Andrew, chillin’ at home in beautiful British Columbia
Interview with Andrew Allsgood by Mike Simpson
Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell people about your taste in music and DJ experience?
I’m Andrew Allsgood! I’ve been DJing since 1996 and collecting records and music since I was 9 or 10 years old. I’ve held various residencies in Toronto over the years at bars and clubs and Dj’ed with loads of people from around the world.
What was your reason for becoming a DJ? How did you get early DJ gigs? Did you seek them out or people asked you?
I got into DJing in the mid-90’s ‘cuz I was hanging with my graffiti writer pals who lived with a reputable hip-hop DJ. I worked at record stores through my time at art school and just loved hip-hop, trip hop and through those genres discovered the original breaks and funk and disco records everyone was sampling. Pretty standard for a lot of DJ’s I suppose.
These days I dig all types of music. I play house, disco, funk, soul, reggae and some techno. Home listening encompasses almost any genre. Jazz, blues, soul, funk, world music… pretty much anything that I can find that is “real”.
My early DJ gigs were just me being hungry to play out. I played loads of shitty gigs and bars just to get my name out there. Eventually I hooked up with the right people and landed a great weekly residency with one of Toronto’s tastemaker DJ’s (Denise Benson) and we really were a bit of an institution in the city. Through that gig I met almost every local DJ and we brought tons of international talent to play with us.
What are your earliest memories of music, records and record players? Was your family musical? Did you like dance music in high school?
My dad used to work for a big music distributor who set up and supplied major department stores in Canada with music. I used to hear stuff, write down titles and ask my old man to bring it home for me. We had a pretty standard set up at home for the time. Pioneer receiver, Pioneer turntable and tape deck. I used to make pause tapes before I knew what they were! I also used to make tapes for friends parties when their parents were going out of town!! Growing up I was heavily influenced by pop music and the MTV revolution, coming home every day from school to watch the local music video shows on Toronto cable stations. I soaked up pop rock, metal, new wave and the like. When I got to high school Run DMC and the Beastie Boys were massive so I naturally came to accept hip-hop as well as taking a shine to classic rock. By my second year of high school I was introduced to night clubbing at various all ages clubs in Toronto. House music was being played alongside new wave and industrial music and a host of other styles. This was around 1987-88.
What kind of DJ technology have you used – from your start to current period? What decks and headphones are your favourite?
When I started DJing I lived with a couple of guys who had decks. I’d amassed a few crates by that time but had never owned real “DJ” turntables.
I got a few tips from my roomies and just started practicing. I got my mixing down pretty well on a belt drive Gemini and a Technics 1200. Then when we all moved from that spot I had no decks and had to source a pair. As luck would have it I scored a set from a hard up graf writer pal. I still have the same one to this day!
I was vinyl only until about 2007 when I decided to make the switch to Serato. I ran that system until 2013 and just decided to put it away. I’d experienced too many problems with laptops getting damaged and hard drives being dropped etc. to make it not worth my while. I also wasn’t happy with the sound quality, overall, of that platform. By then the Pioneer CDJ’s had introduced the USB options and I thought that was a great step in moving their product line even further to the forefront.
I’m still buying records but not to the extent I was before I went digital, (and had a family!). I love the format but I’ve also acquired two CDJ 850’s for my setup and love to bounce back and forth. I’m not really a vinyl purist. Also, clubs and bars these days aren’t really set up for analogue, often if they even have turntables they are not maintained etc. I also don’t buy too much current music on vinyl if I can get it digitally. That’s just an economic choice I’ve had to make. If I had tons of expendable income is probably still fetishize vinyl like I used too!
What do you think of “turntable replacements” such as CDJs or Traktor/Ableton/Serato? Do you like digital gear?
I like CDJ’s. They’re great. So are all the above mentioned formats as they allow for tons of creativity, should you want to get beyond just, “playing songs”, as in looping, adding effects and multiple layering and reduction using stems etc. I really feel that DJ’s should use whatever they want to DJ as the format they use to play isn’t the primary concern. It’s the music, man! I do however, feel that a DJ should know their hardware/software inside out before playing with it out to an audience. I have heard Dj’s play killer sets on all the above-mentioned formats and absolutely rocked the party. I’ve also heard DJ’s use all of the above and stunk up the room. It really boils down to selection, style and experience to do a good job DJing.
Thank you Andrew!
Andrew on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/andrew-allsgood
Free (Ass)ociation on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/free-ass-ociation