Archive for the '1992' Category

Jimmy J

For at least a decade, the name Malik X has been synonymous with mystery. It’s as though the X itself was representative of an unsolvable equation. And, of course, the greatest legends are always fueled by rumors – I had heard my fair share as to where he was and what he was up to.

You see, back in 1991 whether he was coming at you via radio waves or a venue’s sound system, his community was very tuned in. He was a pivotal figure in the Toronto after-hours scene – especially during the earliest days of Toronto rave. He was one of its biggest promotional forces. In a city that had no idea what a rave even was, no one spread the word faster. And no one spread the music faster, as his collection of techno was unparalleled. He had developed a massive following and the highest respect from his peers. He was even producing his own music.

He achieved everything that DJs typically only dream about. And then he quit.

Where in the world is Malik X?In November of 1991, Malik shocked Toronto’s original ravers by announcing he was packing in his DJ career. He made a final appearance at what also turned out to be Exodus’ final event at 23 Hop in 1992. He kept his radio show going for a period of time, giving Dr. No a 30-minute time slot dubbed, “The Techno Lab.” While the doctor continued to showcase techno, it seemed as though Malik was slowly phasing himself out and distancing himself from the scene. By the mid-’90s – with the Toronto rave scene exploding – his whereabouts were unknown. In the second issue of The Communic8r we published an article titled, “Where in the World is Malik X?,” asking him to get in touch. He never did and the mystery continued to grow.

Then around 1997, while working at Industry, I made contact. Well, a friend of his contacted me. Apparently word had got out that I was sitting on a Malik tape collection and his friend wanted some recordings to give to Malik for his birthday. It was an honor to make a pile of tapes for a man who often gave his music away to friends. And the cool part was that I even had a tape where Dr. No wished him a happy birthday.

A few weeks later I got a message from Malik on my answering machine thanking me for the trip down memory lane. He described the tapes as, “a real ear-opener.” It was so cool I ran out to Radio Shack to purchase a “telephone pick-up” mic to record it to my computer. The gadget was basically a mic mounted on a a suction cup you stuck to the back of the telephone. Sadly, the computer crashed soon afterwards and I lost it. So I couldn’t really prove to anyone it ever happened.

Malik’s friend had mentioned he wasn’t DJing anymore but said he was performing spoken word. I went to see him above the Senator restaurant near Yonge & Dundas. I shook his hand at the end of the performance, but he was way too distracted to have a conversation. Apparently he went on to write two books of poetry and produce numerous jazz poetry discs.

In and around the new millennium he made some sporadic DJ appearances and gave an on-camera interview. Then he vanished yet again. But now in the age of the internet, where everyone is usually just a few clicks away, the mystery grew exponentially as he continued to fly under the radar.

Needless to say, when The Communic8r was re-born online I had always hoped Malik would catch wind of it. His community-style approach was the main inspiration behind the entire project. Maybe I’d hear from him one day. Heck, maybe he’d make a return to DJing for a Boomin’ Reunion? (Hey, I can dream…)

Well, I’m happy to report: seven years after launching this site – he reached out. Our email exchange has been brief but I know he’s appreciative of this website and all the kind words from our community. And while most of the mystery remains – the important part is that he’s still out there and still making music. And of course, still sharing it.

He sent me this 13-track volume – under his pseudonym, DJ Saville Rowe, but, as he explains, “all from the mind of Malik X.” And, he was sure to mention, “I just do it for fun, no DJ-ing, but they are yours to do with entirely as you wish.”

Enjoy.

UPDATE 5/16: Malik mentioned he’d be sending us mixes every so often. So here’s another installment of his Communic8r HiFi Alkali House Mixes. As the man Malik says, “Music to make a grown man cry.”

UPDATE 7/16: A brand new broadcast from the past produced by the man himself. It will all make sense when you listen…I’ve seen the future…

Jimmy J

We’ve been on the hunt for Exodus footage for over six years now. The exhausting effort is detailed here. Unfortunately, we still haven’t found any footage from Exodus’ stay at 23 Hop in 1991. Strangely, no Hop footage from any event or year has ever surfaced.

We did however manage to find Exodus footage from their post Hop era. And what footage it is.

On Saturday November 28 1992 Exodus took over the Masonic Temple aka Concert Hall. The event boasted a live performance by Shut Up and Dance and Pete Bouncer whose track “Raving I’m Raving” was a commercial anthem earlier in the year. To the original Exodus faithful it was a bit of an odd selection, as we had always associated Exodus with cutting edge underground tunes. Toward the end of the year I’m Raving was very played out, mostly at The Factory in the summer months.

