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Five Minutes with Nautiluss at Foundry

Last weekend, XLR8R made the trek to Toronto to check out a couple of installments of the city's newly launched Foundry event series. Both nights included plenty of highlights—go here to check out our comprehensive review of the festivities—but one of the standout performances undoubtedly came from Toronto's own Nautiluss (a.k.a. Graham Bertie), who DJed a special back-to-back set with fellow local Kevin McPhee. In the aftermath of the party, we caught up with Bertie for a quick interview, who candidly shared his thoughts on Foundry, the state of Toronto's electronic music scene, and his plans for the year ahead.

XLR8R: How was your experience playing at Foundry?
Nautiluss: I really enjoyed myself. I'm glad Kevin agreed to do the B2B with me because we did it once last summer and it was really fun, but it was a dead room—there were, like, 10 people. But we said, "Hey, this is pretty fun. We should do it again," so it just really worked out that [Foundry] booked both of us. When you're playing with somebody else, it sort of forces you to step your game up, because while the other guy is on, you're [thinking], "What am I going to put on next?" But you also have the dynamic of following up whatever song they finish with—you don't want to completely jump the shark. It's cool. I haven't really done it much, but it was interesting. It was [also] great to play with Martyn, and [BLK BOX] is one of the only legitimate venues in Toronto for bassy music. The space is kind of perfect, the visuals were really awesome, and there was a good crowd. [There were] pretty much all the ingredients for a good party.

Do you feel like Foundry is bringing something new to Toronto?
I think they definitely did a good job with the bookings. [The series is] trying to educate a younger audience about good producers and DJs that they should know about. I think that there's a lack of that here, because a lot of these artists don't really generate huge profits, so the bigger promoters tend to ignore them. I [also] think it was good to just have it all compacted into a month. These [kinds of] parties were happening sporadically [before], but there are only a couple of venues that would work with these artists, and some of those venues are not the most welcoming places. So, I think it was good overall.

It seems like a lot of house and techno talent has been popping up in Toronto over the past couple of years. At the same time, Toronto doesn't have a reputation as a great party city. Why do you think this is?
Living here, between the cost of living and a bit of a lack of a party atmosphere, it sort of forces [artists] to really hustle and work hard to break out [beyond the local scene]. We don't really have a support system here, so it sort of forces you to go on a more international scale to survive. There is definitely a difference between the sheer amount of talent here versus the support for it.

This is a pretty common problem in North America, but the fact that the bars close at two o'clock, and people only go out at 12:30 means that there's not much time for things to pop off. What I don't understand is that this past weekend [during Foundry], there was an extended license until four a.m. So it's clear that [the city] can do it, but it's like a cash grab, where they only do it for festivals. Why don't they just keep it open until four every weekend? I can't really think of any negative effects of having it open later. It makes money for the bars, and people definitely loosen up after two. Every time I've played an afterparty here, it's always been really fun, because people forget about, like, what shoes people are wearing or [they stop thinking], "I hope this person doesn't watch me dance." They kind of let go. That's the biggest hurdle, I think—aside from the lack of good small and mid-size venues.

You had a pretty busy 2012 with Nautiluss. What do you have coming up in the year ahead?
There's definitely going to be another Turbo record, probably by the summer. I've got a couple of other records that are almost ready to go, so there is going to be another couple of two- to three-song EPs. I really don't want to rush records out, because I feel like I've tried to keep my stuff as non-disposable [as possible]. I don't want to lower the bar just to keep my output really high. So, the records will come out when it's right. Aside from that, I'm just trying to actually get out there and play more.

You're going to Europe this week?
Yeah, I'm doing my second gig at Panorama Bar; this time, I'm doing a live set. I'm [also] playing at Machine du Moulin Rouge in Paris with a pretty stacked line-up. I:Cube is doing a live set, [plus] Barker & Baumecker, Joakim, and South London Ordnance, who is playing with me [in the second room]. I'm also playing Milan, which will be my first gig in Italy.

Canadian electronic artists have a long history of leaving Canada. Do you ever get tempted to move?
Yeah, it's kind of inevitable. Again, the support isn't here—not just in Toronto, but in Canada in general. We're not really making music that's relevant to bigger audiences. It's kind of weird to watch the whole EDM craze, because there's no spillover effect. I keep hoping that it's going to translate at some point, and people will [realize] that there's some deeper stuff going on. I guess I have seen a little bit of it, [and] I think it's going to get better, but at this point, it's expensive to live here. Traveling anywhere is generally between 700 to 1000 dollars, whether it's Europe or Western Canada or the States. We pretty much get killed on flights right off the bat, so actually making any money is not [easy]. I definitely have been contemplating Berlin, for obvious reasons, and I think I will be doing that, but more on a part-time basis.

Over the past five years, you've done several projects and your sound has evolved a lot. With Nautiluss, do you feel like you've settled into something more permanent?
I kind of like the idea of having different projects for different parts of my creative process, [but] I think I've become comfortable with having narrowed it down to a hybrid. [Listening to my music,] there's [stuff] you can dance to that's influenced by house, techno, and the whole history of the UK. I also listen to a lot of rap music and stuff with swing, so that factors in. But there's so much room to work within all of those parameters that I don't think I need to do much more than be in that lane. If I want to do something that's more slow or, like, headphone music, then yeah, I'll probably start another project. These days, it doesn't take much for a project to get traction. If the music is good, it can happen overnight, as we see all the time. But I'm pretty happy with where I'm at now. I think I'm still going somewhere with [Nautiluss]—it doesn't feel like I'm turning in circles just yet.

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