LWE Podcast 86: Tazz

On a frigid April weeknight in Montreal, I met up with longtime Montreal club staple Tazz at a coffee shop to discuss his career, both as a DJ and a burgeoning producer. In person, Tazz is the prototypical super-friendly Underground Quality artist, peppering his conversation with hearty chuckles and references to all corners of house and techno; he’s clearly an artist with a deep love for his craft and its history. His releases for Underground Quality and Tsuba sit in the Carl Craig legacy of deep, dramatic, jacking techno, but are also imbued with a sense of raw, housey playfulness. Tazz frequently collaborates with trained musicians, creating in his productions a nuanced balance between tracky naivete and vivacious musicality. He contributed a spirited mix for LWE’s 86th exclusive podcast, excerpted from a recent club set, which reflects this dynamic.

LWE Podcast 86: Tazz (49:04)

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Tracklist:
01. DJ Dozia, “Pop Culture” [Ovum Recordings]
02. Lawrence, “Pond” [Dial]
03. Luna City Express, “After Three” [Aerobic Studio]
04. Prosumer & Murat Tepeli, “Go Silla” [Ostgut Ton]
05. Igor O. Vlasov, “Flavour” [De’fchild Productions]
06. Innersphere, “Plasmasonique” [Intacto Records]
07. Nina Kraviz ft. Raphael M., “FREE” [Underground Quality]
08. Patrice Scott, “Raw Fusion” [Sistrum Recordings]
09. Turbulent, “Hypnotize” [Pagan]
10. Movementz, “29 Calls” (Trickski Remix) [Sonar Kollektiv]

You’ve been DJing for quite awhile here in Montreal, right?

Tazz: Well I’ve been doing it for about… maybe fifteen years?

I’d say that’s pretty extensive. How did you get into DJing and dance music in the first place?

I pretty much started like everybody else, you know, as a young kid with records. My dad was a mobile DJ, you could say… it wasn’t anything serious, but it caught onto me in a way. I pretty much grew up in a pop, commercial environment, where I was even listening to the Saturday night radio show with MC Mario, and then somehow I got into the more underground thing. I started off with pretty banging techno — Luke Slater, stuff like that — and somehow it morphed into the whole deep house thing, with guys like JoJo Flores and Therapy, Uzi, and Solmeka parties. Now I’ve started veering back towards the techno side, but still [with the] deep, soulful [influence].

How do you think Montreal’s scene has changed since you started DJing?

Compared to the rest of the world, it’s a very small scene, but it’s vibrant. There are little groups of people everywhere. Right now, Montreal is basically Le Salon Daomé, which is very happening on the weekends, and down in the Old Port we have Club U.N. That’s the house scene, [but] of course there are random parties here and there. From there it spawns out to Mutek and Piknic Electronik, which are some of the same people anyway. Montreal, for the longest time, was stuck in a tribal phase… now there’s a lot of tech-house. But last year, MUTEK had Theo Parrish, Pépé Bradock, Dixon and Henrik, Move D… people I know were sitting there with their arms crossed, meanwhile we’re going mad. The fact that that group of people, who are mostly into tech house, started to bring back the deep stuff is pretty cool. The guys at Velvet were doing a good thing with that too, but unfortunately they stopped.

Yeah, last year they were booking Floating Points, Soul Clap…

Kyle Hall.

Yeah, that’s too bad.

And now, everybody’s in the booking mode.

This month is crazy… Ramadanman, Lone, Mary Anne Hobbs, all within a week of each other.

Yeah, even in deep house there’s Karizma, DJ Qu, Delano Smith, Ben Klock. It’s kind of a shame — there’s kind of a stable scene, but everyone’s just talking about who they’re booking.

It seems like it comes in waves, people will spend all their money and then it’ll be dry for a few months. OK, so you’ve had this long DJ career, but your first record came out last year. How long have you been producing, and why the wait?

[Laughs] I’m a computer geek, that’s what I do for work. I had been dabbling with software… I started with Rebirth, [laughs] who hasn’t touched Rebirth? Some of my friends were getting into it, but up until last year there was always a little something. There are hundreds of songs on my hard drive right now, waiting for something to happen. One day I decided to book Jus-Ed, because I was buying his records at InBeat [now-defunct record store and relative hub of the community] and thought, “Might as well book him.” We kept in touch and then one day I randomly sent him some stuff; he liked it and picked it up.

