Kentsuji x Conscious Wave - Vinyl Mix & Interview

Happy New Year everyone!

Thank you for sticking with us through an extremely quiet 2022. Such a quiet year has certainly made it feel like an eternity since our last deep dive into a Conscious Wave feature. For this one we had the pleasure of sitting down with the Montréal-based vinyl DJ Kentsuji, aka Amine and spoke about his journey with music, growing up in the scene, collecting records and getting into mixing. A heads up that this mix is straight vibes and comes through with some proper vinyl bass education. 

We decided to make this one another Q&A style feature since the last few went so well. If you like this style be sure to check out two previous Q&A gems with Sof Silva and Fanza.

Finally, don't forget that you can download our Deep Tempo Podcast supported 2022 New Year Compilation [A/V] for free here. You can also catch us every four weeks live on Sub FM radio (Thursdays from 7-9PM ET), as well as listen to ALL of our archives here.

Be sure to support us by liking, sharing and subscribing to all of our socials so you don't miss out on all of our updates and future projects in 2023! <3

With that out of the way let's get into our FIRST mix feature and full interview of 2023 !!

Hey Amine, thanks for doing this again with us! For our followers who may not know you, I wanted to hear a bit about your background as well as where your DJ name comes from to start. Were you born and raised in Montréal?

I was born and raised in Algeria. I arrived in Montreal at the age of 10 and have never moved since! My parents are Berber (an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa), therefore aside from French & English I can understand a bit of that language, as well as some Algerian Arabic. As for my DJ name, it is inspired by Kinsugi (“a traditional Japanese pottery repair technique in which lacquer mixed with precious metals is used to fill cracks and replace missing pieces”) and is a little spin on the spelling. I feel like a parallel could be made with humans and music to a certain extent… like our life experiences that break us are what make us unique. Certain songs remind me of that. It’s a little deep but when I discovered it I was looking for DJ name so it was like the stars were aligning!

Very cool on the DJ name! I also had no idea you were born outside of Canada. I seem to be learning that about a lot of people that we sit down with! Tell me a bit about your roots and how you got into dubstep.

I discovered dubstep around 2010 and I was mind blown! I had a high school friend who had good quality headphones and we used to get super stoned and listen to songs while passing them back & forth. We were already listening to old Tempa, DMZ, Deep Medi and such on YouTube back in those days. I was only 16 then... time flies.

That is quite a long time to be into the genre, certainly longer than myself! It's no secret that Montréal is a hotspot for events. Tell us a bit about the first events you discovered growing up there.

Seriously, Montréal has such a unique vibe. I started going out and looking for events in the underground music scene when I was about 19 years old. Back then it was the time to experiment so I went to all kinds of parties. I experienced everything from psytrance parties to heavy dubstep events at Le Belmont, featuring artists like Excision and SkisM. Even though I went to all kinds of underground events I always had a particular interest and special feeling when I heard the deep wubs.

I think a lot of us who got into dubstep thru the underground share a similar experience (especially in Montréal)! How did you get into collecting records and why?

Ironically, in the beginning collecting records for me was a way to limit my spending. I told myself that I would be better off supporting artists and owning music than drinking overpriced liquor at the club. It also stopped me from overspending on digital music. When you have to spend over $20 per record, your money can go fast. You have to discipline yourself and be more selective. Also with so many DJs out there I wanted to do something a little less common in our scene.

Interesting, that is not what I expected! How did you make that transition from collecting records into DJ'ing? Did you start getting into the underground EDM scene in Montréal before you started mixing?

Yes, I was part of the crowd for about 6 years before giving it a try. I bought two turntables to start learning how to scratch. After owning the gear it was a natural transition to start being interested in mixing. I started out messing with jazz hop, instrumental stuff and hip hop. Scratching also ended up being a gateway to playing out.

I certainly agree it's less common in our scene though I always love seeing those skills on display! Do you remember your first gig?

Yes, it was actually 6 years and 1 day ago! Jules (Kobil) was leaving for a month to go to New Zealand and Melek (who used to work behind the bar at Backstage) threw a party for the occasion. She invited me to come play some tunes. 

How did that gig go and how did you feel about your first set?

I will always remember being told that it was both a solid, yet eclectic set. I laughed because I certainly didn't think it was great. I thought it was too diverse with no substance if that makes sense but others certainly didn't think so. I was obviously a bit more self-conscious and less satisfied with my creative work back then.

I understand that feeling. It's tough to know sometimes if a diverse collection of sounds will fit the vibe or not. I also may have guessed that you were a bit of a perfectionist since you sent us a few different files for this mix! We are here for it.

This thought actually leads me to wanting to talk about your mix for Conscious Wave... I'm not going to hold back when I say that we absolutely loved it and think that it's top shelf and what our listeners tend to enjoy!

Honestly, I smiled a few times while listening to it like I was surprising myself. It's one of the first times I can say I am very proud of a mix!

Amazing to hear! Was there a certain vibe you were going for with this one? I can certainly hear some of your roots thru the jazzy and instrumental bits.

