Q/A with DJ Superstar Tom Stephan

June 27, 2013 in DJs, Events, Words by Mark Vicente


Tom Stephan (aka Superchumbo) is an International DJ with a reputation for sexy, percussive beats. His monthly party DISH at East Bloc continues to rock London, England and he frequently makes his way across the pond for big events like WMC, Black and Blue, Pride and Divers-Cite. Check out what he has to say about his passion for the Art of DJing.

Mark Vicente: what are the qualities of a great Dj?
Tom Stephan: When a dj really loves what they’re playing, you can hear it. Also think it’s so important to be flexible and interactive with the room. Deciding what to play ahead of time might be a helpful guide, but you’ve got to go with the flow or you’re just a mix cd!

Mark Vicente: why is club life/nightlife important in society?
Tom Stephan: I think it’s about escape- the music, the lights, the atmosphere all help to create the fantasy. It’s a place where you can be who you want to be (like Tony in Saturday Night Fever!) It’s also about connection- a shared communal experience. Being in the middle of the dance floor when an entire room of people emotionally reacts to a song is a very powerful experience!

Mark Vicente: what techniques or rituals do you use to keep from being overwhelmed or stressed from the Dj lifestyle?
Tom Stephan: I’m sober!

Mark Vicente: what is one unexpected gift you received from being a Dj
Tom Stephan: Travel. I grew up in a small town of 15,000 people, and I remember arguing with my French teacher about why I should bother to learn another language. I never imagined I would have the chance to see so much of the world, and I’m immensely grateful that I have.

Mark Vicente: what elements of djing continue to inspire you
Tom Stephan: Technology. I have always found technology inspiring and was always looking for new ways to manipulate music. Playing on Traktor now is mindblowing- compared to trying to do live loops with a Jam Man. (Anybody who knows what I mean will know what I’m talking about!)

And most importantly music! I have yet to become bored. There’s ALWAYS new music out there that gets me moving, excites me when I dj, and inspires me to create more myself.

Mark Vicente: what can people expect to experience from a Tom Stephan/ Superchumbo party?
Tom Stephan: Lots of drums and drama- and hopefully a sense that I’m loving every minute!!

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Our latest Q/A DJ Erez Ben Ishay live at Appollon for Grindr Tour

June 25, 2013 in DJs, Events by Mark Vicente

Official Opening DJ for AX Pride Toronto at the Phoenix

June 23, 2013 in DJs, Events by Mark Vicente

AX Pride Toronto 2013

I’m so excited and honoured that I get to be the opening DJ for this Event. Being a part of Toronto Pride is important to me because I spent most of my “coming-out” time living in Toronto. And the fact that I get to share my love and passion with music at this At Asian Express means that I get to be proud of my Filipino heritage as well! What a great way to start the Pride Season. It’s not too late to get your tickets! Go to the FB page for all the details.

DJ Q/A with Erez Ben Ishay

June 22, 2013 in DJs, Events, Words by Mark Vicente

Erez Ben Ishay is one of the hottest Djs in the Gay Circuit Scene right now. Currently on tour with his Grindr show, Erez Ben Ishay will be hitting Appollon tonight in Montreal and will be at FLY in Toronto for Pride the following week. Here’s what he had to say about being a DJ:

MV: What/Who inspired you to become a DJ?
Erez Ben Ishay: Peter Rauhofer of course. I can’t forget the day I saw an article about his first Live@Roxy cd and I didn’t know him back then but something told me I should buy it. That’s what made me fall in love with circuit music.

MV: Can you remember the gig/moment that propelled you from local DJ to International DJ?
Erez Ben Ishay: My first international gig was in one of the best clubs in world! The Week, São Paulo, so I can say for sure it was the point in my career that changed everything.

MV: What is the importance of Club Culture in society?
Erez Ben Ishay: First of all, I think that anything that related to music is important to society. But for me it’s the option to have a place to run from all your daily problems and to have few hours of pure fun with your self and with your friends.

