From beginnings grounded in the wintry landscape of Ontario, to techno’s biggest label and stages around the world, Weska has traveled far and wide to order to imprint himself on the global scene with brilliant productions and heavy-hitting DJ sets. It was here in Canad where he was able to refine his craft, receive the support of promoters and friends within his local scene, and launch his career beyond the great north.
With three tracks released on Drumcode, he’s the first and only Canadian to have released music on Adam Beyer’s globally renowned techno phenomenon. We sat down with him to explore where his journey began, where it has taken him, and all the details in between.
HS: Take us back to where it all began – what first inspired you to start DJing and producing? Which scenes and spaces in Canada led you to develop a passion for techno and dance music?
Weska: One of my best friends was my first inspiration for DJing. I met him at a party once where I heard a Boys Noize track come on the speakers. I shouted out “who put this song on” as I didn’t have any friends who listened to this music at the time. This guy shouted, “I did, how do you know this song?”. His name is Geoff, and we’ve been best friends ever since. A couple weeks after this party, I went over to his house where his brother was playing some French house on these turntables. I was so intrigued and fascinated and wanted to learn how to mix, so I begged my parents for a pair for my birthday. I was a lucky boy and on my birthday, I received a pair of Newmark TT500’s and a two channel Newmark mixer. I was so bad at first, I didn’t understand the concept of mixing, I would just layer songs over one another. I figured it out shortly after this though and practiced a lot in my basement.
Adam Beyer and Eric Prydz testing out brand new one from me back to back in Miami last week, Talk Means 🇸🇪🎶 #weska #techno #stoked
Posted by Weska on Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Weska: A few years later I got my first gig at a charity party a promoter was putting on at C Lounge in Toronto. I don’t even know the name of the club now, but it was small, and I was very nervous. This was my first experience with CDJ’s, which I was instantly much fonder of using than turntables. That was the beginning for me. In terms of spaces, Footwork and the Guvernment (RIP) were the two establishments that got me familiar with the promoters, people, the underground scene in Toronto. The Guv was more of a mainstream club, but they always had room where Marco Carola, Loco Dice or Dubfire would play in for example. I would drag my friends in there, and years later it worked, as they all now love the underground stuff. But it’s Footwork and their new hot establishment (and my old stomping ground) Coda that really gave me a breakthrough. I didn’t play at Footwork, but it was here I saw many names, large and small, weekdays and weekends, and it’s this club that got me really into techno. When Footwork closed, Coda opened up a few blocks north. People began to become aware I produced, and I got in touch with the bookers from Coda and started to open up for DJ’s that came through, Bart Skills, Julian Jewel, Dustin Zahn to name a few. I have a great relationship with Coda people now, and I have to give a lot of credit to them for believing in me and giving me all these opportunities; it 1000% paved the way for me at the start of my career. That’s where it all began for me.
HS: In the last three years, you picked up your life in Canada and moved to Berlin. What was that transition like, and what effect did it have on your artistry?
Weska: Berlin is much different than Toronto, from the architecture to the people. It’s also a big city, but the cultures are completely different, including the party culture. I would be home and asleep in Toronto by the time I would first start my night out here in Berlin when I first moved. It was an interesting adjustment, not comfortable but not uncomfortable, and I liked it. Toronto has a great music scene, but the clubs are nothing like the ones in Berlin, and not in a negative way; they’re just different. They each have their place in the scene, and I like them both. Moving here definitely opened up my creativity though, and has allowed me to try different things with my music, and then have the opportunity to play them live for people. I think my music would have still developed in Toronto, but it would have developed differently, and because the scenes are different, I may not have had the chance to try these ideas out like I can here. Moving to Berlin has definitely given me a higher appreciation for all types of music.
HS: Not only are you producing records for some of techno’s most prominent labels; you’re also DJing across the globe, from Australia to Argentina. How do you balance your time between producing and DJing?
Weska: I try to produce as much as possible. I probably produce almost every day for at least a few hours unless I’m travelling or have a show. If I have a show I will prepare the day before and the day of, here and there, and depending on how much time I have before the show I’ll make some edits or prepare a bit more. I have a studio here in Berlin but I use my headphones and my lap top most of the time, and it’s nice because it allows me to produce anywhere in the world. The other day I made a track at 7am in bed because I woke up with this melody in my head. Inspiration just hits me at the most random times.
HS: You’ve spun at massive festivals; Creamfields, Hi Ibiza, ADE to name a few. What have been some of your favorites to play so far? Did any personal or career defining moments emerge from these experiences?
Weska: Playing with Eric Prydz during the summer of 2017 brought some amazing experiences for sure. The first time in March when I opened for him at Union in Toronto I was so nervous, I couldn’t believe I was actually playing with him. I’ve looked up to him since I first discovered electronic music. I had 30 friends come to that show, and he played one of my tracks. To say it was a monumental night is an understatement. That night opened up a lot of opportunities for me, and in May I played at his EPIC concert in London. That show, and Creamfields in August are still the biggest crowds I’ve played to thus far. The stage capacity is 15,000 and although it wasn’t at capacity for my set, it’s a huge event. Hi Ibiza was also pretty career defining, as every DJ dreams of playing on the island one day. This lucky guy got to play it three times that summer, and they all were amazing experiences, enjoyable, but I learned a lot from them too.
HS: From a young age, you’ve been involved with and listening to electronic music of all kinds. Which artists and producers have had the biggest impact on your DJing style and productions?
