From his humble beginnings in his native Toronto, working as a busboy & lighting assistant at the infamous Industry nightclub & DJing the back room until the club closed its doors in 2000, Luke maneuvered his way through the local club-land, learning the ropes from Matt C & gaining a residency at System Soundbar which set him on the path of music production.
Creating remixes for the likes of Satoshi Tomiie & Max Graham in the early 2000s, with his first releases on Yoshitoshi, Hope Recordings, & Release Records, Luke gained international respect with Ultraviolet & Blocrock – a timeless progressive 2-track EP in 2005 on John Digweed’s highly-acclaimed label, Bedrock, followed by Lokitas & 34K – a second bomb Bedrock EP – proving he was well on his way to paving himself an established name within the global underground scene.
Over the years, he enjoyed multiple successful releases on Witty Tunes, Brown Eyed Boyz, Sincopat, & Oh! Records, in addition to being remixed by the likes of Chymera & Dosem and offering remixes of his own on labels such as System Recordings, Release Records & Low Pressings – not to mention some of his finest original work in 2012 – the Gravitron EP on Phunktastike’s Argentinian label, Spirit Soul.
Having three major compilations to his credit, including the popular Balance 11, In House We Trust with Desyn Masiello, & OS_0.3 on Bedrock, we’ve seen Luke mature from his classic progressive days to a more signature uplifting disco-infused funk showcased by tunes like ‘Don’t You Try’ & ‘Browntown’ to deep, rolling melodies like ‘There is No Light’ and last year, the beautiful’ Long Road’ EP on Espai Music – each one truly representative of his diversity & growth as an artist.
With a busy tour schedule that took him around the globe from Beirut to Bali to Australia & his beloved South America, opening for the legendary Sasha, Digweed, & Deep Dish & being top bill at Womb, Space, Pacha, Stereo, & Ministry of Sound, Luke maintained his professionalism & dedication to the art, carving out headline status within a short time while preserving his Canadian roots through a loyal following & special club series called Intimate & Underground, hosted by Gregor Davidson of BringTheBeats.
From 2010-2012 he developed a partnership with Hungary’s Add2Basket which yielded 23 outstanding episodes of The Rogue Show + with huge publicity & support from Gregor & his hometown crew in Toronto plus creative director, Jason Warth. Rounding out Luke’s accomplishments, in the spring of 2013, he started his own label, Nonlocal, launching with the first release from Victor Berghmeister, followed by several beauties from UK’s MermaidS, Thomas Malo, and Sivesgaard.
Anchored by classic house roots, Luke has always stayed true to his style on the decks – oozing deep groove, sassy funk, smooth disco, & solid progressive vibes. Never flashy or ego-driven, Luke prefers to let his music define his career and by doing so, over the span of 10+ years, he’s become a global hero to his devoted fan-base & to young DJs & producers who crave for the soul and energy that Mr. Fair creates. His consistent ability to transform a crowd through the tightest of programming with unwavering focus & patience has proven to leave a very lasting impression the world over.
It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Toronto native, Luke Fair – one of Canada’s finest talents, for an exclusive interview with Decoded Magazine. Welcome Luke!
Luke, you’ve recently moved back to Toronto after being away for several years. How does it feel being back on home turf? Did you miss the Canadian way of life?
It definitely feels nice. I always knew Toronto was an amazing city, but traveling around so much and living abroad has made me love it even more, and can’t think of a city I’d rather live in at this point. Every aspect of it is perfect – the culture, the food, the grittiness, the amazing waterfront – I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.
How would you describe your experience living abroad in Macedonia and Malaysia in terms of culture, people, challenges, and music? Overall was it a positive experience & would you do it again or are you here to stay?
Both are very different. Macedonia doesn’t have much of an underground house scene any more, but I had some great gigs there 5-8 years ago. Most clubs now play commercial house, but there is an excellent, long-running, underground drum and bass scene.
A lot of the main clubs in Kuala Lumpur are mainstream as well, but Kenny Wee is one of the top promoters over there who has been pushing underground house and techno for ages. He’s got a great night there right now called Ohrwurm bringing in a lot of solid talent. And the food in Malaysia, wow. If you ever want to go somewhere for a purely food-based vacation, that’s the place. I had a great time there, but we definitely started missing Canada after a while.
You played last month in Toronto for the first time since Oct 2013….what was it like returning to your old stomping ground at Toika, especially after its facelift? What was the energy like – did it feel like old times?
