Music by VICE

An Open Letter to Jonny White of Art Department From Deko-ze

In a recent interview, Jonny White spoke negatively about the Toronto scene. We asked a local legend to disprove it.

by Michael Babb (Deko-ze)
Jul 22 2015, 8:16pm

Editors Note: Jonny White is regarded as a key player in Canadian dance music. His hometown of Toronto, Canada, knows this much. In April, Art Department, White and Kenny Glasgow's combined project, announced their separation. But while Toronto mourned the end of their beloved AD, White had other things to lament about.

In one of his first interviews as a returning solo artist (found here), White told Deep House Amsterdam that Toronto's dance music scene is not the supportive, authentic scene it once was. "I don't like to even compare Toronto to that now because it's a losing battle. There are a few cool clubs, but there are really no local DJs to speak of," he told Deep House Amsterdam. "I'm not on top of what's going on there, but from what I can see it's really moved on to laptop DJs, hitting sync and I don't feel like there's anybody to root for."

White's comments blindsided Toronto's dance music community—many of which root for him relentlessly.

So if anyone can hold a shield up to Toronto and its scene, it's Deko-ze, (aka Michael Babb), one of Toronto's most vicious cheerleaders and veteran DJs.

Below is Deko-ze's open letter to White.

Hey Jonny!

Congratulations on all of your successes. We are all excited to see the direction you will take Art Department in while manning it solo.

I'm really grateful that we got to live through a golden era of the Toronto club scene. As you mentioned, venues like Industry, RPM, Exit To Eden, The Buzz, Madbar, Warehouse and The Guvernment were not only groundbreaking, but they molded and shaped our scene. But I am not one of the typical old fogies who sit and complain that 'things aren't how they used to be back in the day.' That conversation is tired as dirt. Things aren't what they used to be, so I believe that rather than complain, we should make our current scene great.

As you pointed out, there are far less options for quality music than there was before. That's partly due to a different crowd, one raised on big room EDM beats. The majority would rather hear a huge build and drop with 16 bars rather than a steady journey of Mark Farina. It is what it is. I'm just grateful we still have a scene.

Regarding our DJs though, I disagree that we only have button pushers. Now, more than ever, we have people pushing forward and representing Toronto on an international level. We have a plethora of seasoned and new hungry peeps further establishing Toronto as a force to be reckoned with. Not only are they spinning great tunes but they are creating the tunes that many jocks across the globe are championing.

Globe-trotting DJs/producers Carlo Lio and Nathan Barato have been working tirelessly for nearly 20 years and their hard work has paid off. D-Unity is easily one of Canada's top techno exports. Flipside and Hatiras (AKA Melvin & Klein) have been taking their uncompromising fusion of forward thinking house to the global masses. Jerome Robins had more tracks in the Beatport Top 100 than any other Canadian last year. Jay Force has emerged as a solid techno producer. Daniel Dubb continues to sort out proper deep and sexy beats. Joee Cons' latest release was just playlisted by Carl Cox. And, of course, Manzone & Strong and Mark Oliver continue to illustrate why they have been the cities' most in-demand DJs for over 20 years.

And, of course, when it comes to big room, Deadmau5 and Adam K are unparalleled.

I've only just scratched the surface, Jonny. So next time you're here, take a peek and see what's going on. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Carry on, bro and congratulations on the Fabric compilation!

Michael Babb, Deko-ze

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