MV: What kind of experience can people expect from an Erez Ben Ishay Party?
Erez Ben Ishay: First people can expect to have updated beats; I’m always in search-mode because I get bored quickly from playing the same tracks. And secondly in today’s gay market you can see lots of Djs playing the same commercial shit and I can’t handle it anymore so that’s why I try to keep the commercial aspect to a minimum as much as possible.

MV: To date, what are you most proud of in your DJ career?
Erez Ben Ishay: I think the fact that I’m the only Israeli DJ that, in almost 4 years has done gigs in more than 40 cities around the world is enough to be of proud no? :)

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DJ Q/A with PHI

June 9, 2013 in DJs, Words by Mark Vicente

PHIPatrick Haggart, goes by the name PHI and is an electronic music producer and founder of PHI Sounds Record Label and PHI Sounds EDU that specializes in music production, in particular, Ableton. Check him out on his links below! Here’s what PHI had to say:

What inspires you about being a DJ / Producer?

What inspires me most about music production in the 21st century is that as an individual, I now have access to tools to fully express myself musically, utilizing the sounds and instruments of the past; yet I am free to create totally new sound textures never heard before. I don’t have to necessarily rely on band members or cultivate an entire orchestra to write and produce music. Although I do appreciate the quality of real instruments and the human element of live recorded instrumental sound, and strive to bring those elements into my music; I’m not limited by it. It’s exciting that I can sit down and quite literally transcribe the music and sounds of my imagination into a song in a matter of hours or days, with little more than headphones and laptop.

Of course after a lot of fine tuning, mixing, mastering and feedback on my work, DJing takes that solitary creative expression of music production to whole other realm, where I am freed up to draw in an audience and share the sounds that I hope will move them. The performer in me, is fascinated with creating a space where dancers can collab with me to create a profound, fun, sexy, healing experience.

What role does club culture have in society?

Club culture is one of the breeding grounds for catharsis. After long days, weeks or stressful lives, I find music venues are places where people go to let go. The club is a place where the rules change from your day to day life. I understand it’s not always like that, but it can be fun to submerge yourself in a totally different sensory environment, and just have fun for a while….Dance, flirt, loose yourself in the music. Personally, I find music can be quite a catalyst for healing, so its quite interesting to see all the different ways we incorporate music into our lives, and even make a ritual out of it socially.

What are the criteria for a great party night?

A good gender balance, great mix of diverse people with good vibes, and great music. Personally a great party for me is when the music is thoughtfully weaved together, moves with the changing moods of the people present and tells a bit of a story. A good DJ set has a beginning, middle and end. Terrible DJ sets tend to focus on each song. Totally pro DJs (in my mind) have a consistency and can with ease move you from one state to another, whether its from relaxed to hype or from hype back to social. I like when an overall theme or storyline binds the whole set together.

What is something amazing about Ableton that most people might not know?

Ooh! If only you knew! Take my Ableton Mastery Program to find out! Ableton is a high quality ‘swiss-army-knife’ of music production (made in Germany). Ableton is a bit of a playground where you can create your own instrument to perform music in your own unique way. In the studio, Ableton has enabled me to add a step in the creative process that was lacking in other softwares. I can use it like a sketch pad in “session view”. It allows me to compose, riffs, beats, rhythms, and melodies; composing a song piece by piece without having to decide right away which piece is going to have to fit where in the overall structure of the song. I can pull together the song structure later on in the process. It’s a non-linear music making game changer in that regard.

Also if you really want to go down the rabbit hole and be a geek about it (I highly recommend you do) explore the integration with MAX/msp programming language. MAX/msp has opened up Ableton to pure infinite potentiality, it allows you to create any instruments you desire, add whatever effects you desire and literally change how Ableton works to fit your own personal needs. It’s somewhat of an ‘open-source’ software.

Why are production schools like PHI Sounds EDU so important to up and coming DJs?

It’s important in today’s music industry to have well-rounded knowledge and not just an aesthetic appreciation of music. Quality performance depends on a thorough grasp of the music your presenting and your instruments. With the increase in access to music and music technology, there is definitely a need for more education. Thorough musical instruction and knowledge of your tools, gives music producers a greater range for self expression. When it comes to music production, you don’t want to be thinking about how you’re going to do something, you need to be able to just play it down. I’ve been building PHI Sounds EDU to share the skills needed to do just that.

