Double Barrel isn’t your regular Friday night party in Ottawa. It’s something else to say the least and it’s brought to you thanks to DJ Magnificient, the man behind the monthly vinyl dance shindig. For the upcoming edition of Double Barrel happening this Friday, February 22, I had the chance to catch up with DJ Magnificient to ask him some questions regarding his favorite night in the city.
Elly: As the father of Double Barrel, what would you say characterizes the event and makes it stand out from other Ottawa club parties?
DJ Magnificent: Every other major city in the world has vinyl-only vintage soul/funk parties. It was something missing in Ottawa and the response has been great. This isn’t a night for sitting around and listening to collectable, rare records and then discussing them. It’s for dancing! We play rare records, and popular records as long as it’s quality and makes people dance. When I have guest DJs, they are like-minded in that way. The reason I love and play 45s is because that is the way the youth in the 60’s and 70’s bought, listened and partied to the music. The 7 inch 45 record was central to funk/soul and reggae music.
Elly: How would you describe the crowd that attends Double Barrel?
DJ Magnificient: Double Barrel is largely a party that is built up from friends telling friends to come out. I develop relationships with the new people that come out so the cycle continues and there is growth. We accept any and everyone that wants to dance!
Elly: Take us back to the beginning. When did Double Barrel start and what pushed you to launch the monthly event?
DJ Magnificient: It all started in October 2009 at Overkill Bar (formerly Bar 56) in the basement of Mercury Lounge as Rocksteady Soul Thursdays with DJ Ska-tee who does the Melting Pot parties. I was a monthly guest (sometimes more) and we’d call the weeks I’d play ‘Double Barrel’. The first actual Double Barrel happened on December 10, 2009. I was asked to take over the night in 2011, so we renamed it Double Barrel Weekly Thursdays from September 1, 2011 onward. The night was doing amazing but as a 9 to 5 worker, after almost 3 years of barely making it in to work Friday mornings, something had to change for me. I would’ve loved to stay at Overkill, but they already have good programming on Fridays so I took the party to Mugshots. Monthly parties are good for the hype-train! You get a whole month to prepare for the next one.
Elly: What’s in a name? Does Double Barrel stand for anything special?
DJ Magnificient: It’s an old reggae tune from 1971. To me Double Barrel signifies a DJ featuring US Soul/Funk and early Jamaican Reggae/Ska in the same night like a double whammy: you get hit with both sounds. At first we were really strict on it being a 1965-1973 tunes-only party but I’ve loosened up to include good stuff from the later 70’s and into the 80’s as well. Most of the music I like to play is still that late 60’s funk/motown/soul. That era’s music makes anyone want to get up and dance. It just works!
Elly: It’s safe to say you’re a veteran of the local music scene. How would you compare the National Capital scene today with how it was when you first started deejaying?
DJ Magnificient: Well I got my first equipment in 1993 and started deejaying parties in 1996. The Hull Strip was the place you wanted to party at and DJ in those days and I wanted to play the popular house/rap/reggae/r&b and be out there at those clubs. 20 years later, I’m happy to still see a lot of young DJs coming up with a passion for acquiring music and learning about the roots of the styles they are into. Two big differences that I see most often are that new DJs buy equipment, get a bunch of mp3s and start playing parties right away. They do not know how to mix, which I think is an important component of being a disc jockey.
Also, in this age of digital DJs and mail ordering music, hanging out at the record store where you’d have conversations with the staff and DJs and build relationships and community is really missing now. Online forums, blogs, social media and record reviews cannot replace that unique experience.
Elly: Not many DJs today carry on the tradition of using turntables and vinyl records to play and create music. What came first: your love of deejaying or your interest in collecting vinyls? How important is it to you to keep this tradition alive?
DJ Magnificient: I started collecting records at a really young age. My mom used to take me to garage sales and I used to want all the records. Also getting vintage stereo equipment, radios and old TVs was part of that obsession. It was only natural that obsession with old electronics and records turned into deejaying. There was always lots of music and singing going on in our house. The best DJs I know either started as record collectors or are collectors now.
Turntables are my preference and will remain that way, but that is not the reality of many new DJs or the ones they look up to. I get bored watching DJs that use tiny controllers in their sets. An enjoyable party experience for me lies in a DJ manipulating music on devices larger than a radio dial and interacting with a crowd while mixing.
Elly: What else are you currently involved with aside from Double Barrel?
DJ Magnificient: I get booked to play a lot of fun parties! This past weekend I deejayed for Beau’s at the Winterbrewed Festival on Sparks Street where I played everything from classic rock to indie rock to new rap. A couple months ago I opened up for The Heatwave SoundSystem out of the UK and I played classic and new dancehall reggae. I also do club dates in the city where I play good new current stuff and of course my favorite gigs are when I get booked to play 45s specifically and I recently was booked in Toronto to do just that!
Elly: Thanks alot for taking the time to answer questions for Eventful Capital and for sharing your love of vinyls with the National Capital Region. We look forward to attending Double Barrel!
Double Barrel, Ottawa’s only dance party primarily focused on the sounds of Motown, Funk, Soul, 1st wave Ska, Early Reggae and Northern Soul takes places every last Friday of the month at Mugshots at 75 Nicholas Street.