Toronto’s Carlo Lio has worked hard and dedicated his life to rocking dance floors all over the world with his trademark cosmic house and techno sound. Producing on SCI+TEC, Bedrock Records, MOOD, Desolat, Suara, Intec Digital and Minndshake Records, just to name a few, he’s become a staple in the international underground music scene. He’s bringing his deep pulsing tech-house and rugged techno beats to Exchange LA alongside Joseph Capriati November 29. We caught up with Lio prior to talk about the rise of dance music in America, keeping vinyl alive and his favorite thing to do when in LA.
Being a Canadian Native how do you think it influenced your musical tastes and decision to be a DJ?
I would still consider Toronto to be the most underrated city. People still think of Canada is a place where we have snow all year round, and they don’t understand that we have such a strong scene here. I’ve told this to many people because I’ve been in it for 10-12 years, and it’s been rocking since day one. Toronto’s music scene has been the most consistent, proper underground with the most loyal fans I’ve seen. We’re spoiled here. The biggest and the best come through here every week.
When I was getting into this scene I enjoyed listening to our local artists over the internationals coming to town. We had some crazy talent here. Guys like Addy, Paranoid Jack, Manzone & Strong, Tim Patrick, Myka, Paul Walker, Jelo, Sydney Blu, Flipside, Dekoze, El Duran and of course my brother Nathan Barato! I was lucky to be able to listen to this music on a weekly basis. We were all on the same page at one point musically and I think that has influenced my style today. I like to stay true to my roots.
Who were some of your biggest influences in the beginning who you now have on speed dial?
Ha ha ha, cool question! It’s mind blowing sometimes when you look through your phone and see all these legends that were once out of your reach! But now I guess guys like Dubfire, DJ sneak, Behrouz and Davide Squillace to name a few are on the speed dial, but the list goes on!
How do you think techno and the underground scene has changed with the rise of EDM?
I think it has definitely become more popular. The younger generation, who generally seem more exposed to the EDM scene at the moment, start to learn more about dance music in general. In turn I think it has enabled many of them to discover the underground side of electronic music, which can only be a good thing. I don’t think the sound has changed, or the style, it’s still true underground but just becoming more accessible. My only issue is that you get a bunch of clueless kids who think this electronic music started a few years ago.
Do you see big differences with the audience or music you play in the states vs. overseas?
They are definitely different. North America is maybe a step behind, but the scene is strong and growing rapidly. A lot of the underground sounds you will hear in Europe first are now being accepted and growing in North America. I grew up in Toronto, but always followed the European scene and its artists, which I feel has allowed me to understand both sides of the divide very well. I can adapt my music very easily to any environment or venue, but generally people know my style and they come to a gig expecting that sound, so It gives me the freedom to experiment as well and when I need.
With the growth of so many great festivals, do you think the art of being a club DJ is being lost?
Not at all. Although festivals are becoming much bigger, most DJs play a ton of club gigs all year around. I would not be ok with just playing festivals. As much as I do love it, it’s the smaller more intimate rooms that really touch you.
What do you think is the recipe for the best club night or set?
Great sound system for sure – that includes the sound and monitors in the booth too. It’s so much better when you can hear what the crowd can to a certain extent. You can really get into what you’re playing. The crowds and fans of course, are the main draw, and without them there is no atmosphere. I am lucky enough to get to play regularly with my friends too. A night playing B2B with your hometown friends is so much fun.
What’s next on your Rawthentic Music record label?
Next up I have some cool stuff from RAW veteran, Saso Recyd. Also a new kid I just signed from NYC named Justin Schumacher, who’s really making some dope stuff. You will also see an EP from myself towards end of 2015. Been a long time coming!!
What about your second label On Edge Society. Why do you think it’s important to keep vinyl alive?
I started this new project with my good buddy Kareem Cali from NYC. Vinyl has always been special to me. I’m pretty sure every artist feels the same. I love everything about it – the look, feel, and sound it has. There’s no greater feeling than holding a track of yours in your hand on a record. You can’t hold an mp3 file, and I feel that music these days has zero shelf life digitally, meaning it’s juts not as special anymore. With a new digital release, it could get flooded with garbage in a matter of days, so we wanted this to be something special for us again, encouraging us to go down the vinyl route.
I am still a die-hard vinyl shopper, so I know that there is still another world of music out there that will never hit the digital platforms. Plus, I want to have tracks that nobody has! I don’t want to play music everybody is playing. That feeling of going into a record shop and getting a copy of a record when only 300 were released – that’s what makes music special to me again.
Who doesn’t like digging and working for your tracks, that’s what its all about – not shopping on the Top100!
Now that the summer season in Ibiza has died down, you’re in the states a lot. What are some of your favourite cities to visit and why?
Yes, now it’s all more state side stuff as well as South America and Canada. Some of my favourite cities definitely include NYC, Toronto, Montreal, Miami, Denver & San Francisco. As for South America, I really do love Colombia. Always great shows there, oh and Mexico too!
Lastly, what is your favourite thing to do when you visit LA?
I’m always so in and out when I come to LA, and rarely have had time to actually see the city and it’s sights. But I think my favourite thing to do is eat good Mexican food! You guys never disappoint and I have a set of good friends here who know all the best spots!