You mentioned using some software. Are hardware or any other specific gear items important to the process?

Mostly software, but I went out and bought a [Dave Smith] Mopho synthesizer. It was on the whim, retail therapy. I was talking about it for the longest time with my friend Giovanni, who I’m currently working on some records with, and he was hyping it up. I was going to get a Korg, but when I walked into the store, the guy was like, “You don’t want the Korg, you want that one!” Giovanni got his Roland 505 refurbished, so recently we’ve been incorporating a lot of hardware. To me, it’s just another avenue of creativity. It’s a new toy; it’s not plug-ins and plug-ins.

You’re not just staring at a screen.

Yeah, you’ve got the hardware right in front of you, you’re pressing buttons and twisting knobs, you get stuff done with it.

Is your stuff becoming more jam-out based with the new hardware?

Well, I take a lot of time EQing stuff. I’m not a traditional musician. My friend Bacanito, who worked with me on the first and second records, he’s basically my music man. He comes over to my place and I tell him what we want. He’s more into deep house in the traditional, soulful sense, and likes the challenge of doing something edgier, techier. We battle it out until we get something we like.

I definitely hear the balance between the propulsive and looser, soulful ends.

Yeah. I’ll give him the idea and we’ll argue about it and at some point we’re happy with it, and then I’ll put the rest of the track together. I do the layouts. Some guys release a track every week, and I have those tracks on my hard drive, but I don’t think they’re going to be coming out. Carl Craig is basically my favorite producer. World of Techno was produced based on me [studying] his records, a lot of 69 and Paperclip People, and I also like the stuff he did with Martin Buttrich, and “Caya,” “Angel.” My productions are kind of naive, not the fanciest tracks.

Were you collaborating with Bacanito and Giovanni from the beginning?

Bacanito, I met him through a friend, and she met him through Craigslist. [laughs] It wasn’t for dating! He’s a musician doing mostly keys and guitar, and she introduced us at Club Cherry, rest in peace, and we hit it off. And that’s how Acid Love came about. Giovanni, I met through clubbing.

Do you prefer collaborating?

Not being a musician, you have to get crafty — the tracks are trackier. If you get a musician, the track has a bit more to it. It’s good to have those guys around, I give them full credit. I’m the more traditional sense of producer/arranger.

Do you consider performing live at all?

Yes… no… I’m kicking myself over the head on this one, because it’s been kicked around a few times, some people have asked me if I wanted to do a live set, but it’s not there yet.

Would you want to do a whole hardware thing or…

It would probably be hardware and a DJ set. I can’t see myself clicking on a screen in Ableton.

Do you often run your tracks by friends or play them out before you release them?

Yeah, Ed helps me out with that, and the guys from Underground Quality; we all help each other, we’re all family.

What’s next for you?

Underground Quality recently released a fundraiser CD for Japan. Also, there’s a second record coming out on Tsuba, around the end of summer, with a Patrice Scott remix. It’s psychedelic, on drugs, colors. I made it with Giovanni… I haven’t heard Patrice’s mix yet. There’s an album coming out, too, on my label, Infected Rhythms, but the label name is still [up in the air]. It’s maybe techier, influenced by Model 500 and Underground Resistance, and it’s going to be released in parts later in the year.

DJ QU  on May 30, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Nice Nice! Write-up and mix is tight! Big-ups Tazz!

Aybee  on May 30, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Get Down Tazz!

Tampopo  on June 4, 2011 at 12:25 PM

This Pop Culture track by DJ Dozia is still magical years after…

Al Blayney  on June 5, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Lovely selection of Tracks Tazz! Niice

Yes  on June 6, 2011 at 11:53 AM

YES!

Tazz  on June 7, 2011 at 12:22 AM

Tanks! 😀

Levon  on July 18, 2011 at 2:47 AM

NICE ONE TAZZ!

Trackbacks

LWE Podcast: Tazz (Tsuba/Underground Quality) | Dispersion PR  on July 6, 2011 at 7:57 AM

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LWE Podcast 86: Tazz is archived this week | Little White Earbuds  on May 20, 2012 at 10:01 PM

[…] from one of his club sets, was a showcase of his love for raw, housey playfulness. Be sure to add it to your collection before it’s archived this Friday, May 25th. » Lauren Cox | May 20th, 2012 Tags: […]

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