Good People smash it up

Genre-warping, Smalltown DJs bring big city appeal to Club 9ONE9

Pete Emes and Mike Grimes are Smalltown DJs.

Pete Emes and Mike Grimes are Smalltown DJs.

Despite their name, the Smalltown DJs have big city appeal.

The prairie duo of Pete Emes and Mike Grimes aren’t confined by small town syndrome — these genre-warping DJs and producers are sought after the world over, playing shows in London, Paris and Helsinki,  Brooklyn, Las Vegas and L.A. — showcasing at SXSW seven times,  performing at Sean White’s gold medal party at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics — even garnering a headlining slot in our very own Victoria Electronic Music Festival this past summer.

On any given night you can hear them spin  funk, pop, dancehall, rock, hip hop, house, breaks and more. Their smash-up style is well known in Calgary, where the duo own two nightclubs (The Hifi and The Commonwealth Bar and Stage) and recently celebrated the 13th anniversary of their Thursday night residency Hai Karate, which has played host to names like Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Nu-Mark (Jurassic 5), A-Trak, Diplo, A Tribe Called Red, Grandtheft and Red Bull Thre3Style 2012 champion Four Color Zack.

“It’s been a crazy run,” says Emes on the morning of the anniversary. “I can’t believe it’s been that long.”

Emes and Grimes came together just months before Hai Karate was born. At the time, no other DJs were doing mash-ups like these two.

“We didn’t like being limited to one genre,” says Emes. “It doesn’t sound too groundbreaking now, but at the time, the DJ scene was so segregated — if you were a house DJ, you played house, or a hip hop DJ played hip hop, we wanted to play it all.  We’d bring five crates a piece each night, run through a million styles of music, at the time it was really different.”

And that’s not the only thing that’s changed since they got behind the decks.

“[The scene] has changed so many times, but the one thing that always happens, even predating us, is that new genres and new people come up that are celebrated and everyone gets into … and everything else is declared dead when a new sound gets big. I always get into different sounds and new sounds, new music really excites me, there’s always exciting new producers, so I like rolling with that, and including that in my sets and in production. Some guys have a tough time accepting changes, but one of the reasons why I’m still doing it is that I love new music.”

And it was a mutual love of music that brought these two together in the first place. Emes met his partner through mutual friends at a party Grimes was DJing. It was love at first listen.

“At that time it was harder to find music you were into, you had to dig … you had more invested in it and had to be more dedicated if there was a certain sound you were into — you had to commit yourself to seeking that out. Now, there’s no commitment, you can download every song ever made in an afternoon,” says Emes.

Riding high on some production success with Smalltown Romeo (their collaboration with Shad, with their single “Boom Ha” featured on HBO and in a feature film), the boys have branched out in 2012 with five releases on various labels including Sabo’s Sol Selectas and No Brainer of Berlin.

With their latest single “Good People” (T&A, released Dec. 12) these two are about to get dance floors hoping from coast to coast, stopping in Victoria Thurs., Dec. 13 at Club 9ONE9 with Grandtheft and The Shrew.

“We try to play our favourite records that also tear the roof off,” says Emes. “It’s the way we put the music together … we always try to bring the funnest party. It sounds easy but sometimes it’s easier said than done.” M

 

Soundcloud.com/smalltowndjs

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Blue Bridge Theatre
Stratford star teams up with Blue Bridge Theatre

A New Take on a Perennial Favourite

The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)
Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Vancouver Island actress finds success in a virtual world

Black Creek’s Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

Stephen Laidlaw, prepator with Nanaimo Art Gallery, hangs a photograph of Anna Wong, a B.C. print maker whose works are on display at the gallery. The exhibit opens Friday, Dec. 4, and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores life work of overlooked B.C. printmaker

‘Anna Wong: Traveller on Two Roads’ features more than 70 art works and personal belongings

Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus released their first joint album, <em>The Invasion</em>. (Photo courtesy Raymond Knight)
Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus release first joint album

Duo plan elaborate live-streamed CD release for ‘The Invasion’

Next month Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases his solo debut album, ‘Wildlife.’ (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases solo debut album

New record ‘Wildlife’ about taking chances and going through changes

Dover Bay Secondary School student Victoria Hathfield’s poem <em>Dear Santa</em> appears in<em> Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air</em>. (Photo courtesy Darren Lee)
Nanaimo high schooler has first poem published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’

Victoria Hathfield’s ‘Dear Santa’ appears in new Christmas-themed edition of anthology series

Nanaimo graphic designer Amy Pye has written and illustrated her first children’s book, <em>G is for Grizzly Bear: A Canadian Alphabet</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Nanaimo graphic designer releases first children’s book

Amy Pye teaches the Canadian alphabet in ‘G is for Grizzly Bear’

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, near Shirley. (Contributed - Lee-Ann Ruttan)
New book shines a light on Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Publication examines history, lightkeepers, and volunteer society

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)
Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic

Most Read