It was less than two years ago that Montreal-based producer, Johnny Trika made the bold move of walking up to the DJ booth where Ali Shirazinia, better known as Dubfire was spinning a set. In his hand, he held a USB with four tracks and an email address. Fast-forward to today, and Johnny Trika is currently preparing the release of his third EP for Sci+Tec.
It’s definitely not the most conventional way to get your music signed by arguably the largest techno label in the industry. Nor is it something that many would recommend. BUT, it’s definitely something that we can all appreciate. For the past two years, Johnny Trika has been hard at work in his studio, turning out bombs of techno goodness for Dubfire’s Sci+Tec label and today, we are happy to share his story with you.
First off, please tell us about your relationship with Sci+Tec and your growth with the label thus far.
My first release on Sci+Tec was back in October 2014 and it was the very first time I’d released on any label, so I’d never had any experience working with labels before. It was a bit rough, I didn’t know how things would work with the all the paperwork and everything. But now, it’s my second time around so everything is much easier. I have a good relationship with Ali and the people who work over at Sci+Tec are very professional and so organized! They are amazing to deal with.
How did you first approach Sci+Tec?
It was pretty surreal. Dubfire was in Montreal, playing at Stereo and my friends had convinced me to go with a USB like “Why not? What have you got to lose?” and it was true. So I put four tracks and my email on this stick. Towards the end of the night, I went up to the booth and just started talking with his tour manager. I told him that I had a USB for Ali. He said thanks and put it in one of his bags— but to me, this was a really long shot. I didn’t think anything was going to happen. And then, about two weeks later, I received an email from Ali asking about 1 of the tracks, wanting to know if it was still available. I said of course! And after that, I just became crazy inspired. I sat down and made a lot of music and bombarded him. Eventually, he was like “ok, let’s make the first EP.”
Amazing. That’s a fairytale story!
Ya, and now I always tell people don’t be shy about giving a USB because you never know.
And you’re currently based in Montreal — is this where you grew up?
Yes, I’ve been in Montreal my whole life.
Before discovering techno as a musical genre, what were your earliest experiences with music like?
I was never really a big fan of any one genre. At one point, I was pretty big into old school hip hop and I still listen to it now. But I usually just keep my ears open to different things. I don’t only listen to electronic music, but the way that I was introduced to it was through my friend, who showed me Infected Mushroom.
You’ve said that you feel you began your DJ career a bit backwards: you released on Dubfire’s Sci+Tec label before you’d had very much performing experience. How do you think this has affected your approach to music, as both a producer and DJ?
Ya, I guess the way I learned things was a bit opposite from most DJ-Producers. Right now I’m learning more about performance and reading a crowd. Before that, I was only in the studio. But now I’ve got 2 EPs, so I know I need to start doing more gigs. In terms of how it’s affected my music, I always knew I wanted to be known as a live act. I think it’s unique and I want people to come see me because they want to hear my sound, rather than hear me play other people’s music. I’m a producer first. All that CDJ business is not me. Plus, I think there’s a different feeling when you’re playing live— as a performer, you can get more into it because there’s a very special connection to your own music.
What have been some of your most memorable gigs that you’ve played to date?
My very first live gig, which was at Stereo in Montreal this past February was really special. I was so nervous. It took me a long time to put together because there’s so much preparation that goes into a live show. You can’t have any mistakes. And if the crowd is not into it, it’s not like you can drop a massive track to recover… Also, my first gig in Toronto was a lot of fun. I played at RED and there were quite a few people. The venue and sound system were awesome too!
You’re second EP on Sci+Tec is due in June. What was that creative process like for you? Did you produce it in a particular studio or frame of mind? Was it something that came to you quite quickly or was it spread over a period of time?
I produce all of my music in my home studio. At the time, I was just sending music to Ali and one of the tracks I sent was “Punk Fools” . To be honest, I didn’t think a lot about the track, but he loved it! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I obviously liked the track but I didn’t think it would reach the level that it did. He started playing it everywhere and it blew up. That’s kind of when we decided to do another EP, so ya — it will be released June 4th!
You’ve also been busy working on a third EP — how will this one compare to Punk Fools?
It’s going to be different, my sound is evolving. I’ve always listened to the advice that when you make an EP, you should try to make your next one have that similar, distinct sound, but to experiment a bit more. As of now, I think that one of the tracks is confirmed for the 3rd EP. It’s still minimal techno, but there’s a different feel to it. Recently, I’ve been making a lot more melodic stuff. I’m not sure why, but that’s what I’m drawn to right now.
If you could imagine your dream set — you choose the venue, the festival, the lineup: what would that look like?
Oh! That’s hard to say. For venue, I’ve heard way too many good stories about Warung, but I’ve never been. Stereo would be up there too because of the sound system. And for lineup, it would be cool to have an all live night. So I’d have to say me, Ali, Matador or Gaiser. I have a very big appreciation for people that play live, because it’s not easy!
Looking forward— what do the next few months look like for you? What are you most excited about?
I’m looking forward to playing more gigs. My next one is with Ellen Allien— it’s going to be in Montreal at this cool warehouse party. I’m also excited to head down to WMC. And of course, I’m very excited about the release of my EP on June 4th. I cant wait to see what happens with it!
Preview Johnny Trika’s “Punk Fools” EP here: