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Ever wondered how you could get into DJ’ing? Get yourself to a city with a killer DJ community! In Canada, there’s no place to break into the DJ community like Calgary. Clubs like HiFi and Commonwealth make sure that there are venues to support a thriving EDM and hip hop scene, while Calgary’s friendly vibe makes it easy to break into the community.
Canada’s leading DJ institution, Beat Drop, is located right in the heart of Calgary, offering certificate programs in music production and DJ’ing, as well as private lessons, all of which are taught by industry veterans who still spin at Calgary clubs. The DJ scene in Calgary is one of the most welcoming in the world, which has helped the city become a catalyst for Canada’s emerging talent.
Here are five Calgary DJs who play sets in everything from micro clubs to huge festivals. These five are also so friendly that they’d gladly pass along their scratch skills to you if you met them in person, so keep an eye out for them the next time you go clubbing.
Rick Cruz (a.k.a. C-Sik) is the 2014 Canadian Red Bull Thre3style champion and a three-time city DMC winner. His style mixes hip hop, house, soul, and future beats, which has made his sounds instantly recognizable across Canada. If you want to hear C-Sik’s iconic scratches and cuts, check out Set It Off – the weekly night he hosts at the HiFi Club in Calgary. Outside of DJ’ing, C-Sik is part of the Humble Giants – a rap group that have played everywhere from clubs in his hometown to the SXSW music festival in Austin. C-Sik is one of the instructors at Beat Drop, where he teaches the next generation of Calgary’s emerging DJs and music producers. He even taught Craig McMorris and M-F Roy in an episode of Far & Wide.
Undoubtedly Western Canada’s most renowned dance music duo, Smalltown DJs have played alongside giants of EDM in both massive festivals and intimate spaces while building an empire in their home town. They own the world-famous HiFi Club, the Bigfoot record label, the Phonic record store, and the Giant 45 clothing retailer. With weekly residencies at HiFi and EyeCandy Soundlounge in Vegas, the duo recently teamed up with Wax Romeo to create Smalltown Romeo—a dance music production supergroup.
With a global touring schedule that barely leaves time to catch her breath between sessions, jayemkayem is becoming one of the world’s hottest DJs. Documenting her travels as she DJs on jayemkay.com, Josephine Cruz made the switch from journalism and gained notoriety playing venues in Montreal, Vancouver, New York, and her hometown of Calgary. Check out her mixes on Soundcloud to hear this emerging dance music sensation.
Richi Omony and Tibor Tomic are the producing and DJ duo to watch coming out of Calgary’s dance music scene. Opening for giants like Morgan Page and Bingo Players, Sunseekerz can be regularly heard at mega clubs like Calgary’s Marquee Beer Market & Stage. The pair have DJ’ed together since 2011 and incorporate everything from house to big room. If you’ve been to Chasing Summer, Western Canada’s largest EDM festival, you’ve probably gone wild to their set since they’ve played at the event for the last four years.
You may know her as Isis Graham, but whatever you call her, she is a legend of Canadian dance music. For 20 years, Essette has played festivals like Bass Coast and spun at some of the biggest clubs in the world like the Embassy and Cherry Lounge. In 2013, she became a co-owner of Substation Recordings and her Chicago-house style music has shaped the sounds of Calgary’s dance music scene. Check out one of her 30+ releases for a history of dance music in Canada.