both worlds lead to any expectations when you play gigs. What kind of feedback do you typically get after shows?
It really varies. But the usual common denominator is that it was surprising or unexpected. We’ve become known to be unpredictable or diverse, and I suppose that’s true as we never really know what we’re going to play before performing. People often make a point of telling us that they’ve never heard any of the music before. Another pretty common one is, “That made me feel like I was on drugs.” We really like to push each other when we DJ together, and that’s something we’ve always done, even way back in the Disorganised days. It takes us in all sorts of directions. We realize it’s become an advantage—to have people expect the unexpected.
What lies ahead in 2013 for you Jokers?
Plenty! We’re planning to tour much more in support of our latest record on Fool’s Gold, “Killing Jokes,” and we have a few side-projects on the go as well—our debut 12″ as Bohemian Groove (alongside half of Renaissance Man) will be coming out on Throne of Blood in early 2013, and we’ll be readying a new single for our Blank Capsule live project (featuring vocalist Bryce Kushnier, aka Vitaminsforyou). Also, we’ll be working on plenty of new JOTS material and there are lots of forthcoming remixes in the can. We are always looking to broaden our horizons and work in different capacities, so who knows where we’ll go next. For us, that’s the most exciting part.