WE DON'T BUILD SPACESHIPS. WE ARE SPACESHIPS.

deadbeat

DATE:MARCH 27TH, 2014

Deadbeat is Scott Monteith, an adopted Montrealer who has been releasing his own special blend of dub laden, minimal electronics since 2000 for labels such as Cynosure, Intr_version, Revolver, and Scape. Monteith has performed at some of the world’s most respected festivals, including Barcelona’s Sonar, Berlin’s Transmediale, and Montreal’s Mutek festival.

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Deadbeat is Scott Monteith, an adopted Montrealer who has been releasing his own special blend of dub laden, minimal electronics since 2000 for labels such as Cynosure, Intr_version, Revolver, and Scape. Monteith has performed at some of the world’s most respected festivals, including Barcelona’s Sonar, Berlin’s Transmediale, and Montreal’s Mutek festival.

From 1999 to late 2003, Scott worked, assuming various roles, for the Montreal based company Applied Acoustics Systems, makers of the Tassman Software Synthesizer. Having now moved on to pursue his own musical efforts full time, the experience has left him with a passion for the development of new creative interfaces, and a strong grasp of some the most cutting edge technology in the industry. His most recent release in the first week of March is an eight-track LP, The Infinity Dub Sessions, with Paul St. Hilaire, has been described as “militant, poetic, fierce and flowing”. Monteith spoke with us ahead of his set at Eden this weekend to discuss growing up in suburban Canada, his friendship with Mike Shannon (another Eden Festival fixture) and the Vampire of Mumbai…

Can you describe dub techno to someone who has no idea about the genre?

The consummate dub techno track starts with the pursuit of the perfect groove, a loop you can listen to over and over again for hours without ever getting bored. The great dub techno tracks are then created when the producer forgoes any inclination to change the rhythmic or melodic structure and instead begins exploring changing the very air in he room within which said loop is being played. Great dub techno is weather magic; pressure, humidity, calm, and impending hurricane ad infinitum.

You were there at the night when Ritchie Hawtin played Plastikman live for the first time. What do you remember about that night and did that experience impact you and your taste musically as well?

It changed everything really and anyone who was in that room that night who tries to tell you differently is either lying or was too fucked up to realise what was going on. It’s not so surprising in retrospect though. Richie is one of the true visionaries this scene has produced. The big difference with him is he has always had the foresight to surround himself with the best people, the exact people necessary in fact, to fester those fleeting visions into fact. He is still someone I look up to hugely.

You wrote a tune Third Quarter (The Vampire of Mumbai) not long after your gig in the city. Where does the title and song come from?

The Third Quarter intro is all samples from the streets in Mumbai, hence the title. I was totally and utterly floored by my time there four years ago (has it been that long?!). The gig was great, I met some of the nicest and best people I have ever met, ate the best food, saw some of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises I have ever laid eyes on, just thinking about being back there in a couple days fills me with joy and excitement!

Your earliest experiences with live music were in church where your father is a United Church minister. Can you describe what it was like growing up with that and how much of the culture influenced you?

I would hesitate to describe any strain of Christianity, or any other religious doctrine for that matter, as progressive truthfully. Weighed against the more conservative and just plain bat shit crazy strains of Jesus freaks, then the United Church in Canada certainly seems slightly more in tune with the modern world. Their ordination of gay and lesbian ministers would be one good example of this. That said, they like any other church has a long history of institutionalised abuse of aboriginal peoples and children who were in their care, and while they have tried to come to terms with this and have had fairly open dialogue with a variety of first nations in Canada, the damage done at the time and the continued repercussions of it on native communities and the individual victims deserves much more than anything they’ve provided.

These kind of contradictions go a long way to illustrating what my experience of growing up with that in the background were like. I had many great experiences being involved in the church-sponsored youth movements for some years. The various symposiums and youth forums I attended were a crucial part of forming my early political views, and I met a lot of great people at those events. I also encountered a great deal of hypocrisy and a strong tendency to answer difficult questions with maddening clichés, “God works in mysterious ways”, etc.

I am thankful to have been introduced to the joy of making music with others and being given the aforementioned political/ critical thinking skills. That said I would consider myself a staunch man of science at this point when it comes to the biggest questions out there, and would never consider raising my daughter within the confines of any religious doctrine. Blind faith in anything is inherently dangerous, and being surround by nice people who share that blindness doesn’t make it any less so.

 

What was it like dividing time between rural Quebec and Kitchener? You’ve said that Richmond in Quebec was a pretty dire place to be in.

I met a lot of good people in Richmond and a lot of good people in Kitchener, but to be frank they were both quite dire places to live but in very different ways. Richmond was a failed industrial town with all of the colloquialisms of small-town Quebec life. Language was the basis for a great deal of hatred and division even in middle school, and alternatives to the models of what made a strong man beyond how big his truck was, how loud he played Lynard Skynard out of it, and how many Wild Cat beers he could shotgun and still drive were few and far between.