Yes, I wanted to take listeners on a little auditive journey into my mind & world. The reggae sounding bits I start with were kind of my entrance into dubstep and my first "coup de coeur". I remember listening to Numa Crew back in the days and I loved the clash of soulful lyrics and deep wobbles. The overall selection is a mix of popular songs with some very limited, vinyl-only releases thrown in. I felt like it turned out to be a good representation of my personality and tastes. There are some trappy bits in there as well.

When you sit down to record a mix how do you tend to prepare it?

When preparing a mix like this one I try to go for a ride, not just a good selection. The selection has to be good but I also want the tunes to tell their story together. What I love about DJ'ing is how you can use different tracks and different moments to convey emotions. For me it's not just about having good musical taste. I feel it's important to play the tunes at the right moments to deliver their full potential.

I appreciate you elaborating on that! I know this a tough one to summarize sometimes but are there any artists that you're looking up to these days that inspire you?

The local homies seriously. What I mean by that is that simply my friends are often my biggest inspiration. I used to play different genres before seeing my friends from MusikMeLuv play at Outlook 2019. This blew my mind and inspired me to play dubstep. On a similar note seeing guys like SBK. release his first physical release on an international label and then sitting at the top of the charts next to legends was surreal to me. Wraz & Substance taking over the US slowly and seeing Meddem [CWCOMP002] exchange dubplates with artists that I've been listening to for 5+ years also makes me feel the same way.

It is insane how our dubstep community in Québec has blown up over the last ten years. Since we're based in Montréal / Ottawa this has obviously been a huge driving factor in choosing the artists we've featured and the shows we've thrown. Are there any international artists that you have on repeat?

If talk about international all-time favs, Coki has a unique signature sound that I absolutely adore. Coki & Commodo definitely have a special place in my heart and I often play out tunes from them.

Are there any gigs that have stood out to you since you started playing out?

I LOVE playing on a good soundsystem. I had the pleasure of playing on Bassix a few times. For gigs that stood out I would have to say #1 was playing on the 40hz Soundsystem at Valhalla Sound Circus and #2 was playing on HiFive Soundsystem at La Traverse. The crowd at La Traverse made me feel like a headliner.

Are there any thoughts about mixing on vinyl or advice you would give to the heads out there that might be thinking about getting into spinning records as well?

That's a tough one. The learning curve is longer to climb and it took me quite some time to be able to properly use the pitch fader and simply mix with my ears. It can get expensive but it has been worth the feeling of being able to manipulate the sound and have that hands-on contact with the music. This is why I am fascinated with scratching. I kind of wanted to rap when I was younger but writing is not my force. To me scratching is a way of expressing myself on top of a beat. I started scratching before mixing (so about 7 years ago) but I abandoned it for about 4 years. This is why I am back at it. There are so many different techniques and variations. It's like a vocabulary of hand movements and then you can create your own combos with it. You also have your choice of samples to scratch and the velocity of your movement that will change the pitch. Having a scratch hour has helped me commit to sharpening those skills.

I’m sure a lot of us appreciate those thoughts! In any case I feel like we've touched on a lot so I wanted to get into some final thoughts. Since this music has been apart of you for so long and since you've surely seen it grow and change over the years, how do you feel about the future of dubstep in Montreal?

I am very optimistic for the scene because there are always new faces coming out to events or at least now curious about it. Seeing Melek booked 3 years in a row at Igloofest and Piknic Electronik is an example of how there is room and interest for this type of music from big organizations. I touched on this earlier but I feel like artists like Wraz, Substance, SBK. & Shigero are putting Montreal on the map in terms of dubstep.

I couldn't agree more. At CW we have always remained optimistic and grateful for any growth the community or genre experiences! Are there any final shout outs you'd like to give before we end this one?

Shout out MusikMeLuv, Conscious Wave and MTL's Bassix Production. When you all hosted Compa in MTL at that warehouse that was the first time I saw a dubstep DJ spin vinyl. I was off to the side and remained close by watching him select records (maybe too close!).

Take a breath / puff everyone, this concludes our first feature of the year. As our cherished platform reaches almost ten years old we ask only that you continue to enjoy this one and share it with your mates, it means the world to us! Keep an eye on our socials as we are looking to get back into events this year. As always, let's sign off with our feelings on this mix.

Kentsuji's mix for Conscious Wave is a thoughtful, meditative yet gradual one. This particular collection of records takes us on a journey from the roots of the genre, passing by borderline-club bangers and heavy soundsystem head-nodders. The tracklist consists mostly of familiar faces with (of course) a white label or two thrown in there. 

- Conscious Wave


Unknown Artist - Herbstrong
Author - Jah Live
VIVEK - One Heart
Teffa - Dancehall Rock
Breakfake - No Crime
TMSV - Funeral Bill
Crix Saiz - Warriah
Chief Kaya - Dubplate
Chad Dubz - Regrets (Argo Remix)
DJ Yung Vamp - I Never Scared
Ago - I.Got.
Bukez Finezt - Benz
Glume & Phossa - Superfly (Argo Remix)
EVA808 - Prrr
Bukez Finezt - Jupiter
Zygos - Svensk Riddim
Nizth - Stutter
Oxossi - Frantic
Traces - Adapt
Unknown Outlaw - Blue Lights
Commodo, Gantz & Kahn - Unmistakeable

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