Last Thursday Night at UTM’s Blind Duck Pub, CFRE and the University of Toronto Electronic Music Appreciation Club presented Subsomnia 2.0, a pub night dedicated to playing the very best of electronic, dubstep, and trance music. The event was a success, and we had a chance to talk to DJ No1da (the moniker of Andrew Griffith) afterwards about preparing for his set, his musical influences, and why CFRE- and UTEMAC-sponsored pub nights are so important to underground musicians like himself.
The Medium: When preparing music for a show like Subsomnia 2.0, what comes to mind? What do you feel is important to know when getting your DJ set ready?
Andrew Griffith: Promotion! There’s only a small niche of electronic music lovers on this campus, so we need to get the word out. Also, sound setup is key. Anyone can listen to a song on a pair of, say, Altec Lancing $50 speakers, but it is somewhat of a dying culture where people go out and listen to music on a proper system and hear it the way it was meant to be heard. When it comes to my set, I prepare an outline—a list of “must-plays” for the event. From there, I designate Top 40 remixes, dark tech, funky disco, and progressive peak-time bangers. Then I decide where the transitions will lie throughout the set, depending on the venue, crowd age, gender ratios, time of day, day of the week, etc. You have to be somewhat of a forecaster, but the thing I like most is playing on the fly and submersing myself in the moment.
TM: Knowing that UTEMAC is a partner for the event, electronic music comes to mind as a crucial sound of the night, but do you feel inspired by other genres or musicians when creating your DJ set?
AG: I am usually inspired by what is popular on the radio, as many types of electronic music have hit mainstream listeners. For example, David Guetta, Tiesto, Avicii, Skrillex—fans of mainstream electronic music appreciate when I incorporate these artists into my set. Electronic music has always had a caring, loving vibe, so I always try to stay true to that. That being said, a good Top 40 remix always seems to bring the dance floor together when I’m playing.
TM: Now that the night is over, how did you feel it went?
AG: Well, on Thursday night I had already planned out where I was going to start with, but once I walked into the pub about 45 minutes before my set, the entire atmosphere was different from what I expected. The vibe of the room was quite a novel underground sound to most attendees: lots of experimental/trip hop/dubstep stuff that seemed a bit unfamiliar to the crowd. Because of this I retooled my set on the fly. I started out with Top 40 remixes to get everyone a little more comfortable and on the dance floor. Preparation is crucial, but sometimes you read a room and you need to shake things up. I think it went well, and I was very relieved when I started playing my set and the dance floor filled up with booty-shakin’ bodies.
TM: Do you feel it’s important that CFRE and UTEMAC sponsor pub events like this? Do you find these events different from other types of pub nights?
AG: These types of events must continue! When people think of UTM pub nights, they think of the same type of music and content. I think that’s why the hype dies down after the first pub; it’s more difficult to pull in a crowd when it’s the same DJs and the same Top 40 hits—the same results. Niche events like Subsomnia can be successful with enough promotion, and with [Blind Duck manager] Shane Madhani’s involvement, these events have only become better with time—but sometimes that’s not enough. DJs like me have a strong underground following, but we still need local support from other students and friends on campus. Despite the support we have so far, we still need support from all ends to make sure these events continue to work. It will take more than a few people’s efforts. Overall, I am proud of the guys who made it out to express their love of music. And I’m impressed with the assistance from CFRE. They are a great partner for us at UTEMAC, and it has worked well for the rise of independent music, as well as the creation of an interdependent relationship between CFRE and UTEMAC. Andrew, or No1da, is a member of UTEMAC and a personal trainer at the RAWC every Thursday night. You can listen to his Subsomnia 2.0 mix at soundcloud.com/no1da.
To be a part of UTEMAC, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/utemac. To find out more about CFRE and to be a part of the station, visit cfreradio.com.