I played a lot of basketball there, very intensely and seriously in fact, until I broke my leg when I was 14 and laid in bed for a year and a half. This was both a bane and a blessing as I suffered greatly from bullying there to such a degree that I feigned migraine headaches so as not to have to go to school for months before that. As such, having a real excuse to stay home and order tapes from Columbia music house and read the books of my choosing was pretty great despite the physical inconvenience. Needless to say I was over the moon when it was decided we were moving back to Kitchener.

My first impressions there were that we had arrived in paradise. More than any other place I met some of my nearest and dearest friends there, Mike Shannon being a great example, and experienced a proper North American suburban upbringing. Suburban is a key word here though. When you have a lot of families who move into quiet communities on the outskirts of cities because they fear for their children’s well being in the big city but also wish them a more cultured existence than the rustic experience of small town farm life, what you end up with is a cloistered, cookie cutter, row house nightmare with literally nothing for teenagers to do except play sports, or hide amongst the trees in the perfectly manicured parks and do drugs. Naturally, for better or worse, I chose the latter.

 

What was your band Lucidity all about? You got into a lot of skate punk in your early teens, at what point did you split and get into the electronic music scene? Or was that simultaneous.

The skate punk stuff started very early, during the fake migraine period back in Richmond and ordering tapes of the Misfits, Minor Threat, UK Subs, etc from said tape club. All those orders were based on nothing more than seeing cool ads in Thrasher and Trans-World Skateboarding magazines, and if ever something good came out of targeted advertising, I would say me finding that music because those bands had cool graphics and covers is as good an example as any. By the time I got to Kitchener, that was almost at an end.

I moved there when I was 16 and met the other guys in Lucidity almost right after arriving. That band and those guys were pure love and magic for me. Before I arrived, they were a quartet with no bass player. After we had hung out for a few weeks, it was decided that I would be said bass player. I was broke and my family was poor and as such it was decided that they would all chip in to buy me a bass and a lovely ‘60s Traynor head and small cab. We played every weekend in the guitarist Dave’s basement at his mom’s house.

We’d smoke a ton of weed, ate lots of acid and challenged our perceptions of music, life and everything together for a very happy two or three years. We also fought, had age appropriately awkward relations with each others boys and girlfriends, and sadly as my drug use at the time got out of control – stole, lied and said horrible things to one another before the entire thing imploded. I can’t thank those guys enough for what they gave me, and can’t apologise enough for what I took from them without proper thanks or apology for the worst of it. As far as teenage acid rock bands go with true poet singers, we were well up there with the best of them.

You started DJing mostly ambient music /dubby techno almost exclusively, was there an audience for the music? Did you and Mike (Shannon) who was also in Kitchener know and spend a good deal of time together growing up? Do you remember your first DJ gig at Mike’s house?

Mike and I became very close friends very soon after the band stuff stopped. I had started going to raves regularly in Toronto and he was already very entrenched in that scene. I’m not sure exactly but I think he had his first real gig at 13 or something ridiculous like that. Anyone who has heard him play and cares to listen can hear those years in his mixing though. He plays with a assuredness you only find in DJs who have seen thousands of dancefloors, the Francois Ks and Jeff Mills of the world.

We became very fast friends and have been though an insane amount of stuff together over the years, more than any two people should ever be probably, but we’re still here, and in a large part for the simple fact that we went through it together. We spent a lot of time at his house when we should have been in school, playing music and video games. He had legendary parties at his house. At one of those a good friend of ours Neil Ramsay handed me a box of ambient records and sent me up to play them in Mike’s room. I played for 4 hours straight and decided I never wanted to do anything else again for as long as I lived.

You ran a dub/reggae night with Mossman in Montreal who seems like the foremost practitioner/historian/scene figure of the genre in Canada. Was it particularly interesting for you to do those nights with him?

Moss is a dear friend and his vast knowledge of Jamaican music and all he has shared with me over the years can really not be over stated. His turning me on to the crack-like addiction of acquiring original press Jamaican “7s has also cost me dearly! The next Deadbeat album whenever it comes out will be the 10th and drawing a literal line back to Jamaica for that release is something I have been talking to him a lot about for many years. He will definitely be playing a big part in realising that dream for me.

Is there something in the water at Montreal that consistently produces such incredible artists? Do you think the long winters have anything to do with it?

For sure. That, the good drugs, and the insanely hot girls, Mutek should probably get a mention in there too, they’ve done a few things to help us all along over the years.

After your move to Berlin, do you feel the pressure to produce more dance floor friendly? There is a big Canadian contingent in the city with Mathew, Nathan, Mike, Colin, and Sheldon.

I’ve always produced what felt right at the time, sometimes that has ended up sounding like techno, sometimes white boy reggae, other times just pure drones and beautiful noise… and I guess that’s it really. This city is all about beautiful noise, and I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so many people who contribute to that, and beyond lucky to have so many brave friends around the world who are willing to risk having me come and unleash my humble contributions to that beautiful noise on their friends and loyal customers. Though I started this whole thing saying I was a man of science, in the end I guess the simplest way of saying it is I feel very blessed.

Article written by Kenneth Lobo