Nesting: an exclusive look into Toronto's new dance music home
Toronto's history with dance music has been long and storied, spanning more than 20 years. Whether the big raves of the past to the megaclub The Guvernment to Footwork and then Coda, there has always been a place to catch whatever the quality sounds of the time were.
Starting tonight in Canada's largest city, a new era begins with Nest's grand opening. The opening weekend lineup features three parties with Black Coffee, Fehrplay and the legendary Danny Tenaglia. But in a city with lots of nightclubs, why should people be excited about Nest?
Sure, the Dynacord sound system and two rooms of music are appealing, but the reason Nest - which is in the city's Little Italy neighborhood - stands out has to be the track record of the people behind it. Two of BPM Festival's founders, Philip Pulitano and Vito Tomasicchio, are teaming with Rob Oliverio (who also owns RYZE) and Toronto DJ/producer and No. 19 co-owner Nitin Kalyan on the project. The group's combined experience with growing one of the most popular music festivals in North America from the ground up and decades invested into Toronto's scene tell us that this is not just another club venture.
Pulse Radio was able to chat with Pulitano in advance of tonight's Grand Opening with South Africa's Black Coffee and Nitin about the vision behind Nest and what people can expect in one of dance music's capitals.
What will make Nest different in a Toronto market that has plenty going on?
We believe it’s the space itself that’s going to set Nest apart in Toronto’s market. The club’s versatility will cater to a range of crowds with a common interest in the music. The two separate levels will house two separate vibes with a warehouse/underground vibe downstairs and a nightclub vibe upstairs with a bigger room and bigger sound. The food element downstairs will be a sophisticated and artistic offering within the venue. Overall, the team that we have joined and the team that we are building will speak for itself.
What will your vision/direction be on bookings? Sticking more with house or will techno be in play as well?
Our vision and direction regarding the talent that we plan to book will be techno-driven Fridays throughout the entire venue. Upcoming bookings for the fall will be more label showcase driven, similar to the format at BPM. Saturdays will be a little bit more house-driven for an older demographic offering the element of shared plates downstairs with craft beers and cocktails. Saturday will focus on local talent from Toronto and Montreal as well as some frequent appearances from New York artists.
Opening weekend is important, how'd you decide on those three artists?
Our opening weekend program was decided based on the idea to showcase musical diversity and to preview how Nest programming will be for the venue moving forward. Black Coffee on Friday is a solid underground booking from South Africa, who's had appearances at DC-10 and Circo-Loco, has changed his style of music to fit into our Friday theme. Fehrplay on Saturday is something you may not see a lot of from us in the weeks to come, but it is an event that we are honoring from a previous booking that was in the works by Ozmosis before the new venture commenced. On Sunday with Tenaglia, this artist speaks for himself as Danny has been a statue here in Toronto and has been a prominent artist around the world and is family to us as all. We thought there was no better way to launch the new venue than with a marathon set from New York’s house legend Danny Tenaglia.
I know when we spoke, you said Toronto's rising property values were hurting clubs. Is the development of more and more of the city making it hard for club's to exist for a long time?
I don’t think the rising property value in Toronto is what’s affecting the club business; I think that the club business in Toronto has become very saturated. The only way that the rising real estate market is hurting the club business here in Toronto is because all of the old buildings and venues are being torn down to build condos or condos are being built around clubs and therefore running into by-law issues with sound. There is a lack of thousand-person venues in the city and now the clubs are too big or too small for a proper vibe. We plan to find that happy medium with Nest.
What's a common misconception about Toronto?
The common misconception of Toronto is that people say it’s colder than Montreal. Ha! Musically, the main misconception is that we are not on the international dance radar when in fact, collectively, my partners and I have been in this business for over 30 years and Toronto had a big peak in the mid-to-late 90’s. In the 90’s Toronto had one of the biggest rave cultures in North America. In the early 2000’s it started to dwindle down a bit, but I think that had a lot to do with political issues within the city and what the city was considering a “rave” and what raves really were.
Do you think Toronto has cemented its reputation as a top 'dance music capital'? Why?
Currently Toronto’s scene has been progressively doing better. I think Coda has done an outstanding job of keeping this underground vibe alive and its time now that the city is ready for another venue that can offer a different variety of programming to Toronto.
As far as bookings, how do you balance taking chances on new/upcoming artists with keeping the club full enough?
As far as taking chances on booking up-and-coming artists, we are going to book very similar to the way we book BPM festival in Playa Del Carmen. We are strong believers of building talent and taking chances on that true, raw talent who may not yet be considered top-tier bookings. I also strongly believe that once you build a good product and build the trust of the partygoers we have set ourselves in a position to book and showcase new talent. I don’t think educating people is an easy task and something that we particularly like to do but we are going to book up-and-coming talent and the music we enjoy and that we are confident the crowd will enjoy as well.