“It’s my duty to let people know what I think is great in general, as a DJ. And now as a producer, I can take that to the next level, where I can actually make songs with these artists and I can put them on stages with me – because I was just looking at myself like a conduit to be able to connect things and people.”
Kirk St. Cyr, better known as DJ 4Korners, is talking not only about his role as a DJ playing music in clubs around the world, but also as a fully-fledged artist who’s just released his debut album. Much like the releases of many other Canadian DJs in the present day, 4Korners of the World not only highlights his songwriting and production skills across a variety of music genres, it also incorporates the constantly evolving roles a DJ increasingly takes on in addition to their foundational, well-honed, and essential skills of rocking a party crowd.
4Korners of The World mashes up a number of different genres, incorporating musical styles that range through afrobeats, hip-hop, R&B, and electronic music, into a seamless extension of his sets as a DJ. Recruiting a number of newly emerging artists from across Canada, 4Korners of the World is a truly eclectic mix.
“The reason why I chose these particular artists is, number one, they’re all dope,” says 4Korners. “Second, because of the concept of the album, I specifically sought out people from the diaspora, and first-generation Canadians of other-worldly descent. I think that we carry a unique experience. I think we see the world in an interesting way, we see Canada in an interesting way. And I believe that that really comes through in the music.”
For 4Korners, the album is a logical extension of the music he plays in clubs, and at basketball games as the official DJ of the Toronto Raptors. As his brand game is strong, 4Korners recently launched an artist showcase called Wonderful in Toronto. “The mission is to showcase emerging and established BIPOC artists, celebrate our music and cultures,” says 4Korners about the combined concert and party showcase.
Another DJ determined to showcase new and emerging artists is Toronto-born, Los Angeles- based DJ Rosegold. “I do love to introduce new artists and new music that I think that no one knows about,” says the DJ, born Dahlia Harper. “And I do it selectively, by putting in a new song… sandwiched in between two songs that I know everyone in the club knows, no matter how old you are, how young you are, what your race is.”
“As a DJ, it’s my duty to let people know what I think is great… as a producer, I can take that to the next level” – DJ 4Korners
Describing her sound as “the music that you didn’t know that you wanted to hear,” DJ Rosegold has manifested her eclectic disc jockeying on her Rosegold University: Homecoming EP, where she pays homage to her reggae roots, and her forthcoming music, expected in early 2023.
Not only does the music she produces herself showcase musical styles from across the diaspora, it’s also evident in the eye-catching merch from her Rosegold University line that she recognizes the importance of branding in a social media age. This has led her to DJing events for Barack Obama and Lauren London, among many others.
However, Rosegold wishes that such an emphasis on branding wasn’t necessary. “Now, it’s like talent isn’t the main thing that people focus on, unfortunately,” she says. “So, for me as a DJ, the majority of my bookings are from word of mouth, or people finding me on Instagram. My bookings are heavily reliant on what my brand looks like on social media.” Rosegold has adapted to this reality and turned her confident, driven personality to her advantage, creating a talent agency called House of Milo.
But at the end of the day, whether you’re a DJ or an artist, it comes down to bringing your inimitable style to the music. Junia-T’s 2020 Studio Monk album was short-listed for a Polaris Prize, a couple of years after his stint as a DJ for Jessie Reyez on her first global tour. He initially made some noise as an MC, and now identifies mainly as a DJ/producer, so Junia-T has some insight into the mindset a DJ brings as an artist.
“I keep them one and the same,” says Junia-T of his approach. “Not every DJ is like that, but I like to play the same way I select music for a project. I like to just play the stuff that I really enjoy. I don’t care if people know it or not, because it’s a test of my taste.”
DJ Rosegold mirrors this attitude. “The thing that I think is so cool about me crossing over into production is, I know what goes. By that, I mean that I know what the people want to hear in the party,” she says. “Because I see the reactions, I see what gets people excited, and I put myself in the shoes of the partygoer… So that’s kind of how I fuse the two together, and that’s why I’m really happy that I started first in DJing and then going into production – because I was able to really identify what it is that people want to hear.”
For 4Korners, who grew up in a Trinidadian household in Toronto, and enjoyed a childhood where he loved everything from soca to funk to rock, there’s a similar mentality when looking at the fluidity between being a DJ and an artist.
“It was only natural that I played all the music that I love, so it’s always been a wide variety of things,” he says. “Now that I’m a producer and an artist, and I’m making the music that I play, it’s just the same thing. I have so many different types of music, and there’s so many sounds from so many influences, that it wouldn’t be me if it didn’t come out like this through my music. There’s no way I can do one specific thing. It’s just not who I am.”