INTERVIEW: GREG GOW ON ELECTRIC ISLAND AND THE GROWTH OF TECHNO

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Over the past two decades, Greg Gow has become one of Canada's most beloved electronic artists, representing Toronto at music festivals worldwide. Known for his mix of soulful Detroit and Toronto techno, the infamous DJ is set to perform this Saturday for this summer's third instalment of Electric Island at Hanlan's Point. We caught up with Greg to discuss the festival, the evolution of techno and what's next.

What are your thoughts on Electric Island?
It’s great to see Toronto with a proper Open Air Event. Also, I am really down with the fact they have expanded Stage 2 and beefed up the sound.

Are there any performers on the billing that you’re excited to hear?
Definitely going to be checking Rodriguez Jr. at the last instalment of Electric Island. His sets are sickkkk!

You’ve represented Toronto at a lot of music festivals—what has been your
favourite to perform at?

Number # 1 has to be Movement Detroit where I have played now three or four times. It’s always next level. The most recent one was The Made In  Detroit Stage in 2015 for KMS./ Origins. As well, a close runner up would be Movement Torino in Italy back in 2011.

You travel a lot—what’s your favourite city to write music in?
That is a tricky one lol. I would say it’s more about an experience or inspiration that causes me to write some new music. The train always has worked well for me. Last year, I wrote a couple bangers while in Berlin for several days for a gig at Watergate.

I read in an interview you did a couple years ago that you were a PE teacher
during the day—are you still leading that double life??

Yes still rocking the double life lol. It can be tricky at times. But I get great energy from the kids. I channel that into my music. Plus, I blast beats all day behind them in the gym on this big ghetto blue tooth speaker. Mostly house and techno. They always ask me “what’s wrong with your songs, they have NO WORDS!”

Do your students know how cool their teacher is?
The students I work with are very young aged (4 - 12), but every now and then I get outed… The conversation usually starts with “UMM I Googled You Yesterday” bahaha.

After about 20 years in the business, how have you seen electronic music evolve
in both Toronto and Detroit?

First off, great question. Both are kind of similar. Back in the day you had events thrown all over the place in fields or parking garages, abandoned buildings etc. I remember one party in Toronto I attended in a parking garage downtown in the late 90’s which was pretty sick, the music was off the hook. Only down side was at the end of the night when the promoters could not figure out how to get the Porto-Potties out due to the incline on the exit ramp lol. Similar, in Detroit in the early 2000’s in a sketchy-ass warehouse, I played an unofficial afterparty for Movement where we found actual medical files with X-Rays and Personal info heath conditions etc. in cabinets in the so called “green room.” Although the space was sketchy as fuck, the vibe and event was strictly about the music—a raw space, dope sound, good music all night long. Over the years in both cities events have become more regulated, more commercialized. But with that being said, there are always good underground spots, you just need to look where music is the focus. In Toronto, that would be at places like Coda and Vertigo and In Detroit at TV Lounge and Marble Bar. Another couple big influences have been technology and social media. These have influenced the electronic music scene world wide. Technology made things too easy. Everyone is a DJ/producer now. Back in the day, you had to learn how to mix on vinyl, DJs would spend hours prepping music, going to shops looking for good music—don’t get me wrong some artists still do this today—but it's not the main focus. I get that things evolve and change is good, but my only words of advice are make the music the priority, learn your craft and have the technology and social media support to help push the boundaries. Leave the costumes and capes at home brooo or miss!!! Lastly, it’s great to see more female artists emerging in today’s electronic scene. This was long overdue.

Where do you currently look for inspiration?
I get inspired in different ways. It could be a movie or an event I attended, or something going on on a personal level. I try to only make music when I am in the mood, that way it always flows and is not forced. I’m also always looking for new artists, tracks, and DJ sets to hear their  take on things. 

What’s in store for you in the future?
I have some new material coming this fall on my own label called Restructured with some killer remixes from a long time techno producer named Bryan Zentz. Plus, I will be back in Amsterdam in October for ADE and playing a big label showcase for an Istanbul based production company called Jeton, which I have been working with for several years. Lastly, I have something special in the works with the goal to help bridge the Canadian music scene. I am aiming to launch late 2018. More details to come on that one!

Check out Electric Island's lineup below:

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For more information, check out https://www.facebook.com/Electricislandto/

By Robyn Bell

Robyn Bell