Looking to celebrate this weekend with some homegrown Toronto talent? Check out Dirty Decibels – the bass-heavy, deep house DJ duo of party hosts Ben and Dan. Every month for the last two years, they’ve hosted sold out parties at Round Venue, attracting a bold and creative community from all walks of life and giving a platform to a who’s who of the buzzing Toronto scene. Dirty Decibels will celebrate their Second Anniversary tonight, May 13th, 2016, but not before giving EDM TOR an exclusive interview about their accomplishments, inspiration, and their love for the fans that make their shows a success.
EDM TOR: Dan and Ben – the duo behind Dirty Decibels – tell us about yourselves and how the formation of DD came to be!
Dan: I’ve known Ben since I was 12. We actually met because I wanted to learn to make electronic music, and Ben was already doing it. Since Ben was a few years older than me, he got swallowed up by real life responsibilities. I kept up with music and built a career as a producer, while Ben founded and built a tech company. Even though Ben was busy, I would keep bugging him to find time for music. He never did find time to produce, which is a shame because he’s got great instincts. But he did eventually find time to DJ, and I was excited to do anything musical with him again. It started off with parties at Ben’s place.When Ben finally sold his company, he suddenly had a lot of free time, and the house parties had grown. So it was the perfect chance to double down and take it to an actual venue. I think that’s why there’s such a solid community around Dirty Decibels. We went from a living room with 30 people to a packed venue of 300, but we never lost that original house party vibe.
Where do you pull inspiration from?
Ben: I grew up with music always playing in every room every moment of every day, I’ve learned to appreciate at least a little bit of most genres and I think that makes our pool of inspiration unique.
Dan: I come from a musical family, and have played all kinds of instruments since I was 3. Dirty Decibels specifically is sort of a nod to my older brother, who was really into club culture and dance music. I know we have the right tracks when they capture that feeling from the golden age of dance music.
What do you love about the Toronto EDM scene?
Ben: Our incredible local talent really is in a class into itself.
Dan: Dance music doesn’t have as much history in Toronto as, say, Miami or Detroit. It makes our scene into a fusion of imports, which is actually really interesting. You’re seeing a lot of different sounds take hold here.
Hosting a series of sold out monthly events isn’t an easy task. What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome along the way?
Ben: We found our sound pretty easily, we just loved stuff that wasn’t really being played at other parties… but the delicate balance between keeping it fresh and evolving so people want to keep coming back regularly… while at the same time staying true to what people fell in love with in the first place… that took some practice. It was also a lot of work learning how to co-exist with another artist in realtime, when you have no idea what tracks or style he’s going to play. It’s a challenge to keep up and mix your style with theirs, but that’s what makes our sets special.
What’s your most memorable moment from running these events?
Ben: I’m most proud that our dance floors involve seriously hardcore dancing, all too often I would go see DJ’s I love and I’d find myself wondering why I was the only person rocking out on the dance floor. Also fogging up the windows of the big warehouse.
Dan: I remember at the start, going back and forth between the DJ booth and the door, managing all of it ourselves. What blows me away is the number of friends who insisted that we shouldn’t be doing that stuff ourselves. We hate burdening other people, so it’s really an achievement that our friends have been able to wrestle away some of those responsibilities. We’ve also had a few big moments that have come indirectly from our successful events. We played the Harvest Festival mainstage this past year. We made it out to NY and opened for Matze from Mat.Joe, who is legit one of my favourites. We also teamed up with SummerDaze to throw a warehouse jam with Desert Hearts and that one made some real waves.
What special plans do you have for your milestone Dirty Decibels – Second Anniversary show that will separate it from the rest?
Dan: We’re inviting back LeeLee Mishi, who headlined the very first Dirty Decibels two years ago. She’s one of our favorite DJs in the city. We’re also releasing a mix through the Toronto Rave Community this week that looks back at the last year. Some massive tracks that have reliably blown the dancefloor up, plus some songs we’ve been excited to play soon. We have been working on a secret plan for another event, but it might not be ready to announce in time. We will see.
With two successful years under your belt, what are your goals for the upcoming year?
Ben: “Don’t fuck it up”.
Dan: What ben said. We want to do another warehouse jam, but the key is to grow without losing the quality of people that makes our parties great.
Show your love and support for Toronto locals by coming out to Dirty Decibels’ special Second Anniversary celebration! Online advanced tickets are sold out, but there will be tickets available at the door for $20. Here’s to another successful run of shows for the rest of 2016!