Interview by Sarah Ferguson for Northern Transmissions
Arthur Oskan continues to deepen the nature of techno keeping it real, live and direct. Humble and easy to talk to, Arthur shares quiet competence that musically rings true through his characteristically
timeless, soulful techno.
Photo to Andrija Dimitrijevic
Last summer, reviews embraced Arthur’s ‘A Little More Than Everything’ album as classy, deep and danceable. Through his Live P.A. performances, the artist uses hands-on gear like synthesizers and
drum machines, in combination with sequencing software Ableton Live.He creates in the moment beats to please both mind and dancing feet.
From the squash patch at Harvest Festival, down-to-earth Toronto techno producer Arthur Oskan and I talked festivals and Canadian techno.
How did you come to be among the headliners at Harvest Festival in 2011 (with Stereo Hypnosis, Marc Romboy and Osunlade)?
I’ve known Justin (Harvest Fest organizer) for some time and I’ve been a Toronto artist for a while. Basically he asked me around the time that my album ‘A Little More Than Everything’ was released in May. He said “we’d really like you to be one of the headliners at Harvest this year” and I was really honoured. I know how great the parties have been that Justin has thrown over the years and I said, “yes” automatically.
Can you describe your link with the Promise collective?
With Dave and Irving, I’ve done a couple Promise beach parties in Toronto over the years and I’ve really gotten to know them quite well… their whole ethic with throwing parties and the whole communal thing that they have. Basically I knew if they were joining with Justin to throw the Harvest Festival it was only going to be one of the best parties in Canada. It was a no-brainer for me.
In Canada we have a lot of excellent beat-based summer music festivals. Do you think the Canadian element is important to making these events what they have come to be here?
I think so, in a broad sense, but for the most part we have large festivals that we attract international talent with. When they come play here I think some of the Canadian talent has an opportunity to perform with these artists. It gives up and coming artists a little more experience and a little more exposure which is great. As well it sends international artists home going “Wow, Canada really has an incredible body of talent that is worth exploring” and it’s been like that for a while.
Any comparisons you could draw to other festivals around the world?
They all have their own separate feelings, vibes, motives, however you want to say it. The common thread obviously is the music and how it brings people together and basically all festivals have that same feeling.
Your record ‘A Little More Than Everything’ came out on Thoughtless Music. What is Thoughtless doing for techno in Toronto?
Noah Pred has been an incredible force within the last few years.Basically pushing not only myself, and some of the veterans we have in the city, but some up and coming talent and I’m happy to see that kind of changeover in Toronto. We’ve had a lot of people who’ve left Toronto for Berlin and headed over to Europe but I’m finding (especially now in the last five years) there’s been a phenomenal influx of new artists that are coming in. It’s a pleasure to be here to see and watch it, and to see Noah kind of growing those artists; it’s just a fantastic thing to be part of.
Are there other local labels that you look to for inspiration? I draw inspiration for my music from a number of different locations. In terms of labels, with Mat Jonson’s Wagon Repair label (he’s based in Berlin now) and New Kanada, Adam Marshall’s label (he also moved to Berlin a few years back); I think those two labels— particularly where they came in their inception— put out some phenomenal records and that’s something that I am very proud to be Canadian for.
Can you talk about the work you’ve been doing with Fabric in London?
I did an agreement with Fabric Publishing actually to handle the administrative side of my publishing. So they collect on my behalf when it comes to performance and play royalties and stuff. And they’re
also responsible for shopping some of my music for licensing, for sync rights, and for commercial and television placement, and that sort of thing. It was a good opportunity. They approached me a couple years back and it took some time to get the deal done. I think for the long run, once the days have passed when I can perform live all the time, I think it’s a really good opportunity to keep the longevity of my music alive. That was important to me, as I got older.
You’re playing live at the Forest stage tonight at Harvest Festival. How do you think this venue will impact your performance?
Well, look around you. It’s a fantastic environment; the vibe is fantastic here. I don’t know how many hundreds and hundreds of people are here and it’s only the afternoon on Saturday. The more people there are, the more people you get involved with the message you’re trying to convey with your music. You connect with it in a different way, especially with outdoor festivals, it’s a different vibe than in a club and it’s something that I really look forward to.
Sound-wise, what can we expect?
I use a lot of analog equipment, so all I can say is: it’s going to be mellow and twisted but hard at the same time. I leave a lot of stuff to chance because a lot of happy accidents happen out of a lot of
hardware equipment. I’m really looking forward to what those boxes can do tonight.
What is next for you after Harvest?
I’ve got some remixes coming out and I have another 12” on Beretta in Detroit due out in November… and a remix due out on Thoughtless in November as well. In terms of live dates, we are tabling offers; we’re looking at January to March. Right now in December, we’re looking towards Mexico and South America. That will be a lot of fun!