We took a few minutes to catch up with Canadian producers Poupon and Prince Club on separate occasions over the summer. Good chats about their newest Technique EP, upcoming releases, TV shows, house music production, and cats! Prince Club interview coming soon!
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UB: Hey man, what are you up to tonight?
Poupon: Honestly, nothing man. Just catching up on Weeds and some other shows. Just taking it easy.
UB: What other shows are you into besides Weeds?
Poupon: Breaking Bad, obviously.
UB: The last season was crazy!
Poupon: Sickest show on TV! Other than that though man, I’ve been watching Deadliest Catch. I love those fuckin’ hard ass personalities.
UB: Also a good one. How about Swamp People?
Poupon: Man, I can’t get into it. Those guys are too red neck for me or something.
UB: I love how it’s all captioned, even if you can actually understand what they’re saying.
Poupon: They are the hardest guys to understand on TV, for sure.
(more laughing ensues)
UB: So, we’re loving the new Technique EP, very 90s inspired sample based production. How did you originally link up with Prince Club and start making tracks?
Poupon: Basically, I was a fan of Prince Club before I even met them. I heard their stuff before they were Prince Club, when they were going by MadKids. I just wanted to get in touch with them because I really liked their stuff. So, I went and played in Montreal in April of 2011, and Max was at the party I was playing, and I saw him there and threw on a Prince Club track. He came over and thanked me, I kept DJing, then after the set we started talking and chilling. We got super fucked up, after that we just became good friends, and a few months later he came to Toronto to play. He was only supposed to stay for a night, and I was kinda like “Dude, fuck that, you can stay at my place, we can make some music”. He actually ended up staying 4 extra days and missed his train that the promoter had booked for him. I didn’t meet Zach ’til last summer when I went to France, we ended up all playing a show together in the South of France, and now we’re all tight friends.
UB: You grew up in Toronto most of your life, right?
Poupon: Born and raised in Toronto, yeah.
UB: I spent a few years there and people were loving the tech house sounds. Would you say growing up in Toronto shaped your sound at all?
Poupon: I don’t know if growing up in Toronto had so much to do with shaping my sound. I didn’t start getting into dance music ’til I went to university in London, Ontario. I actually wasn’t really a partier ’til then, I used to play bass in a couple of bands with some friends back in high school. When I went to university I started going out to actual clubs, and I was hearing stuff you wouldn’t necessarily connect to me today. It was mostly the David Guetta, the Bob Sinclair and that sort of thing, but that was still sort of my introduction to house music and seeing how powerful it was. My older cousin, who’s also from Toronto, was at Western too and he’s been DJing since he was like, 13. We actually were in a frat together, and he was DJing all those parties. When he was leaving he was kinda like “I have to teach someone to DJ so they can take over for me and DJ all these parties”. So he gave me some basic lessons, I started DJing on this ghetto ass Numark “built-in CD” wedding DJ shit. It was basically a cue button and a pitch fader, but from there it grew forward. Another friend got CDJs and Serato, he started bringing it by the frat house. We started playing at different clubs in London and it just started escalating from there.
UB: What point did you figure you wanted to start producing?
Poupon: When I was back in high school, and even probably before high school, I was making hip-hop beats on Fruity Loops and shit like that. When I got to university I was starting to get into house a bit more, but I was really still into a lot of hip-hop beats. As I started to DJ, I started getting more into house music and eventually started to shift my production in that direction. I was always into electronic music production, but it wasn’t ’til my second or third year of university that I started to actually try to make dance music.
UB: At that point, who would you say your biggest influences were?
Poupon: At that point, I was really into a lot of electro and sort of fidget stuff, which I know was sort of the same thing for Prince Club. They were into that stuff before they started getting into the tech house sounds.
UB: Yeah, Max mentioned that also. That’s pretty much what we were all listening to around then as well.
Poupon: Exactly, I mean, that’s when the whole Hypem/blog/electro sounds were getting really big, in 2007-2008. I was DJing under another alias back then with my buddy who I was telling you about. We were resident DJs for this night in London called Dirty Disko, and they brought Crookers, Beetroots, LA Riots, Treasure Fingers, Designer Drugs and all these guys. We pretty much got to open for all of them, and that was what got us noticed in Toronto, was the parties we were doing out there. Eventually, I started to get way more into house music and tech house and stuff like that, and there was no way to shift the image and the reputation of that other project. So, I basically decided to go out on my own and start fresh.
UB: Nice. We noticed that you seem to dig playing around with 90s pop music samples in your music. For example, The Block has the Jennifer Lopez sample, and your Climax track with the Usher sample, the Biggie interview in Platinum. How does that stuff find its’ way into your music?
