Interviews

Greg Gow

Another artist we caught up with at Movement Detroit was Toronto techno and house DJ/producer Greg Gow. (Maybe you recognize him from KMS, Kevin Saunderson’s label.) He’s totally down-to-earth, making it easy to get sidetracked in conversation unrelated to the interview. Greg told us a lot about the scene across the water in Toronto, a scene we’re unfamiliar with, and how it compares to that of Montreal, a city we’ve spend a fair amount of time in. We also heard his *valid* reasons for – the popular debate – switching from vinyl to digital, and got a little into his production background.

Describe your sound with three words.
Deep, soulful, techy.

What was your first experience with live electronic music?
Back in the early 90s, going out to some parties in Toronto.

Who gave you your first shot playing out?
A promoter in Toronto at a rave, Pleasure Force. It was the first time I played in a big proper venue. From there, there was a techno company called Frill that got me started with techno shows. I was the first guy to play with Adam Beyer and Joel Mull in Toronto.

You’re given the role of tour guide for a day in Toronto. Where would you take someone?
Definitely the CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame, and Chinatown.

Are you familiar with Montreal much?
Yes.

What’s the biggest difference between the two music scenes?
They’re very different. Toronto has a lot of different things going on, some commercial and some underground. Montreal has a bit more refined scene.

What’s your track selection process like?
It depends. If I’m playing an opening slot, it’s more downtempo and chilled out. I try and find tracks to fit the elements. I have a pool to pick from and go with the crowd on the spot.

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What do you use to play live?
USBs and CDs. I was playing vinyl, but the problem now is turntables are rarely kept up to par.

So you started on vinyl. Did you teach yourself?
Yes, many train wrecks, or as I would say, shoes in the dryer.

Why did you make the switch?
It had a lot to do with showing up at places and being really frustrated with the turntables not being kept up. That was the beginning, then realizing you can buy so much more music for the price of a record. We used to have eight record shops in Toronto, and now there’s just one. It’s very hard to get good vinyl. You can order it online, but the time you get it…  for the amount I’d spend waiting, I can get much more to put on USB, throw in rekordbox, and be good to go in a half hour.

When did you realize this would be more than a hobby?
It was always a thing I was passionate about, and one thing led to another. Making music is what really opened the door for me. It’s awesome I can do things like this and play festivals like Movement, Digital Dreams, and Electric Island.

How has your musical style changed?
I first bought East Coast hip hop [music], then I got involved with a radio show and started buying soulful garage house, then sort of changed through a lot of phases. Then I got exposed to Detroit music. I have my own version of it which is my own mixed with theirs. I’m happy with what I have now.

What do you listen to at home?
I listen to everything. I like old classic rock and hip hop, new school and old school.

What do you use to produce?
►Ableton. I really don’t think it matters what you use, as long as you nail your idea. You could use a synth or you could bang on the wall and record it.

Do you have any advice for an aspiring producer with no musical background?
I don’t even know how to read music. I think regardless of DJ’ing, you just go out and do it. I think music schools can be very helpful at a point, but you also gotta get dirty with it and figure it out. I don’t think that counts just for music; it counts for everything.

Goals for the year?
Last year I did a lot with KMS, Kevin [Saunderson]’s label. I go through labels and I was in a more banging techno realm. Now I’m going on a deeper tip with housey stuff in the next year. Maybe I’ll bang my head on a wall and turn directions again.

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