Deconstructing the DJ: Interview with Construct

DJ Construct. Montreal DJ Construct. Motnreal

Construct routinely is voted one of the best DJs in Montreal and this reputation is well deserved for his innovative combos of deep bass with electronica, hip hop, and groove. He’s shared the stage with DJs Shadow, Skream, Poirier, a myriad of others, and this weekend, Gaslamp Killer. In addition to being completely attuned to his audience on the floor, he also founded popular website HighOnBeats and has a monthly radio show on SUB.FM. This powerhouse of DJing and high energy mover and shaker talked to us about his start as a DJ in Halifax and some of the highlights of his career.

 

Construct gives props to the friends who helped launch his career in Halifax. “I made friends with Mark Harmsworth and we started throwing drum and bass at parties. Then myself, Marc, and our friend Ben, together we started throwing these weeklies. We also met Vilify. I also got started because I was a graphic designer and they needed posters and flyers. I slowly got involved. At house parties, my friends got tired of playing records at 4-5 a.m., and I’d come in. Two years later, I was in Montreal.”

The move to Montreal was a natural one for Construct when he finished his degree. He wanted to be part of a larger art community and to have more experiences. As a francophone, Montreal was a “natural step.”

Helping Vilify out with Bass Drives helped him immerse immediately. “A lot of it was being in the right place at the right time,” he says. He had started the podcast and website while still in Halifax, which gave Construct both connections and exposure. “I had a base of friends in Montreal and that made the process warmer, friendly.” In fact, he says that even the first night he arrived with his U-Haul, “I got into a cab and played a rave at a rooftop thing.”

High on Beats logo

High on Beats logo

Construct’s website High on Beats evolved out of J’aime le Dubstep, initially a bass music website. The name change was inevitable. Though he began the website focused on dubstep, he was aware that “the name pigeonholed us and the kind of music we liked to cover.” Over time, as his interests changed and the website grew, “Our love extended further than what dubstep could capture. It was getting really angry and heavy. It was a pissing contest between producers who could make the loudest fart noise. So High on Beats emerged from that. It was the production name that Vilify and I used when we lived in Halifax. We were proud of being there for the music and not for the drugs.”

High on Beats has only grown since inception. “Fast forward now,” says Construct. “There are 20 plus writers, some in the States. The head editor is in NYC, another in London, and the big part of the crew is in Montreal and Halifax. It’s all my homies and other people along the way. There are some up and coming young kids.” Construct has largely taken on an administrative role, though when it started, he notes that he wrote most of the content. “Now I sit back and experience it as a viewer,” he says. “It’s a great ongoing process and picking up momentum all the time.”

Le Belmont. Photo Rachel Levine.

Le Belmont. Photo Rachel Levine.

DJing is certainly one of Construct’s loves. He rattles off his favorite place to play in the city without skipping a beat: The Belmont. “That’s my home. That’s my house.” He praises the staff and the promoters. He also has high praise for Piknic Electronik. “It’s one of the best curated events production-wise. They’re the best in the city. They look at so many details and they treat you very well as an artist.”

Construct Piknic

Construct Piknic Eletronik

His most memorable moment, though, was at Osheaga. “I had fireworks going off during my set. That’s a hard one to beat.” And though he doesn’t focus on disastrous moments, he notes that when the sound cut out during his set at the Evolve festival, the upside was all the notoriety. “People were saying Construct destroyed the system.”

Construct likes playing the festivals and he gives props to an independent one called Valhalla Sound Circus. “I wholeheartedly support that thing. I love their spirit and they’re independent. There are no corporate sponsors. They do it for the right reasons – not fame or glory. It might be a bit of chin-stroking mentality for some, but they have a love of music and love to see people unite together. These guys are genuine and they work hard throughout the year. They’re not the only ones, but I know how hard working they are and how much they deserve it.”

 

One of the best things for Construct has been being able to play with all his DJ heroes. “DJ Shadow,” he says when asked who topped the list. “Gaslight Killer, who I’m playing with, is #2 on the list. I’m super excited for that. There are so many.”

With festival season arriving, I asked him what he’s been into right now. “BoeBoe from the Netherlands. It’s obscure instrumental hip hop with a more minimal type of approach to making beats right now. Also, Saturate Records is a big source for my music, a new label. Doshy is another one that I play a lot.”

 

One thing Construct has discovered is that the more one gives to the art, the more it gives back. “I’m not a producer, I’m a dj. I do radio shows. I do a podcast. I do a website. I do events and stuff. That’s a whole portfolio of different skills. You have to put yourself into it and work for it. All of these tools I built around me cater to my DJ sets and put fuel into my machine which is Construct. I wouldn’t be where I am now or as strong as I am as a DJ without all of it.”

Beaux Degats

Beaux Degats

One last thing he wants to mention is Beaux Degats, an event where he curates DJs at Foufones Electrique. “The second anniversary is May 28th,” he says. “I like to be involved in the art world. Artists have two hours to paint live in front of everyone on these huge mural spaces and we pick a winner.”

 

Construct and Henward open for Gaslamp Killer at the SAT (1201 St. Laurent) on May 17. 10 p.m. $27. His monthly podcast is the fourth Monday of every month on Sub.fm. The next Beaux Degats event is May 28 at Foufounes Electriques (87 Ste Catherine E) 7 p.m.

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