Poupon: I think it stems from what I was really into growing up. I was really into hip-hop from the time I was in elementary school, up through high school and into university, and still now. When I’m not listening to house music, I’m listening to fucking Drake, or Lil Wayne, or whoever. It’s something I know really well, and something I don’t want to completely abandon. At the same time, I feel like it’s not that original because there are a lot of guys using hip-hop and R&B samples, it’s just sort of the way music is right now. If you’re not producing every aspect of music yourself like some people out there, and you like to draw that influence, and you like sampling, that’s sort of where our generation is going to pull it from, I feel. A lot of the aspects of it just sort of work well when you try to transfer it to house music. It’d be harder to take a fucking country song or something like that, or blues, and put it into house music. Some guys have been able to do it though, like Adam Port with his “Sally” track. Mustang Sally is an old blues track that my dad used to listen to. Adam Port managed to put it into a tech house track and make it huge, so power to him. But I’m always try to push it in that sense, but it’s hard to do sometimes.
UB: Max said you guys had the intent of sampling the beginning of “Jenny from the block” by Jennifer Lopez for your song The Block on the new Technique EP, but do you know where that sample actually comes from?
Poupon: I was digging into it, but I can’t remember the name of the group!
UB: 20th Century Steel Band, apparently. First we’ve heard of the guys.
Poupon: Yeah! It’s really old, and then it got covered a bunch of times. I don’t even know that the one in the intro from Jenny from the block is even the original sample.
UB: Apparently Grandmaster Flash made it famous in the 80s, which is crazy. It took me back to junior high, and we couldn’t find out what it was and it was driving us nuts.
Poupon: It’s funny, cause the sample is just from the little intro of the J-Lo song and then it kicks into the whole Beatnuts ripoff. After we made it I realized it had been in other house tracks too. Luca Lazano sampled it for Heaven & Hell, one of the first Klasse recordings releases, but by the time we found out, we had already signed and released the EP. But it’s not a big deal really.
UB: It’s cool, we heard yours first. It’s still a super dope track regardless.
Poupon: And he used the “Everybodys trying to make a living” part, and we didn’t use that part at all, so in that way it’s okay. If you make a good song, you make a good song. It doesn’t really matter how many times the sample has been used.
UB: No doubt. So you mentioned you had some residencies in London a while ago, but are there any venues in Toronto and other cities you play at more frequently that cater to your sound a little more?
Poupon: For the past little while we’ve been working with Embrace in Toronto, the promotion company. They’ve had different places where we generally throw parties. We used to play at The Social before that closed down. There’s Wrongbar, and we used to throw a Friday night at Mod Club which was really big, and we used to play there a lot but they don’t do that one anymore. Right now I’m trying to play at Footwork a lot more, which in my opinion is the best club in Toronto. Me and Meech are playing with Claude Von Stroke next week, and that’s Embrace and this other company called Platform. We don’t have official residencies or anything, we’re not tied down contractually, but we try to keep it in the family.
UB: What’s the most fun place you’ve played?
Poupon: This party outside of Rome, this crew called Surf Disco. Really nice kids, they throw these parties in this little beach town at this club with a massive pool. They just do it up so right, and they’re really fun young Italian kids. Every fuckin’ party they throw, they get hundreds and hundreds of kids out. We went for this drive at six in the morning, and they took me to this pizza shop with these old school Italian guys cooking pizza. I’m a big food guy, so I know some of the food terminology. I’m really fucking drunk, so I think my Italian is great. They’re cracking up and I’m just making an ass of myself. We had like, 8 small pizzas between basically 4 guys. We went to this latte place next door too ’cause they just opened at 6, so we got 6 AM lattes and pizza.
UB: Speaking of playing with Claude Von Stroke, are there any producers you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Poupon: That’s always a really hard question. There’s a lot of people that I really admire out there. We were talking about Adam Port before, I really love his style and music ’cause he doesn’t pigeonhole himself into one genre. He has releases on Play It Down which is more of the fun house stuff, and he just had a release on Cocoon which is one of the more serious techno labels. I like how he’s built up a brand for himself where he can produce whatever he wants. That’s always what I’ve tried to do. I don’t want to be just a deep house guy, or just a tech house guy, I want to just make what I’m feeling at the time, and just make good music. But that’s a hard question, because the collaborations never go over the way you plan. All it takes is one drunk night at a party.
UB: What tracks are you listening to right now anyways? Are there any up and coming names that are a bit under the radar that you might want to mention?
Poupon: There’s a buddy of mine from Montreal named Paolo Rocco. He’s been a DJ in Montreal for quite some time, but he’s starting to put out some good releases. He just put out an EP through Klasse Recordings. His track “Move Body, Move Forward” is awesome, I started my Snatch! podcast off with it. He’s got another release coming out soon that I started another mix with called “Never Never Give Up”. Usually the track that I start mixes with are always the sign of a track that I’m really feeling at the time, and just has that vibe that you want to start off with. Another guy is Urulu, on Faceless Management with us as well. Everything he makes is so good, and he makes a ton of tracks. Everytime I’m on AIM or iChat, he’s sending me tracks, so he’s a guy to watch out for. Zach from Prince Club also has a side-project now called Forrest which is really dope. I think Amadeus Records will be really big, they’re consistently putting out awesome music. I’m fortunately friends with a bunch of guys who are making fucking awesome music right now, so that’s who I’ll rep.
UB: Awesome. Other than the stuff you’ve been putting out with Prince Club, do you have any other releases coming up?
