Homegrown Royalty

A Homecoming for DJ Prodigy A-Trak

It’s hard to walk into a club and not hear at least one A-Trak song these days. A Montreal native, the acclaimed DJ has mixed tracks since the age of 13 and achieved the first notch on his belt of awards at 15 – winning The DMC World DJ Championship.

A-Trak has been mastering the turntable artistry and achieving fame all over the world for years. Since his jumpstart into the music industry A-Trak has pioneered a distinct space in the world of electronic music through creating his label Fool’s Gold, sporting a roster of artists such as Kid Cudi, Crookers, Kid Sister, and Ottawa’s Jokers of the Scene.

Recently, A-Trak has wooed the pop charts and club kids worldwide with the song “Barbra Streisand.” With such trailblazing career moves and growing acclaim in the hearts of both pop and electronic music lovers, it’s evident that A-Trak is a force to be reckoned with in the music scene.

Despite international stardom, he’s still a Montreal boy at heart, as this city undeniably had a role in shaping his career. With an older brother already working his way up the ladder in Montreal’s music scene (currently in the synth-pop group Chromeo), it was easy for the child music prodigy to have a firm foothold in the music industry of the city.

Together he and his brother formed the rap group Obscure Disorder and created their label Audio Research, which allowed him to release his own singles. His lesser known work in the Montreal scene is what aided in molding his career as we know it, as it catapulted him into the scene at the young age of 14.

After winning the Montreal DMC championships, James DiSalvio of Bran Van 3000 gave A Trak his first mainstream music collaboration. A Trak scratched the into to the band’s renown single “Drinking in LA” which became a fast hit. If you take a look at the music video, the first shot you’ll see is of the young A-Trak scratching the intro, giving the world a taste of what would later be the driving force behind a new generation of electronic music.

With A-Trak representing his Montreal roots through his music and other collaborations, this city is being put on the musical map and driven into the hearts of every electronic dance music fan out there.

One of the main reasons for A-Trak’s fame is his ingenuity when it comes to mixing and collaborating on songs. With advancements in technology, it has become easy for almost anyone to title themselves a DJ.

“Some Djs just roll out of bed, download some songs and put them on their laptop and call themselves a Dj,”he said. “For others, that’s not the case.” Being one of those Djs that puts time and energy into his mixes, A-Trak has a strong creative process when it comes to his music.

“When I’m working on music [remixes] I will start with an idea in my head, listening to the part that I have for the remix, do the production on whatever parts I want to chop up and use,” said A-Trak. “It’s usually a combination of what I hear in my head and ideas I can get from the other record and then work it with my own idea, to try to accomplish a certain sound.”

For A-Trak, being a DJ is not just about the partying and other benefits of such a career, but the creative aspect of the artistry itself.

Now, many would query whether this musical integrity was sacrificed at all during the time that he worked for the infamous Kanye West. Having a striking contrast in demographics attending his shows in comparison to those strictly for A-Trak, working with Kanye was an “important experience” for the Montrealer which allowed him to grow and adapt as an artist.

“Working with Kanye was a very important experience for me on many levels… I had to adapt, as I went from touring [my] music at gigs for an audience that new about turntables so I could do things that were really specialized and they would get it….and then to playing for Kanye West shows for people who were just MTV Kids,” he said. “I had to bring them into my world more.”

A-Trak was inspired by Kanye’s ability to “make something artistically obscure and make it acceptable to any kind of audience without compromising himself,” he said.

This learning experience allowed him to plunge head first into the world of mainstream music, opening many doors that would make A-Trak a household name for those in tune with the music of today.

On Saturday A-Trak will be sparking up the Montreal leg of his Magic 8 Ball tour with fellow Fool’s Gold labelmates Kid Sister and The Gaslamp Killer. After getting such mainstream recognition through his hit single “Barbra Streisand,” his upcoming show will be bound to cause a fury of fans in its attendance and days of exctatic hype.

Montreal’s musical royalty will be returning for some hometown glory, with a new sense of musical creation and electronic flavor to throw into the mix of classic A-Trak style that derives from years of international touring, musical collaboration and building upon his innate artistic talent.

What should fans expect? According to A-Trak, the show is going to be “completely unlike any A Trakshow you’ve seen before…[with a] whole new stage show to it, it looks different than any show done before…it is a full experience.”

A-Trak will be back and ready to attack Montreal in full force, showing that DJs are truly the new rockstars.

A-Trak / May 21 / Theatre Telus (1280 Rue St-Denis) / 9:00pm

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