Bass music has been on quite a journey for the last couple years. Sounds and subgenres have been evolving rapidly and sometimes tumultuously. There is a constant barrage of sounds and artists to explore. So many, that it justifies having multiple crews in the city exploring different sounds.

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I’ll never forget the first time I saw Noctilux making moves. Admittedly, the crew was already a couple of years old by then. However, being on the older spectrum of the dance music community, my immediate thoughts were: who are these young bloods throwing this cool show, and who taught them how to do this? The branding was perfect. The headliner was what I would consider to be an older artist for “the heads.” Yet I had never heard of any of the openers. In truth, the collective had already evolved into exploring the themes of deeper, more “intelligent” bass music.

Back then, they were the new kids on the block. Now, they’re seasoned vets of the dance music community – and they’re celebrating five years. Freq Magazine caught up with Noctilux head honcho Michael Benz for a chat about how they got started in this crazy scene, what’s changed since then and how they’ll celebrate this milestone.

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Freq: It’s hard to believe Noctilux Collective is already turning five! It seems like just yesterday I saw the poster for a Noctilux party. Can you tell me a bit about how you guys got started?

Michael Benz: Its crazy how much time flies by in Calgary. [We] started in 2011 originally with Michael Benz, Matthew Aussell and Janelle Mildenberger, intended always as being a different and insightful approach into bass music. We had been so influenced by being patrons at Supreme Hustle and Modern Math parties in 2010, [and] the influence grew and the taste was honed in from that point on. Our first opportunity promoting/programming a show was at Desperados Nightclub, which was a very large, 600 capacity nightclub back in that era. During that time we did shows like Mt.Eden, Helicopter Showdown & Dillon Francis. It was massively different to where we are currently. After moving to Habitat Living Sound following the closure of Desperados, we had to adapt to something different completely from the massives we championed before. We solidified a group of four DJs; Ruby, Space Leopard, Kajazy & Red Stripe. Basically just a bunch of friends wanting to have a little party of our own once a month. Our first home was Wednesday nights, exploring trap, dubstep and some hip-hop textures here and there – hyphy, very loud fun music of the era. As we evolved through the third and fourth year, we switched our focus to toward the experimental, deeper forms of bass music.

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It’s pretty safe to say you’re the undisputed leader (aka Dad) of the group.  But who else was involved then and what were their respective roles?

This one is a good one. Everyone has a loud and heard voice in the Collective. Consideration is drawn from all, and siphoned up to leave the final decision making up to me, so yes, very Dad. I think it has always been important in Noctilux’s legacy to have an unbiased, omniscient consideration over the direction and curation of shows and music. (Since I am not a DJ.)

Recently, Sonya Nuspel + Thomas Crossley have been a great assistance in the management of the internal operations.

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 How has that evolved? Who’s involved now and what are their roles?

All those that live on the Noctilux roster provide some form of skill toward the entity itself. It has a mind of its own though. We have grown from six to over 20 in the recent years. On the music side, production has become almost a prerequisite, a very important skill to flex. It seems that in Calgary and through the looking glass of other cities, there is always a lack of organizational think tanks. I wish that wasn’t the case, my head wouldn’t have been spinning as much, I will tell you that.

The Noctilux family includes, Little Snake, Preacher Please, KR Dub, Huskie, Kismet, Ruby, Illfitted, Velvet Separation, Sanctuary, Wolf Camo & OpenEnd, on the music flex. MC Loki & Phi Pho harness the vibe and supplement the sound with their MC abilities. Sonya Nuspel, Thomas Crossley and myself sort out logistics. KSOMS, Matthew Aussel, Levi Dumonceau + Jarred Taylor are the artistic ones who all have unique outlets they contribute.

Like I said, it has a mind of its own and so do those that are involved. Life happens, focuses shift. Due to the nature of that, some are more active than others in their area of expression at different times. I have always been a strong believer in openness and freedom in engagement or detachment, pressure is not the answer on that front.

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Was it ever intimidating or scary coming up against some of the more established, older groups in the community? Did you find it welcoming or competitive?

Definitely was, its hard to prove yourself to the community, as well as [to] yourself. It’s a battle with self confidence. Its also very IMG_5465dependent on your outlook of it all, in the early days “competition” was a common word thought and spoken. But as we grew, the community united through collaboration, respect and consideration. Myself, I came to the conclusion that we all need to coexist together. We need to work with, and not against.

Was the intention always to be throwing cool, underground parties?

The original intention: Noctilux was built to create the perfect party on our terms. That still stands today. We do what we do because we believe in it, truly and deeply, taking influence from across the pond and bringing it.

Since then Noctilux has made a pretty good home at Habitat Living Sound. How did that marriage come to pass?

When a promoter’s primary venue closes, its quite a devastating blow. We acted fast from that departure and approached one of the most timeless venues we have in Calgary. Among others, it has stood the test of time, pushing a wide spectrum of music. LUX was one of the original and oldest residencies in that room, four years strong. It worked, as we got more challenging with our sonic offerings, they came with us and it has become one of the most special sacred expressions in that room in its 8 year history. Thanks Habitat for getting weird with us.

There have been some pretty killer shows to celebrate your five-year anniversary, including Loefah, which just happened, and Youngsta going down tonight. Is there a phase three in the works?

The entirety of the next year could serve as ‘phase three’ in a sense. I’m very proud we have made it this far, its been a ride. We have a solid mix of talented artists and concepts up our sleeves. Some familiar names, some events showcasing local love, a sunshine day rave and a bundle of first timers on their way to this city.

Why did you choose these artists to showcase your five-year celebration?

Loefah is an absolute legend, creating some of the most minimal, sound system pushing music since before the days of dubstep. Contribuitng in such a phenomena speaks volumes, hes basically one of the pillars of that sound. With a very long history in music to the current day, the evolutions and adaptations that have come together in the present was one of the most perfect expressions of music past and present in UK bass music.IMG_3206

Youngsta is also one of the OGs, Tempa’s flagship broadcaster of their testament. He has been to Calgary every year since 2012 I believe, and having the pleasure of hosting him on the front of our banner was amazing. He’s truly one of the funnest DJs and kind souls I have met. Going through 130 techno bass stuff, proper dubstep and going really deep into the minimal/future forms of drum and bass.

 Obviously your foothold in this city is pretty strong. What’s next for Noctilux Collective?

Focus on forward motion, innovating the way Calgary perceives bass music/bass music culture, thinking outside the box and refreshing the scene while continuing to provide a spotlight for heavy hitters and fledgling prodigies alike. More.

Celebrate five years with Noctilux tonight for Youngsta at Habitat Living Sound. Tickets are $16 at the door or available online.

 

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