Calvin Pepper gives us the lowdown on his new EP

Calvin Pepper gives us the lowdown on his new EP

Calvin Pepper’s unique Tech House and Techno productions have been released on labels including Frequenza, Unlearn:Records, Natura Viva Black, Panterre Musique, Beat Therapy Records, Space Kraft, Playoff, Neokraft, Winked, Boiler Underground Records and many more. His live sets are high energy, whether playing Tech House, Techno or Deep Tech / Minimal.

With his new EP I Was An Alien / House Controls Your Mind out now, we caught up with Calvin to get the lowdown.

Hi Calvin! Thanks for talking to us, how are you doing

I’m doing well thank you for having me

As we’re right at the start of the year, did you make any resolutions you could share with us?

Honestly, I didn’t actually make any specific resolutions on New Years. So I’ll do that right now. For one, to finish more projects. I’ve developed a bad habit of starting a new track when the one I’m working on isn’t progressing quickly enough. Second one, to enjoy the moment and to be present. I find myself thinking about the future or things that are coming up far too often.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your production work and otherwise, please.

I usually start my morning with a fasted cardio session on my assault bike. I find it wakes me up to get moving as soon as I wake up. It also helps my mental health to feel productive and accomplished to start the day. Next I’ll make breakfast for myself and my dog, Buddy. He gets a mix of chicken, carrots, celery, and a bit of kibble. I usually have 3 over easy eggs, slice of toast and a piece of fruit. Then I’ll either be writing meal plans or workout plans, or training clients. After I’m done with any personal training business I’ll hopefully get my own workout in. In the evening is when the creative juices get flowing and I get in the studio. For whatever reason I rarely feel inspired to work on music during the day. At night it’s all I want to do.

You began your DJing journey after being inspired at a small club. Since then, you’ve made a significant mark on the Toronto scene and beyond. Can you describe how your initial inspiration at that club has influenced your journey and how your style and approach to music have evolved over the years?

That night changed my life. Until then I had only been to top 40 clubs and I wasn’t a fan. Going to my first dance music event completely changed me. Having nothing but positive interactions with every person I met, everyone there just for good music and good people. The next day I was searching on kijiji for a mixer. I ended up getting a traktor controller within a few days. I was 19 years old.

When I first got into dance music I enjoyed some of the big room edm as all of my friends did, but I was drawn to the darker techno early on. I loved house and tech house as well of course, but techno was my favourite. I started out dj ing local bars in Burlington where I live (about 40 minutes from Toronto) playing mostly mainstream dance music and a I’d sneak in a little bit of techno and tech house here and there. Within a couple years I was given the opportunity to play at some Hamilton venues like O lounge and the Underground at Club 77. Shortly after that I got a residency at an after hours club called Vintage, as well as the legendary Comfort Zone. Back then my sets as well as my productions consisted of mostly techno and a bit of tech house. Over the years I’ve started to play and produce more tech house, as I found that techno was getting much faster and changing in a way that I didn’t feel suited my style.

Your live sets are known for their versatility, ranging from dark, heavy techno to groovier tech house, depending on the crowd’s mood. How do you prepare for the diverse demands of a live performance, and how do you ensure that each set remains unique and engaging?

The set time I’m given is always a factor in how I’m going to play. But for each gig I like to have a house, tech house, tech house, must plays, and originals folder. I always like to have a handful of new tracks, as well as finish something of my own for almost every gig. Playing my own unreleased productions is a way of guaranteeing my set is going to be unique.

Lately, you’ve embraced a groovier side with your tech house productions, as seen in your recent tracks and playlists. What has drawn you to this style?

I think it’s just the Toronto sound. There’s so many talented DJ’s / Producers here. Guys like Jayforce, Flipside, Jerome Robins, Tyler Hill, Carlo Lio and Nathan Barato, Joee Cons, Farouki to name a handful. I think they’ve all had a big influence on me and the music I’ve been making.

You’ve just released your new EP. What was the inspiration behind the tracks and what were you trying to bring the listener to experience?

My inspiration for this particular EP was actually Doc Brown’s track “Step Into The Party”. To me that’s just a perfect track. It’s got a great bassline, a wild and hypnotic synth lead and catchy vocals. So I really wanted these tracks to follow that formula and really try to have all three of those elements stand out and shine.

Are there any bits of hard/software that were instrumental in producing this one?

The basslines were made using serum, playing and then quantizing the patterns with an ableton push 2. The main synth in “I Was An Alien” was made with Ana2. And the main synth in “House Controlls Your Mind” was actually just a sample that I pitched and rearranged a bit. The vocals were both just lucky finds in sample packs that I chopped up and played with until I got them to where I wanted.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

The last book I read was actually one that really hit home and stuck with me. It’s called “Veronika Decides To Die” by Paulo Coelho. It’s a story about redemption, a second chance at life, a renewed appreciation for life.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Spending time with friends and family. I think that’s the most important thing in life. I also love watching sports. I played football, basketball and soccer growing up. Unfortunately it was a disaster of a season for my New York Jets. But the Leafs and Raptors are looking pretty good as of late.

What can we expect from you in 2024?

Lots of new music! I think I’ve made some big improvements over the last couple years as a producer. I feel this latest EP on Unlearn really shows the progress I’ve made.

I’m also starting a new residency at a club in Hess village in Hamilton called “Pub 36”. Really looking forward to that.

I Was An Alien / House Controls Your Mind is out now on Unlearn:Records



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