Welcome to One to Watch, a new bi-weekly feature that shines the spotlight on a wide variety of emerging Toronto musicians who are just about to break through. We begin by getting to know DJ/production duo Jokers Of The Scene.
Who: Jokers Of The Scene is the production/DJ duo of Linus Booth and Chris ‘Chameleonic’ MacIntyre. Originally based in Ottawa—where Booth owned the brilliantly stocked Organised Sound record shop and the pair (along with DJ Pho, now of Bonjay) promoted way popular monthly party series Disorganised—JOTS was formed in 2006.
Influenced by similarly minded artists and events like Optimo, 2manydjs and Hollertronix, Booth and MacIntyre began by making fun edits and cut-up club tracks to play at their nights. These party-rocking tools caught the ear of Disorganized guest DJ and Fool’s Gold label boss A-Trak, who signed Jokers Of The Scene in 2007. They broke out in 2008, with rave-tastic EPs Y’all Know The Name and Acid Bagg leading the charge. Each subsequent release brought forth new sonic adventures. By 2010, the Jokers sound could only be described as ‘epic,’ with the dark, driving haunted house of “Revolting Joks” followed by an astonishing cinematic stomper titled “Joking Victim.”
“The constant stream of productions and remixes over the past several years have given us the experience and confidence to deliver a sound that we’re happy to define as our own, and one that we proudly feel lies outside of any trends in dance music,” states Booth. “The current JOTS sound finds us working towards bridging the gaps between club and home listening as our interests in songwriting and experimenting with sound become more evident.”
“A lot of our music is inspired by things far outside of the club/dance realm, and sometimes outside of music altogether,” agrees MacIntyre. “We also make our music on hardware so songs are often born out of jamming in the studio and recording the performances. At this point I’d say we’re still definitely techno at the core, but our stuff relies more heavily on things like texture, colour, and feel.
“I don’t think our vision has ever changed though; we want to push ourselves as far as we can creatively so we never really know what direction we’ll go in next. As a result, we’ve been told we’re pretty difficult to describe or categorize. I hear the word ‘psychedelic’ a lot lately though.”
Why: Jokers Of The Scene have become prominent players in the global underground, with a busy touring schedule and need for direct international flights largely prompting the duo’s move to Toronto at the close of 2010. JOTS has crossed North America, the UK and Europe, earning tags like the “Hottest DJ duo to emerge from Canada since MSTRKRFT” from Ireland’s State magazine and playing at influential venues including London’s Fabric.
With a sound described by Mixmag as “Live instruments transformed into 2.1K rave,” JOTS are in-demand remix artists who’ve twisted and tweaked the tunes of diverse acts including Kid Cudi, Chromeo, Passion Pit and Jason Forrest. Last year, JOTS’ re-work of Salem’s “ASIA” was ranked #19 in the NME’s list of ‘50 Best Remixes Ever.’ The duo’s 2010 remix of Boy 8-Bit’s “Wolfen” was dubbed “One of the best tracks of the last five years” in the January 2011 edition of British dance music mag, iDJ. That same issue gave JOTS’ “Joking Victim” a perfect 10-out-of-10 review, calling it “Simply blissful.”
Support from a variety of blogs has helped Jokers develop a strong following, including almost 8,000 Facebook fans. It didn’t hurt to have “Baggy Bottom Boys” aired during an episode of MTV’s Skins series (the music being one of this show’s only redeeming qualities) or that JOTS provided the soundtrack to artist Ryan Stec’s LED lighting design on the CN Tower for the ‘Bright Lights Big City’ piece in 2010’s Nuit Blanche. They’re creative guys who embrace new ideas.
“I’m most proud of our ability to constantly evolve, remain true to ourselves and gain wider acceptance by a varied audience as we move forward,” enthuses Booth. “We’ve had various spikes in our career, but none have jeopardized our ability to remain in control of our chosen path. I think our greatest achievements are the ones that challenge us outside of the regular travel/club experiences, like the Nuit Blanche soundtrack installation or writing, curating and inspiring the soundtrack to Dust La Rock’s ‘Joking Victim’ art show.”
“We never expected the success we’ve achieved, and I think that’s what keeps us looking forward and staying open to working in so many different capacities,” says MacIntyre.
What’s Next: On January 17, Fool’s Gold will release Jokers Of The Scene’s fifth original release. The J0T5 EP is their most exploratory to date, incorporating synthy ambience (“Killing Jokes I” and “Killing Jokes II”), prog-y techno (“Black Mountie”), dark acid (“Organized Sounds”), and more. It’s a release that unveils itself with each listen.
The accompanying remix EP—featuring contributions from Daniel Avery, Shadow Dancer, Gingy & Bordello, Babe Rainbow and others—is also impressive. Support has already come from the likes of British EDM pioneer Andrew Weatherall and influential Bugged Out resident DJ Matt Walsh.
JOTS will tour in support and sneak time in studio between DJ dates. In addition, MacIntyre and Booth have formed Blank Capsule, a live industrial pop band, with fellow Torontonian Bryce Kushnier a.k.a. vitaminsforyou. Their debut seven-inch single drops on local label Hi-Scores next month. The JOTS duo also have plans to collaborate with Finnish tech freaks Renaissance Man on an as-yet-unnamed project.
Where & When: Jokers Of the Scene DJ with guests Gingy & Bordello and Nicholas Nice at the J0T5 release party, Friday January 20 at Wrongbar (1279 Queen Street West. #PRK). $10 advance tickets at Rotate This, Soundscapes, Ticketweb.ca.
MacIntyre: “We both really dislike The Doors.”
Booth: “Although we’re jokers, we’re not part of any scene.”
Jokers of the Scene “J0T5″ EP Teaser by Jokers of the Scene