INTERVIEW SERIES: Joel Cabana

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Welcome to HNT Radio’s interview series. We are excited to be in company with DJ Joel Cabana today and thank for Joel giving us the time for this interview. Joel Cabana has been a DJ on HNT Radio since December 2017. You can tune in for his weekly show IN THE MIX every Wednesdays at 9 pm eastern time and on repeat Fridays at Midnight (sat. 00:00)

1.How did you first get interested in electronic music?

It goes way back, it’s an interest in all music styles really, from hair guitar bands and disco in my early youth… to my love of breakdance music that led to hip hop… I guess if I have to put an origin on it, my love of electronic music stems from listening to the late night experimental electronic music shows that used to air back in 92 or 93. I used to stay up real late and listen to the UQAM (Université du Quebec a Montreal) broadcast almost every night, I remember that some radios couldn’t go low enough to catch the actual frequency. The station used to play some weird stuff, long rifts that more often than not would lead nowhere sometimes with no beat at all. I also always loved Dance music. Synths, hi-hats, and beats it gets me you know.

2. Who are you biggest influences in the electronic music industry?

Influences, that is hard for me to define there are so many artists out there. Currently, Harvey McKay, Bart Skillz, Spartaque…. But influence as a career, I would say working as a promoter in my early 20’s for Circus afterhour and then for Montreal’s Aria Nightclub, I had the opportunity to meet and learn from so many amazing talents. I believe John Aquaviva, Misstress Barbara, Dj Preach would be my biggest source of inspiration. Seeing John Aquaviva pitch bending a tune while using a rag to clean the dust off a live playing vinyl is really a thing of beauty. But witnessing Ferry Corsten, Ben Sims, Carl Cox, Tiesto, Sasha, Infected Mushroom amongst so many other perform right by me every weekend for years has been some incredible experiences that to this day still define my mixing and who I am really.

3. What is your favorite genre of electronic music?

Techno has always been my favorite, I like big beats with melodic elements that takes your brain on a tour. Doesn’t really matter what label a tune has been tagged with, if it grooves has strong rhythm and a catchy element then it’s fair play. I like music that makes you want to dance and put a smile on your face. 4.

What DJ equipment do you use and why?

Well I started on vinyl but quickly moved to CD’s and PCDJ. That was in 1998. I now use anything, from CDJ’s to controllers. I prefer to use a Native Instrument Traktor control S4 with Traktor pro 2 without sync, snap or quantize. Not that I am against it but I find that these features take away from the touch and feel of using various Dj equipment and delegate too much to the software to do instead of you. I love the trackwheels and the various built-in effect of Traktor.

5. If you were to do a warm-up set for any artist who would it be?

I would prefer to do the main set but If I had to open, Carl Cox, Ben Sims, Adam Beyer or Spartaque or the Spektre guys.

6. Where do you see yourself in DJ’ing 5 years from now?

Hard to say, five years ago I was recovering from a heart attack and triple bypass surgery. 3 years ago, I was officially starting Joel Cabana Entertainment. Recently I did the Canadian athletes award after-party, I was in charge of the whole musical aspect of the Festivulve de Montreal where I coordinate 10 other dj’s. I was just offered centerstage for this year Capital Pride in Ottawa. I would love to say that I see myself and my wife backpacking in Arizona on a weekday while I go and tour internationally on the weekends but who knows what’s in store for then.

7. How has your experience been as a DJ with HNT Radio?

It’s been fun and sometimes a bit of a challenge. It’s not always easy to commit to creating mixes of 2 hours week after week and to come up with original content. It can be difficult but also very rewarding. Knowing that your mixes are reaching people from across the world feels really good. I had fans reach out to me, people from Russia,Brazil, Africa, Germany and even Korea that are tuning in. My experience with HNT Radio allowed me to make new friends and collaborations. Namely with Dj HIDEKI from Japan or DJ Scram from New York, my new buddy Marco Pelly from Montreal or of course Gary the big man at the head of HNT Radio that has been so generous towards me and the other dj’s. Thank you, Gary!

8. What is the origin of your DJ name?

Well, it’s a combination of lack of imagination combined with sheer luck. Joel Cabana is my birth given name and then came the time to declare myself as a Dj I just said my name… I’ve been often told that Joel Cabana sounds like a Rockstar name… but has it turns out Joel can be loosely interpreted as Prophet or God and Cabana means Cabin or House. When I discovered that my actual name loosely means God of House or prophet of Cabin, it pretty much sealed the deal. Although if it wasn’t already taken I would have liked the moniker “CereBrawl” but I like using my real name, Djing has literally always been part of my life and it is who I am, using an alias would feel like wearing a mask.

