Canada probably isn’t the first place that comes into your head when you think of a thriving techno and house scene, however, there are two individuals pushing the sound there harder than ever. Stuart Li (Basic Soul Unit) and Jason Ulrich (J-UL) have joined forces to champion music coming out of Canada by starting their label Lab.our, which aims to raise the reputation of producers in this area.
Keen to relive the 80s and 90s, when there was a sudden rise in the clubs and afterparties playing music from Detroit, Chicago, New York and the UK, Li and Ulrich decided to use the 10th release of the label to increase the exposure for both established and up-and-coming talent in Toronto.
The compilation features already-known artists such as Adam Marshall, Pursuit Grooves and both of the label bosses alongside fresh faces like Smoke, Walter and R. The label states: ‘the common thread throughout—and the ethos of the label—is dance music with a future-facing bent’. Here, we got them to list 10 of their all time favourite club weapons.
1. Master C & J / Dub Love / Trax
Hearing this in a club for the first time was an intense experience. We had no idea music could sound like this and were hooked from that point on. Deep atmospheric dirtiness!
2. Fingers / Mystery of Love / DJ International
The Larry Heard seminal classic! Perfect late night deepness. When this was dropped in the wee hours you knew the party was on! Still sounds fresh today, which is a tribute the Larry’s talents.
3. Sinnamon / I Need You Now / Jive
Being late 80’s house kids, we were first introduced to the accapella of this as many of the Dj’s used it over the top of other tracks. The accapella led to the hunt for the OG, which in turn opened up the entire world of boogie and disco. After that it was all about digging for records!
4. Strafe / Set It Off / Jus Born
This track was an anomaly at the time. Not a house track. Slower. But when it came on the dancing became more intense, more personal. Was common to see people pairing up to this one. Had a basement party feel to it.
5. Black Rascals / Keeping My Mind / Sumo
Blaze has had so many huge tunes over the years and have been amongst the most consistent producers since the 80’s! This one reminds us of the after hours scene in Toronto as well as visits to Shelter NYC.
6. 69 / Filter King / Planet E
One could argue that there are many more deeper or forward thinking pieces from Carl. But when he wants to throw down, he damn sure can. It’s repetitive, loopy and driven but doesn’t forsake the funk. The syncopation and filtering keeps the piece twisting and turning. Our kind of ‘hard’.
7. Maurizio / Untitled ( M4 – A1 ) / Maurizio
Another piece that bridges gaps. You would hear Basic Channel tracks at after hours parties in Toronto along with jacking Chitown tracks, Melodic Detroit or Soulful NY tracks. Linking house and techno with an atmospheric dub feel and linking scenes across the ocean.
8. 4Hero / Star Chasers / Talkin’ Loud
A track from the seminal album Two Pages and a huge influence on us as DJs, stretching boundaries and tempos. The team of Dego and Marc were influential in drum n bass but also spearheaded the Broken Beat movement in West London. To us, a great blend of the jazz and rare groove sounds we loved and sick beat arrangements.
9. Subculture / The Voyage / Strobe Records
Sultry vocals from Marcus Turcotte with the deep sounds of Hayden Andre. A local production that helped put Toronto on the map and inspired us to do our own thing.
10. Adamski / Killer / MCA
By the time this came out, songs like Theme From S-Express and Pump Up The Volume were already making in-roads for dance music in the pop world. This hit it big in the charts too but was still a great ‘deep’ track with techno elements of synths and strings paired with the smooth yet raspy vocals from the soon to be famous Seal. Along with tracks like Voodoo Ray and Big Fun, the underground and the mainstream were able to meet.
Toronto Works is out May 28.
More info here.
Next up: Basic Soul Unit – YouTube Sessions