Interview: My Favorite Robot
Ibiza’s DJ Awards has chosen My Favorite Robot as a nominee for this year’s ‘Newcomer’ trophy. Composed of two Canadian allies, Jared Simms and Voytek Korab, My Favorite Robot has amassed global recognition within just a few short years.
Their record label, My Favorite Robot Records, and monthly podcast, Crossing Wires, have received equal attention with a selection of abstract house and techno. We spoke to the talented duo as they prepare to kick off their label showcase “Crossing Wires,” which will be held in Toronto on July 22 at CODA nightclub, and Montreal on July 23 at Piknic Electronik.
“…it was the acid and hard techno thing that drew us in”
Who is My Favorite Robot? Tell me a little about yourselves.
We are the duo of Jared Simms and Voytek Korab. Two Canadian based musicians and owners of the My Favorite Robot Records label.
When did each of you first discover electronic music?
We both discovered electronic music in Montreal during the early and mid 90’s. The rave scene there was at its peak and we dove in head first to say the least. It was a very special time in Montreal’s scene and the memories will always carry us forward.
What was it that drew you to this music? Who were your early influences?
Coming from the alternative rock scene and being in bands, it was the acid and hard techno thing that drew us in originally. Locals like Tiga really made the scene in those days and thanks to that we got sucked in. Then it was the likes of Sasha and Richie Hawtin and Autechre among others who always brought something very cutting edge in those days and we were very lucky to have many of these now icons inspire us when they were just getting going.
When did you first meet one another?
We met in the early 2000’s at a loft party thrown by Jared. We realized that we probably met a few times before in the rave scene but those memories are foggy at best. We decided to DJ together that night and the rest is history.
When/why did you decide to start producing together?
Once Jared left Montreal for Toronto and met up with the No.19 crew we decided to make a go of it on the production front as we then had a great crew of friends and musicians to push us forward. That’s when the label was born and we started taking the whole project way more seriously where as before it was more of a local hobby thing.
Did DJing or production come first? How does each one influence the other?
Song writing came first. Then DJing took over for quite a few years but once we got the label going the production side took us back to song writing and making music again. DJing definitely helped guide our sound once we started producing as all our influences really helped us zero in on what kind of music we wanted to make. We knew what we wanted to sound like from the start.
How do you guys work together in the studio? Is there a clear division of task or responsibilities?
We live in different cities so the process usually involves Voytek in Montreal starting the tracks and concepts and sending the sessions to Jared in Toronto who then finishes them off or we both get together in Toronto to finish them. It’s the way we’ve worked since the beginning so there’s a certain familiar and stream lined process to it now. We do prefer to be in the same studio when we can but it’s not always possible with our schedules.
What equipment do you use in your productions?
We always try to use our favourite Jupiter 6 in our music. On recent productions still being finished we used the OB-6 and the Oberheim Xpander which took our sound in a new direction.
What is your process in making a track. Do you have an idea already when you go in the studio? Or this a process of experimentation?
There’s usually an idea first. Experimenting does play a role but in our experience it’s better to have an idea in mind when sitting down to produce. Whether it’s just a vocal melody or a bassline, it definitely helps to have it already when sitting down to work as it helps guide the writing process. We do welcome happy accidents of course and frequently those are the ones that make a track that much more special.
Tell me about setting up the label. When/why did you decide to do it?
When Jared moved to Toronto he met the No.19 guys almost immediately. Jonny White from now Art Department and Nitin both convinced him to start a label seeing as Voytek was still writing songs and we had everything in place to take the project to the next level. If it wasn’t for those guys it might have never happened so we are grateful they pushed us.
How would you describe the sound of your label?
The sound is definitely more on the indy electronic side with touches of techno and electro. We try not to have a particular sound as we really just sign music that we love and that speaks to us no matter the genre. We’ve always tried to stay away from trends in music so we definitely keep things eclectic and it seems to be working so far. One thing we always look for is musicality so we tend to attract proper musicians to our label and that suits us just fine.
What are your Top 5 favorite releases on your label? Tell me a little about each one.
Fairmont’s “Automaton” album is still one of our faves. Such a great work of art. Jori Hulkkonen’s “Oh But I Am” album was also a milestone for our label and we are very happy to be working with Jori to this day. Chloe’s remix of our track “ Desensitize “ is a timeless killer and still features in our sets to this day and will no doubt continue to do so. Timo Maas’s Crossing Wires compilation was a great one and gave birth to the Crossing Wires brand that we now use for our label showcases. Our own “Glass to the End” EP also comes to mind as it was a return to our own label for us after a long absence. Too many to mention really. Sid Le Rock, Tim Paris and many more are artists we hope to continue working with as time goes on.
How did Timo Maas end up remixing “Cast” from the Panoptikum E.P.?
Timo had become a good friend and supporter of the label so it was natural we would ask him to remix “Cast.” He had previously done stuff for the label including the first Crossing Wires compilation so having him back on remix duties this time was definitely a privilege.
What are some of your favorite places that you’ve played at recently? What cities/clubs?
We always love Circoloco at DC-10 in Ibiza as we play every year, Beirut’s The Garten and Uberhaus are probably the best venues all around, Bootleg in Tel Aviv was amazing and Mosaique in St Petersburg was a very special one this year. We are also looking forward to our debut at Coda in Toronto in late July as it’s always a pleasure to play the top venue in the city where our label is based.
How long have you been doing your “Crossing Wires” podcast?
Crossing Wires was originally the name of compilations that we put out on our label. We decided to keep the name for our label showcases around the world and this year we branched out again and used the branding to feature artists from our label for podcasts. It’s a great way to showcase our artists and to promote their music on a monthly basis.
Tell me about your upcoming label showcase at Coda nightclub.
We’re very excited to do our showcase at Coda. We’ve been waiting to make our debut there for a while so it’s great to finally get the opportunity. It’s probably the best venue in Toronto at the moment so we plan on having a very special night and we hope to see all our Toronto friends there.
Who else is joining you for this evening? What relationship do you have with the other DJs?
Chloe and Kenny Glasgow will be joining us so needless to say it’s gonna be a great night. Chloe’s been a regular on our label since quite a while and we love her music. We’ve been lucky to play at her Lumiere Noire events at Rex in Paris so we’re extremely excited to have her play with us on this side of the pond. Kenny has been on our label since the very beginning and is a close friend both professionally and personally. Having him play with us at Coda will be a great and long overdue reunion and no doubt some crazy times as always.
You’ve been nominated for “Best Newcomer” at the 20th Annual DJ awards. What was your reaction when you found out? What else can we expect from My Favorite Robot for the remainder of 2017?
We definitely don’t consider ourselves “Newcomers” so we chuckled a bit when we found out but it has been a year of many nominations for us including DJ Mag’s best of North America and Mixmag’s label of the decade so we’re very honored once again. We’ll just shave the grey off our beards to fit the
category I guess.
As for the remainder of 2017, it’s more gigs around the world and more original music that we can’t wait to release and share with everyone!
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- Interview conducted by Ian MacKenzie