Archive for December, 2009

Jimmy J

exodus new years flyer front

exodus new years eve flyer back

Tuesday December 31st, 1991. With a new year fast approaching, resolutions regarding Toronto raving were plentiful. Photocopied flyers would no longer be the standard after this professionally printed rave flyer. And size now mattered too. This promo was bigger than any previous effort and it was reflected in the inflated $25 cover charge, which was more than triple the usual cost. Smart bars, merchandising and more – the first evidence that rave promotion was becoming business before pleasure.

The music was also being remixed. While Malik was gearing up for his final Exodus appearance, Chris Sheppard was slotted to make his first. “The Dogwhistle,” however, was no stranger to this vibe. After returning from England in 1988 he threw an acid house party called, The Temple of Psychic Youth, at the Masonic Temple on October 23rd (another notable 23 occurrence). He references the event here in this interview for The New Music where he discusses the invention of rave. This event, Shep’s promotion of dance music via the CFNY airways and role in the formation of 23 Hop were important precursors to raving in Toronto.

Psychic TV Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth TorontoUpdate 05/30/16: We managed to track down this advert for the aforementioned acid house party. The event was actually held at RPM and billed as an all-ages concert taking place on the same date Shep cites. The event featured a performance by Psychic TV who released early acid house albums in 1988. They also formed a cult-like fan club called Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth….

While it may or may not have been amicable, this evening represented a passing of the torch between the two DJs.Β  Malik helped incubate the scene during its formative months while Shep can be credited for helping to lay its foundation and an influential role during its massive growth. Both represented different schools of DJing: hobby vs. career, community vs. masses. Yet there was no doubt that each one felt the utmost passion for music. Many are firm believers of the Malik era being Toronto’s purest form of raving, Shep was perfectly qualified to push forward a scene that began exploding in 1992.

Unfortunately I was not in attendance for this event. Had I (and a crew of other Exodus devotees) known how important this event would end up being, we would have not been in Quebec City begging the DJ to play any form of techno he had. Those of us who missed out have all regretted it ever since. When the 23 Hop smoke machine settled, it became apparent that Unity in 1992 wouldn’t last long. Despite the glimmer of hope from Malik’s NYE appearance, he was a man of his word and would never return to raving. And, surprisingly, Exodus would never return to 23 Hop – which most of us assumed would resume the first Saturday night in January. It was rumored that disagreements between the partners erupted during New Year’s Eve followed by a parting of ways with the management of 23 Hop. As a result Mark Oliver exited from Exodus and John went on hiatus. Anthony went solo and threw a rave in late January at the Knights of Columbus in Brampton (coincidentally located on John Street.)

Eight months later John and Anthony reunited for a few large-scale events. It wasn’t long before they realized the integrity of their original concept couldn’t be adapted to such a rapidly progressing scene. Eventually the guys returned to their roots by throwing a small party at a venue known as the Actor’s Lab. It was widely considered one of their best events. After that, Exodus airlines was grounded, permanently.

“One day Malik had a vision that someone else would come along and run the scene. We just laughed it off, but he was right.” – John Angus

Jimmy J

exodus coke flyer

December 21st, 1991. This was the first Toronto rave flyer to feature colour printing and the first to spoof a trademark. Exodus would go on to produce t-shirts featuring this logo, but would replace, “real” with “rave”.

Jimmy J

trance induced state malik x side 1

Welcome to side 2 of Malik’s masterful Mental Frequency. These tracks have more of a rare groove and afrobeat influence with techno a mainstay. Vocals are more abundant on this side and are complimented by a few cameos by familiar techno samples I can’t identify. The first track in particular has numerous afrobeat elements, plenty of percussion and vocals.Β  The second track’s breakbeat and moody melody is trip hop before the genre existed. The third track is the hardest hitting on the techno tip, with some throwback bleeps thrown in the mix. Like the first track, the forth is primarily afrobeat influenced but with a faster techno tempo.

Enjoy.

The following tracks are believed to be subsequent Malik productions that were showcased on his show, during his post rave era. They were also rumored to be played during ODJ’s radio show, The Sound of Young London. These MP3s were contributed by Darren Smooth.

Jimmy J

exodus quest for peace

December 14th, 1991. The first Exodus flyer in our possession that’s post Malik’s departure, having hung up his rave headphones sometime in early December. Note “The Booming System” is no longer followed by “Collective”. His DJ career continued, his radio show lived on and he was still out and about as our final Radio London recording indicates. Malik would eventually agree to get the collective back together one last time for Exodus’ New Years rave.

Alx of London

Chemistry 1 flyer

The motivation to throw the first Chemistry rave had come from the discovery of two scenes on my arrival in Toronto – the warehouse scene which was an older, glammed up crowd, and Exodus at 23 Hop. The need to find a source of income in my new found city was also a motivation, and throwing parties was what I knew best.

I’d been in Toronto less than a month when I decided to throw that first rave. The name came from a rave of mine which never happened – the very first Chemistry which I’d been organizing in the Summer of ’89 in England, but which never happened due to unwelcome attention from the mob.

In July of ’89 in England I’d gone to a meeting with what I thought were some East of London ticket agents / promoters, but it quickly became clear they were not all they seemed. They were looking to forcibly take over my event. They wanted to take over my security, the DJ’s, all the promotion and ticket sales, and when I politely declined their gracious offer, I was told I didn’t have a choice. Ultimately I backed out of the event after nearly 3 months of organizing. My car had been vandalized and people I knew were getting threatening phone calls.

Fortunately no such issues would ever present themselves in Toronto, although promoters in Montreal weren’t quite so lucky…

The only issues I had to deal with for that first party were to find a venue, come up with a flyer, and start promoting the hell out of it. I set about this with enthusiasm and, er.. gusto.

