DJ Poirier [Interview]
Vancouver, B.C. – DJ Poirier seems to have some real perspective on the electronic scene these days and he really knows his stuff when it comes to music. He is bright-eyed and well-mannered with a wry sense of humour, but when it comes to music and the world that creates it, he is rather serious.
Poirier’s style is a mix of cumbia, soca, dancehall, house, techno and African house. He is famous in Montreal, not only for his music but for his notorious Karnival parties, where he works mainly with dancehall MCs to put on some wild musical nights.
HipHopCanada was lucky to get a few minutes of the talented DJ’s time before his show at the Biltmore on Saturday evening, the last stop on his twelve city tour across Canada.
HipHopCanada: A lot of DJs stick to one type of sound when they produce, but your music takes from all sorts of genres: what made you think that housey electronica would mix well with dancehall?
DJ Poirier: Well I have a big background in electronic music, so I can’t deny that. It will always be a main influence, but as you mentioned I am very interested in Caribbean music, dancehall music. If you look closely at the history of dancehall music it’s a history of innovations. If you look at what’s going on in the top forty of dancehall right now, and you remove the voice it would be very difficult to tell whether it was dancehall or other styles of music. It might look like hip-hop, it might look like electronic music, it might look like super dramatic movie music. So what makes it dancehall right now is the vocals, is the certain delivery and it’s Patois, it’s a certain formula. But there are other MCs that are very interested in experimenting and being challenged. Those are the MCs that I work with and that’s why I am able to do what I’m doing.
HipHopCanada: When it comes to your career, what is your favorite aspect? Do you prefer being on stage or producing in the studio?
DJ Poirier: I prefer 50-50, because each one feeds the other. If you do dancefloor music it would be kind of stupid to only be in the studio because you will never get the response, and you will never be able to judge what you do and whether it’s working with the people on the dance floor. By DJing you can also gain ideas from other people’s tracks.
HipHopCanada: When you were growing up what type of music did you listen to the most?
DJ Poirier: The first type was hip-hop. And then French hip-hop. And then it was electronic music.
HipHopCanada: At what age did you start to produce music?
DJ Poirier: 23. I was into hip-hop, electronic and Dub Music as well.
HipHopCanada: Did you have any mentors?
DJ Poirier: In terms of producing? No. I don’t have any mentors actually. I taught myself. Somebody showed me the basics but it’s like being an immigrant: you pick up the language.
HipHopCanada: You were nominated for a Juno this year. How does that make you feel?
DJ Poirier: Uhhh… Canadian? It’s quite cool, cause we have a big gala in Quebec, but there is a big difference between this and the Juno awards. The difference is the way you are nominated. To be nominated in Quebec you have to be a member of the gala and it costs a minimum of a thousand dollars. The Junos are way more open and you only have to kind of suggest your nomination, and it costs maybe eighty dollars. So in that way it is way more open to the variety of music made in Canada. And that is why I was eligible.
HipHopCanada: Has being a Canadian had any real impact on the music that you make?
DJ Poirier: I think being Quebecois had a big affect because I was following what was going on in Quebec and also the states and also in France and in the U.K. I believe that some people in the U.S. only follow what’s going on in the U.S. and it’s a little bit the same in the U.K., very centralist, but being raised in Montreal I was digging everything.
HipHopCanada: Some of the clubs that you gain notoriety in Montreal have been closed down due to noise complaints. Do you think that Canada will ever change its ways when it comes to the rules about noise and just good partying in general?
DJ Poirier: It’s pretty common actually. The night life in Paris is almost dead because of that. It’s more relevant to the city than the country. It’s different in every city.
HipHopCanada: What’s coming up for you this year?
DJ Poirier: I am going to Europe in two weeks to do ten shows, and after that the west coast: San Fransisco, L.A., Vegas and Sacramento. And this summer I have two projects where I need to compose the music for two documentaries. A long one – 90 minutes – and a short one – 60 minutes – and I am producing a solo album. Karnival three will be at the end of June and I will go to some festivals in Europe too.
Written by Samantha Cairns for HipHopCanada
Photography by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada
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