Freaking out the dancefloor
Dance music yet again brings together two musical minds from around the world for dancefloor perfection. Enter New Orleans home boy Trent Cantrelle and Canadian sensation Sydney Blu, two pioneers in the global music scene who have brought us a piece of collaboartion magic. Dan Prince speaks to the pair responsible for our freakish behaviour down the front…
Trent Cantrelle :
Trent welcome to the DMC World. You have quickly become one of the most in demand DJs on the planet. At what age did you decide that you wanted to become a DJ?
“Thanks, Dan. I think DJing is something I remember always wanting to do. I started pretty young, around 1991. Back then I worked as a mobile DJ and played every type of event under the sun. I have probably played over 100 weddings. To be honest, it was a great time for learning how to read crowds. Especially a wedding where you have to please a multitude of different types of people and various ages. It was also during this time I discovered electronic music which naturally lead me to doing what I do today.”
What music were you listening to growing up in New Orleans?
“All sorts really. Blues, Jazz and Funk have always played a major role in what I heard growing up. You can find music on pretty much every street corner in New Orleans. It’s a main ingredient in the culture and bloodline of the city. New Orleans is truly my favourite place on the planet. I am so lucky to have grown up there!”
What the first club you went to that blew you away?
“The first club to absolutely blow me away was Twilo in New York City. It was the first time I saw a clubbing experience on that level. Never before had I seen a room transform throughout the night in perfect sync with the music and flow. I loved how in the beginning of the night the sound was at a fairly low volume and the lights almost fully bright. Then, as the night would progress, the sound would get louder, the lights a bit darker and more intense, and the music would continue to build and build. It was truly an experience.”
Massive props for your new tune ‘I Want A Freak’ coming out on Blu Music with Sydney Blu. How did this hook up happen, when did you record it and are there any further recording plans together?
“Cool, thanks! It was a tune I did earlier this year. The sound is exactly where my head is at these days musically speaking. The reaction it’s getting is beyond expectations and I could not be happier. I was looking for a home and thought Sydney’s label would be perfect since I released a few tunes with BLU Music earlier this year. Working with Sydney and her label was an essential part in the records success. I can’t thank her enough.”
What are the big 10 tunes you are spinning right now?
“In no particular order…”
Carl Cox – Nexus (Tomy DeClerque Remix) – Intec
THM – Music Is Moving (Origina) Upland
Manufactured Superstars – Drunk Text (Trent Cantrelle Remix) Majik Music
Trent Cantrelle – Does It Really Matter (Original)
Alix Alvarex – Fayall (Original) – Rebirth
11:11 – Tourist Trap (Jamie Jones Remix)
Loco & Jam – Estadio (Gabriel D’Or & Bordoy Remix) Respekt
Murk – Ameme (Original) – Defected
Mauro Picotto – Hart Plaza (DJ Madskillz Remix) – Alchemy
Trent Cantrelle I Want A Freak Blu Music
You, quite incredibly, played 3 sets at Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas this year – what was that weekend like, what were the highlights?
“Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas was one of the most amazing experiences of my career thus far. An experience – it was just that! Three days of over the top “everything” on such a massive scale. Insomniac Events spared no expense and pulled out all the stops with production like I have never seen. Getting to open the entire festival playing main stage was quite the honor. Then later that night I wound up closing out the techno stage filling in for Steve Bug who fell ill. I was extremely honored Insomniac came to me when needing to fill in such a great slot. Nothing quite like playing a sunrise set in the middle of the Nevada desert for over 100,000 avid music enthusiasts. To round things off I played an extended 5 hour set the very next night in the Dome, one of the other stages at EDC. Funny enough one of the first gigs I played in LA about 9 years ago was Electric Daisy Carnival for around 6000 people. Things have grown quite a bit since then.”
You have some mighty tunes coming out soon on Funk Farm and Black Hole amongst others – tell us about the tunes…
“I have a plethora of original music slated for 2012. I really got down to business this past year with writing originals. ‘I Want A Freak’ is the first of many projects coming out. One of the releases due out early 2012 is an EP I did with Sydney on Funk Farm, Funkagenda’s label. Also, some other remix projects on Black Hole and various labels.”
When you created ‘Runaway’ which it seemed took over the world in 2005 – had you any idea just how big a record it was when you made it?
