LE BAIN: You fell in love in House and Techno in the late 80’s, straight from the Detroit scene. Can you tell us about driving from your home in Toronto to visit Detroit?
NICK HOLDER: I used to drive up to NSC in Detroit to get my releases mastered by Ron Murphy [legendary Detroit record cutter], so on the journey, I would be listening to music by Underground Resistance, Carl Craig, Derrick May and many more Detroit legends. The music that came from there has been a huge influence on my sound, and the music I’ve made throughout my career.
You started producing in 1991, creating your own label DNH records and also a hip-hop label, Treehouse. Were the early and mid 90's the golden age for house music in Toronto?
There were lots of House labels such as Jinxx Rec, 83 West, Strobe Records, just to name a few. The scene in Toronto was very strong back in the day and there were lots of warehouse parties and clubs like Roxy Blu, Industry and Living Room you could go to. It was definitely the golden age for House in Toronto. The underground Hip Hop scene was also very big and really helped lay the foundation for the artists that have made it big out of the city on a global scale today.
You once said, “The problem with Canada is you have to leave the city in order to make it [as a musician]”. Is that still true in the digital age?
It has changed a lot with the internet, and now it’s much easier to get exposure. Also with the success of people like Drake and The Weekend, there’s more eyes on the artists coming out of the city now.
One of your biggest records was released in 1998, “Da Sambafrique”. 20 years after its release, what does that track mean to you?
It did well for me, but I also got sued for the sample so l’ll leave it at that.
Today, what do you like the most about Toronto?
It’s a great place to live (but expensive), and loads of talented artists are here and on the come up. Here is also where I started my family so this will always be home to me.
Nick Holder, Metro FM Mix South Africa
There are more than 400 releases on your label DNH and you’ve been pushing a lot of South African artists since the early 2010’s. You said, “South Africa is the final frontier for deep and soulful house.” What’s your explanation for that?
South Africa has the biggest house scene in the world, their mainstream music is house and because of that there are loads of talented producers coming up. If you look at guys like Black Coffee and Da Capo, they really don’t need to leave South Africa to do gigs as they’re huge in South Africa alone. These guys would be booked 3 times in one night sometimes jumping from gig to gig.
What is your most memorable moment from your time in South Africa?
I remember arriving at customs and the guy looks at me, then looks at my passport and says "So that’s your real name, can you put me on the guest list?"
On Friday, October 5th, Le Bain presents Nick Holder
with Paul Raffaele | 10pm | The Standard, High Line