It was so great to be back and see everyone, as I was in Malaysia for the previous year and a half straight. I rarely played while I was over there and hadn’t seen anybody from Toronto during that time. It was a great reunion, despite being super nervous. I had the shakes at the start but quickly leveled out after the first few mixes and didn’t look back. The club has a completely different feel and is a lot more ‘clubby’.
Let’s go back to the beginning for just a bit….for those who may not know the story of how things began, can you share with us when & how you became involved in the electronic scene in Toronto?
I started out as a busboy at Toronto’s classic Industry nightclub in 1999. I became good friends there with Carlos Pimentel, the sound and lighting tech at the time. He showed me how to DJ, as we would stay after the club closed on Saturdays with a case of beer and spun for hours. When he became manager, I took over the sound and lights, and soon enough they were asking me to open up the club before the residents got there. The club closed in August 2000 so Carlos and I spun around the city.
We had residencies at 5ive nightclub, System Soundbar, and it was then I started producing. I sent out my first track to both Deep Dish and Digweed; miraculously they both wrote me back and asked me to do stuff on their respective labels. I really couldn’t believe it, so I got to work right away and started producing and DJing full-time.
Typically there’s a defining moment in one’s career which propels them forward in to a new, more exciting direction – what was that for you and what kind of impact did it have?
For me it was definitely the U2 – Silver and Gold bootleg I made around 2002. That was the track I sent to Digweed and Deep Dish. It got my foot in the door with Yoshitoshi and Bedrock, and from there the gigs really started taking off.
I can remember the first time I travelled from Ottawa to see you play at System Soundbar in Toronto – it was late 2004…and you’d held a residency there for a few years I believe. That night forever influenced my appreciation for quality house music. How long was your tenure at System before it closed and how would you describe the effect that club & those nights had on the local scene?
System was a pivotal club in Toronto’s house and progressive scene, and Breathe Fridays was one of the top nights in North America at the time. Breathe were the ones bringing in all the underground artists that no other clubs were booking in the local scene- guys like Burridge, Ashley Casselle, Pappa, Nick Warren, etc. The crowd was amazing too, completely unpretentious and very clued-up.
You’ve toured the world throughout your DJ career – is there a special place which holds the fondest memories and if so, what makes it stand out from the rest? When was the last time you played there and are you returning any time soon?
For me it’s definitely Argentina. I have a real connection with that place and the gigs are always amazing. I’ve played there more than any other country and it definitely feels like a second home. I’m heading back there next week to play in Buenos Aires and Cordoba. It’s going to be an amazing two weeks when combined with the Toronto show.
You’ve got a respectable body of production work dating back to 2001 or so. Can you tell us about your first official release – the writing process, the tools you used, and getting it signed?
My very first official release was Let U Know on Bedrock Black. After Digweed contacted me about the U2 bootleg, he asked if I had any more stuff. Of course I said yes, and soon after I got straight to work on Let U Know and Bloc Rock. I was using Cubase and Soundforge at the time, with a Roland JV-1080 synth.
This weekend you’ll be playing a very special ‘Intimate & Underground’ boat party aboard the tall ship Kajama. Tell us how that gig came about; the history behind the name & music collective that started the I&U series; and how it affected your career?
My good friend Gregor is throwing the party with his BringTheBeats company, and his crew have easily been my biggest supporters from day 1. I know just about everyone at the parties, so it’s like a family and feels like I’m playing in my living room. The parties are my favorite gigs along with the shows in Argentina, so it’ll be a really special night.
We know you’ve taken a break from music since being away…. will we be hearing any new releases from you in the coming year?
I’ve got a bunch of unreleased tunes I’ll be putting out which have been building up on the hard drive. I’ll likely be resurrecting my Nonlocal label for the release. Other than that, I’ll just mainly be doing mixes.
What can you tell us is on the horizon now that you’re back home, about to start on your next phase of life? Will you be branching off in a totally new direction?
I’ll still be DJing occasionally and tune-hunting daily, but I’ve got a second passion in web and software development so that will be my primary focus. I have just released subscription-based web software that I built myself and it’s currently in its beta phase, and plan on putting a lot of my energy in that, along with an app I’m currently building. As I said, though, I’ll still be DJing. I don’t think I could ever hang up the headphones!
Thank you so much for spending time with us Luke!
Wishing you all the best from everyone at Decoded ☺