While Toronto's mostly been known for its rap and gritty rock scenes over the last few years, there's been a shift on the ground recently. Bookers are getting more adventurous, grassroots online radio stations and artist collectives are popping up, and even the punk kids are getting into techno and house. Scott Hardware, a new project from Toronto's Scott Harwood, is one of the more promising acts to come out of the city's newly-emerging dance music scene.
The first single "New Money Walk" from his forthcoming tape, Mutate Repeat Infinity, out June 24 on Montreal-based Banko Gotiti Records, sashays with the smooth confidence of a runway star. The remix by Detroit producer Coyote Clean Up, premiering on THUMP today, takes the subtle, coursing energy of the original and flips it into a proper rave-up.
"Scott's silky smooth vocals and dreamy synth work had no problem whatsoever sliding out of my DMs and onto the dancefloor," Coyote Clean Up said of the remix. "A lovely 'lil Detroit club dub for the new feel good summer of love, 2016."
Know for their unrelenting energetic shows—with the live band consisting of Harwood and Mounir Chami of Toronto group Whimm on keys—we recently caught up the former over email while the pair were on tour in Europe.
THUMP: How does it feel to be taking this music out of the city and across Europe?
Scott Harwood: Europe is where I learned all I know about dance music. When I came here to live I still didn't "get" it. I didn't know house from techno from grime. When I come back I'm at once re-inspiring and re-educating myself. It's nice to be literally inundated with top-notch electronic music old and new.
Scott Hardware is obviously a great pun, but do you also consider hardware, as opposed to software synths and sampling, to be important to this project?
I love hardware, I love squeezing blood from a stone with this stuff, but it's also important and amazing that soft synths have democratized music making at the same time. When hardware-based music is successful, I can hear obsession and thoughtfulness coming through my headphones.
But this kind of process isn't essential for all types of music making. If you sing like an angel or are an A+ poet, I'm not listening as closely to the production or these "musician's musician"-type things. It's important to my project only because I get bored to tears after five minutes on Ableton.
When I saw you live, the vibe was hard-hitting and house-influenced, but "New Money Walk" has a more chilled-out tone. What can audiences expect on your tour?
We love to make people dance. I love nothing more than being taken out of my head on a dance floor. But we have two slower jams as well, so I hesitate to say that people will be dancing at 120 BPM for the whole set. Also it's noisier now since I inherited an unpredictable distortion unit. Basically it runs the gamut of the ideas I try to get across in the recordings, which goes beyond shaking your ass.
You're not the only Torontonian diving into the deep waters of house and dance music more generally. Do you think this new project is indicative of where the scene is heading?
I think I hope I hear more of this of music from DJs rather than songwriters (and we have been). I think the guitar and the MC are here to stay in Toronto, but I can honestly say the greater sway of a city's scene won't have a huge impact on the musicians I love back home, and they're the ones who I pay attention to. Some make power-noise, some gospel.
Toronto has no 1080p or Turbo Records to call its own, and maybe it'll never be a big electronic music town, that's OK too. I think it will always be important for someone living there to spread out and try to reach out to other cities' communities. Then again, who knew that electronic types all over Europe would be asking me about how awesome Vancouver is? Perhaps there's hope for the fifth largest city in North America after all!
What are you most excited to eat while on the road in Europe?
Groceries. It's also ways a non-stop döner train whenever I'm here.
Scott Hardware Tour Dates
June 2 - CCL - Lille, France
June 3 - LOKOMOV - Chemnitz, Germany
June 4 - Torstrassen Festival - Berlin, Germany
Jordan Pearson is on Twitter.