Archive for the '1991' Category

Jimmy J

CKLN 88.1 consoleWell before raving took place in Toronto there was a DJ known as Malik X, who was arguably one of the best the city had to offer.

In the late 1980s Malik began hosting a Ryerson University community radio show he called “Radio London.” If you set your dial to CKLN 88.1 on Saturdays from 6-8pm your ears were greeted by Malik’s smooth English accent proudly showcasing the new and old sounds of his hometown.

“Techno is happening right now in London like you wouldn’t believe and the show is called Radio London and that’s why I’m playing it. And I’m also playing rare groove, swing beat, and everything else – I’m trying to keep everybody happy.” – Malik X (19:27)

trance induced state Malik XMalik was a hidden gem as far as Toronto radio personalities go: a professional with big radio talent, yet happy with the level of creative control and impact he had with his volunteer gig. His dedication was apparent in the listening experience which rivaled mainstream radio but with content that was anything but. His broadcasts featured numerous Radio London bumpers and Malik X soundbites throughout, production qualities that were far the norm of community radio at the time. Of course, creating these samples was second nature to Malik, as behind the scenes he was producing his own music (tape cover left, more on this later). And unlike most mainstream radio DJs he actually knew how to mix, and mix very well. This skill became obvious when he overcame the challenge of mixing with broadcast turntables at the CKLN studios.

Behind the scenes Malik was also a spoken-word poet, so he had a wonderful way with words which provided a pleasant on-air demeanor. Even when tongue-twisted he would ever so smoothly unravel his thoughts and his sense of humor would leave us with something far more entertaining than if he spoke it correctly. His abilities with a microphone were well utilized for his genuine support of a tight-knit community that was the trusted voice of. He  always encouraged calls from listeners and discussed their comments on air.  He went beyond the call of duty in fund raising drives and constantly promoted local record stores by preaching the purchase of vinyl, rather than just dubbing cassette tapes. Malik was well known by friends for his spirituality made evident by his words and his ankh accessorized wardrobe. His listeners knew him for  subtle messages of wisdom and well-wishing because of shows that often contained his own PSAs.

“If you’re out there driving, please, ’cause I know a lot of people will be driving and also will be drinking – because the subways aren’t running and all that sort of stuff. If you’re going to do that, think again, because that’s bad news, alright?” – Malik X (43:00)

With his broadcast talents forming just one part of the many frequencies emitting from Malik, he was also well known for a number of club residencies. In 1989 he spun a rare-groove-based set to a packed house every Saturday evening at the Caribou Club at College and Bathurst.

the claremont queen street west

In 1990 the venue was leased to the owners of  Sneaky Dee’s, and Caribou’s management relocated to the The Claremont on Queen Street West (now Starbucks) where Malik spun a more progressive set on Saturday nights on the lower floor. In 1991, a Wednesday night at the Cameron House on Queen West (still there) – originally titled “Flirty Dancing” and promoted by Tom Davis – eventually morphed into a longstanding evening of acid jazz with Malik X.

Since Malik offered such a complete package, he also earned regular time slots at various warehouse parties throughout the city. He would often refer to the parties as “raves” because he was aware of the rave buzz in the UK and these events were the closest thing to it at the time. That is, until Malik was united with the Exodus crew via DJ Mark Oliver – who was in charge of the DJ line-up at these events. Exodus raves eventually became a regular installment in Toronto’s after-hours scene and Malik became one of its biggest promotional forces.

dj malix x toronto flyer

Around this date in 1991 the music programming on Malik’s radio show began to shift. Where once the show echoed the soothing sounds of rare-groove, soul and acid jazz, the airways were now filled with hardcore sounds and accelerated beats. Malik was getting caught up in the energy of the burgeoning Toronto scene and his radio show was now fully synchronized with the techno surge in the UK. This was made possible because of hot-off-the-press vinyl sent directly from London contacts which he then showcased on a segment of his show called Air Witness News. His broadcasts were a pre-rave staple within the tight-knit community and would create positive momentum for the event at 318 Richmond Street West which occurred a few hours later. Sure, the format change alienated the portion of his audience looking for a more mellow mix – but for every listener he lost two new rave seeking listeners set their dials to 88.1.

His remaining Wednesday residency at the Cameron House was also being influenced by his involvement in the new scene as it once again morphed in to a mid-week mellow-out session for those who had been to Exodus and seen the future.

When performing at 23 Hop, every aspect of his showmanship shined through – a fact that made it easy for Malik to focus his energy on it. As a result of his linguistic abilities he naturally adopted the role of MC during Exodus raves.  He coined Toronto’s first rave MC chants which completed the true rave experience in Toronto. His impact on the scene would be seen and heard for years to come. Think Dr. No, who was influenced by Malik’s MC and mixing mannerisms and openly named him as inspiration.

