This local DJ collective wants to make Toronto a rave city
Sandwich District is an electronic DJ collective building its reputation from the ground up and their goal is to host exceptional techno raves in Toronto.
The DJs are local talents, mostly in their twenties, who've known each other for years. Some of them even live together. They started the collective out of the sheer joy of making music together and they want to spread that energy to the rest of the city.
They don't personally cash in on any of their events either, as the priority is the quality of the shows.
Instead of paying themselves, they put the profits towards future endeavours and investments like covering booking costs, paying headlining DJs, and in some cases, even flying international DJs into Toronto.
The name, Sandwich District, is a parody of a now defunct multi-national collective of techno DJs called Sandwell District.
The collective is made up of 10 consistent members: Ester Shiner, Third Planet, Juzefer, Dafeifei, Subverso Zines, Derrie Air, Buck Washenfold, and DJ Googie, who live in Toronto, plus two members, Coldchain Logistics and Kiju, who are based in Montreal, as well as slumptownkid who now lives in BC, and was the creator of Sandwich District's logo.
This gives them the unique opportunity to build relationships in both cities.
They hope that by bringing Montreal's rave culture to Toronto, they can help bolster Toronto's own rave scene.
In fact, Sandwich Districts' first ever event was actually hosted on top of Mount Royal in Montreal. They lugged a generator to the top of the mountain and were happily surprised by the amount of people who turned up.
That event inspired them to start officially performing back home, so they held an informal gathering of friends in an undisclosed location in the city.
The spot was secluded and the traffic was minimal. Two or three DJs performed including local star, R-oderick. The event was so well received that they started hosting regular raves in and around Toronto.
Each collective member plays a part in the execution, from corresponding with agents, to booking headlining performers and venues, to equipment set up and performing original sets.
Their objective is to never throw a mediocre show.
"To the best of our ability, we don't want to compromise what is exciting and inspiring to us, in order to profit," says Ester Shiner.
"It really is a labor of love," he says, noting the expense of their October 2022 show in which they flew in their first international guest, Japanese DJ, Takaaki Itoh. "It cost around three grand and we probably made about $50."
In spite of that, they consider it one of their favourite shows to date. The humble guest DJ actually stayed in their apartment, which made it possible for them to afford his time.
One of the challenges the collective faces is finding affordable spaces in the city to host events.
In order for Toronto to really establish a rave scene, they believe the city needs more venues big enough for a dance floor that supply their own sound system.
For the time being, they have a couple of reliable spots.
Their next show will take place on June 16th at Tapestry, in Kensington Market.
For future performances, they plan to continue bringing a Montreal flavour of electronic music to Toronto.
Eventually, says Juzefer, they'd like to release original music on their own label. For the time being however, they're still building themselves up and enjoying the process.
"The hope is that one day we'll have enough involvement [from the community] that we ourselves are lifted up by our pride in our work, and the music that we love," says Third Planet.
The crew is grateful to the local community and all the artists they've collaborated with since the collective's inception. These individuals are Sandwich District's greatest motivation.
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