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The last 18 months have been nothing short of a whirlwind for Toronto-resident Dustin Nantais. With over 10 EP releases on labels around the world, over 25 original tracks, and 5 compilation singles spanning everything from tech-house, progressive, deep house and nu-disco; to say Dustin's been productive would be an understatement. Pair that with a calendar at venues in both Canada and the UK, you could say things are looking up.

From humble beginnings as a guitarist and bassist in punk and pop rock bands in the 90s, Dustin fell in love with house and progressive in the early 2000s. With early influences like John Acquaviva, Sasha & Digweed, Danny Tenaglia and DJ Vibe, the deep and funky sound was instilled in Dustin from the start. It didn't take long for Dustin to start to appear in some of Toronto's hottest clubs as a DJ, cutting his teeth alongside local legends.

After many years honing his skills, his live performances are quickly becoming a crowd favourite, with a signature, tightly-layered, big and deep sound.

You’ll be hard pressed to find someone as passionate and enthusiastic as Dustin. His positivity is infectious and he’s thankfully transmitting it to the world through his music. It’s in your best interest to stay on top of his funky treats, because Dustin Nantais tunes are the definition of fresh beats.


Dustin Nantais - Interview (December 2013)

Hey Dustin, How are you doing? how's your music going? We've heard a lot of music being released by you.  Tell us what's going on.

Things are really great. Over the summer and fall 2013 I’ve been focusing on a few new techniques in the studio, and playing out a lot more. It’s really great to play unreleased material for a new crowd each week, there’s a real sense of satisfaction there.

I’ve also been lucky enough to collaborate with a number of really talented producers from Canada, Australia, the US and UK. It really was an incredible summer here in Toronto, and the next few months are looking promising.

We have heard some of your un-released tracks coming out soon on Trojan House Records, can you give us a run-down of what we can expect to hear?

Yes, Trojan House signed a few of my favourite productions over the past few months and I’ve really been looking forward to getting them out there into people’s hands. ‘Throwing Under’ is a summer jam, with influences from Sean Miller and tribal club days 10 years ago in Toronto.

‘Arm Bar’ has a deep Sasha-esque feel, and ‘Hawthorne’ a deep fat synth jam with some great vocal samples. There are also some really incredible remixes of these tracks that I can’t wait to see out there.

Your style isn't limited to one particular sound when you produce music - your sound draws from a wider range of house sub genres, is this an aim of yours to not be pigeonholed?

When I started producing I really noticed a big range in genres I was producing. I think you can really see evidence of this scanning my back catalogue of releases. I’ve always felt that when you produce you should just let whatever comes out take over. That said, I do draw on a wide range of influences.

One consistent theme in my music is that it needs a soul. Melody and harmony are really important to me. I don’t think I ever had a specific strategy to avoid being ‘pigeonholed’, but it seems to have worked out that way.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I have a very wide range of influences; classic house, deep house, techno, nu-disco, and even stuff like trip-hop and classic jazz. You can find me listening to everything from Lars Berenroth’s ‘Deeper Shades Of House’ podcast, to a cocktail jazz station on Songza while I cook, to Desert Sunset type trip-hop like Massive Attack and Bonobo.

What gear is in your studio, what cant you live without?

I absolutely cannot live with my 15” MacBook Retina, Ableton Live 9 and my Ableton Push. I use this trio for both producing and live performances. I used to have a much more substantial studio with keyboards and LCD monitors aplenty.

I’ve realized this stuff really isn’t necessary and shrunk my studio down to these 3 items, along with a 6-channel mixer, KRK studio monitors and subwoofer, and a pair of Audio-Technica M50 headphones. I made the switch to Ableton for live performance about 2 years ago and haven ’t looked back. This allows me to mash, layer and remix on the fly, it’s really completely changed the way I look, and feel, about performing.

Can you tell us some of the process you go through when working on a new track or a remix?

I usually always start with beat creation. This will form the groove I use to build out the bass line and various other synth sounds. On occasion I’ll start with a groovy synth or music sample, but usually I’ll just use this for inspiration to kick-start the track. I’ll then spend some time getting the volume and sound quality right for each channel, using compressors, reverb, delays and other effects.

