Artists constantly thrive to push musical boundaries. Through rhythmic sounds, they try to paint a picture and express themselves as they feel it. Nonetheless, artists need to remain aware of their fans preferences, their likes and dislikes if they seek success. Evolving and keeping current with the latest trends and technologies in this fast-pace and changeful world is the job. Every show, DJs must essentially put together tracks that will progress along with the crowd’s vibe, the right track at the right time. For most, the raw energy of a live performance alone is worth the stress of getting up in front of thousands of people.
In 2015, during the first edition of Ancient Future, Or Room had the opportunity to play their first big gig. Since then, they’ve been making a name for themselves and successfully secured a spot in our lovely techno scene. In fact, the Montreal-based duo had the privilege of playing at some of the best venues, parties and festivals that our city has to offer. Keeping true to themselves, Karl and Emmanuel have been putting out a rhythmic and hypnotic European techno comparable to Tale Of Us and Rødhåd.
In the short amount of time together, the djs have managed to find their voice, and survive in a scene already filled with talented artists. With the help of their manager’s direction, Or Room kept a certain consistency and managed to keep their fans entertained throughout their musical journey. In order to get some insight into this journey, we chatted with the up and coming young techno duo, Karl De Jaham (KDJ) and Emmanuel Cote (EC):
HS: When did you guys get into the music scene?
EC: “The dream started when I was about 16. Later, I had the chance to see Maceo Plex at Stereo in 2013. From that point on, I started experiencing and discovering electronic music more.
KDJ: “I started going out at the age of 15/16 in Paris. I lived there 3 years and when I was going out I ended up going to Rex Club which opened up my mind towards electronic music. I think my first night was Laurent Garnier. He was incredible. I think that was in 2007. Then when I moved to Montreal in 2010 I discovered Stereo with my friend Kanthor. We went to see Villalobos, in October. I didn’t know there was a scene in Montreal. And then D’julz came in February 2011 and that’s when I realized Stereo was The club in town. I got addicted to this club and sound, was listening to house and techno all day and night until one day I said no more parties, I got to make my own music.”
HS: Did you come from a musical background?
EC: “For my part, not really. Other than music classes in school where I learnt to play trombone, I never really got into any other musical instrument or never had any professional training.”
KDJ: “Yes, my parents are very big music fans. They lived the best years for Pop, Rock & Reggae (both of them are born in the 60s) so I grew up with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, the Beatles, etc. I also had the chance to have many years of piano lessons. That helped me to develop a musical ear, work with keys and rhythmic, read notes and scores which today helps me a lot.
HS: Where did you learn your skills?
OR Room: “Home, friend’s places, and then with our first gigs. But lot of work had to be done at home, alone.”
HS: How did you guys start the Or Room project? At this point, how old were you?
KDJ: “Emmanuel had a residency @ the Blue Dog and one day he invited Alex Pycke to play, who then asked me to join them. So I went and I started playing with Manu and we realized that something was going on, we were having a lot of fun and music wise it was working amazingly. So he invited me the following week, and the following, and the following. And one day, after working a lot together, we got booked by La Bacchanale to play at their festival. And that’s when Or Room naturally was created for the occasion. I think I was 23.”
HS: Did you have any useful connections when you started in the business?
KDJ: “Definitely but I never got to force friendships to get booked. I think I got opportunities at the right time and took them. Although it’s very important to have some connections, you can’t base your whole career on them.”
HS: Do you guys DJ, produce, or do both?
OR Room: “We do both, we have been working hard in the studio lately to get new productions for our sets and get something released the first half of 2018. We are also currently working on few projects with an artist from Toronto called Aahan and one with Montreal producer Godot.”
HS: Are you signed to any labels?
OR Room: “For now we have released only one EP on Montreal’s label “North of Nowhere”, on which feature artists like Stereo_IMG or The Automatic Message. We really wanted to release on this label, which focuses mainly on Canadian techno artists. For this EP, we had in mind to get remixes from two artists we really like and luckily Mas Teeveh and Corvum accepted and delivered with 2 excellent productions.”
HS: What would you say is the prevalent difference between dJing and producing?
OR Room: “Producing is usually something done alone, in your studio or in a work place where everything is set up the way you want and the way you are use to work. Surprisingly, a studio is often a quiet place, except when you are repeatedly working on a sound or a track, it’s a place where you feel comfortable enough to spend 8 straight hours, working on something that might never get released.
When you are DJing, people surround you, it can be in the middle of a party or on a stage. There are huge speakers with loud music, lots of lights and smoke. Djing is not hard but the art of Djing is complex. Luckily, most of the underground electronic music fans understand that, which legitimates our work.
You also don’t work with the same equipment and the same mentality. When we’re Djing, we use cdjs and a mixer. In the studio, we are currently working with a TR8, a TB3, a MS-20 mini and a Korg Volca Bass. We are working on incorporating more gear in our dj and studio set up. Just got the Strymon Brigadier to add to our Dj set up soon.
Those are 2 different worlds, which explains why it’s 2 different jobs and sometimes people tend to forget that. A good Dj is not necessarily a good producer and vice versa. Unfortunately, the market mixes both together and good producers have to Dj to be able to live of their art.”
Do you ever have any special set-up requests?
