“Continuum”: Demsky, in interview with Sinusoidal Music
A Canadian beatmaker based in Tokyo, Demsky has quickly gained momentum with his captivating ambient and downtempo soundscapes in Japan and Europe. Drawing inspiration from the vibrant music scenes, he has graced stages at renowned festivals like Asagiri Jam, Zizkovska Noc, Unkai Natural Camp, and Come Together Music Festival.
‘Continuum’ sees Demsky flex the more club-focussed side of his production. Built around a 4/4 rhythm and throbbing bassline, it’s purpose-built to evoke the sublime. Here’s Demsky in interview with Sinusoidal, talking about his journey and Continuum!
You’ve described your sound as ever-evolving. Can you tell us about the key influences and inspirations that have shaped your musical journey from your debut EP to your most recent work?
Demsky: I think it all started with being involved in the jamband music scene. My old band used to play the Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal circuit on repeat with incredible groups that would play 10-minute tracks of pure improvisation. It taught me how to listen to my bandmates and crowd in front of me. My older brother got me into hip-hop so when I’m creating a beat, I always try to make something that emulates what I grew up with. My track “It’s All Lemons” has a beat that was inspired by Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison’ ‘. Brings me back to my childhood.
Moving from Toronto to Tokyo, how has the change in environment and culture influenced your music and approach to beatmaking?
Demsky: I think any change in life is going to leave a mark on you. When I first moved here, I was playing bass a lot in the post-rock, beatmaker and noise communities. I don’t think I would ever have learnt as much as I did from those genres being back home. They really opened my eyes to new sounds and voices, which has propelled me here.
In your work, you explore themes like adaption, compassion, and relationships. Could you delve into how these themes inspire your music and creative process?
Demsky: I think all those themes require listening and understanding of others, which I try to improve on a daily basis. When I listen to new artists or even just my friend’s stories, I take those home with me, reflect and sit down to write. It makes me look at my own songs at what patterns I tend to visit the most and think about how I can approach new sounds. I always ask myself how I can break my own patterns to keep it intriguing to others, but most importantly myself.
Live performances seem to be an essential part of your musical expression. How do you adapt your beatmaking for live events, and what do you enjoy most about performing in front of an audience?
Demsky: Before I release anything, they have to be played live. That’s where I test new material to see what hits and what arrangements might work for future releases. I think comedians are the same in that sense. They test jokes live to see what reactions they get. I put my live show before my recordings. I always want to create an experience for the audience they have never seen or heard before, and the songs build character from them. Live is a release of emotion and I hope it’s the same for my audience.
Can you give us some insights into the Tokyo chill instrumental and beat scene and how it has impacted your music and collaborations?
Demsky: You have to find it. Tokyo is so big with so many pockets of communities and each one has uniquely impacted me. When I first started touring, I tried to play every room imaginable trying to see where I fit in. The noise and ambient scenes found at venues like Ochiai Soup and Pool really shifted my approach to my own sound. I wanted to match the ambiance of the rooms. I was also sometimes rushing concepts in my songs at the beginning. Watching all the great artists over the last 4 years has shown me how to make sections breathe, grow organically and approach the creation of them differently.
Tell us about your experiences touring across Canada, Europe, and Japan. Are there any standout moments or memorable stories you’d like to share from your travels?
Demsky: I think playing home will always be one of the biggest highlights for me. I got to play my old circuit and see how it hits home. I could share this music I love so much with the people that have shaped me the most. When it comes to Europe, playing Prague as a solo artist in a packed house with the most attentive crowd showed me that I have an audience out there and people are ready to listen.
Your new EP, As Your Heart Beats, is highly anticipated. What can listeners expect from this upcoming release, and are there any specific themes or concepts you’re exploring in it?
Demsky: In some ways, the tracks might come across as separate elements from each other, but that was always the idea. I wanted all of the tracks to represent a different part of the world or a different part of your psyche that others might not even be aware of. Even if people are aware of them, they might brush them off in order to attend to more important matters facing their world. Ukraine just got tragically hit for the first time when I was in Poland. I watched my Polish friends immediately run to the aid of their neighbour. Within a day, the streets were covered in Ukrainian flags showing their undying support for them. It was a beautiful yet somber experience. A few days later, I flew back to Japan. While they were obviously very concerned with the situation in Ukraine, the country was battling the pandemic completely unmindful of what Poland was going through. This album is just about being fully aware of what is and it all happens as your heart beats.
How do you approach the creative process when producing singles and albums? Are there specific rituals or methods you follow to maintain your unique sound?
Demsky: Recently, I’ve been going online and learning about new instruments I just purchased and all the tricks involved with them. I would take those tutorials and write concepts based off of my new techniques. The Clouds was born from me just learning about a new Ableton instrument and it spawned into the ambient rager that it is now. Other times, it usually starts from a big beat or old movie clip that sparks 8 or 9 stems, which can later be arranged into a song.
Your music often transcends traditional genre boundaries. How would you personally define your sound, and what are the elements that make it distinct?
Demsky: I leave that up to the audience. Most people call my music ambient and trip-hop so I combined the two into one genre. I think it would be awkward if I said I was in one genre and then most people call me out on it making me totally miss the mark so I’ll leave it to them hahaha.
Looking ahead, what are your long-term goals and aspirations as an artist, and how do you see your music evolving in the future?
Demsky: I did a pretty successful run this year in Asia. My goal is to head back to Europe and pockets of Asia for the year ahead. As long as I always progress at what I do while having fun, my goal will be reached.
“Continuum” by Demsky comes out the 24th of November 2023– keep your eyes open, and ears even more so 🙂