Toronto Is Broken Interview

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Toronto Is Broken releases the second EP from his forthcoming debut album Section 9 on Sub Slayers at the end of August so we took the opportunity to find out more about him and what to expect…

Please introduce yourself briefly…
Hello internet! I’m Christian Hoffmann, otherwise known as Toronto Is Broken. I’m a 21-year-old electronica and bass music producer hailing from Leicestershire and I’m signed to Jay Cunning’s Sub Slayers label along with other artists such as King Yoof, Gold Dubs, Aries, Serial Killaz, Aswad & Schema.

You might know me from tracks like The Metropolis, Extraction Point, Hanging On and Spirit Song 2012, which has been a major part of the Arcadia Spectacular show at festivals like Boomtown and Glastonbury.

When did you first try your hand at DJing and producing? What made you try?
Originally my background was purely metal and post-hardcore, listening to bands such as Alexisonfire, Killswitch Engage, From Autumn to Ashes, Bring Me The Horizon and Enter Shikari. I’d tried playing in bands and always wrote my own guitar music, but I hated the compromise that came with writing with a band.

I used to think that electronic music was basically THUD THUD THUD and squeaky voices like Cascada and Scooter, which didn’t appeal to me one bit. It wasn’t until I bought Enter Shikari’s debut album “Take To The Skies” on a whim back in 2007 that I started falling in love with electronic music and began branching out in terms of listening.

I then discovered that the lead vocalist from Enter Shikari had a solo side project producing electronic music, known now as Rout. This made me realise that you didn’t have to be in a band to actually make music. I swiftly downloaded a demo version of FL Studio 8 and haven’t looked back since.

You’re about to release the second EP from your forthcoming album, what can you tell us about it?
Well, Rekall is a 100BPM neurohop tune featuring vocals from BBK, a Stateside MC who’s worked with loads of big names in the breakbeat scene such as Columbo, Chaos Theory and Destroyers. He did a wicked job on the single and we’re both equally as chuffed by the final outcome.

I also organised the remix package myself and everyone did a wicked job on their remixes and surpassed themselves. Naiive’s Neurofunk drum & bass mix has one hell of a twisted bassline that sonically messes with your brain, 601’s future jungle remix is just complete tear-out, Roughmath did a sick bouncy dubstep remix and INF1N1TE’s half-time drum & bass remix is a dancefloor destroyer!

Tell us more about the album itself, what can we expect?
The album is entitled Section Nine, named after the government organisation from the Anime “Ghost In The Shell” that fights cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism in a dark, near future where the line between man and machine is blurred.

In terms of how it sounds, it’s a wide mix of all the current and previous styles I’ve worked in from drum & bass, garage, IDM to breakbeat and more. Overall it’s a pretty dark album with a heavy neurofunk and cyberpunk vibe to it all, and some of the tracks are just plain weird and out there and on an almost Amon Tobin and Aphex Twin style tip. It’s also a continuous record with interludes and reoccurring themes.

The album is about mankind’s ever growing dependence on technology, and essentially living in a virtual network, know to us as the internet. The album also asks the question of what happens when technology ultimately fails us and breaks apart, to the point where mankind has to go back to square one.

It follows the story of a protagonist from he or she first hooking up the “The Net”, tracks like Man/Machine_Interface and Rekall, to questioning their existence when we rely on this vast network to survive in the tracks Never Let You Go and Dejitaru Ishiki and then trying to cope when all this technology is taken from them in Rosuto and Absolution. This whole narrative has a big “to be continued…” stuck at the end of it!

Who have you collaborated with on it?
There are a fair few collaborations on the record. Firstly there’s a variety of vocalists on the record, Reeson who sang on Die For You, two local singers Nuala, and Jodie Carnall, and American breaks rapper BBK, who features on Rekall.

I also worked on a track with my mate Ad Gannon, who’s released on Dimension and Skank&Bass’s label Regal Records, and also Hospital, on the track Close Your Eyes.

How did you hook up with Sub Slayers in the first and what has it been like working with them?
Basically I sent a half finished version of my track Taking Over to High Rankin who was the first ever big name DJ to support my stuff. I was like “I’ve made this thing and I have no idea what it is and what to do with it”, it was my first ever attempt at future jungle and he forwarded it onto Jay Cunning as Sub Slayers very first release was a single from High Rankin. Jay contacted me instantly and a before I knew it I was signed to Sub Slayers and he also took me under his wing as my manager.

It’s been wicked working with Jay, he’s got an impressive resume for being just a DJ, and has been in the scene since the very start. His experience and knowledge is indispensable, and it’s great working with someone who loves everything I make and gets as excited as me when it comes to my music. I also feel like it’s been a very equal two way working relationship and I’ve taught him a little bit too as time’s gone on. I’ve still yet to get him to enjoy psy-trance though…

I also feel really comfortable working with him, he’s still going be behind me 100% and managing me when my time comes to move on from Sub Slayers.

Got any remixes in the pipeline we should look out for?
My remix of Wizard’s Mind Control came out not long ago and has been doing incredibly well! I recently finished up a remix for my mate INF1N1TE of his track Parade and this should be coming out in the not too distant future.

What else have you been working on in the studio recently?
Lots of stuff! I’ve been branching out even further in terms of styles, themes and overall feel. I’ve been listening to a lot more out there like electronica artists like Jon Hopkins, Moderat and Data Romance, and I’ve taken the focus of my music away from being purely written for the dancefloor. I don’t want to say anything else as it won’t be a surprise when you get to hear it!

Where can people see you play in the near future?
I’m playing at Brixton Jamm for the Hot Cakes vs. Instant Vibes Boat Party after-party on August 23. If you want to hear plenty of album exclusives be there for 3am!

Anything else you want to tell us about?
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram if you want to stay in the loops with all things Toronto Is Broken and Sub Slayers!

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About Author

Colin Steven co-founded Knowledge Magazine in 1994. He also runs a book publishing company called Velocity Press specialising in electronic music and club culture.

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