9. Have you ever been known as another DJ name?

NOPE….

10. What inspired you to become a DJ?

My first inspiration would be my aunt Ginette and my stepdad who would rock every family party that I add as a kid growing up. They didn’t mix back then but the parties where always great. I was given a real suitcase record player as a kid and I would try and scratch like they did on Musique plus (the French version of Much music), I broke my needle trying to scratch on a Pat Benatar vinyl. I use to make mixtape for my friends and family… In my teens, I would throw parties or go out to clubs and dance until 3 in the morning …. When I turned 16 I started working as a security guard for a teenage dance where I would help the DJ setup and sometime I would take over while he snuck out for cigarette breaks. Once on a slow night I put on Informer from Snow, it caught on and people started dancing…the DJ told me “Good Job” when he came back and I was hooked. That led me to become a promoter

11. Do you have any tracks in the works? Record label?

I have multiple tracks in the work… I’m currently working on a track called Rock You where I took a little snippet of Queen’s we will rock you’s Vocal and created a whole techno track around that… I’m always trying to find collaborators to create tracks or remixes for but in all honesty, I have to get back at it and properly finish some of the projects that have been lingering for some time. I’m relatively new at the producing game, I love it, I am learning so much all the time. I believe you can definitely ear a progression from my first tracks to my current ones. Some are available right now on my Soundcloud!

12. Where have you performed? What venues?

I have performed for multiple private and corporate events under my DJ Joel Cabana Entertainment company where I offer music for every occasion: Weddings, corporate events, school dances, fundraisers, etc. My first paid gig was at a small bar in Beauharnois Called “Le Singapour”, I was 18 and super nervous but the bar owner came up to me and gave me a beer, he said “You really have a good ear, I can’t tell at all when you switch from one song to the next”. That was an awesome compliment… last big venues where Mercury Lounge, the Canadian athletes awards after party, This year Ottawa Pride on Bank Street, PHOS light and sound festival In Matane, Circus Afterhours dj contest 2 years in a row, I was resident DJ at Unity Club in Montreal, Showcased at Festivulve (Vulvafest) in Montreal, I also performed for last years Capital Pride Social signature event at the National Museum of Nature in Ottawa. I have weekly residencies for HNT Radio and used to play for Sugar shack Radio

13. Do You have any upcoming live shows?

I will be performing live February 22 at Mercury Lounge in Ottawa as part of the Music art people collective opening for the talented JuSt B.

14. Do you think your style/genre will change in the future?

Yes and I welcome it, my style is in constant evolution. I love learning and growing, I hope I never lose this passion to improve myself and by extension, my music.

15. Do you have a set time in the week when you practice?

I consider my show my weekly practice, sometimes I will try to squeeze in some sessions. Whenever I feel like it I will jump on the decks and play some tunes.

16. How do you choose the music for your DJ Session?

I consume an amazing amount of tunes any given week. I spend hours digging online for catchy elements…. I choose my music based on how likely it is able to make me want to get up and dance, dream or think.

17. How can your perspective fans learn more about you?

They can reach out on social media, MixCloud or SoundCloud or on my official DJ website at www.djjoelcabana.com

18. Is there anyone you would like to mention who have supported you in your DJ career?

Yeah, my friend Jonathan Spijkers, who was always supportive, My Wife Celia who puts up with my specialties and Gary Jack for is Generosity

19. Do you have any new release information you’d like to share?

Yes my 100th hour special show on hnt radio is coming soon stay tune, I want to make this mix extra special to commemorate my 50th show therefore my 100th hour mixed on HNT radio. Its been a great journey so far lets celebrate.

20. When Did you first become interested in music?

As far as I can remember I’ve always been interested in music… Even as a kid I wanted to grow up to be a DJ

21. What else do you do for fun besides DJ’ing?

Im a Graphic and web designer, I run this company called gig solution where I apply my knowledge and talent to help other DJs, bands and event promoters with Quality promotional material, websites and other diverse media solutions. Check it out at www.gig-solution.com

22. Why did you choose to play electronic music?

it would seem that it choose me… I loved it when it was called disco then Dance then house now it lives on as Techno

23. How would you rate the music scene in your home city?

it’s a small but dedicated following fortunately for me I live close to Montreal where it’s much more “happening” and in today’s world you can reach an international crowd through the internet.

24. Do you have any formal music education?

Not really, I did learn how to use a keyboard when I was a young child but I can’t say that I have formal education.

Thank you from all of us here at HNT Radio for giving us the time to speak with you today.

You can check out DJ Joel Cabana for his show “IN THE MIX” every Wednesdays at 9 P.M. EST and on repeat Friday 11:59 P.M. (midnight Saturday morning) Thanks!

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