Both based in Canada, Tone Depth and GROJ share very unique backgrounds and styles. Each of them developed their honest love for music in different directions but ended up focusing on melodic house & techno, finding the right balance between beats and melody. Now, they are colleagues in fryhide, the label owned by DJ & producer HOSH. And both artists keep on growing, learning, and doing what they love most.
We caught up with Tone Depth and GROJ in their visit to Barcelona having the time to talk about how they closed and started the new decade, and their upcoming plans, both, solo and together with fryhide.
Electronic Groove: Hi Tone Depth and GROJ! Welcome to EG and thank you for your time. How is 2020 treating you so far?
Tone Depth: So far it’s been great, a nice start of the year, everything feels kind of fresh. I think two years ago music was in a different place and now it’s moving in a new direction. I think 2019 was a bit of a gray area, changes in different things, nothing really set in stone. I feel with 2020 some clarity is bound to come.
GROJ: I think for me it’s a mixed thing. I think I had a lot of clarity last year, now I’m thinking things through and just trying to see further into the future, so is a bit less clear but with a good feeling about it. I don’t feel lost, I know I’m going somewhere. I also feel a bit more in touch with myself as well.
EG: And if we look back at 2019, what do you think were your favorite musical moments of the year?
Tone Depth: I think this year the fryhide showcases visited very special places. We did Berlin, Amsterdam, we did our first ADE, and our first OFFSónar in Barcelona. So those gigs felt like breaking new ground. It was good to visit those places and see the fans building momentum and coming up together. Especially in Amsterdam, because we felt we took a big risk by doing a boat party on Saturday night in the middle of the festival. We were worried about it, but we had a really good turn out and the energy was really amazing! That was like the perfect party.
GROJ: I had a lot of fun actually in my studio making music. It’s really fun and I love what I do but I think the strongest moment is when you get to share with everybody else what you have in your head. An important show was definitely OFFSónar. It was very different from the rest and it went really well, in fact, we sold out. Then ADE was so special because it was a different crowd, it was people who are interested in learning about new things. It’s like a conference, even though everyone is secretly partying, it’s still like a conference, it has a very different vibe and you have to give your best. That’s what we tried to do.
EG: We saw you at the boat party during ADE and we thought it was definitely a very special time. How is it going with the label? Any exciting plans soon?
Tone Depth: It is growing nicely. We have been members of fryhide for two years now, since the early stages when it was developing. We were really lucky to get in the label before it started to really grow. It is hard to find ones with a small number of artists so you can have the attention and time to work together. Some imprints have hundreds of artists. They never even maybe speak to them personally or book them for their parties. You would not listen from them again, except for maybe “Do you have any more music for us?”. So, with fryhide we are not content providers, we are part of a family. There are five artists, we all stick together all the time and everybody sends each other their music for feedback and ideas.
GROJ: It’s nice to be able to go back and forth with other artists and just keep on being surprised with what everybody’s doing. Every time I listen to 1979 or Simao or Tony, it’s always fresh. We all kind of influence each other a little bit but no too much. And we also give each other feedback which is really good. I think now fryhide has grown and is stable, and we are expecting it to move forward. I would not be surprised if maybe we add a few more artists at some point if it feels right. We’ll see.
EG: What bands or artists influenced you when you were younger and what influences you regarding this organic new flow of sounds that you are currently following?
Tone Depth: I grew up listening to these artists from the 60s and 70s, playing psychedelic rock, like Pink Floyd and Jean-Michel Jarre, among others. Back then, just by limited technology, music was not fully electronic yet. But it was music you could listen to for an hour and not press stop. I personally like the combination of the strong rhythms with that ecstasy-like feeling, something enlightening and beautiful but with some drive at the same time. Not just the typical repetitive beats.
GROJ: I really absorbed a lot of German krautrock, I really loved it. I grew up listening to it and then I tried to adapt it a bit to what I was doing. Then I think my journey has been into adding more beats and energy, so there can be like a zenith and have a kind of a hypnotic feel and repetition. I also loved the experimental stuff like Aphex Twin, ADM… A lot of the English scene from when I was younger. Now I really just try to make it out of thin air, so you do not see it but it is still there. In the structure or the timing, or simply in the small things so everybody can digest it.
EG: And looking into your actual productions, what do you feel is shaping currently your music?
Tone Depth: I think my music is mainly a combination of my past and the scene where my music has been already. I don’t want to do something so different, so avant-garde that nobody is going to understand it, although I really enjoy pushing my own boundaries now. I spent years doing music that was more beat-oriented, with a lot less melody and there was a time when it was a lot of melody but the groove and beats took a background role, so I think now it is about finding the balance between them.
GROJ: I think I am moving towards a new format, which is a bit of a crossover. So it is basically the crossover between dance and radio so like shorter tracks for the studio format and then performing them live as a club thing. I am making music that I want to be able to play at a campfire, or that I can listen to at home; show it to my grandmother to see whether she likes it, and still be cutting heads in the dancefloor. So I have a more global view for each song that I am making.
EG: Any planned releases coming soon that you want to share with us?
Tone Depth: I just did a remix for Dance Spirit for a label called Dreaming Awake that came out a couple of weeks ago. It is a new imprint based in Los Angeles, very into that Burning Man kind of sound and very West Coast. It’s a cool vibe. The track was really fun to remix, as it was one of those where I can do something more emotional. I also have a remix that is coming out this week on Armada for Franck Dona and Romina, entitled ‘No Education’. I took the acapella and remixed that for Armada because Pink Floyd is one of my favorites, so I said –“I have to remix this”. That’s it for now, everything else is in the studio, still cooking.
GROJ: I think for me it is not clear because I’m working now in a new kind of a style, so I don’t know yet when I’m going to release something next. I’m more in a creating mood. If you think about when you’re going to release something, it is not good to pressure yourself like that. So I’d rather not know. I just make the music and, yeah…
EG: And finally, is there anything you wish for this 2020? Any wishes, desires, personal goals…?
Tone Depth: I just wish for continued growth in my life. I’m very happy the way things are moving, so I would like to see just the continuation of that.
GROJ: I think this year will bring good ideas, inspiration, and also hope for the world will be a better place as well.