By Allie Elkin-Tierney
“How many people here are DJs?” asked renowned American DJ Ean Golden to a packed lecture hall at Ryerson University Thursday evening. As more than half the crowd eagerly raised their hands, one attendee shouted “welcome to Toronto!”
Over 200 techno-enthusiasts packed themselves into the Rogers Communication Centre for a presentation on techno with world-renowned DJs.
The CNTRL: Beyond EDM tour is an anomaly – it combines a lecture on a college campus coupled with DJ performances following at a separate venue and it is the first of its kind. Partnered with Seinheisser and Dubspot, CNTRL is currently touring North American college campuses to educate on the history and future of techno.
Big names like Ean Golden, Carl Craig, DJ Sneak, Loco Dice and Richie Hawtin sat side-by-side on stage ready to educate a new generation of musicians and fans on this rapidly expanding genre.
Techno, a genre that has origins in both the U.S. and Germany, was traditionally performed by mixing vinyl records on turntables. Today, a growing number of DJs alternatively use laptops, software and mp3s.
“Whatever you’re using, just be creative with it,” said Sneak, who lives in Toronto. Sneak described record shops with nostalgia, remembering how he would pass on the background story of a track to customers as a retailer.
“The culture used to be based on the record store experience; the people, the interactions and, of course, the music,” Sneak said.
As they all recalled the days of vinyl, Hawtin pointed out an advantage of modernity. “Music is more accessible now,” he said.
Yet with that accessibility come more producers, DJs and fans.
Dice, a German DJ, referenced the sudden rapid expansion of techno in North America, an area previously considered stagnant in the world of electronic music. “The crazier it gets, the more people want to be involved,” he said.
“This explosion is in a way something we’ve all been waiting for,” said Hawtin, a techno pioneer who grew up in Windsor, Ontario. “We spent the last 20 to 25 years” trying to do this.”
Though it’s only in its first year, CNTRL: Beyond EDM is expected to return for a second round in 2013.