Live from Parts & Labour, PWYC DJ series Neighbourhood Watch ditches the frills to bring talent to the forefront.
If you’re searching for an example of someone who’s working hard to bring good music to Toronto, look no further than Darcy Scott. On Thursday night, Scott and his crew will host the third instalment of a music-focused DJ series called Neighbourhood Watch. The minimal concept is just what this city needs: just tunes, no bells and whistles. Period. “We keep the door pay-what-you-can,” explains Scott. “All the DJs play for free, and we pool all the money to put into future events and record releases.”
Some of the artists behind the NW project include legit local pioneers like club masters Egyptrixx, acclaimed techno-synth prodigies Jokers of the Scene, house music worshippers Nacho Lovers, and more. Scott has even integrated his side-project Galapagos (and always a favourite of mine), a party series that places “a spotlight on the more interesting side of electronic music, showcasing artists both international and local that may not necessarily fit with the weekend warrior crowd.” He’s also brought on board Underdog Toronto, “a Toronto-based collective that has been throwing parties of varying genres for the past decade,” to join in on the fun. Artists they’ve worked with include Skratch Bastid, Starting From Scratch, Zombie Disco Squad, and Jacques Greene. (A hearty, wicked list of Underdog events can be found here.)
For this Thursday’s gig, the NW crew is “taking special liberties” by inviting Chicago’s legendary DJ Rashad to work his magic alongside local producers, a move that will more than likely spur on the series’ rapid growth. In advance of the throwdown, Scott and I take five.
Describe Neighbourhood Watch in 60 seconds. Go.
In a nutshell, 90 per cent of the work put in—promotion, design, DJs and performers—is completely volunteer. We keep the door price reasonable (pay-what-you-can, if possible) and we inject the profits back into Neighbourhood Watch. Beyond the parties themselves, we have some interesting projects in the works that we’re very excited about that we can announce very soon.
Tell me about the key organizers behind Neighbourhood Watch. How did you all come together?
Neighbourhood Watch is a group effort between a fairly large group of Toronto producers, DJs and nightlife professionals. The original idea came out of conversations with Dougie Boom, and we soon had people like Nautiluss, Jokers of the Scene, St. Mandrew and a bunch more on board. Now we’re throwing our official party at Parts & Labour.
And Galapagos is involved. Tell me about that.
Galapagos is a project started by myself and Ryan Burton that tries to focus on the more left-field sounds that make it through the clubs. It just made sense to push this project through that channel, but, as I mentioned before, this is more of a group effort, so numerous crews may be supporting any given night.
Let’s talk music and the ‘regeneration’ of EDM within different genres. What flavours are you bringing to the floor?
For Thursday’s event, we have a triple headliner: DJ Rashad from Chicago, a juke/footwork mainstay who is helping to take the sound in bold new directions, Thugli (Tom Wrecks & Drastik) who are making some big waves and have a dual-setup DJ set that is a cut above, and an ominous SINS live performance that comes complete with ski masks and gimp hypemen. Not to mention a warmup set from Fool’s Gold Records alumni Nacho Lovers and Sylvermayne.
What gave you the idea to start Neighbourhood Watch?
So many of the DJs and producers in this city are friends, so it just made sense we get together and do something for us. For the city.
What kind of audiences do you hope to bring out?
This night is a celebration of the producer, so anyone that can appreciate that.
What do you think is the biggest strength of Toronto’s nightlife scene?
I think a lot of people underestimate what we have going on here. This city is one of the top markets for electronic music in North America. What’s been going on here in terms of talent and production flowing out of this city is nothing to sneeze at. That’s what we want to give people with this project: the chance to see five acts that would individually get headlining status on a $15-$30 ticket in the U.S. or Europe for whatever you can afford in a small basement jam in Parkdale.
What’s next for the series?
Neighbourhood Watch #3 happens Thursday, Feb. 7. Parts & Labour, 1566 Queen St. W. PWYC (suggested $10). Find out more here.