Poupon: I have a three track EP coming out on Hermanez and Ramon Tapia’s label _ _ _ music. I met Ramon in Miami and we just hit it off and started talking a bit on Skype. He said if I made something that I thought was good for his label, maybe we could do a release, so I sent him three different tracks. Hopefully it’ll be out sometime in the fall. There aren’t as many recognizable samples in that one, but I did use some hip-hop samples and flipped them in a darker, ghetto kinda’ way.
UB: What are your most preferred production tools? Are you into a lot of hardware, or mainly software based?
Poupon: I use Ableton, pretty much exclusively. I don’t use a lot of hardware to be honest with you, I’m not a big synth guy. I would like to grab one or two staple pieces of hardware and mess around with them. I just haven’t really found the time to go out and grab a new synth or anything like that. It’s something I’m not super passionate about, but I could get into it eventually. I do like to incorporate my actual bass, sometimes my guitar, and I sometimes record my own vocals to give it a bit of an organic vibe. I sometimes pick up the bass and play to figure out what the baselines are going to be, ’cause that’s what I grew up playing, but then I will end up laying it down in Ableton.
UB: Is there anything you always do before hopping in the studio? Any rituals or OCD to make you comfortable?
Poupon: I can’t really force myself to be creative.Some guys can hop in the studio whenever like “let’s go”. I’ve always kinda’ been that way, when I was a kid and used to do art, one day I’d draw a fucking awesome picture, and the next day I’d try for an hour and just be like “fuck this” and crumple up the piece of paper. I sort of have to be in a creative mind state. In terms of rituals, none of those really, but when I’m with Max, we drink a lot of chocolate milk. I just spent some money reorganizing my studio though, put some Christmas lights up. Lighting definitely helps with making you feel comfortable and setting a vibe. I also just got an air purifier, cause Max came and left a bit of a weed-smoke smell lingering around.
UB: (laughs) Max was saying that was part of his ritual.
Poupon: Yeah, and it’s not just one, it’s like the whole time.
UB: You have a lot of different releases on various labels with different sounds, such as petFood, Snatch, Dim Mak, etc. Do you try to mold your sound to the particular label that you’re releasing on, or just kinda’ do your thing?
Poupon: I find when you’re doing a remix, you definitely have to consider the sound of the label. If you make something that is totally off from what they release, they’re probably not going to like it. But, at the same time you have to do something different enough from the original that it’s worth you doing the remix. You have to find a bit of a middle ground between having your own style, but conforming to the labels sound. The remix I did for Autoerotique for Dim Mak was the first remix I ever did, and it was a big challenge for me, because they’re mostly releasing a lot of electro and dub step stuff, so I was really surprised that they picked my remix to release, ’cause it was so far off from what they normally release. In terms of original stuff, sometimes you’re working for the label, and sometimes you’re not. The stuff I just produced for Ramon Tapia’s label, I was definitely thinking about the label when I was making it, they have more of that darker tech house sound. Sometimes you just get in the studio and worry about the label after though, and then try and shop it to whoever you think it’d be best for. Shopping tracks is always a hard thing to do though, but now that things are picking up, hopefully it’ll get to the point where labels are coming to me, but who knows how far away that is.
UB: Yeah totally, I noticed your release for petFood was a bit deeper than your other stuff.
Poupon: Yeah definitely, the whole deep house sound kind of exploded over the last year or so. I was kind of just sitting in the studio, and I was listening to a bunch of deep house, and I just started to fuck around with that vibe and eventually came up with that. I was talking to Jay, the label manager at petFood, and he mentioned they had a compilation coming out. He asked if I had anything that I maybe wanted to put on the compilation, and that was the track I sent over. He liked it, so sometimes it just works out that way I guess. I’m kind of trying to stay away from that deep Maceo Plex-y sort of bass stuff though, not because I don’t like it, but I almost just want to leave that to those guys. I love it, and I’ll put it in my mixes, but it’s not something I want to focus on production wise.
UB: Meech was here a little while ago, and he told us you’re a bit of a cat whisperer, is this true?
Poupon: (laughs) Cat Whisperer. I do love cats man. I pretty much love all animals, but I have a cat at home, and yeah, I guess I am kind of a cat dude. I do like dogs and a lot of other animals, but I definitely back cats quite hard
UB: Yeah, it’s funny ’cause we started using cats on our posters and other promotional stuff, and we noticed Suara records uses cats on all their album art. It works out really well when we blog their stuff.
Poupon: Yeah, those guys are awesome! Me and Coyu were tweeting funny pictures of our cats back and fourth. They actually have a charity set up to save abandoned and stray cats, which is really cool, they’re definitely taking it to the next level.
UB: Favorite after gig food?
Poupon: We usually go to the Lakeview diner in Toronto, it’s 24 hours. I usually get the grilled cheese, but last time I ordered something that I thought was a breakfast, and it ended up being this weird breakfast poutine with an egg on top and I was kinda just like “Yo, what the fuck did I order?”.
The interview ended on laughs, and here’s a few tunes from the man himself.