But it was a sign of the times, Exodus wanted to grow their audience and potential for profit. Despite being pioneers of Toronto rave – they were now competing in a different scene that was evolving way too quickly.

Exodus Raving Im Raving

The commercial PA aside, John and Anthony also brought in a pair of DJs from the UK. Unknowns to us at the time, DJs Jason & Terry were from NHS 104.9 in Glasgow. They were billed alongside the remaining members of the Boomin’ System – and this was the Exodus we all remembered. The tunes turned out to be top notch. The rave was packed. New punters educated. Cries of commercialism quashed.

The best part of this footage is the music – partially because the PA wasn’t recorded. Although it would have been fun to watch, it’s better that the soundtrack to this video is by DJs. And while Sykosis and Pleasure Force had introduced us to faster jungle sounds earlier in ’92 (Loon-EE-Tunes was the week previous) Exodus mostly held true to their signature techno sound.

Thankfully the camera person kept the recording to only a few seamless shots – which means the music stays mostly intact. Sure, there’s lots of camera jostling, but the camera’s mic managed to capture the most important part very well. And, to his credit – the shooter also perched the cam in some pretty choice areas and just left it running. The stationary footage toward the end is amazing.

Go-Gos glorified by IntelliBeams. A large Easter bunny even makes a cameo (rumored to be Scott Fraser/Guru Skot from the Factory.) Ravers going hard in every corner and level of the venue. Dr. No on the MIC. Whistle posse in effect. A power outage. What more could you ask for?

By far the best footage we have discovered. We highly suggest playing it just for the tunes too.

Big shout to Jennifer O’Brien aka Chippy for preserving and providing this gem.

Jimmy J

We recently got our hands on a Toronto rave relevant personal diary written almost 25 years ago. Noteworthy as a historical timeline, but we also we get some youthful insight from a witness to the birth of raving in Toronto. She reminds us of how exciting everything was and the reasons it was so easy to get swept up in it.

And what could be more old-school than a handwritten diary? A hobby that is likely near extinct with the array of digital platforms people now use to express themselves.

The first series of pages outlines important dates, details, parties and people. Further evidence of how our city’s rave history unfolded with 318 Richmond at its roots.

Diary Timeline #1

Timeline 3

Timeline 3

Then she shares some of her experiences and thoughts:

Diary Entry 1

Diary Entry 2

Diary Entry 3

Followed by some fun stuff – a track list:

Image (184)

And some essential techno track lyrics and MC chants:

MC Chants and Quotes

MC Chants and Quotes

And now you know what was on her mind. (Techno for all mankind!)

Jimmy J

We know you’re still hurting from the Jays loss to KC last night. There is hope, but next year is just too damn far away. So to tide you over and help heal your wounds we’ve dug up some Toronto World Series rave history.

In order to restore your faith please listen to this quick two minute clip, then we’ll dig deeper below.

That wicked sound bite is from a 1993 Toronto rave called Unity. But let’s rewind even more, back to the first time we got to celebrate a World Series victory at a rave. It was Saturday October 24 1992 at event called Lost In Space – hosted by Chemistry Productions. The game went into extra innings and several ravers had tuned in on their car radios en-route to the venue. When they entered the party the news spread virally, the old-fashioned way. That involved humans communicating with each other in real time. It was called word of mouth. You see, instead of getting an update on your smartphone, an email, or text – another person would engage you in an actual conversation and tell you the news. Imagine that.

Unfortunately no audio from Lost In Space exists, or at least it’s never surfaced. But according to local legend, Chemistry’s Alex of London is said to have a stash of recordings tucked away somewhere…

But for now we’ll just have to flashback via the flyer from that magical evening at Scooter’s Roller World (a now defunct space-age roller rink that was tucked away in the ‘burbs.)

Chemistry Lost In Space Rave

Now back to Unity. Unity conceived as a fundraiser by a gentleman known as Trevor Hardcore. He was (and is) a personal friend of the Ben and Mike from Sykosis. The intention was to raise funds for the massive financial losses that occurred at Sykosis’ “Ravestock” which happened a few months previous. Ravestock was Toronto’s first rave festival – it was ahead of its time and that usually translates into a disaster on a financial level.

Sykosis Ravestock

Hardcore approached several rave companies and pitched the idea of pooling promotions with the proceeds used to repay the debts Ravestock had racked up. Several rave companies agreed, then bailed for one reason or another. Eventually it turned into a team effort by Sykosis and Infinity.

