INTERVIEW: An interview with Jeff Button, Summer 2014 by Christina Turner

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Jeff Button has been rocking the Toronto forefront for the several years , making a huge indent in his electronic music career. Starting as a promoter for events, Button eventually moved his way up to DJing and has continued to succeed from there on. When I sat down with Button at Electric Island, my nervousness was about to get the best of me, but his charming and outgoing personality settled my thoughts. Not only was he very inspiring, but a great person to talk too, filled with knowledge about hip-hop and electronic music scene. We discussed his first experience DJing, talked about his love for music, and shared a joke-or two.

1. Tell me about Jeff Button and how you came to be a producer?
Well it was kind of funny, I started as a promoter at Boa-Redux in Chinatown, then eventually went to Sonic and uh, during that time I got a little bit – not sick of promoting, I still promote… if you’re a DJ you have to promote, you have to know how to promote, bring the right people to your party, because you want your friends there, even though you don’t drop that – but, I just felt like I had more to offer so I bought a pair of old used CDJ-200’s and I started carrying them around in a Tupperware container to after parties and after the second party I played I had like you know – Johnny White, Kenny Glasgow, Sean Miller, and Nevio that were from Sonic, kind of hanging in attendance there. It was my first time playing, and it ended up being like a 9 hour set, playing until like 6 o’clock in the morning and Kenny came up too me and was like “Yo – where you been all night?,” and I was like “I was on the decks,” and he was like, “that was you playing?”… he’s like, “you’re a promoter!” and I was like, “yeah well I started DJing, it’s kind of a fun thing now”… and he was like, “Well, I have advice for you… just… Go into DJing – drop the promoting”. So I did at that time, and I knew I was on the right path and kept going with it.

2. So how do you explain your style of music? What do you like to spin?
Well, my first session with music was definitely hip-hop, like 90’s hip-hop in high school that was all I listened too. Um, I eventually found DJ Shadow who is like a trip-hop, hip-hop cross over, turntablist. He brought me into the electronic side of music, and then I started going to raves and stuff in Toronto. I have always been more of a house kind of guy, people kind of call me the opening DJ because I am not hesitant to play that deep style, that’s actually what I prefer. So it is easy for me to play that role. But I would say a cross between deep house, nu-disco if I’m throwing in a deep disco set that’s like 105 BPM, more chill. But with festivals like this, you have to step it up and play something a little bit more.

3. What were you playing earlier today on stage?
A mix of stuff, I mean I don’t usually sit on records and say this worked five parties ago so I’m going to play it again — I usually try to come with stuff I’ve never mixed before, I’ve never listened to out on a loud system, to kind of like motivate myself. If it’s a good mix, I’m going to react just as much as the guy in the front row that’s reacting to a mix, if it works out. So, I try to be a little bit risky, I don’t like being safe, and try to bring a whole new bag of records every time I play.

4. How did you get involved with Electric Island?
I’ve had a good relationship with Embrace, and Footwork. Footwork was really my first home as a DJ, I was the resident there for 6 years, and yeah I have always had good ties with them. I played their first time festival, Platform’s carried me through a lot of great opportunities and you know- these guys are the three main cores of this festival. So, they asked me to play the first Canada Day one last year, same slot too but it was before Audiofly, and yeah – I can’t complain. I love it. Play outdoors whether its here or cherry beach or roof top – it’s pretty special because it’s kind of rare to do.

5. What is the difference between playing at festivals and clubs for you?
Well, the obvious one is how music sounds and how music carries outside is more in its natural element, and when you’re in a club you’re confined, the music is stuck in a room and it has its great effects but it’s a totally different atmosphere. When you’re in a festival it’s a little more casual, people are sitting down on blankets and hanging out at the water, which they should because I mean – look at behind you it’s like the nicest view you could ever look at. So, there’s similarities but there are obvious distinctions between the two.

6. Cool, so tell me a little bit about what is coming up for you… I know you’re doing BPM Festival?
Yeah, so I’ve been doing BPM for three years now, this will be the fourth, and I am super excited for that.. for me it is the best international festival it has taken over the shit in Miami – I mean not too shit on anyone and no offence to anyone involved ha ha – uh, but they’ve gone a little bit more commercial and there is some great parties if you search for them there but it’s a little bit more mainstream where I feel like BPM is definitely the essence of the underground when it comes to music, but it has that aspect of a vacation too so if you don’t want to party, you can just go down to the beach with your friends, have a 12 pack and a Styrofoam cup and get shit faced by the beach all day if that’s what your prerogative. I love it there. But other than that, I’m coming back here for Corona Sunsets partying with Beatport, Embrace is involved, Platform, and Moby, No Regular Play, Wolf and Lamb, Green Velvet, like it is a very eclectic line-up so…

7. Do you get nervous playing with artists like Moby, Green Velvet…
Not really because obviously with these guys I look up to them and their music is very inspiring and gives me direction of my own thing and where I will go, even though I try to do my own thing. The only time I ever got really nervous around a DJ, was DJ Shadow, because he was the guy that brought me to electronic music and I opened up for him at the Danforth Musical three or four years ago for an embrace show. It was funny because, this may be a long story but, we went to an MTV thing where he was a DJ guest host and he was judging a turn tablelist guy and during the commercial break, I was in the audience because I went to a show that night, so on the commercial break I went up to him and I had a limited edition CD in my pocket and a sharpie, I handed it to him and I go, “Sorry Josh, I don’t want to be a fan boy here, but I need your autograph.” He’s like “Yeah no worries.” So when I opened up for him like four years later, I brought that story up to him and he goes, “yeah, I totally remember that. There was like only 10,000 of those CD’s ever printed, so I was impressed that you had it in your pocket.” So that was the only time I was ever kind of like- nervous in front of a guy I played before.

8. What are you doing now, that your set is over?
I am enjoying some beer… I’m here with my family, my girlfriend, I have some buddies here, all the DJ’s that played before me I am really close with, and obviously everyone that is really involved with that parties.. It’s a pretty good family vibe and you know – it’s good about the set but I would play until 10:00 if they would let me… but it’s good to be done so you can just kind of chill and enjoy everything that’s around… and enjoy the weather when it was supposed to be pissing rain all day.

9. I saw your vine by the way…
Haha yeah, I was, I was going to actually open the interview with the vine but I didn’t think it was PG rated… I was afraid my grandma was going to see it actually.

10. It’s ok just a swear word, you know…
Yeah, I’m sure she drops it when I’m not around.. But, I’m still her first grandson so…

Well thank you so much, it was such a pleasure
Thank you, you guys are doing a great job….

Button’s honest and humbling personality are a strong fit for his excellent skills in DJ’ing. Currently, he is posting up various mix tapes on Mixcloud, playing the BPM Festival in Playa Del Carmen, and doing much more in Toronto city. Watch out for Button, and I’m sure you’ll fall in love!

LINKS:

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Christina TurnerEDM TOR

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Adele Desloges

Adele is the Manager at EDM TOR. She also heads up the social media as well as the photo and video team, and has been promoting events across the GTA for years. She has been a fan of EDM since the mid-90s and has since found a focus of pure joy in the trance genre.

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