I enjoying offering a comprehensive understanding of music to fellow musicians and producers, plus I learn so much as a teacher sharing what I know.



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Interview: DJ Brian Cua

April 12, 2013 in DJs by Mark Vicente


Brian Cua is a respected DJ/Producer based in the Philippines. Thank you Brian for answering my questions about the business. Be sure to check out his beats and also add him on Facebook!

Mark Vicente (M): Who/what inspired you to be a DJ?
Brian Cua (BC): Even as a child, i was already into disco and dance music. In the 80′s i was even more intrigued when i found out what a DJ can do – mix records and keep the dancefloor going. I forgot who were the Dj’s back then – all i remember is how i felt during those times – it was exhilarating to be a slave to the Dj’s beat. In college, i joined a mobile disco group and tried my hand in vinyl mixing but i was so poor at it. Eventually i quit but i got back into it again years later when Traktor came out. It was a weird process – i learned how to DJ first on a laptop, then CDs and finally vinyls. Cocoy Puyat & Travis Monsod – both big DJs in the Manila scene – were my mentors back then.

M: Why is Club life/culture important in society?
BC: I think in every society/culture there’s a need for people to gather, socialize and interact – the club culture provides exactly that. It’s one of the few times that people come together regardless of race, gender or belief. They help shape our modern culture and provide the people a sense of identity. i wish someone would come up a book that narrates Manila’s club culture and how it affected the Philippine society.

M: What is one misconception about being a DJ?
BC: I can list a ton but what i find it sad is that sometimes club goers would assume a DJ is like an iPod – they want to hear what they are used to hearing. I wish they would give more faith to the DJ and educate their ears to new music. Even if a DJs plays all the top40 hits – at least give him/her the courtesy to weave the playlist according to his liking. Also – being a DJ is not easy – even if you’re on a laptop with auto-sync – sometimes it takes more than playing top40 remixes and beatport top 100 stuff – you have to develop a keen music taste that can satisfy all kinds of clubbers, and learning how to read the crowd properly.

M: What do you love to do when not DJing?
BC: When i’m not Djing, i love to travel and see new places. I’d go to a country (other than US or Europe) and learn its music roots, check out their clubs and shows, buy a few CDs of their local sound. Also, i’d use the time to do more remixes and mixsets.

M: There are so many DJs out there today. What makes a DJ great?
BC: A great DJ is a consistent DJ – always playing the right songs at the right moment, can take you on a sonic journey that makes sense, one who can work magic with just the right amount of EQs and effects. A Perfect balance between technical skill and impeccable music taste.


When I grow up and become a famous DJ….

February 7, 2013 in DJs by Mark Vicente

I want to be Honey Dijon

She has so much passion when she DJs and she gives it her all every single night.

Why I like Sander Kleinenberg…

December 21, 2012 in DJs by Mark Vicente

Recently International DJ Sander Kleinenberg posted a pic on his facebook page that put a smile on my face. It was a picture of him spinning with the caption that read “most difficult gig of the year; playing at my daughter’s school.”

I love this for so many reasons. Sander’s sound has been such a huge influence on the electronic music scene for decades now and he practically pioneered the concept of adding Digital Video imagery to his shows around the globe.

I had the privilege of seeing Sander Kleinenberg once in Toronto. What I remember was his energy and passion behind the decks and his love for creating a good party. I am a sucker for a DJ who dances and smiles when he’s playing. That kind of openness and love is what transcends a simple night clubbing into an uplifting experience.

I love this photo because I have this conversation in my head that to be a successful, International DJ like Sander Kleinenberg, you can’t have a “normal” life. That with fame and recognition comes sacrifices and compromises that can’t support a healthy relationship that include family and kids.

This photo completely shatters that illusion. It makes me believe that if you follow your dreams there is no reason why you can’t have it all; you can have a successful night life career AND a happy family-life if that’s what you want. And what I like most about this photo is that whether it’s a gig in one of the most impressive clubs in the world, or his daughter’s class, Sander is still putting his hands in the air and smiling ear to ear. That, to me, is inspiring.