Unity Toronto Rave

I managed the recordings that evening and captured three sides of two 90 minute cassettes. Back then recording audio wasn’t as easy as clicking a button on a laptop. In our day you had to press record on a tape deck – remember to flip it 45 minutes later and then swap it out for a new tape after another 45 minutes. And repeat throughout the entire evening.

This recording is one of the most infamous Toronto tapes out there. Mostly due to the fact the MC (Clive G) repeatedly reminded the crowd that “The Blue Jays Won!” If you were at the rave that evening his voice has since been indelibly etched in soundtrack of your 1990s mind.

So without further ado…this is what happens when you’re at a rave and the Jays have just won the World Series…

And in honor of the Jay’s great 2015 season – have this never before released portion, on us:

Go Jays Go.

Jimmy J

captain b mentalIn our first post we described how Alan Stephenson’s tenure in Toronto could be used to define our golden age of raves. In our final entry we’re going to define the man himself. Who was this British raver that commanded our scene and then vanished into thin air? Was he even real? Or do we find out at the end of M. Night Shyamalan’s Toronto rave epic that he was just one big hallucination? Who would play him in the movie? I would cast Bruce Willis if he could pull off an accent, because I actually used to poke fun at B. Mental regarding his Bruce-like features. Alan Stephenson had a great a sense of humour; one of his proudest UK imports was a tape of Derek and Clive comedy which featured nonsensical conversations, compliments in part to Dudley Moore. Of course, Alan was quick to point out how uncool Canadians only knew the British comedic legend from his Arthur flicks. As much as he was an ethnocentric Brit, he was right – those recordings were hilarious. But when the laughter died down, serious allegations about the man known as Captain Brainstorm Mental lingered.

This project was inspired by music on rare mixtapes, the majority of which were compliments of the Captain. They represent a mere fraction of the commendations he accumulated throughout a decorated career of raving. Adversely though, he cast a dark shadow on Toronto rave nostalgia  – an obstacle that nearly prevented this project from ever coming to fruition. There’s a delicate balance between giving him the credit he deserves and calling a spade, a spade. I’m qualified to walk this line given my dual perspective: a 17 year old who considered him the coolest guy on the planet versus the wiser man I am today; coincidentally the same age he was when he jumped the ship called Toronto.

Thus, let us begin the facts.

Alan landed in Toronto in his twenties joining his father, sister and brother who had already settled into the city. He worked odd jobs which included busboy at a few popular restaurants. Yet it wasn’t long before his inner salesman negotiated a future in street vending – a career that began one day while passing a telephone pole with a job posting stapled on it. You know, the ones with little phone number tabs you tear off. It was an anecdote he described to me fondly – how plucking paper off a post was the starting point of a lucrative empire.

Gemstone JeweleryA series of street salesman gigs followed; and  his English accent, of course,  was a huge asset among his arsenal of sales techniques. Stephenson would go on to captain his own small vending outfit, known as Gemstones Jewelery. It was located at 9 St. Nicholas Street, an alleyway off Wellesley tucked away behind Yonge. Aside from the office, a telephone and some business cards, the operation was a pure hustle. The tiny, one-room headquarters was a meeting place for the fleet of street vendors who worked for commission and took home cash at the end of their shift. And since no one actually had proper vendor permits, police interaction and fines were a regular casualty of the job. Alan always told his “employees” he would pay their tickets – but really they all went into a drawer containing a pile of other past-due fines. The turnover rate was so high that most staff were long gone before they realized Gemstones management hadn’t made good on their payment promise. Alan justified this by pointing a finger at the vendor for getting caught, since he taught a ticket evasion technique that served him well: an alias. When questioned by police, you were to claim to possess no identification and then change one or two letters of your surname when reciting it. The slight variation made it easy to remember and natural to repeat under duress. Stephenson, for example, had his own vending alter ego – Alan Stevenson – because when the “ph” was replaced by “v,” the ticket was designated for an entirely different person and the fine was now worth less than the paper it was printed on. An inaccurate ticket meant no recourse for city hall but it was still a handy keepsake for future encounters with police: “Sorry officer, I don’t have my ID, but here’s my last ticket, will that do?”

