Simon Jain was raised on music. His earliest influences—The Cure, Depeche Mode, Led Zeppelin—have given his music a dark and brooding edge, but in person he’s exuberant and charismatic, just like his mixes. Having transplanted himself at a young age from the London, Ontario music scene to Toronto in 2001, he quickly established himself on the Toronto house scene, playing venues such as superclub Guvernment (RIP) and with giants such as Steve Angelo and Timo Maas. These days, you can find him on indie label 44th and Filth—or on the decks on the ABOVE Summer Series, taking place at the Rooftop Lounge and Pool bar every Sunday at Thompson Toronto.
What can people expect to hear on the decks on Sundays?
Sundays at the Thompson are very unique in programming with respect to their other day and night events. It is one of the few, if not the only, house and nu-disco driven events. The music is comprised of a lot of funk and old-school disco baselines and loops, filtered and layered within a modern house music facade. The structure and elements of the songs are very infectious and extremely danceable. It’s a very happy dance floor, which is unique in itself, because mini dancefloors tend to break out all over the roof when the baselines really start to emerge through the drum patterns.
Toronto just keeps exporting hits and hit-makers. What makes the music scene so strong?
Diversity, hands down. Toronto’s music scene, regardless of what you’re into…is thriving. Drawing on a wealth of diverse cultural inspirations, as well as a fondness for new and merging music and music technologies, makes for a perfect storm here. If you add that to the amount of different races and religions we have here, you have a musical mosaic. Toronto’s multiculturalism is its backbone. We simply are immersed and exposed to far more traditions and cultures growing up here. Additionally, we’re close enough to the States to have been caught in the early hip-hop movements of the late ’80s and ’90s as well as the house explosion from Detroit and Chicago, which had a profound effect on our dance culture as well. Toronto is great to visit, so artists big and small always stop here on their tours, because they too enjoy being here, so we get to see a wide array of artistry as well.
What do you miss about Toronto when you’re on the road?
You know, it’s cliché, but I often miss my friends and my resident venues. I love meeting new people, and I love getting acquainted with the vibe and sound in different cities—it is a massive influence on me to go immerse myself in another city’s dance scene. It is not only flattering to get invited and given a chance to play in other people’s beloved stomping grounds, but I can, and usually always do, take something away from a good out of town gig. But there is always something so revitalizing about coming home, grabbing my favourite cup of tea, chatting with people I adore, and then hitting our esteemed music venues for a trip around the sun. It fulfills me to no end.
Name three of your favorite music venues in Toronto. What makes them special?
I’m going to go with four, because I wanna spread some love. I obviously love the rooftop of Thompson Toronto. It’s so different than what I usually run around in. The vista of the city is so sublime, and because I love my city to no end—like no end, I am a die-hard “Torannah” guy—the view makes me happy just to see it when I am playing. From music to sports, to culinary, I really do think we’re crushing it right now as a city, so I have an immense sense of pride.
Parlour is an absolutely wonderful venue to play music. Known more for its deep house and more house than most other venues in the city, this place is such an intimate space, and you can really connect with your audience in a way that is different than other venues of its size. Less than 200 people, the vibe is very unique and cozy, the atmosphere, the furniture…everything. The sound for that small of a room really brings it home. I enjoy it so much and I try to play there as much as possible.
CODA; This is no secret. It is widely regarded as the premiere electronic venue in the city. It operates from 10pm to 5am most nights and, boasts a PK Soundsystem. It certainly brings the rumble to the jungle. The owners have been dedicating themselves to electronic music for quite some time, and it really shows. Their passion for this scene, and to ensure that its patrons are safe and welcomed, has always resonated with me. When I am standing on that DJ booth, sometimes I truly, like actually truly lose myself. The energy you get back from that audience is unbelievable, and I think some of the best sets I have ever played in my life have been in that room.
For my last venue, I am going to get a bit cheesy here, and just say…DAY JAMS. There are a wide variety of day parties in this city, lots of non-traditional spaces and roofs, and alleys, and parking lots. I tip my hat to all of these promoters and DJs who throw these events because it’s an uphill battle for sure. Our city, as great as it is, has some pretty antiquated by-laws, especially for a place that claims to be the music capital of the country. Residents here can often get pretty uptight about noise and music outside, so, for these people to go through what they go through, to get events of their quality produced, I really do applaud them, as it makes our city so much better in the end. Electric Island, a multi-date summer festival at Hanlan’s Point, is an absolutely amazing example of this. If you can get a chance to experience it, you absolutely should.
What exciting things do you have in the works?
For me, it’s like any other artist that feels good about their sound and style, I am working my ass off on a slew of original productions and remixes. As well, there are some very exciting things happening in the event/show spectrum that I can’t fully discuss here, but you will definitely know when you see it. Just takes some hard work and hustle, and I have an abundance of that locked and loaded.