Since 2012, Downpour has proved to be one of Toronto’s most compelling boundary-hopping and high concept recording companies. Founded by Canadian producers Peter Marrone aka Guyus Grey and Andreas Rizek Aka Cosella, the techno and deep house brand thrives off of evolving concepts and entrepreneurial spirit thanks to its owner’s resourcefulness and active participation in the city’s music production community.
On January 10th, Downpour unveiled their first major release of 2017 – Guyus Grey’s Eidolons EP. While the label ebbs and flows with the constant tidal shifts of underground music popularity, this EP sticks true to Downpour’s key theme among all its releases, storytelling. I spoke with Peter to dig deeper into how Eidolons fits into the greater picture of the label’s branding and the dynamic of operating an emerging company while juggling DJ sets at the same time.
TRC: With the new year well underway, I understand that there are some major changes at work for your label, Downpour. How does the Eidolons EP fit into this new movement?
Peter: Yes there certainly are. My good friend and label partner, Andreas Rizek (Cosella), and I sat down in the Fall of 2016 and we sort of said to ourselves, “How can we build a new concept around the label that creates both a memorable listening experience and unforgettable aesthetic perspective for our fans?” We were getting really bored of the space theme, our Intergalactic Catalogue, and wanted to do something more along the lines of art and storytelling that what we had going on. We concluded that the best options to achieve this were to A – Bring out a new label catalogue, with new art, images, branding, etc and B – make sure every release attached to this new catalogue has more than just music embedded into it. For example, making sure the photographs and album art match the theme of the artists and their music. So we shuffled through my collection of 35mm film photographs and began building our Terra Catalogue off of my photos.
Eidolons fits into this release as us welcoming you into the Terra Catalogue. It is an EP completely inspired by my favourite sci-fi/fantasy narratives, and represents my musical interpretations of those narratives. The plan here on out is to bump out a new label catalogue every 2 or so years. Kind of like how clothing companies have different lines pre season.
TRC: Do you think it’s necessary to have a theme when pairing several tracks together like in the Eidolons EP? Rather than albums, I’d imagine that this shorter format gives you more of a chance to explore a genre as a topic rather than just pair a couple creations together.
Peter: I do. To me, it is not only necessary to have a theme but vital to creating engaging and intricate art. I am a storyteller, be it through my in-studio productions, my live sets, my literary works or my art, and as a storyteller I feel as if have a responsibility to give whomever is listening the ability to experience my story in the best way possible. I’ve never believed in just releasing EP’s or LP’s that are a grouping of a few good tracks. There needs to be something more to it. Sort of like a subconscious artistic motif to the overall feel of the release that gives it a deeper meaning. That is ultimately what makes good art withstand the test of time right? With that all said, I am not neglecting releasing an LP or having an LP come out on Downpour, we do have longer formats for concepts like this planed for this year.
TRC: In the world of progressive techno, how does one tell a story or generate a song rather than a “track”?
I always like to start with a theme, a basic raw bones idea. I was telling Cosella over the holidays that I’ve never actually had a melody or groove come to me outside of the studio. That being said, I constantly have motifs of what I want to make music about flowing into me. Be it how I think specific narratives will sound, like I did with Eidolons, women muses I’ve been with who have inspired me, paintings that I’ve seen and want to create into a progressive techno tunes, how my favourite cities have made me feel, etc. Through these ideas and my experience with them I am able to them convert that into what I believe is a sonically engaging track and tell a story about that experience.
TRC: As an emerging Toronto producer, are performing DJ sets of the same value as digitally sharing your music? How do you draw a line between being a Toronto-based producer and being a “Local DJ”?
Peter: They are both two things worth the same value to me. Seeing a large or small crowd react to my music and having a fan message me personally online to tell me my sounds have made them happy, or anything along those lines, gives me the same level of happiness. The performance aspect for me is unique to me though because as a strictly live act I get to test how new tracks, or one-time-tracks (tracks designed specifically for the gig that only get hear at the gig and never again after that) will make the crowd react in real time.
I guess I draw the line by never fully identifying myself with being associated with one city or nation or anything like that. If the ability to enjoy music is universal, then as an artist I have to make sure that my identity in Toronto will remain the same in Montreal or in New York, London, etc. I also travel a lot to different cites and take in a lot from those cities which has shaped both my sound and my personality.
TRC: Speaking of DJ sets, you tend to slant to the “live” side of things, preferring to perform beyond just CDJs. Are there any underground musicians that you applaud for their ability beyond just DJing on 1s and 2s?
Peter: As a live act a lot of my performance influence comes from Deadmau5 and Recondite. The sonic, progressive end of things coming from Deadmau5. The way that I play, gear and all, coming from Recondite. It was him who loosely inspired me to grab the K2 controllers that I use when I perform live. I initially had been playing with some 5-6 suitcases of gear at my gigs, and after realizing now annoying that was to bring with me, I changed my live set up to the small portable one from watching him at Electric Island in 2015.
Images by Ded Agency