Speaking of worthless, Gemstones products were costume jewelery rings – each sold for $5, or any three for $12 (a good up-sell for the savvy sellers). Every purchase was accompanied by a nicely printed piece of paper that guaranteed the ring against defects, ie. turning green after the supposed real gold or silver plating wore off.  When this defect occurred (and it always did) the certificate claimed the customer was entitled to a replacement item. The really smart buyers would always question this guarantee, asking, “But you’re a street vendor. How would I ever find you again!?” Like most shifty operations, there was a snappy response for every skeptic, “You don’t have to find me, just mail the ring to the address listed at the bottom of the guarantee and include $2 to cover shipping and handling.” The address on the guarantee, however, wasn’t the office address on St. Nicholas, it was an anonymous post office box. That way, Alan could pocket the extra loot without having to mail anything back.

Like I said, pure hustle.

The soundbite above features Alan Stephenson and John Angus on Hardrive with James St. Bass in June of 1992.

atmosphere raveIn 1992 Alan cashed in his jewelery business to focus on the potential within the surging rave scene. He tested the market first by selling mixtapes at the Factory nightclub and throwing a small rave, titled Atmosphere. The transition was nearly seamless – dodgy street tactics were easily applied to an untapped clandestine scene. Once all the jewelery had been liquidated, X-Static rave merchandise and Pleasure Force events became his new gems.

There’s no doubt Captain B. was extremely passionate about a scene in Toronto – even well before one existed. His influences over the years were obvious, but he also was motivated by numerous ulterior benefits.  For him, the scene was a source of income, intoxication and it fostered a haven of young men with whom his relations were extremely questionable.

“The very dangerous Captain Brainstorm” – Malik X (33:53)

Alan Francis StephensonAlan quickly became an unqualified mentor to many young minds. Despite an unhealthy lifestyle founded in dishonesty, he managed to have monetary success – which was a misleading message to the impressionable. Armed with only the most rudimentary business skills, his biggest resource was a revolving door of exploitable young men who glorified his English accent. Me and many of my friends were among the first batch.

As the scene progressed Alan descended further into a fantasy world in which he had diplomatic immunity. And since the microcosm he inhabited was populated by teens there was no true authority to govern his corruption. Existing somewhere between X-Static, raves and chemical enhancement, he became more distant with reality with every passing Saturday night. Downtime was spent on his leather couch at 40 Gerrard St. East, soothing his mid-week MDMA woes by further self-medicating.  With over-indulgence running rampant he developed a complete lack respect for the well-being of himself and those around him. No one could possibly carry on like he did without experiencing serious repercussions, and rumours about B. Mental’s mental stability were mounting. The rare conversation I had with him in 1995 revealed the person I met at my first Exodus rave wasn’t all there. Sadly B. Mental had lost touch with reality, his surname-nickname now a prophecy that had been self-fulfilled.

alan francis stephensonWhen the infamous Toronto Sun article surfaced, the charges attached to the arrest seemed to put his behavior in perspective. Nevertheless Alan defended the allegations via a published letter to the editor of Tribe magazine. He claimed the taboo materials arrived unexpectedly after signing up for a general mailing list at a gay bookstore (which operated on the other side of the Gemstones’ office wall.) He realized this defense wouldn’t hold up in the courts of Canada especially given he (and the company he kept) had been under surveillance for several months. Plus, the discovery of a large quantity of narcotics didn’t help corroborate his innocence. While on bail he transferred X-Static to his brother-in-law, tied up some lose ends and headed for Mexico.

I clearly remember the last time I saw him. I was mostly detached from the scene and working at Movenpick in the BCE place. He strolled by with his signature walk and I quickly turned the other way, fearing what he might say if he saw me in a sell-out button-down shirt and tie, making an honest living working for the man. The conversation would have gone all Derek and Clive with the ironic laughs at my expense. “You prim-and-proper-c*nt… You look ridiculous, Jimmy J!” Yes, Alan coined my nickname too, originally “H20” but replaced by “Jimmy J” after he noticed a DJ by that name on a UK rave flyer.

And despite my eventual epiphanies, I’m still curious about him because there was a moment in time that I considered him to be a good friend. How is he now? What does he do for a living? Given that he’s now 50-years of age (and hopefully back in touch with reality) he certainly has his own demons of dual perspective to deal with.

But the burning question still remains: Was he able to bring his coveted collection of mixtapes with him when he fled Canada? Alan was responsible for managing the 23 Hop booth tape deck during Exodus raves so he undoubtedly had the best archive of Toronto rave audio in existence. If the tapes weren’t seized when his apartment was raided, they may very well be in some part of West Sussex in England, either Littlehampton or Bognor Regis, where he’s currently rumoured to reside.

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