ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Moving the music forward
By Amanda Aitken
Gazette file photos
THAT’S SOME CRAZY SPINNING. DJ Brad Copeland gets his prog-house
There are few men out there today who fit perfectly into the 1950s concept of dreaminess. Brad Copeland, Ottawa-born DJ, promoter and producer extraordinaire, manages to do just that, although his musical exploits can hardly be called antiquated.
Brad is currently at the forefront of the North American progressive house scene, making waves with both his DJing and producing endeavours.
In the days before his Halloween show at Club Phoenix, Brad answered a few of The Gazette's questions regarding his work and the evolution of his career. He describes his introduction to the world of DJing as something that happened by accident, when he was in the midst of plans to move out West.
"My grand plan out of high school was to buy a VW van with my buddy and move to Banff. I almost did that - moved to Banff, but not in a van. Right when I was getting serious about thinking about moving, though, I kind of had dance music land in my lap and I just got a little too caught up in it to leave."
Brad started out with successful residencies at Icon and Atomic nightclubs in Ottawa, moving on to The Well and Surface and most recently, securing a residency at Stereo in Montreal (www.stereo-nightclub.com), where he is also the talent buyer for his Friday night event, "Stereolab."
Over the past several years, Brad's style has developed to include a solid sampling of electronic sounds. He explains he is "definitely very happy" with what he's playing now.
"I'm really feeling a very broad range of music these days. Housey stuff, techno-y stuff, the trancey stuff to some degree still. I feel that playing those longer sets at Stereo has really opened my eyes to a lot of new forms of music."
After several occasions of watching Brad behind the decks, commanding the dance floor with record after record, the question needed to be asked: Is he a good dancer?
"No one has ever accused me of being a good dancer, no," he laughs.
No matter. Like many of the best DJs, Brad is too busy keeping the focus on new music to worry about the other stuff.
"I believe that one of the pillars that dance music was built on was new music," Brad says. "I think that it's a DJ's job to educate while entertaining. I think it's a DJ's responsibility to do that. It's very easy to get up there and play a bunch of cheesy big records that everyone knows, but when you do that you don't do anything to move the music forward, you know?"
Brad is definitely one of those people intent on moving the music forward. When it comes to the age-old DJ dilemma of "vinyl vs. CD-R," Brad says while he is first and foremost a vinyl DJ, "if it means the difference between playing a track now or waiting eight months Ôtil it comes out and everyone's bored of it, I'm all about the CD-R thing."
It's not only his DJ sets that are pushing the progressive house envelope - it's his production efforts as well. When asked what he gets out of producing that he doesn't get out of spinning, he jokes, "lots and lots of fricking grey hair!"
Whether this is true or not, Brad's tracks are currently receiving international play and recognition by the likes of Ministry of Sound and Hybrid, the respected British breakbeat/progressive trio and his latest project, a remix of a Madoka track called "Afterburner," is likely to be received in a similarly positive manner.
DJ Brad Copeland will soon be touring with Sandra Collins to mark the release of her new double album. Dates will be announced on www.bradcopeland.ca.