COURTNEY JAMES is a film maker from Toronto. He fell in love with EDM early in life and ultimately decided to make a film dedicated to EDM.
You are an indie film maker and not by default a DJ, but we found it important to feature you. Introduce yourself to our readers and tell us what connects you with the EDM world.
I would like to think that everyone in their own unique way is a DJ. We program our I Tunes library on a monthly, weekly, sometimes daily basis. Music to me is essential to my routine and it ultimately lead me to becoming a film maker with this project. So to answer the first part of your question – I feel like I’m both thanks to this experience. In terms of the formal introduction.. my name is Courtney James and I’m someone who has been shaped by the EDM culture of the 90s. EDM was something that embraced me at a time when I needed it the most. I was 19; my parents divorced, I almost dropped out of university, and I had a life changing experience when I moved to Toronto at that age. I think we are all looking for ourselves in our youth and I found that direction by becoming part of the RAVE culture that was exploding in the city at the time. I worked at a restaurant and met an amazing group of friends that I bonded with on such a profound level because of our experiences together. EDM was such a big part of that; it was really special. That was over a decade ago and through a break up move I rediscovered a crate of vinyl from my RAVE days which inspired my connection to the music again. Everything started from that moment; I was rediscovering my soundtrack and it was inspiring. The next 6 years of my life were dedicated to a journey which lead to this film being made. Ultimately this is my love letter to a community and a diary of sorts of my life. That’s my connection to the EDM world.
You are almost finished with a movie relating to the EDM scene. This is a project you have been working on for the past 6 years. Could you tell us some of the steps that were involved with creating the movie?
This has been quite a life changing journey and rediscovery of the EDM scene. I’m actually approaching the 7 year mark in March. The steps that are needed when it comes to a project like this really only comes down to 3 things – Passion, Dedication, and Patience. I knew hardly anyone in the EDM scene when I began the process. I built a website – shot a lot of footage – cut video interviews and themed episodes for promo – and wrote a lot emails that lead me to all the fascinating DJs, Promoters, Club owners, managers, and patrons of the community that ended up participating. Patience and dedication was key to the success of getting all this accomplished and everything eventually fell together because of the passion I kept through this very long process. You do want to quit at times but you just don’t… you can’t.
Which artists did you decide to spotlight and could you share some fun anecdotes that we can see back in the movie?
I was fortunate to have a lot of amazing DJs from around the world participate. I interviewed over 50 names in the game including Armin Van Buuren, Benny Benassi, Sander Van Doorn, Nic Fanciulli, David Morales, ATB, Steve Angello, Pete Tong, Richie Hawtin, Max Graham, Carl Cox, Hatiras, Gabriel and Dresden, Blank and Jones, Mark Farina, Colette, DJ Heather, Adam Beyer, DJ Dan and many more. The most fun and personal experience I had was with DJ Dan because of my connection with his music and performances from my past.
When I first got introduced to the culture I went to a huge rave in Toronto which featured Dan in the line up. 20, 000 people packed into this automotive building along with my friends from the restaurant, and that was the night I fell in love with Dan as a DJ and fell hard for the EDM culture. We jump 12 years later and through a passionate email and some luck, Dan responded, and we became friends and captured a really cool chapter in the film at Winter Music Conference in South Beach. If you want to check it out in more detail go to my youtube channel for this ‘Day in the life of a DJ’ experience – http://www.youtube.com/user/GLOBALGROOVENETWORK?feature=mhee
Currently you are in the midst of a kickstarter project to properly fun this movie. Could you fill us in with your needs and how far you are towards your goal on Kickstarter?
My documentary – The Global Groove Network (GGN) – is very close to the finish line. I’m in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to raise the final funds of post production to deliver it to the distributor and a wider audience in 2013. The time you think it takes to make a film like this, you don’t really think in the moment. It’s a passion project; As you realize the scope of it is bigger then just some initial ideas you had, you end up dedicating some serious time and money to it. I’m closing in on 7 years with this film’s journey to the screen and this campaign is that hail mary pass attempt to get it done. We have been running the campaign since mid December and we are trying to raise 15k for the final post production. We have until February 20th at 11am EST to make our goal and we are at the halfway mark. The clock is ticking when it comes to kickstarter because of how this unique site is set up. When you set up your financial goal you are stuck with that number and have to raise all of it in the time allotted for the campaign (60 days) or you get nothing you raise over the course of the entire campaign. It really is a do or die situation as a fundraiser but what is also cool is that it’s set up to give back to the people who pledge and help support the film. We have incentives set up for all pledge sizes and for a mere $20 dollars you get a copy of the film and some exclusive mixes from some of the DJs involved. Along with the value you get back – you get to do a good deed and help someone’s dreams come true.
Check out this link to our campaign and get more details on my trials and tribulations of making this film – http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/59867650/the-global-groove-network – We have a great sneak peek video, more news on the project, and you can donate directly to the campaign. If I can get 400 people today to donate $20 dollars we will make our goal instantly.. I’m hoping people will take the time, check out the link, and give this film a chance. If music is something that is important to you – especially EDM – The movie is really relatable in so many ways.
Did you ever want to become a DJ yourself?
I actually had a chance to DJ for about 7 years but it was more weddings and university TOP 40 crowds. I started collecting house music records when I moved to Toronto but only really got to play that music when I was with my friends at house parties and at home. All this discovery of EDM music happened back in the 90s when I moved to the city and went to my first RAVE.
What is the best experience you ever had on the dancefloor?
I found my wife on the dance floor and at the beginning of this film journey. It was love at first site – no words – just a feeling between us. We just had our 6 year anniversary.. I married her 3 months after we met and whats also cool about this moment is we met on a DJ Dan dance floor.
Should there be more female DJs?
I don’t really look at gender. I managed to interview some great female DJs & vocalists for the documentary and it really just comes down to the talent behind the decks and in the studio. There is a lot of females out there that are incredibly talented and it’s just maybe a case of recognition in a bigger way on the high profile level. I recently interviewed Sydney Blu for an upcoming webcast I’m doing for my site and she is the real deal. This talented lady is someone to watch out for when she comes to a dance floor near you. She is smart, successful, and someone who represents what a lady can bring to the dance floor.
Are there things you feel that should change in the EDM scene?
I think the talent in the scene need to get along a little more and respect both the past and the present. History is important and as you watch the news feeds and see feuds between DJs of different generations, it’s a little silly. The reality though is I think the EDM scene is evolving in such an organic way as well as breaking down underground walls and becoming a staple in what mainstream music is today. This is a positive thing – change and awareness.
Underground or mainstream?
BOTH – If the beat commands me to dance, which both sides can do, I want to participate in both. I know what I like and in the end that’s what makes the decision.
How is the EDM scene in your own city of Toronto?
I’m am very fortunate in terms of the EDM scene in Toronto. It’s had it’s moments where it’s gone underground through the years but it really has embraced the BOOM once again. It’s funny because it feels like a cycle coming full circle in my life. When I got to experience it for the first time in the 90s, the EDM scene was doing the same thing it’s doing now. Instead of RAVES it’s festivals now. Instead of a couple clubs playing house music – we have 100s all over the city pumpin’ killer beats. The home grown talent and EDM community in TO is amazing too. We get spoiled even more because we get every international name you can think of stopping in for a night or two to spread a little spark for the dance floor. If you love EDM then you really need to visit Toronto for a great night out!