Last summer, an article on titled Toronto’s New Guard turned a spotlight on Toronto’s emerging producers. The article champions Kevin McPhee, alongside Basic Soul Unit and Art Department as pioneers in a golden era of Toronto dance music. As critics heap praise on McPhee, he modestly shares the limelight with his producer peers and offers a refreshingly humble outlook on what’s happening in the music scene within Canada’s largest city.

“There’s a bunch of producers popping up right now that share a similar interest in making good music and slowly that stigma of ‘the local artist’ is fading away,” says McPhee. “It’s a pretty tight circle and everyone wants everybody to do well. You can’t ask for a better scene in my opinion.”

Toronto artists are harnessing the love and producing innovative parties that aim to enrich the dance community. McPhee speaks fondly of a monthly pay-what-you-can party, called Neighbourhood Watch, where the profits are going to start up a record label to publish local talent. A dance hot spot called Bambi’s is becoming known for hosting sprawling four-hour-plus DJ sets. McPhee and some friends recently started a night called How Does it Make you Feel? “It’s a vinyl-only techno night that runs as an after-hours thing, which is not as common in the city.” McPhee and his friends hold it down until the wee hours of the morning. “It’s just the three of us going for seven or eight hours until we have to stop at 6 a.m.” Playing after hours and warehouse parties allows McPhee to play his signature extended sets. “You get the opportunity to play actual sets as opposed to hour-long previews,” says McPhee. “A good three or four hours is ideal. If I’m bringing all of these records, I want to play them all!”

With the majority of his releases on European labels, like Naked Lunch and Idle Hands, McPhee says promoters often assume he is European-based and approach him to play gigs. While some Canadian producers succumb to the call of London or Berlin, McPhee has no plans to pick up and move. “I’m fortunate enough to be in the position now where when it comes to playing shows I can still get to Europe and play shows,” says McPhee. “I’m able to have my foot in the door without having to pick up and move there.”

By: Paul J. Brooks

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