OR Room: “Not really, although, the more cdjs the merrier. This way we’re able to do what we like doing, which is getting lost in between 4 tracks and try to mash up everything into a harmonious result. We work hard in the studio to get solid playlists, so then, when behind the decks, we get to randomly choose our tracks and have a total freedom when playing.
However, our 2mixers and 6cdjs setup will be coming back in 2018.”
What’s your preferred BPM?
OR Room: “All and none. (We mostly play around 132 but we like going slower and higher depending the context.)”
Have you always played this genre of techno?
OR Room: “Not always. Mostly because it’s not an easy genre to play, especially in Montreal, but it’s definitely what defines Or Room and what we like the most.”
Tell us about the evolution of Or Room?
OR Room: “Or Room was originally meant for big stage events. The selection of the gigs is still focused on that. However with the experience and time, we have been able to evolve and play in clubs like Stereo. ”
HS: Who’s your favorite DJ/producer?
DVS1, Oscar Mulero, Jeroen Search, Peter Van Hoesen, Ben Klock, Pfirter, Jonas Kopp, Mary Velo, Rebekah, Slam, Hector Oaks, Len Faki
DVS1, Oscar Mulero, Chris Liebing at the time of CLR, Dax J”
HS: In your opinion, what is the greatest set you’ve put out for your fans and where was it?
OR Room: “Ancient Future Festival, closing the techno stage in 2015 or Apollo NYE 2017.”
HS: Take us through the different steps of conceiving a set. What would you start with?
OR Room: “It all depends on the mood of the night, of the vibe of the party, of what state of mind we are in, if the set is played solo or with both of us. We think every gig is different and we’ve never really played the same set twice in our career. We can use the same track, but we rarely do.”
HS: What’s the biggest crowd you’ve played for?
OR Room: “Ancient Future Festival 2015, I think there was about 3000 people.”
HS: Which venues have you played and do you have a preferred one?
OR Room: “Stereo was probably by far our favorite, even though we have a “rave” background. We love playing in warehouses, seeing all those people dancing on your sound is amazing, this is why we have a residency every NYE @ Fonderie Darling.”
HS: Where would you like to play next?
OR Room: “Stereo/Stereobar again, NYC, Japan and Europe are on our list as well. Of course some clubs and festivals must be on our list: Fabric, Bassiani, Berghain, Under Club, Dekmantel, Sonar, Mutek, Awakenings, etc.
We are also excited for our new residency @ Newspeak, starting next Friday March 2, 2018.”
HS: Please share your experience in the Montreal scene.
OR Room: “The good thing with Montreal is that it has a relatively small scene, which helps young Djs and producers get their chances. We came out of nowhere and in 3 years we’ve ended up playing in some of the most prestigious places in town. Of course we have been working days and nights for this, non-stop, but we don’t think it is that easy in a lot of other places. That may explain why we have so many local talents making it internationally. Look at Maher Daniel, Paolo Rocco, Ostrich, Amir Javasoul, Jonny Marciano, Kora, Gino G, Ohm Hourani, Johnny Trika… These guys represent our scene, even tho we don’t play the same kind of music!”
HS: Have you ever been booked outside of Montreal or Canada?
OR Room: “Yes, we have played in Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City and Athens, Greece. We are currently working on dates in Europe for March/April 2018, a new gig in Toronto and another one in Quebec City!”
HS: Where do you see your career going?
OR Room: “Hopefully to be able to live from it. It’s both our dreams to live of our passion. To not count the hours of work is something incredible and if we make it, if we are playing in respected clubs and festivals where music is respected, then we would have reached our first goal. The next step will be to go deeper into our musical journey, research more and more.”
HS: What are the biggest challenges in order to achieve your goals?
OR Room: “Release on few labels that we really like and play in places like the ones mentioned above.”
HS: In the coming months, do you have any exciting gigs or new music coming out?
OR Room: “We have a few unreleased tracks, but nothing officially signed yet. However, we are very happy of our new residency at Newspeak starting early March. We hope to see you all there.”
HS: In your opinion, what does it take to make it in this business?
OR Room: “Balls, talent and a lot work. You also need to love what you do! When or if you ever lose the passion for your work, it then becomes irrelevant and it makes no sense to spend that much time on it. People need to realize that we are huge fans of techno. We listen to techno all the time. One recommendation though: when the opportunity is in front of you, take it!”
HS: What’s your biggest fear?
OR Room: “In our career, honestly none. We are living an incredible experience and everything coming with it has become a bonus. Of course we have some goals that we wish to accomplish, but by keeping working the way we are, we should be able to fulfill them.”
HS: If you had 1 piece of advice to give newcomers, what would it be?
OR Room: “With hard and consistent work nothing is impossible. Also, not to be afraid of meeting new people, absorbing creativity from different people is very important and never only focus on one specific genre.”
2017 was definitely a great year for the pair. Having started the year by playing at Apollo 17, the Bacchanale’s New Year festivity, following by many firsts such as: Stereo, Montreal’s Electro Parade, and getting booked for the 2018 edition of Igloofest for the first time.
With already plenty of memorable gigs under their belt, we highly suggest you to keep them on your musical radar. In fact, if the promising new talents continue on this path, we can surely predict great success and further growth in the years to come.
article by Telsa