As they get set for their Exit Festival appearance on Sunday 15th July, we catch up with Canada’s Art Department. Now part of the Crosstown Rebels gang, Art Department is Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White, two DJ/producers who between them have released some great music in their long-standing careers, particularly on Kenny’s Method 11/11 label and Jonny’s No. 19 label.
Tell us a little about yourselves, and the type of music that you play for people who may not of heard of you before reading this.
My name is Jonny White and I'm an alcoholic. Kenny Glasgow and I are both from Toronto, Canada. I'm currently living between Toronto and Barcelona, Kenny between Toronto and London. We've both been DJs for quite a long time, Kenny 20 plus years and I'm approaching 15 behind the decks. I started writing music about six years ago, Kenny's been writing for over 10, but was on "vacation" until I asked him to write an album for No.19 music about four years ago. As a younger DJ coming up in Toronto I can tell you from an outside perspective that Kenny was the most respected underground DJ in Toronto for ages and was actually quite successful internationally on his own about a decade ago when he was working with Tiga's Turbo label. Although I've been playing music for 15 years, I only just made music my soul focus within the last seven years.
How did you meet Damian Lazzarus and the Crosstown crew? How instrumental was that connection to the success of the Art Department project?
We actually met when I picked him up at the airport some six years ago to play a Canada Day event for my crew back in Toronto. We were doing a really small weekly Thursday night at a venue on College St and picked up the booking after the club he was meant to play had their sound repo'd. Imagine it hadn't gone down that way and we didn't cross paths… forward to four years later, with countless shows, festivals and after-parties together, we're now good friends and Damian's asked us to partner up and do a remix job for Crosstown which more or less lead to Kenny and I writing together for the first time. The success of this project is undoubtedly in part due to launching it on Crosstown. I don't doubt that we could have done similar damage debuting on No.19 but the stars were really aligned for Crosstown that year with Deniz's and Maceo's debut albums all coming out around the same time as ours.
How have the worldwide Social Experiment parties been received?
The events have been amazing! I've been blown away by all of them. They're all sold out shows and the events are really attracting the "right people". We started off the year with one @BPM in playa Del Carmen on the beach with about 2500 people and it’s been full steam ahead with these shows since. WMC in Miami, Chicago, Toronto, NY, San Fran, Manchester, Italy, Switzerland and looking forward to our show during Sonar in my home town with Konrad Black, Deniz Kurtel, Nitin, Russ Yallop, Miguel Puente and the rest of the No.19 family. That’s one of our main focuses this year. You can come up with all kinds of creative and interesting ways to present your product and relay the ideas and the vibe behind the label but there is no substitute for having the heart of your label, the artists, get together and play for people. Nothing can portray what we're all about and the energy and passion that’s driving the label the way a live event can.
How do you adapt your sound from clubs to festivals and what can fans expect from your set at EXIT?
We play really, really loud.
What are your feelings on the growth and commercialization of dance music in America?
I think there are obviously positives and negatives to what’s happening in America. It's great to see the music crossover and reach a bigger audience. It seems it was almost an overnight tipping point into America as far as how quickly it's become part of popular culture, even though house music's beginnings were in the States. You can look at it from several perspectives, being part of the underground and not necessarily being able to really relate to the type of dance music that people associate with this phenomenon. One perspective would be that it’s moving in the wrong direction and what the kids consider to be dance music today, the Skrilex's and Swedish House Mafia’s isn't "real" house or dance music, get angry about it and keep your distance. I think that although I don't consider our music to have anything in common with what they're doing, a lot of people are being introduced to EDM through that shit, and if it’s growth and acceptance into the mainstream means that there are more opportunities for us to play our music in the States then it’s a positive. We do what we do, and make the music that we make regardless of what’s going on, and if we're able to reach more people now because of what’s going on then I'm cool with the direction things are heading in…
Team Sneak or Team Angello?
What does the future hold for Art Department
We've been planning to make the move to a live performance for some time, that’s always been the plan but we've been touring too hard since we started this thing to put it together. There are always too many shows, too much travel, remixes to deliver and fun to be had, so it's been put on the backburner. We've decided to start working on our next full length album and we'll likely be writing with the idea that the music should be performed live this time around. We've got quite a bit of music coming out in coming months though… Jamie Jones & Art Department 'Our Time In Liberty’ (single on Crosstown Rebels), Storm Queen ‘Look Right Through (Art Department remix) (Defected), two new Art Department singles on No.19 Music, one being a collab with Konrad Black as well as the next mix compilation in the SOCIALEXPERIMENT series on No.19.