“Not in the least. It was the record that pretty much gave me a career. Pete Tong was essential in breaking this record and helping me get my start. ‘Runaway’ captured the marriage of two worlds I love – rock and electronic. The mix of guitars, rock vocals, and house beats was very new at the time. Something that seems to be more of the norm with bands these days.”
What is the finest record you have ever played to a dancefloor?
“That’s too hard to narrow down to just one record. Every record has its time and its place. One record that works impeccably one year might not deliver the same result the next and so on. Of course there are always the timeless pieces that age like fine wine. I hope to create one of these someday. If not, its a blast trying to.”
So we come back to yours after a club, what 10 Back To Mine tunes do you play us to chill/groove on?
“Too many to name, here are a few that come to mind…
PM Dawn – Set Adrift
Velvet Underground – Heroin
Dome City Orchestra – Higher
Arron Neville – Use Me Up
Primitive Radio Gods – Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand
Digital Underground – Freaks Of The Industry
Cicada – Can’t Be Doing With Love
Dr John – Such A Night
Ghostland Observatory – Free Heart Lover
Crash Test Dummies – Keep A Lid On Things
What one artist dead or alive would you like to get in the studio with?
“Harry Nilsson. I would love to see his take on modern electronic music.”
Has technology gone too far and created a bunch of nerd DJ’s who twist and filter a track to pieces but maybe lose sight that people just want to dance to the music rather than applaud a live re-edit?
“I don’t think technology is to blame, I blame the consumer. Dance music in a lot of ways has started to lose sight of its core reason; to make people dance. I keep hearing songs that are so twisted up with fx and tricks I don’t feel like dancing. I feel like doing math. Then I hear other songs with every cliche and trendy moment that it sounds like a copy of a copy of a copy. These days people go to clubs, line up in rows, stare at the DJ booth and wait for the next breakdown or familiar vocal to raise their hands and cheer. It’s hard to blame them when a lot of the popular music coincides with this. With some music I hear breakdowns lasting two thirds the length of the entire song. I think people will dance more when producers make songs for that very reason. Thats my goal anyway.”
What do you think are your qualities as a producer that sets you apart from your colleagues?
“One thing I pride myself on is being able to switch styles as a producer, and as a DJ. I think good music is good music and would hate to pigeonhole myself into any one category. I like to make records that cross genres and styles. Records that maybe a mainstream DJ will play as well as an underground type DJ. I try and ride that fine line without being too much of any one thing.”
What has been your summer anthem?
“My favorite record this summer has to be 11:11 ‘Tourist Trap’ (Jamie Jones remix). I remember the first moment I heard it and went running to find out what it was. Pure dance floor bliss! Mike Vale did a tune called ‘Pretty Woman’ which I can’t stop playing as well.”
What producer (s) have you learnt the most from over the years?
“The producer I have learnt the most from is Chris Cox of Thunderpuss fame. I have had the honor of sharing a studio space with him for the last 5 years here in Los Angeles. The wealth of knowledge I have gained working alongside such a legend is unparalleled. Also, I have gotten to collaborate with Jquintel (aka Jaceo) and Jeziel Quintela over the last couple years. These have to be two of the most talented producers I know. Working with these two opened my eyes to many new techniques that I now apply in my music making process. I can’t speak highly enough about the brothers!”
Not many people know this, but Trent is really good at…
“Fishing. What can I say, I grew up surrounded by water and boats. I can tear it up with a rod and reel.”
It must seem impossible for a young aspiring DJ to make it these days in our industry. It seems, if you are not making records alongside being able to DJ – you have no chance. What advice can you give to people reading this?
“I would say the opposite about seeming impossible. Years ago you did not have so many overnight successes as you do today. If anything, it shows how quick and easy a person can climb to stardom without having much experience. There is more competition these days of course, but the road to the top comes with a lot of shortcuts depending on a person’s financial situation, connections, and savvy marketing. Although, this does not mean staying power. My advice is two part. Part one, for the new aspiring producer, learn as much as you possibly can. I don’t mean just watch every Ableton Youtube tutorial, but rather learn every facet of the industry, the business and all its musical roots. Investigate the people and songs that have paved the way for the music you hear today. It will only help you grow and find your own sound rather play copycat to whats hot right now. Part two of my advice is for all the producers and DJs that have been busting their ass for many many years. Sometimes it takes a very long while to get there but there is nothing that can compare to experience, knowledge, and paid dues. I think those qualities are what makes any producer or DJ great. Something you cannot learn on any Youtube tutorial and can only be gained with years of hard work.”
