It is credible that Canada breeds some of the biggest names to see the light of day in the music industry, and some of these include, but are not limited to, Sydney Blu, Richie Hawtin, Carlo Lio, and Nathan Barato amongst many more. Rising talent Johnny Trika is fast becoming on of those stars.
Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, he is young and thriving with ambition as well as possesses a lust to create resulting in the release of his second and newest EP Punk Fools, out recently on June 4th on Sci+Tec Digital Audio. In the previous 12 months Johnny has begun making his mark in the underground music industry with his 1st EP out on Scit+Tec Digital Audio in October of 2014 called Main Squeeze prior to Punk Fools EP this year. Upon having a tight production schedule Johnny still manages to find the occasional time to play live, not a skill that most acquire, with his most recent show in hometown Montreal being February of this year. However it is primarily his quality of production and attention to detail that seems to have his inspirations catching wind of his work on a more frequent basis.
Just before the release of his Main Squeeze EP last October, Richie Hawtin chose to use Johnny Trika’s track MNTRL to open up week 8 of his massive 13 week series of events ENTER, situated on the Balearic Islands at Space Ibiza. However if that was not enough it was Sci+Tec Digital Audio label boss Dubfire and musical genius Richie Hawtin who also went on to feature Trika’s actual track Punk Fools during their absolutely beautiful 3 hour Click to Click set at Space Ibiza, during another ENTER party yet again, week 10. If you have ever listened to the three hours of orchestrated chaos you will understand the beauty that can come from not one, but even two of the industries’ professors mixing live for a club packed to its brims with people; I have posted a link at the bottom of the page. Also keep an eye out for my review of that same exact set during ENTER week 10 this September 3rd as I will be making my way to the islands for my own crash course in Ibiza culture, and hopefully to sample some unreleased Trika.
Though 2015 has proven to be another productive year for Canadian born Johnny Trika with the recent video featuring his unreleased song Day Tripper played by Dubfire, who seems to have his eye on Trika, as his closing track during his Tomorrowland 2015 set. For your enjoyment I have attached links to the videos discussed as well. That’s two large sets of eyes in the industry on one elegant individual who seems to be setting himself aside from others in his field at rapid paces. Lucky for me, I recently sat down with Trika over Skype for a pick at his brain to see what keeps this locomotive moving at full speed and what inspired the release of Punk Fools EP.
Hello and good afternoon Johnny, thank you very much for taking some time to chat with me today.
My pleasure, thank you for having me.
Living in Montreal has integrated you into such an active community; do you think that the culture there has had an influence on your sound as a producer or someone who mixes live?
It has definitely helped me when I first started getting into the music and the scene. It has shaped the beginning of my path; it led me to finding out about Dubfire and Richie Hawtin as well as their minimal sound. Other than that, I have gone beyond that and expanded further than Montreal; I like the city but I don’t stay here too much and I’m not musically focused here. Once I really started getting serious about music, I began looking way beyond what we have here in Montreal.
Well, above all genres Minimal Techno seems to be your favorite to produce, what makes it your go to sound?
I enjoy the funky bass lines, I’ve never been a fan of one- note bass lines, and I’m more of a melody kind of guy. I like the funky and weird sounds you can find in Minimal Techno as well, it caught my attention in a significant way the first time I heard it; it was very different and unique for me. I have an appreciation for other genres, but this is what I love most.
So you have been producing seriously since around 2012 and when most people begin as producers they filter through numerous sounds and evolve into their signature twist on a genre; was Minimal Techno always your first love?
At first I was into heavier techno but it became a sort of natural transition. Even partygoers evolve with their sound choices, they hear something different and it becomes more attractive. For the first year I was a Chris Liebling/ CLR kind of guy and since have become invested in guys like Dubfire, Richie Hawtin and Loco Dice.
You speak about your appreciation for Dubfire, and Punk Fools EP has become your second release on Sci+Tec Digital Audio, his label; your first was back in October of 2014 and was called Main Squeeze EP. Can you tell me what makes each one unique and how each has a different story?
