Chris Larsen's story behind the decks starts in Toronto, but it's not quite the downtown born-and-raised tale you're used to. Contrary to assumptions, the Toronto-based DJ and producer wasn't always a house-head. As a hip-hop inspired teen, he made the transition into the world of electronic music at 15, when he first heard that form of beats-based music in high school.
Larsen, who just released yet another remix on Sultry Vibes, has come quite a distance since he was first exposed to electronic music, long before learning to handle CDJs. "I have to say, Bad Boy Bill was one of the first guys I was really into at the time," says Larsen of the hip-hop house fusion. "My buddy lent me his Bangin' The Box CD and that thing was on repeat for god knows how long."
It would be a while until he began to notice what he actually enjoyed listening to. DJing, along with production, was a by-product of being able to decipher the endless stream of music in the early 2000s. Part of that discovery process took place on nights out, like many others before him, gaining a musical education through long nights and early mornings in Toronto nightclubs.
Whether it was the Gallery at The Guvernment, a 24-hour Sunday marathon at The Comfort Zone (CZ), or the legendary Footwork, Larsen was around for a crucial transition point for music in Toronto. "The scene has definitely changed," he says. "[But now] we have the privilege of seeing the world's best international artists on a weekly basis."
Larsen himself is a product of the positive impact that musical venues have on a city. Formerly a CZ resident, he recalls the nights that Nathan Barato, The Junkies, or Carlo Lio would play all night long. "Zone will never be what it was back then," he says. Whether it was Dubfire, Davide Squillace or Paco Osuna, CZ saw some legendary names take over the decks in the glow-in-the-dark jungle basement of the Waverly Hotel. Today he plays often at Coda, bringing him closer to some of the world class DJs stopping through Toronto on a weekly basis. "If I had to name one gig that stands out the most, it would be when I opened for Green Velvet at Coda earlier this year," says Larsen. "It was a special gig for me because I had just released on his label Cajual Records, and he's also been a big influence."
That influence is audible in his sound. Originally interested in the slower, minimal ends of production, Larsen cites vintage Lee Curtiss and Seth Troxler, Someone Else, and Vera among other influences. "Lately I've been digging Jesse Perez, a large portion of the Dirtybird roster, Jamie Jones and my homie Sishi Rosch," says Larsen. "So you could imagine how different my sound is now."
Larsen's changing musical landscape hasn't affected his loyalty to his city, which is something he holds close. Larsen is apart of the Sound Mind team, along with other rising artists like Weska, Cosella, and Justin James. He has been an ambassador for the city in an industry where opportunity often knocks far away from the place you call home. "I like that they're selective with their roster and that it's a nice tight family—we always try to find ways to help improve one another."
Fresh off his release on Mr. Nice Guy Records and a new EP on Digital Delight, Larsen is spending his days in the studio, preparing for a summer full of new remixes and some originals too.
1. Kill Frenzy - Make That Booty Clap Feat. Dj Funk (Martin Brothers Remix)
2. Sacha Robotti, ZDS - Shaky (Original Mix)
3.Will Clarke - The Goog (Original Mix)
4. MANIK - Missy Re-edit
5. Azari & III - Reckless (With Your Love) (Will Clarke Remix)
6. Cajmere, Sonny Fodera - Off On (Original Mix)
7. Jay Lumen - Roots 88 (Original Mix)
8. Denney - Low Frequency (Original Mix)
9. Billy Kenny, Abby Jane - I Operate (Original Mix)
10. Jesse Perez- Too Many Djs, Not Enough Hoes (Original Mix)
11. Justin Martin - Get Low