Chemistry Test TubeOne of the ideas for the original Chemistry in England had been two huge bubbling test tubes suspended above the entrance.Β  I remembered a sketch I’d made of this, and this became the inspiration for the flyer for the rave in Toronto. I decided to print the flyer and hand it out inside a test tube.

The test tubes I got my hands on, weren’t quite big enough to take the flyer, so every cork stopper had to be shortened with an exacto knife. Each flyer was rolled on a split-stick and a piece of ribbon tied around the flyer before sealing it in the test tube. It took fucking ages to do them all and I still have the muscle memory for rolling test tube flyers now. Er – a really handy skill in everyday life..

Being low on funds and having apparently zero fear, I organized the party entirely on credit – begging, borrowing and cajoling all the various suppliers (sound, lighting, test tube retailers) into getting paid after the event.

This was risky business and relied on the party being a success, or at least breaking even. So confident was I that the test tube flyer would attract stampedes of people, I planned a production that was obscene in retrospect. It would not have looked out of place in the mid 90’s – full colour laser, intelligent lighting, dry ice, massive sound system, bouncy castle, it was all there.

Neil aka Dr NoOn the DJ front I had Malik X, Mark Oliver, myself as promoter / DJ, and Dr No, who was quickly becoming a close friend and confidente.

On the promoting side I was out there in both scenes doing hand to hand promotion. I’d learned in London that the best way to do this is yourself, and rather than just hand out flyers to random people.. stop, engage, have conversations with people, and take the time to explain what it is you’re trying to do and build.

I was always selective in who I gave flyers to. This was a necessity to build a new scene, in effect to cherry pick from other scenes, but it also helped to ensure a good party. I looked for people that were obviously open-minded, funky, not too tied to a particular fashion (had their own perhaps), not jaded.

The test tubes were a hit and there was a big buzz building over the event. With the money I was spending on production I needed 800 people to break even. I was thinking I could attract 1000, 1500, 2000 people. Really I had no idea.

It was Neil (Dr No) who broke the news to me a couple of days before the event that Malik was dropping out of DJ’ing. This was a huge blow because the last thing I wanted was a no-show reputation. He was top billing on the flyer, and a large part of the creative plans.

Mark OliverMalik, who was a very spiritual person had decided he didn’t want to be part of a burgeoning rave scene. We’d gotten along well in the short time we’d known each other, I’d been to his house, met his wife and family, and had some particularly deep conversations. But he came to the conclusion that it was time to hang up his slipmats, and not be a part of mine or anyone else’s plans. He disappeared, not to be seen again.

Consciously or not, it was Malik departing from the scene that had the effect of clearing the way for Neil to move front and centre into the spotlight as Toronto’s premier MC and DJ.

The night for the party rolled around… Friday the 13th December 1991. If I’d been superstitious I might have avoided the date. Really I should simply have avoided a Friday…

In London I was used to Friday being a big night out. Saturdays tended to be a more cheesy affair and to be avoided by the cool kids. My decision to host the party on a Friday was driven mainly by a desire not to go into direct competition with other promoters, and in that sense it worked. I didn’t have any problem getting the DJ’s I needed, and the other promoters were, superficially at least, supportive.

Alx of LondonWhat I didn’t expect was the huge reluctance from people to pay a $10 cover charge. At the time there was very much a $5 cover charge mentality in Toronto, it was a recession, and it would prove especially challenging to change this view. The economics of large productions would of course demand higher cover charges in time, and considering that raves in England cost $100 or more, this was going to be a problem. What I didn’t expect was that people would come half way across town in a taxi, and then turn away at the cost – but they did.

The location (17 River St) was also a problem. To me (on a map) it seemed close enough to downtown, and while the 23 Hop crowd didn’t care – they were coming in from the suburbs, the party-district-minded Warehouse crowd had a psychological barrier erected on Church St.

The building itself was a barn of a warehouse, unbelievably tall, and tucked in behind the Toronto Humane Society. It was going to take a lot of people and party to fill.

It was a chilly night and inside the warehouse you could see people’s breath. Slowly a steady mix of curious party-goers started arriving, in ones and twos and taxis. Inside the music was rocking and the venue pulsating with smoke, lighting and UV lighting. I’d always wanted to hire a dry-ice machine for a party, this is heavier-than-air smoke that stays in a blanket near the ground, and it was a huge hit. Most people have never experienced dry ice before, and it’s a lot of fun. For a Promoter it’s messy to deal with and you need tons of frozen blocks of the stuff, stored at -80 degrees. It’s a lot of work.

Mix of scenesAll the dry ice in the world and large volumes of partygoers’ frozen breath were not enough to hide the fact that there weren’t enough people in the venue for me to get out with my shirt.

At the height of the party there was maybe 200-300 people, perhaps 500 over the whole night. The steadily building stress and creeping realization of impending financial doom – that event promoters know all too well – was a downer for me, but it turns out, a blessing in disguise.

The next day I remember lying in my friend’s apartment at College/Clinton as the phone rung off the hook. I wasn’t answering. I was depressed, figuring out how the hell I would pay people back, and contemplating a return to England.

It was the persistence of Neil (Dr No), who got through to me on the phone, that would ultimately lead to me sticking around. It was Saturday evening, so Exodus at 23 Hop was due to be in session, and he told me “I had to come out”. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but Neil was very persuasive, and he convinced me to come out and talk to people.

The message I got in return was huge. People were coming up to me and telling me what an awesome night they’d had. They were effusive and sincere in their appreciation, and I remember two young guys in particular who said simply… “We know you must have lost a lot of money last night, but you’ve got to do another party!”. Others told me how it was the kind of event they’d been waiting for…

I went home that night re-energized and motivated to stay in Toronto… and make a go of it!

Close