You live in Los Angeles, what do you love and hate about your home city?
“I have called Los Angeles home for the last 8 years. I absolutely love this city! For me, it’s all about the work and vibe. Los Angeles is ground zero for the entertainment industry worldwide and has quickly become the capital for dance music here in the US. The city has been absolutely great to me over the years! I love how many talented people live in such a small area. Being able to tap into any resource, or find skilled professionals available to make any idea come to life, is an incredible asset for anyone working in the entertainment industry. The only thing I hate about LA is earthquakes. Although I have not experienced a big one living here, if I happen to, I am positive I will hate it.”
WMC was a big help for you a few years ago – have you some tunes ready to drop this time around?
“WMC is always an important time for me. It’s been a big part of the way my year is planned musically. A lot of records are broken there and set the bar for the remainder of the year. I have a couple pretty big singles planned just for WMC 2012. Stay tuned!”
And finally – what has been your proudest moment of your career to date?
“Every day I wake up and continue to do this for a living.”
Sydney, welcome to the DMC World. Tell us about the early years back in Thunder Bay – are you from a musical family, what music were you listening to growing up?
“I was definitely a musical kid. I played piano and different instruments…but I also was a dancer and loved music in general. Especially 90’s dance music like Black Box, C+C Music Factory, Crystal Waters…I could go on…”
How close were you to actually taking up that job offer from Walt Disney before deciding music was where your future was?
“I was very close. I was only supposed to be in Toronto for a few months and I literally was just starting to buy records and turntables at that time. When I started to get good at Djing I decided it would be a mistake to leave. Had to pursue my dream.”
What was your first reaction on seeing the mighty Erick Morillo and Roger Sanchez spinning for the first time at Atomic Ottawa? Was that a defining moment?
“It was defining because it was a brand new world. They were so good. Everyone loved them. I didn’t know who they were because I was a newbie in the scene. The energy they created was mesmerizing…I knew I wanted to do it myself. Atomic Ottawa is what made me want to become a DJ.”
You moved to Toronto and joined ‘the gang’ – a real vibe you had going on there with The Guvernment club becoming one of the most important venues in the world. You hung around Fabio Palermo, Noah Pred and obviously Deadmau5 who, before helping put you firmly on the map with the release of ‘Give It Up For Me’ on Mau5trap, helped you in the studio. What did they teach you?
“Fab taught me a lot about Cubase. Noah Pred taught me everything about Ableton Live. I took his courses and then he gave me solo lessons for a year…it was great. Deadmau5 taught me to be self sufficient as a musician.”
You once said…”there will always be guys who don’t like the fact a woman is doing it, but I’ve found that by trying to fit in and by proving yourself, eventually you become one of the guys. You have to break down the barrier, and you can only do that by constantly proving yourself.” Has your success over the years broken down these stupid male barriers you have encountered?
“Yes definitely. I don’t ever think about the fact that I am a woman. I forget most of the time. My guy friends I work with forget too, I think. However, as a DJ, there is always a group of guys who are not doing as well as you that are going to be jealous. It’s just the way it is. I’ve learned to ignore it…everyone will always try to criticize and judge me the better I do. Whenever I think things are going really well for me i start hearing the ‘complainers and haters’ come out and start slandering and wining about me again. It’s actually always a good sign because they wouldn’t be hating if I wasn’t doing so good.”
What are the big 10 tunes you are spinning right now?
1 – I Want A Freak – Trent Cantrelle (Blu Music)
2 – Circles – Digitalism (Eric Prydz Remix) (Pryda)
3 – Lise – Arno Cost (Refune Records)
4 – Devastating – Sydney Blu & Damaged Goods (Blu Music)
5 – Work the Beat -Sydney Blu & Trent Cantrelle (Funkfarm)
6 – Dirty – Jaxson (DLG Lazor Remix)
7 – VMS- Michael Woods (Diffused Music)
8 – Giving it up – Sydney Blu & Damaged Goods
9 – Big Jerk – Christian Falero & Adrian Villaverde (Blu Music)
10 – Jump – Sydney Blu & Digital Lab (Vicious Records)
Massive props for your new tune ‘I Want A Freak’ coming out with Trent Cantrelle on Blu Music. How did this hook up happen and are there any further recording plans together?
