Real Real Hard taps electro music scene

MTV Live's Johnny Hockin brings French electro to London

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Dance Party

RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU WEAR CONVERSE. More Proof hosted its first electro dance event at The Alex P. Keaton two Saturdays ago. 150 people packed the small venue with two hour lineups outside the door.

With the success of DJ powerhouses like Justice and MSTRKRFT, electro music is blowing up around the world. Now, London is joining the underground scene by hosting Real Real Hard, an electro dance party happening this Homecoming weekend.

Brian Wong, event organizer and resident DJ at the new Toronto-based label, More Proof, feels the need to tap into the hidden market of electro-hungry hipsters in London. As a third-year science student at Western, Wong finds the downtown bar scene mundane and struggles to liven up the dance floors by providing something other than the Top 40 songs heard at bars.

“There really isn’t anything like it here,” Wong says. “With most of the bars here, you just go to spend lots of money and get dressed up, which is cool and all, but we’re more about just dancing and having fun. It’s just to provide something different for all the kids who don’t enjoy the bar scene right now.”

Besides music venues like Call The Office and The Alex P. Keaton, there are rarely any bars with electro dance music that fans can enjoy.

“Like Shout Out Out Out Out came, Crystal Castles didn’t show up " and I was really into them " and that whole electro thing didn’t really happen much, so I figured this year I’d do it up right,” Wong says.

As part of More Proof, Wong played a diverse set of tracks from break dancing music to French house mixed with disco and new wave. A lot of his music spawns from Ed Banger Records, home to French electro acts Justice and SebastiAn.

Created by Johnny Hockin from MTV Live and a group of his friends who also DJed around Toronto, More Proof also taps into the “B-more scene,” or Baltimore club, a genre of house and dance music that blends hip-hop to create uptempo mash-ups. Big names like Diplo and A-track, Kanye West’s DJ, all dabble in Baltimore club, sampling everything from Journey to Coldplay.

“There’s a new movement of dance music that’s a mini-hit in the indie scene lately with the French labels coming out like Institubes and Ed Banger with Justice who are kind of a crossover hit the way Daft Punk was two years ago,” Hockin says.

As a self-described music nerd, Hockin’s passion for electro and DJing gained him a spot as an MTV Canada VJ and as well as MTV’s go-to technology specialist. Now he’s used that passion to fuel More Proof and the events he DJs, like Real Real Hard.

“I think dance music now is the perfect venue to bring in the most different styles at once,” Hockin says. “It’s sort of this insane pastiche thing that happens where you know, you’d [make] an old Phil Collins song into a brand new house song and for some reason it totally works out there on the dance floor and in the moment it just feels so right but it’s just such a weird thing ... and it makes it so fun ’cause you can relive old music and new [music] all at once.”

After DJing several More Proof events in downtown Toronto, Hockin is confident electro fans will find their way to them, especially with the presence of networking sites like Facebook and MySpace pushing things over the top.

“I’m just finding that even in situations like London where I’d be skeptical, I’m always pleasantly surprised that there are so many open-minded kids getting into this stuff lately.”

Real Real Hard is happening this Saturday at The Ice Lounge on 194 Dundas St. Advance tickets are available at Echelon downtown.

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