Main Squeeze EP had a darker sound and was a blend between the darker stuff I used to be into and my more crafted Minimal sound. For Punk Fools EP I wanted to create something a bit more upbeat, party music; and begin fading out of the darker music I used to produce. That’s the primary difference between the two EP’s. One thing I would never do is make them the same, as an artist you need to keep it fresh, new and exciting otherwise it just gets boring.
When any kind of artist or musician is creating, they usually draw inspiration from somewhere. Can you tell me if there was anything, anywhere or anyone you drew inspiration from while you produced this EP?
Music I was listening to at the time. There was a lot of new releases and Gaiser had just released an album and Matador also had a release or two; I took what everyone else was doing and it seemed to be more upbeat than usual and that was inspiring, to hear something different. It’s been a while since I began working on Punk Fools EP, about last May to be exact.
Given it has taken some time to produce your June 4th release, in that great amount of time is there any new skill you have acquired or new sound you created in which you put to the test on this EP for the first time?
For Punk Fools EP I was definitely experimenting more with different sounds than with Main Squeeze EP. You can hear a lot more unique and weird vibes, as well as unique bending of sounds. A lot of people say my music is hypnotic with odd sounds, and that’s what its known for.
There is three tracks on this EP. Can you tell me in what way they compliment one another, what brings them together?
To start they were literally made one after the other but definitely don’t all sound the same. I always try doing something different; but people always say they can tell its my track and hear my unique twist. That’s the most important thing to me. It’s important if someone can hear that track without seeing the tag and know right away it’s you. You have to have a distinct sound and that comes with time; it could be the reverb you use, the delay or the way your kick/ bass is made.
That being said, out of the three tracks, which is the most advanced in terms of level of production that makes it stand out as one of your strongest tracks yet?
I think everyone knows its Punk Fools, the title of the EP, definitely one of my top tracks made to date. When I first made it I was happy with it but did not think people would take to it this much. Ali (Dubfire) was playing it a lot and it became a big shock to me. I am grateful, but now that has me working on other things that don’t sound like Punk Fools but have a similar spin on them.
Throughout the EP you also use vocals, subtle and non- subtle, you use them quite interestingly as well. Can you explain to me why you use vocals when producing a Minimal Techno EP like Punk Fools?
I like recording my own vocals and sometimes I’ll just say random things, I have tons of snippets and won’t even use them all. I’ll put effects on them and manipulate them sometimes to the point where it even begins to sound like percussion. I feel like vocals give the track a different, nicer vibe, and some tracks you can’t do it on so I don’t use it on all of my productions.
Do you think adding vocals to a track after its been produced can change the way someone perceives an original song?
There’s a lot of people that do like vocals and a lot that don’t, so I wouldn’t go as far as to use them for a whole chorus like a pop song. I just use two or three words opposed to something 4 sentences long, and I think people like that more. I prefer it when vocals come in and out through a track, I think its cool to be able to record what you want and use it how you want.
Before we wrap this up, can you tell us some more about Johnny Trika. When you are not in the studio producing or playing a show, what do you do for fun that keeps you busy other than just work?
I enjoy being able to relax because producing can become stressful. I like hanging out with friends and forgetting about the music, going for a drink or coffee on a nice day like today. I can’t say I have another past time because music is pretty much 95% of my life and when I have time to do something it’s usually making music or music related. I don’t have much time elsewhere, sad but that’s the truth. Even when I go out for dinner with friends we try not to talk about the music and more like what’s going on in our world.
One last question for you Johnny, what can we expect from you in the next year or so. Any new EP or album, a tour or any gigs?
Yeah I’m working on some new gigs but can’t release where, and I’m working on some new music with Ali (Dubfire), we are definitely working on a third EP. We’re currently working on a Sci+Tec stems compilation and I had to give in the stems for Juicy James for the new Traktor controller. It comes out next month I think and I believe Shaded is on it as well, there’s one track per artist and features some stems to use in Traktor with the new D2 controller. No release date as of yet.
That’s incredible, well Johnny thank you so much for chatting with me, and Decoded Magazine really appreciates you taking the time to answer some of our questions we had for you.
No problem, thank you very much again for having me.