If your ears work, you can’t not have fun at a Smalltown DJs gig. That’s a scientific fact. Look it up. The Canadian duo’s uncanny ability to make crowds feel like schoolkids at recess stems naturally from their focus on maximizing fun for themselves.
“We’re just out to consistently have the best time possible,” says Pete Emes, who shares space behind the decks with partner Mike Grimes. This fun maximization philosophy is the unifying force behind the Smalltown’s genre-warping club sets, which cover vast musical territory but never veer from the good times vibe.
Smalltown DJs began in 1999, when Emes and Grimes started playing records out together. Before long the duo had launched Hai Karate, a weekly Thursday smash-up that’s still going strong. Now in its twelfth year, Hai Karate is a free-for-all dance party that borrows a little from each of the scenes that shaped the Smalltown sound: community hall punk rock, block party hip-hop and early nineties rave.
The long-running night is now hosted at HiFi Club, the Calgary nightspot that the Smalltowners opened with a partner in 2005. In 2011, they added to their clubland empire with Commonweath Bar & Stage, a much larger venue that has already become a linchpin of Calgary’s music scene.
When they’re not deejaying or tending to their businesses in Calgary, you can usually find Smalltown DJs on the road headlining shows and performing at festivals throughout North America and Europe. You can also find them on the airwaves. On Scion Radio, Emes and Grimes host a bilingual radio show called “Le Gros,” alongside fellow Canadian deejay, Neoteric. CBC Radio 3 also called on the boys to deejay a set for its inaugural podcast featuring all-Canadian electronic and dance music.
At the same time, Smalltown DJs stay busy on the production side of things, putting out dancefloor-friendly music both as a duo and as members of Smalltown Romeo, the trio they formed with Wax Romeo in 2010. “Boom Ha,” Smalltown Romeo’s breakout single, was recently featured in the box office hit The Sitter starring Jonah Hill, and the trio has made a pile of notable remixes, including ones that saw release on Fool’s Gold records (owned in part by A-Trak) and Teenage Riot. As a duo, Smalltown DJs have upcoming releases slated for Top Billin, T&A Records, Sol Selectas, and Bigfoot (their own label). Not surprisingly, the squad’s production style resembles their approach to deejaying – polymorphous, party-focused and pretension-free.
Smalltown DJs’ quest to maximize fun for themselves and others is an ongoing saga. They continue to tour relentlessly.