With his main gig rumored to be a 9-5 for the TTC, Malik was moonlighting solely for his love of music. But just like his tracks had made leaps in BPM, his DJ career was now also set to +8 and the scene was evolving even faster. As a result he started to question the path he was on with regards to his role in Toronto raving.

UPDATE 4/16: 7 years after we published this article we made contact with Malik. Get the update and listen to his new mixes here.

Here’s a rare and raw interview with Malik from 2000. Thanks to Ondine Hayes for sharing footage from her forthcoming documentary: The Day I Found the Music: My Raveolution.


My name is Anthony Donnelly; I was born in Glasgow Scotland and immigrated to Canada when I was a child with my mother and father, frequently returning to the U.K. on holidays. I want to tell a story of the birth and creation of a culture that exploded amongst youth in North America called the, ‘rave scene’.  I thought the story would be best told by one of the persons responsible. The year was 1988 and I was returning to Glasgow for a visit, but this one was much different from all the other ones that I had encountered, little did I know  this time it was about to change my life completely and the rest of Toronto’s youth for that matter.

This was a different U. K. from what I was used to. There was this new sound out called ‘house and techno’, there were hard nosed Britt’s now in mock rituals dancing together. This experience was all too welcoming, overwhelming, and I really took it to heart. I returned to Canada three weeks later dissatisfied with the reality that this movement did not exist in North America and then decided at that very moment someone had to get the ball rolling.

anthony & john

That very same week I was introduced to a person named John Angus, who had also just returned from Glasgow and had encountered the exact same experience. This meeting of two complete strangers was when the pilot was lit. We had both agreed to start and try to figure out a way of getting this off the ground. The three main elements that were required to get this up and happening were ecstasy, a venue, and a DJ that was already up to speed with this music that was to come. Now the hunt was on.

The only knowledge of this ecstasy I had heard of was in the gay scene at the time. It was a desperate and quick hunt through the gay bars and after-hours clubs.  Within three long weeks we found the first element.

mark oliver

During the couple of week’s travels we had caught wind that there was a DJ named Mark Oliver, playing this sound at a run down shady warehouse unit, to an empty dance floor called ‘23 Hop’. Eager to meet him and see the venue we went the following week. The moment we walked into the venue, seen it was completely empty, and heard the music the stage was now set. Manchester had the hacienda, New York had the limelight and Toronto now had 23 Hop. At the end of the night we spoke with the DJ who coincidentally was from Glasgow and shared the same views and vision. It was then that Malik X, Dr. No and Sean L were brought on board to complete the “Booming System Collective”, the musical innovators. The following week John and I brought five friends with us to the hop, and they too had the exact same experience as me. That was the planting off the seed if you will.

23 Hop

The five guests we brought that night had spread the word with us and at week two there were now fifteen of us. This ritual followed the same pattern for several weeks on end bringing us now to a crowd of roughly one hundred people in on the event, at the ground zero of a look at things to come. The word was out. The people that were attending theses parties were molding dance culture never to be changed, they were the future. At this point John and I approached the club owner and offered him one thousand dollars for his venue on the Friday night. He was hesitant, and at first refused seeing the potential of what was going on until we reminded him that we could take them all to another venue, so he agreed and he got the bar profits and we took the door and what ever else.

Within two months there were four hundred people attending ritually and it was mission accomplished. We named our production company ‘EXODUS’ and it kicked off an entire culture in North America never to be the same.

Make some fucking noise.

Jimmy J

The economy is in recession. Sound familiar? Now subtract 18 years.  Then minus the World Wide Web – which was still years away from being a household name. Add the CD – which was now greater than vinyl as the medium for music. And don’t forget the remainder – the cassette tape – still king for music sharing. The computer had  become an instrument – it made house music a constant a decade earlier. House was the root of “electronica” and “EDM,” terms which hadn’t even been formulated yet. There was another computer-generated sound in the equation – “techno” –  sample-heavy like house but a much harder sound with multiplied beats.

1989 British Passport

In June 1991, techno raves had been surging in the United Kingdom for a few years,  but here in Toronto they were non-existent. Finding a club or other venue that embraced techno would prove to be a mission that was next to impossible.

The Artful Dodger TorontoThere were, however, a few British Embassies in Toronto that accepted rave refugees with open arms. The Artful Dodger pub (still located at Yonge and Isabella) and “Manchester Fridays” at Empire DanceBar located a few blocks down the street on Yonge.  Both venues facilitated the formation of score-knowing punters who were like-minded in their search for the elusive rave. The leaders of the pack were mostly of UK descent, Scottish and English, so these venues were like home; familiar settings to mind their Ps and Qs and subsequently get mental at whichever club or warehouse party they could find.

