Interview with Dave and Evan from Dubma$hine

In Celebrate Your Scene, Choice Cuts, Features, Interviews, Montréal on November 3, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Dave Brunelle and Evan Woolley are the promoters behind Dubma$hine, a local dubstep and party venue. I caught up with them to talk about successful music promotion in Montréal, and how they managed to bring dubstep to a wider audience.

Steve: Tell us the story of Dubma$hine. How did it get started?

Evan Woolley: It began before I met Dave actually. I was living out in the West Island, and a couple of my friends asked to borrow my speakers, for a party. We ended up doing that a couple of times, and no-one at those parties had really heard dubstep before, but I liked it, and a couple of my friends were casual dubstep DJs. So after the first couple of times I decided to do something bigger, and to charge for it. The problem with that was I did it alone, which is a pretty big mistake for a first event. I only made like $35, but everyone enjoyed it and said I should do it again. I personally thought the party itself was shit though!

Steve: Who played at those first parties?

Evan: Just local acts really, but someone I’ve always worked with from way back in the West Island has been Orphan. He’s a local DJ, but he improves every time, and one of the things which would make me happiest as a promoter is if I could break him to a new audience, so I always keep him booked.

Steve: So how did this develop into Dubma$hine? How did you meet Dave?

Dave Brunelle: Well I lived in like the next-door loft to where his party was, and actually over the course over four months from March to June saw about six or seven parties happening in spaces around that area. And I thought, well I’ve seen how people do it, and the mistakes they’ve made, and I want to try it.

Steve: What kind of mistakes are you talking about?

Dave: Things like budgeting way too much money, so for our first event, we decided to make sure we had broken even just from our pre-sale tickets, so that everything at the door would be profit, which allows us to fund our next party.

Steve: So how did that first party come about?

Dave: I was kind of sceptical, we didn’t know each other, but each took a leap of faith, y’know, and gave ourselves a month to plan our first party, called ‘Blood on my Nikes’, and it turned out really well, 300 people came.

Steve: What do you think contributed to that success?

Dave: I think we were very open. We started reaching out to lots of different groups. I think the key to running a successful event is reaching out to as many different groups as possible; the bros, the ravers, the hipsters, the hardcore dubsteppers, all the various schools and colleges.

Steve: And of course the internet. How has that helped you?

Dave: The internet for us is such a big tool. Of course we use Facebook, which is a great way of quickly spreading a message, but I’m also a film student at Concordia, so we used Youtube, and started making videos for our parties. Which is so cool, you can just take your iPhone out, show a commercial for a party, and it makes it look a whole lot more legit.

Evan: I think some promoters just print the flyers, put up posters, make a Facebook page, and then cross their fingers. I don’t think that does enough, so that why we decided to do more.

Steve: What was the difference in size between the first and second party? Were you trying to make it considerably bigger?

Dave: Our attitude was basically, ‘lets step it up’. We almost tripled our budget to try and get way more people through the door. Which meant we had to do a two room party. You’re not gonna get 800 people to a one room party. You have to sell it, you have to say it’s got DJs from San Francisco, 16 DJs, etc. You have to sell it. I mean that’s one of the reasons we called it ‘Bassfest’, it get’s people pumped.

Evan: And it worked, we ended up getting around 500 people more at ‘Bassfest’ than ‘Blood On my Nikes’. Just from pre-sale tickets we’d sold more than ‘Blood on my Nikes’.

Steve: Which is a huge number for the Montréal dubstep community, isn’t it?

Dave: For sure, the community has traditionally been very small, but very well knit. Now I think those days are over after Bassfest. Before that, dubstep was Koi Wednesdays; all the big names went there and there was nothing much outside of that. There were some Psytrance parties happening that would have Dubstep in a second room.

Evan: But we saw that as an insult to dubstep.

Dave: Yeah, we just wanted to throw a huge party with dubstep at the centre. Actually that was how I first decided to throw a huge dubstep party. I was at a Pystrance party called Overdrive back in May, and they had all the local dubstep DJs like Vilify and Construct in the smaller room. And I thought that it just needed more people and a bigger space.

Evan: And dubstep is a great genre for big spaces. I got into it really because I always want more bass, which dubstep brings.

Dave: It suits him cause he’s our sound-tech. He builds all the speakers for our parties and stuff.

Evan: Yeah all I want to do is build the speakers, hook it up, and do sound check. After sound check I was done, that’s all I wanted!

Steve: So you’re saying that your second party, Bassfest, broke dubstep to a wider audience.

Dave: For sure. It was like we were saying, between us we had friends in the West Island, the plateau, CEGEPs, Universities etc. It was just a crazy mingling of people. Ask anyone in the dubstep community, it had never been like that, some of the hardcore fans didn’t like it being broken out like that, but most people, and the DJs and fans, just thought it was cool that so many people liked the same music as them.

Steve: So with that in mind, what do you think about the dubstep DJs in Montréal? Do you have any particular kind of dubstep that you like to play, because the genre changes so quickly?

Dave: Well firstly I think they’re very good. There are not so many of them, so they tend to work well together and focus on trying to get people dancing, which is what we’re all about. The DJs at our parties have to play something people can dance to. As you know, most of the big Montréal DJs like Vilify, Construct and Wampa play a really dirty type of dubstep, so we save that for the peak of the evenings, and try and get a more pop sound played earlier.

Evan: Which is something someone like Orphan is really good for. [Ed – see comments below for discussion on this]

Dave: And at our next party, Inspector Dubplate from the UK is going to headline it, we’re flying him in especially for the event, and we’re gonna have Risk, who are a live dubstep band, open up for him.

Evan: I wouldn’t say we look for a specific sound, we like everything, and just want to find good DJs. I don’t think it’s a good move to look for a certain sound, because then the party has the same music all night.  We spend a lot of time thinking about the order artists will play in at our parties.

Steve: So finally, tell us about your next party. Why should someone who doesn’t listen to dubstep go to it.

Dave: Okay, our next party will happen on Friday the 5th of November and Inspector Dubplate is going to be the headline act. All I can say to people who might not like dubstep is, look, there are going to be 600 people, from all walks of life, it’s only $15 and BYOB. Come and try it, meet some new people, and try something new, and party till 6 or 7 in the morning!

Dubma$hine is based out of 3810 St-Patrick, Montreal. You can reach them on 514.466.0520 if you’d like to find out more about booking their parties and events. Their next party is this Friday, the 5th of November 2010 at 10pm.

  1. I think this is a beautiful interview CONTINUE CONTINUE CONTINUE

  2. “so we save that for the peak of the evenings, and try and get a more pop sound played earlier.

    Evan: Which is something someone like Orphan is really good for.”

    I’d like to go on the record as saying that I’m in no way limited to a pop sound, and instead what Evan’s trying to express is that I have a grasp on the dynamics of filling a floor, starting a party through the utilization of familiar sound. We had a discussion about this comment as taken out of context it paints in a particular light. I hope I’m not overstepping any boundaries by making this distinction or addendum.

    • not at al! The interview is largely verbatim, and we didn’t really delve into any one sound in particular, it was more focused on Dubma$hine and what they do as a venue and promoters. I think Evan was really enthusiastic about you, and so brought you up as someone who is good at warming people up, especially people who may not be incredibly familiar with the genre.
      Some time in the future we’d love to do a feature on some of the local DJs; talk to them about their sound etc. Maybe that would be a perfect opportunity to talk to you what you think you bring to the Montréal scene, and move the focus towards the DJ side of things? If you’re interested, please do contact us.

  3. Long live DubMa$hine!!<3

    Ps. Hi Steve.

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