“People in the Underground World Have Accepted this kind of Music as their way of living” – Catching Up with Toronto’s Shelley Johannson


Shelley Johannson is one of Toronto’s leading ladies, who is currently killing it among the city’s underground music scene. Having recently released her Midnight Red EP on techno’s renowned Octopus Black imprint, Johannson continues to make substantial breakthroughs, proving herself to be a woman of rich talent and dedication to her art. We had the opportunity to chat with Shelley about some of her fond club memories, her successful EP and views on being a women in a male-dominated industry.

Your career as a DJ started out playing a bit of everything, particularly trance. When did you find yourself moving towards the darker sounds of techno and why did you choose to produce in this genre?

This is true I did play a little bit of everything! I liked experimenting with sounds and mixing different genres together. But techno is the one genre that can be heard constantly in my sets over the years. Like most DJs, your first gigs are warming up for headliners. When I played at a trance event I would spin techno because it fit well and set up a good vibe before the main act. I choose to produce in this genre because I enjoy listening to it the most. So happy that my days are filled with techno!

Back in 2014, you opened for Paul Van Dyk, when he played his very last set at Toronto’s super club The Guvernment before its closure in January 2015. Can you share with us some memories of that night?

That’s a night I will never forget and a memory I hold very close. He is a legend and I was over flowing with joy when presented with the opportunity. The crowd was really energetic, the sound system was on point (it always was) and Paul Van Dyk played an incredible set. The Guvernment was an extraordinary venue and housed some of the best parties.

Today, you are producing techno and playing parties alongside Sian from Octopus Recordings. How does the underground world differ from your experiences playing and producing music in other genres?

My experiences playing and producing other genres has been positive and fun! I think the biggest difference is the people in the underground world have accepted this kind of music as their way of living. After the party is done, they still carry that underground attitude with them by integrating this music in their everyday lives.

Your release Midnight Red on Sian’s sub label Octopus Black was a big milestone in your career as a techno producer. Do you have any other projects coming up that you want to share with us?

Octopus Black is a very respectable label and excited to continue working with them! I’m always cultivating new musical endeavors that revolve around my radio show One-Eighty and productions. I communicate with my listeners about up coming activities on Facebook, so make sure you stay tuned in 😉

What is the biggest challenge you face as a producer in a male dominant genre? So you find that being a women in this industry can work in your favour?

There is all sorts of challenges you face as an artist whether you’re male or female. I don’t believe being a women in this industry works in your favor. Maybe some female producers feel like they have more to prove, but at the end of the day it should be about the love of making and sharing music.

People in the underground world have accepted this kind of music as their way of living. After the party is done, they still carry that underground attitude with them by integrating this music in their everyday lives.

As a member of Toronto’s electronic music scene, what have been some significant changes that have occurred in the past few years, and where do you see things going for Toronto’s house and techno community?

For sure some changes have occurred in the dance scene here in Toronto. One of the most significant is the growth of techno/house festivals. You can see the community is growing and as a result the festivals are expanding the space and talent line up. One person has a good experience, then they bring along friends for the next show, it’s great! Very pleased to say the techno and house circle is increasing.

Who are some of your favorite artists and/or labels at the moment? What records are you obsessed with right now?

I always find high quality productions from labels such as 100% Pure, Alleanza, Drumcode, Octopus and Suara! I’m always gem digging and this is what I discovered this week!

Pig&Dan – Acid Bath

Mario Ochoa – Make You

Enrico Sangiuliano – X-Pollination

Midnight Red is available for purchase on Beatport

Shelley Johannson is on Facebook// Twitter// Soundcloud