Weska: That’s a tough question, there has been a lot. But I give full credit to the Swedes. I think Eric Prydz has had the most profound impact on me throughout my career, as I looked up to him from the start, and I still do. He does everything from commercial progressive to underground techno, and he’s a great DJ. I therefore really look up to all aspects of his musical nature. Over the last 5 years though Adam Beyer has had a big influence on my sound and djing. He’s smart and talented when playing live, it’s great to listen to and watch. But my influences change weekly, daily sometimes. One time I saw Ryan Elliot at Berghain it completely changed my perspective on mixing techno. Another week I saw Nick Hoppner perform and I was in awe at his track style and flow. I’m always listening and appreciating different styles people have and seeing how I can mix them in with my own.
HS: Kraftek, Octopus, Suara, Drumcode, and other top techno labels have become home to your productions. How have you seen your production style evolve from the very beginning? Where do you see it going in the future?
Weska: 100%. My style is always evolving, I’m always trying different ideas, listening to what the new big hits are doing, the new up and coming labels, where a label was in the past to where it is now, what I was doing in the past and what I do differently now. Techno is a genre that allows you to experiment the most in my opinion. I’ve taken ideas from dub step, progressive house, drum and bass however with this being said, I have no idea where my sound will go in the future, but I’m excited to find out! I think I’m going to create some aliases though, as there’s so many cool music styles out there that I want to experiment with. Would love to do some proper underground stuff, the more heads down style, and some ambient/downtempo stuff like Deepchord. That stuff is mesmerizing.
My next single Alpha Rhymth is coming out SOON on Drumcode!!preorder: https://drumcode.ffm.to/dc211
Posted by Weska on Wednesday, September 11, 2019
HS: Your track ‘Alpha Rhythm’ was just released on Adam Beyer’s Vol. 8 A-Sides. How has your experience been producing and releasing music on Techno’s biggest label?
Weska: It’s been a dream come true honestly and not a day goes by that I’m not thankful I’ve had this incredible opportunity. I looked up to the label and would listen constantly to the new releases that came out when I was younger, so it’s very cool how it’s gone full circle. It’s also allowed me to push myself to try new sounds and styles as well as motivated me to be even hungrier in succeeding. I’ve also met some amazing people through the label, so the experience has been great overall.
HS: In the music industry, there’s been a gradual movement opening up about DJs’ and producers’ mental health. What would you want people to know regarding the expectations of DJs, producers, the strain of touring lifestyles, etc? What could be done to better support our artists?
Weska: I agree it’s a tough subject, and now that I’m in the scene and experience it’s a lot easier to understand. There is a negative look with dj’s though that some of the outside world has that we just party and take drugs and travel the world and get paid for it. Well this may be the case for some djs, it’s not for the majority, and I think this lifestyle occurs in every industry in the entire world. Yeah it’s crazy that you’ve been to 4 countries in 5 days, but people not in the scene who still cast this judgement. They don’t relate the strain this has on you. Not sleeping is not fun, plus the travelling is the perfect storm for anxiety and depression. I’m only beginning to just scratch the surface of touring, and I love it but even I’m feeling the negative effects of it. Mental health is an extremely important issue and I’m very happy it’s being given more attention.
HS: Last March, Montrealers had the pleasure of listening to you open for Enrico Sangiuliano for what was a remarkable night at Stereo Afterhours. How was your experience spinning at Stereo, and do you have any plans on returning to Canada in the next year?
Weska: I dreamed of playing at this club one day and it lived up to everything I had dreamed of! I used to go here when I was at university in Kingston, Ontario, and would visit my friends in Montreal who went to school there. I think I even drove from Toronto once. I had some insane moments on that dance floor and that club alone had an influence on my becoming a DJ, especially a warm up set. I’ve heard the best warm ups at this place, DJs playing slow but proper grooves and building the night up. I think Stereo almost taught me how to warm up in a way, so hats off to all the people I saw over the years there. The club is a magical place, and the sound on the dance floor is a whole other story.
And then there’s the booth… I’ve never heard a better DJ booth thus far in my career – the bass and punch are so loud, but they don’t get in the way of the other frequencies, they have all the equipment you need, and the concrete slab they use for a DJ table is hanging from the ceiling, so there’s ZERO vibrations. It’s truly great. I warmed up so played slow and built it up, taking direct inspiration from all the people I’ve seen warm up there and really felt like I created a vibe. Now that I’ve done this I would love to play some proper techno there one day. I had such a fun night with Enrico and the entire Stereo crew and I can’t wait to go back and play there.
HS: If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring DJs and producers back home in Canada, what would it be?
Weska: Follow your dreams and don’t stop making music. Canada is great but the world is massive and you gotta get your name out there somehow. Call Canada home but travel to different places if you can afford it and check out the scenes around the world. Bring this inspiration back to Canada and make some magic. I’m not sure how the scene is outside of Toronto or Montreal but I think the most international stuff happens there, so take advantage of that if you live close by and meet the people in control of bringing your favourite people to town so they can bring you there one day.
Stellar Tidal Disruption getting the ADE Awakenings test by Adam Beyer ! Coming at ya one week today on Filth on Acid 🚀🎶💪🏼
Posted by Weska on Friday, November 9, 2018
HS: Tell us about any upcoming projects, or releases you have in store. What can your fans expect from you to close out 2019?
Weska: I can’t say too much at the moment, but I’ve spent a lot of time on music this past year and I’m super excited to share it with you all. I’m also going back to South America at the end of the month so I’m definitely buzzing for that!
Article by Hunter