Modern Math turns up the volume

By Victoria Nguyen

Math — not exactly the first word you would think about when describing music. If, however, you were to mention the phrase “Modern Math,” the word might prompt an entirely different reaction.

For those familiar with the electronic music scene in Calgary, Modern Math is known as a local collective DJ group that hosts regular shows and parties — and an integral part of the local dubstep scene in Calgary. For anyone who has attended a Modern Math night, however, it is an experience that stimulates all of your senses.

Consisting of DJs Dan Solo, Mr. Geography, Lorne B, Thief, Donna Dada, Typist and Crimson, Modern Math was the resulting efforts of a collective vision that the members all shared.

“It started with a crew of us being into a specific niche sound and vibe when it comes to music, going out with friends and partying,” explains Dan, one of the co-founders of Modern Math.

While there was the occasional dubstep show every few months, Dan Solo and Mr. Geography, who DJ together under the name Piranha Piranha, wanted to create a night where EDM enthusiasts could come together and express themselves through music.

“We knew there just had to be some people out there who were like us,” says Mr. Geography. At the time, dubstep was emerging as an internationally recognized music genre. The experimental sounds associated with it caused mixed reactions among those who were exposed to the genre’s signature wobbly bass lines and syncopated drum patterns.

“At the time, there were way more people who hated dubstep than liked it . . . It has been interesting to see people resist a trend until they cannot resist it anymore,” says Dan.

Across Canada, especially on the west coast, the genre was starting to experience a surge in popularity. According to Mr. Geography, though, “it wasn’t a market that was being catered to in Calgary.”

The genre’s nationwide hype worked in Modern Math’s favour to create intrigue and curiosity among the Calgary community. Needless to say, from the initial bass drop, Modern Math has captured the attention of locals.

Since its inception, Modern Math has strived to create formulas to perfect a unique experience for its attendees. A large factor that affects the experience is the space in which their shows are held. When the regular bass nights first started, Modern Math was held at Lord Nelson’s Bar & Grill in downtown Calgary. After several noise complaints, the group was forced to move to the now-defunct Marquee Room.

“It reached the fever pitch. We couldn’t continue on at the [volume] level we wanted to and Marquee seemed like a good option at the time, but it had a lot of things happening against it. The sound did not travel properly and the room divided people instead of creating one collective space,” explains Dan.

The move to the Marquee Room evidently changed the Modern Math equation unfavourably and the group took a break from performances. Fortunately for bassheads, Modern Math is back at Lord Nelson’s — and it seems like they are there to stay. For 2012, at least one show has been scheduled every month.

Dan elaborates on what keeps people coming back: “No one had a place to express themselves. It has opened up a new avenue to be creative . . . the brand is ever-evolving and when people come to our shows, they don’t have an expectation for what we play.”

The type of fans that Modern Math attracts reflects the crew’s open-minded perspective on music.

“The people who come regularly to our shows, I wouldn’t even call them fans,” remarks Dan. “They are a community of our friends.”

All in all, it’s clear that the members of Modern Math pride themselves on recognizing that innovation is the key to their formula’s success.

“[We] don’t want to be caught up in one phase of a musical trend. Music changes over time and if you attach yourself to one genre, you get left behind,” says Dan.

“[Music is] an equation that balances different factors: the lights, sound, people and vibe. We want to give people a relief and an escape from their everyday life.”

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