It’s his solo tune that I released it on my label BLU Music. The success of the track is unbelievable. I’m SO happy…it’s the best selling record my label has ever had. We also have an EP coming out on Funkagenda’s FUNKFARM in February 2012 with two tracks by me and him. I love writing music with Trent…he’s great.”
You spent last New Years partying in North America’s oldest city St John’s in Newfoundland – what is that place all about and where will you be this year in the biggest night of the year?
“St John’s Newfoundland is a hidden gem. It’s special. They love to party out there and they are the nicest people you could possibly meet. They are very fun and artistic too and have a great party scene. This year my New Years announcement should be on my site in a week or so.”
You are obviously close to your family and love returning to the home in Thunder Bay every year for Christmas. What do your friends and family think of the flamboyant life you lead? I mean, your home city’s only famous person prior to you was a bandleader on the David Letterman Late Show!!
“Yes! Paul Schaffer!!…and NHL Hockey players of course! I love being from Thunder Bay. It makes me humble. My family and hometown are full of good people…very kind…everyone cares for one another and I love that. The only thing I don’t like about small town mentality is close mindedness. It just comes with the territory though. When you travel the world and see more things your mind becomes open and you become less judgmental. Almost everyone I know I went to high school with has a family and married now. It’s just not for me just yet. want that someday too, but my career is my life right now and I need to do this first.”
As a trained pianist, do you get on the piano at Christmas and belt out a few tunes?
“Yes I used to. I used to play Fur Elise for my grandmother every time she came over to the house. ncidentally she could play any song on the piano (really good) that she wanted and never had a lesson in her life…it was unbelievable.”
What was your summer anthem you played this year?
“Sydney Blu and Damaged Goods – ‘Givin It Up’ It’s a bootleg remix to ‘Give It Up’ by the Goodmen. We are gonna give it out for free download with our new release ‘Devastating’. Literally I played it in every set this summer and people went crazy every time.”
Tell us about your all time hero Madonna – what is it about this young lady that fascinates you?
“She is my inspiration. I just love her so much and her message in life. She is the all time poster woman for being the best at what you do. She is an ever-changing ever-evolving business woman. She’s a perfectionist and she knows that every action has a consequence these days…very conscious. I respect that.”
Not many people know this, but Joanne Hill is very good at…
“I’m a pretty good dancer. I was a cheerleader so I danced my whole life. I’m not super pro…but I can bust a move for sure.”
What was the main difference to the music industry you recognized when you moved to Miami and took up residency at Mansion?
“Very commercial here sometimes…especially on the beach. I had to really conform and do sets for the different venues. But then I like how they love their techno here too. I am playing for both sides which is cool I like people to know I can play anything…I’ve been DJing for long enough.”
We all love Danny Tenaglia at DMC – and we know you do too. What makes him such a special person/DJ?
“Well…he’s a pioneer but I love him because he has really moved me as a DJ. His marathon sets, he’s such an amazing DJ. I love the feeling of a DJ just taking you into this happy place you never want to leave. Its another reality…he is the master of that. He’s a king. I love reading his Facebook posts lately. Definitely a passionate person too.”
What has been the best gig you have played in 2011?
“Last week I opened for Deadmau5 in Toronto Rogers Centre Skydome for the closing of his 2011 world tour. There were 24,000 people there and it was the biggest dance event in Canadian history. My whole family came to see me. Definitely the best gig. Also up there from 2011 is Mansion Miami for my CD release event in July, Space Miami March 4 for WMC opening, BETA nightclub Denver in July…man did I go crazy for that set…probably my favorite club in the world right now.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“I would clone myself to get more work done! I need a PA soon…life is just getting too crazy.”
What is the finest record you have ever played to a dance floor?
“I love Moody BPT…my favourite was on Danny Tenaglia’s Athens Global Underground.”
What have you got planned for Blu Music for 2012?
“So much…we have a full release schedule until March. Stay tuned, some amazing music coming. Also from me on some other labels too.”
Check out Sydney’s set in Toronto right here…
Link to the promo video of ‘I Want To Freak’: