Dixon will headline the fourth anniversary party for 13 PERCENT at a TBA venue on July 6th.
Operating for four years now at a series of Montreal venues including Le Salon Daome, Stereo, and U.N., 13 PERCENT has been a prominent name in bringing international house and techno to the French-Canadian city, including names like Cassy, Donato Dozzy, Daniel Bell and Margaret Dygas.
The party was founded by Montreal local Nadir Agha in 2008, who describes the local scene then as plagued by "a constant loop of stale bookings" focusing mostly on progressive and tribal house. Though local festivals like MUTEK and Piknic Electronik provided the kind of programming that Agha saw as necessary to fostering an interesting scene, he was still "quite discouraged by the city's nightlife as a whole... so naturally, [he] decided to take matters into [his] own hands." He claims he founded 13 PERCENT "to spark life back into the city and expose the local scenesters with artists we believe are at the forefront of the European circuit... a blend of techno and house, structured in minimalism." In addition to the Innervisions boss, local support will come from Agha himself under his Ostrich guise. Dixon also has a date in Toronto the evening before, at the Drake Hotel.
We spoke to Agha via e-mail to discuss 13 PERCENT's history and its role in the Montreal scene.
Are you surprised at all at the party's longevity and success? How has it changed over the past four years?
I am quite proud of what we've been able to accomplish in the past 4 years, as we've managed to stay consistent and true to our objective. Albeit a small city compared to Toronto, Montreal has an amazing vibe! Thanks to a couple of tasteful promoters, locals have generally been made more aware of the various genres of electronic music. I like to think that we are all contributing to inject quality back into the collective clubbing experience. I've produced some moderate-size events with multiple headliners, but when there's only a two to three-hour window when patrons tend to come out, it defeats the purpose of going all-out extravagant for a show. To be honest I much prefer an intimate 350 - 400 person party in a dark basement, so most of our events are kept within these capacity limits. From a music standpoint, we don't conform to the sound of current market trends.
Why Dixon for the fourth year anniversary? What are some of the other headliners you've had in the past that you're most proud of?
Dixon is one of my favorite DJs! I've been trying to book him for a couple of years and I'm stoked to make it happen for the anniversary. There are very few DJs who stay true to the art form without using a laptop and gadgets to beat match, loop, run effects, etc. Dixon is one of the rare ones, as are the majority of our headliners. I absolutely love how he programs and builds a vibe throughout his sets. This aspect of DJing is the first priority that I look for when booking acts.
It's really tough to pick which headliners I'm most proud of, as all the artists we've booked have performed exceptionally at 13 PERCENT. The headliners that stood out for me in the last year were Donato Dozzy, Levon Vincent and most recently Pheek (live) and Peter Van Hoesen (live). Donato and Levon are such incredible artists who I look up to very highly and I consider them wizards at their craft. Both of these guys can play flawlessly for hours non-stop and still keep the flow tight as ever. Pheek is a very close and dear friend of mine, who I had asked to perform a live set just before Peter Van Hoesen in February. It's very rare to hear a live set (as opposed to a live/dj hybrid) from Pheek nowadays, so needless to say I was honored when he mentioned he was preparing something special for the evening. His live set was a Basic Channel inspired, dub-driven sound sprinkled with his own signature touch of cerebral amazingness. Peter Van Hoesen is really a jack-of-all-trades as a DJ and live act. I've been following his production for years and his sound has matured beautifully. His live rendition of edgy and chugging techno was brilliant and very refreshing to hear.
Do you feel like Montreal is a supportive place for adventurous parties and promoters?
I can't say many promoters are that adventurous or take huge risks, as I explain below, but in my opinion I can proudly say that among the three main Canadian cities (Montreal, Toronto & Vancouver), Montreal definitely brings a better selection of artists to town, hands down. The atmosphere and vibe here are like no other, and everyone loves to go out and have a great time any day of the week. Montreal is almost always extremely supportive when there's an out of town guest performing. But less so when it's an all-local line-up. It's a harsh reality, but it's the truth.
Flying in an international artist to perform at a loft or warehouse can be fun and rewarding, but risky. I've personally chosen to keep all events legitimate since investing large for an event held in an illegal venue can be a serious buzz kill if/when cops shut it down and find you selling alcohol. I speak from personal experience. It's not fun! The city is so small that it's difficult to find an isolated area to organize an all-night party without loud music going undetected. There is the odd venue that could potentially host such an event, but cops have them all flagged. However, my main complaint and the biggest obstacle that Canadian promoters face, is the strict law that prohibits establishments from serving alcohol past the bar's curfew, which in Montreal is 3:00 AM sharp. There's not much of a window to invite more than one international headliner unless the event's taking place at an afterhours club, where no alcohol is permitted but can stay open till the late hours of the morning. There's just no middle ground.
So what we over at Stereo headquarters are working on is the best solution to this problem. The re-launch of the bar in the basement of Stereo (formerly known as Stereobar), which will make the club a one-stop-shop for all your clubbing needs; incredible sound, amazing music, and top tier talent. The bar will open from 10:00 PM till 3:00 AM downstairs and then walk upstairs to continue the party till 10:00 AM. I'm very excited for this! My first proper DJ gig was in that basement almost 10 years ago and I can't wait to give the bar the attention it truly deserves. Big things are brewing!
Tickets to Dixon's upcoming dates in Toronto and Montreal are available here on RA.