Manchester Fridays Flyer Empire DanceBar

The syndicate grew exponentially every weekend and was fast becoming infamous amongst the city’s warehouse and gay after-hours scenes. They would enter venues in mobs, decked out in Stussy hats, baggy Joe Bloggs jeans, Adidas Gazelles  and loose-fitting tops; attire which  provided the comfort necessary to dance to their own beat for hours on end.

The destination was usually an after-hours event where DJs showcased underground music, but it was obvious that this crew didn’t quite fit in. They were on a mission to bring a new culture to Canada and armed themselves with Fox 40 whistles to make sure their message was received loud and clear. As a result, they were increasingly being regarded as unwelcome.

A few variables were still missing in the calculation that would soon equal rave in Toronto.

Jimmy J

in the beginning there was bass side b

The flip side of this tape is a bit of a mess. We get jolted around, songs and mixes get cutoff and there’s partial duplication of side A. It’s still well worth a listen, lots of obscure techno tracks.

About half way through the tape you’ll end up on the flip side of obscurity with Get Ready For This by none other than 2-Unlimited. “How dare you!” you say?  Remember where we are in time right now, Get Ready For This had just been released around this date in 1991 and like most mainstream tunes they make their rounds in the underground first. Try hard not to skip forward because there’s some smooth mixing that makes the exit from this song even more enjoyable. Unfortunately who ever was mixing ran out of incoming beats and then we’re jolted around again.

Soon after we’re greeted by Joey Betrum’s anthem Energy Flash. One minute it’s “ecstasy, ecstasy” and the next it’s, “total destruction!” with Annihilate by The Annihilator. What ever is left standing gets taken care of by Hurricane when Sykosis 451’s track gets mixed in.


Jimmy J

in the beginning there was bass

Enough with the definitions already, let’s insert the first tape in the mix.

In order to preserve the integrity of the original recordings all of the mp3s we’re going to showcase have not been edited in any fashion. As a result the music may jump around, contain static and/or other strange (but wonderful) sound bites – all of which apply to this first tape.

It’s quite fitting that we kick off our mixtape to mp3 series with this one since this it’s one of the first tapes I got my hands on and ran around Toronto jamming it in to any tape deck within close proximity. But it’s the accidental intro on the tape that solidified the decision for it to premiere our series of audio.

Whom ever first recorded this tape (I’m pretty certain it was Captain B. Mental) scans through Toronto radio stations on a Saturday evening in 1991 hunting for CKLN 88.1.After hearing several genres of music (and making a few questionable pauses ie Ooh It’s Kinda Crazy by Soul Decision) it becomes quite obvious he’s reached his destination when Hurricane by Sykosis 451 starts pumping through the speakers.

03/08/2010 – At least, that’s what I believed was the explanation for the radio intro until one of our readers pointed out that Soul Decision recorded Ooh It’s Kinda Crazy in 1998. Then I realized that the Stone Temple Pilots song played briefly was released years after 1991. Explanation? Aside from a radio that tunes in to music of the future? I have two versions of this tape, I opted to showcase the version donated by Ben F., because the intro had a novelty aspect to it. Ben must be the culprit behind recording the radio scanning snippet over top of one of his old tapes. Shame on you Ben. Thankfully his mistake was short lived, he realized was he was doing and pressed stop to get us back to ’91.

We’re jolted around for the remainder of the tape. This is the result of Captain B. Mental’s habit of combining tapes and making his own mixes. He was actually quite masterful with a tape deck and could seamlessly stop and start recordings and replace sections of a tape he didn’t favor. Captain even had a nifty mixing tape deck that was capable of audibly playing two tapes at once – whereas most double decks, like my own, sadly, had a “feature” to prevent this.

The next anthem is K Groove’s The Future which features samples from 80s tune How to be a Millionaire by ABC. And speaking of 80s samples Keep the Fire Burning by The House Crew features a little Annie Lennox, which I clearly remember echoing through 23 Hop and then my mind for many days after the event.

By this time you’re probably thinking, this sounds really groovy, could you play some more, like, right now? “Sure” says the Electropeople with Technoboy.

Then we’re treated to some classic Canadian content with Nick Holder’s Frantic and M1’s Feel The Drums. Back off C.R.T.C. our mixed tape CanCon quota has been met.  Nicolette make’s a cameo with The Dove Song and eventually we hear a quick bite of the Radio 1 FM’s Essential Selection with none other than Pete Tong who is still going strong.