Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Exclusive: Catching Up With A-Trak

The Montreal-bred DJ talks about his music festival and a new collaboration

By: Ilan Mester

Published: September 4th, 2014 in Culture » Music » Interviews

It’s been four years since we last checked in with A-Trak. Since then, the Montreal-bred DJ who’s collaborated with the likes of Kanye West and The Roots has launched his own hip-hop-infused music festival: Fool’s Gold Day Off.

Here, A-Trak talks about the event (which makes its debut in Toronto on Saturday, Sept. 6), why EDM festivals get a bad rep, and reveals a new track with Miike Snow lead singer Andrew Wyatt.

What makes Toronto a good city to host a Fool’s Gold Day Off festival?

I always love DJing in Toronto myself. I feel like we have a solid fanbase there, as much on the electro side as on the hip hop side. We also have a good relationship with the Embrace guys. So it felt like a good city to do our first Canadian event of the Day Off series, and then expand after that.

You brought in quite a few surprise guests during the New York edition. Can you give us a hint as to who we might expect in Toronto?

No, I can’t! Hahah… Surprises have to stay surprises.

You’ve yet to host a Day Off festival in your hometown of Montreal. Is that something you’d consider?

Absolutely. I wanted to do it this year but we weren’t able to get the type of space we wanted. I really want to bring it to Montreal next year.

You tweeted the other day that EDM and hip-hop events often get a bad rep. Do you think that’s starting to change thanks to events like Drake’s OVO Fest and Day Off? 



I hope so! We lost the license for the original space that we had in Toronto. It’s disappointing when something happens at one festival and all the other ones have to suffer from it. At our New York event last Monday, we had six thousand attendees and no injuries, no fights, nothing. I really want our Toronto fans to know that when they come to a Fool’s Gold event, they’re going to experience our spirit, our vibe. It doesn’t even matter where it is, it always ends up feeling like Fool’s Gold.

You’ve been able to pull off these festivals without a major sponsor, which is pretty impressive. Is that because you wanted creative control or because it was tricky to secure a good one? 


Honestly we just weren’t able to secure a big sponsor this year, the market is pretty tapped out. So we’re just doing everything ourselves. We keep the ticket prices very low, we basically break even. We like to draw the cool artsy kids to our events and we know they can’t always afford an expensive festival ticket!

You said in an interview that DJing is about taking chances. Which artists do you think are really living up to that right now?


Luckily there are plenty of DJs who aren’t afraid to take chances, still today. I would name guys like Skrillex, Diplo, Steve Angello, Boys Noize, Craze, Justin Martin, Kaskade, Laidback Luke as a few examples of DJs who take risks all the time. But it’s not even about the big names. I think it’s super important to support the local DJs who have residencies at the clubs and are breaking our records every week, and the guys on the radio too. When those guys take risks it’s even more ballsy because they’re expected to follow a formula.

The Daily Mail recently mistook you for a member of Odd Future. Did that amuse you?

I loved it, because it’s an example of when online jokes turn real. I’m a fan of any successful prank.

Last time we spoke you said that Jamie Lidell and Swizz Beatz were on your shortlist of artists you’d like to collaborate with. Have there been any new additions to your list?

Oh wow! I forgot about that. Yes there are plenty. I like to keep my collaborators a surprise, but I can tell you that I have a song coming out this fall with Andrew Wyatt, the lead singer from Miike Snow.

Is it safe to say Taylor Swift isn’t on that list?

Hey, you never know.

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