I really tend to focus on getting the sound quality right before actually programming the track. I’ve been really happy with the Waves plugins for compression, reverb and delay, and the Arturia suite of synths. I haven’t found anything better sounding than this combo. Other great plugins I use are Rob Papen’s Predator, NI Massive on occasion, and Sylenth.

Any secret tips for up-and-coming producers out there?

My biggest piece of advice is to just let your creativity flow naturally. Don’t sit there and try to reproduce another sound, be original. Copying other’s sounds is really going to stunt your growth as a producer in my opinion. Also, and likely just as important, get really comfortable with your software, whether it be Logic, Ableton or Cubase. This is your creative interface and the more comfortable you are with it the easier it will be to translate ideas into masterpieces.

You recently took a trip to the UK, did you play any gigs over there?

It was actually a dual-purpose trip. I have some friends over in Manchester that booked me for a gig there, that ended up being 3 gigs over a weekend. It was really something to play for that crowd; they go pretty hard in Manchester. I also took a trip to through London, which included popping into the legendary Fabric for a night of shaking ass, Paris and Amsterdam.

Overall it was a pretty surreal trip and I look forward to more international gigs. I really hope to make it down to Trojan House HQ in Australia in the next year or so to play a couple gigs with other THR artists.

For your DJ sets, are you more of a planner or play on the fly and read your crowd?

Having a DJ rig that consists of Ableton Live and an Ableton Push really requires that you do a little set up prior to a gig. I’ll usually import all my latest tracks, originals and purchased from Beatport, and set up looping and cue points. I put a lot of effort into key matching and layering of elements for my sets. I try for the cleanest and smoothest mixes and mashups when I perform. I’ ll use all 4-channels when I perform with Ableton.

That said I do play gigs with a couple CDJ-2000s and a USB key, at which point I’m really feeling out the crowd. It really depends on the gig I’m booked for. Although I think beat matching is so easy a monkey can do it and really isn’t necessary to perform, I believe it’s important for DJs to have intimate knowledge of how to do it. In my opinion the real challenge for DJs these days is layering, key matching and remixing on the fly, not beat matching.

Which artists are you really into at the moment?

I’ve really been following Guy J, Hot Since 82, Maya Jane Coles, Sasha and John Digweed as of late; all of them geniuses in their own right. I was lucky enough to play with Guy J last year, which was a really great experience. Of course I follow a huge range of producers, but I always end up back at these guys for the past while. Sasha and Digweed have been a constant in my musical career.

Lastly, what is one of your favourite tracks of all time?

That is a nearly impossible question to answer. Let me name 2 tracks that really stand out for me, one very old and one very new.

From Sasha & Digweed’s Essential Mix in 2002, the Delta Heavy Tour, Schumel Flash - Chilling Moments. ¬†This set/track came out around the time I was just entering the electronic scene and really formed the basis for my love of deep progressive house. Every time I hear it (and most of the rest of that set) I am taken back to being strung out at 7am dancing to Sasha at The Guvernment.

In the last year Hot Since 82 has really taken me on a trip. The moment I heard Carl Cox drop Shadow Child - So High (Hot Since 82 Remix) at Kool Beach at BPM Festival 2013 I’ve been a huge HS82 fan. A truly evil and bangin’ track; it’s just plain groovy as hell. Just about everything he’s put out since then has been incredible.

Dustin Nantais December 2013 Resident Advisor Top 10

1. Antonio Olivieri - Dynamo

2. Monika Kruse - One Love (Nick Curly Remix)
3. Omid 16B - Escape (Driving To Heaven Betoko Remix)
4. Maxxi Soundsystem, Name One - One In Three
5. Vanilla Ace - I Can Ride
6. The Bay 6 (Pt. 2) - Davi
7. Los Suruba - Ratapiel
8. Full Intention - Madness
9. Full Intention - Get The Money Right
10. Noir & Sandy Rivera - SOTOM (Jimpster Remix)