Benjamin Boles profiles Trini record producer Jillionaire for Now Toronto.
Despite being primarily based in Trinidad, DJ/producer Jillionaire (aka Christopher Leacock) knows a hell of a lot about emerging Toronto dance music talent. When the topic comes up, he reels off familiar names like Torro Torro, Bonjay and Zeds Dead as ones to watch, plus relative unknowns Micro Prophet (who recently relocated to Toronto from Ottawa) and the mysterious and eccentric Dakota, who opens for him at the Drake and whom Leacock can’t stop raving about.
“He’s not a little crazy – he’s a lot crazy,” Leacock admits, laughing. “He’s amazingly talented, though.”
After spending well over a decade learning his craft in Trinidad, Leacock hooked up with Diplo and joined the Mad Decent crew, and now travels the world mixing soca and dancehall vibes with contemporary global club sounds. Nice work if you can get it, yet he misses his days running an eclectic live music venue back home.
“I wish I could have continued to do both,” he says. “When you have your own place, you set your own rules. The thing about places like Trinidad and Jamaica is that they can be very musically insular. There isn’t much space for kids making hip-hop, electronic music or hybrid genres. You have to support people who want to do weird, different, fun stuff. Otherwise, it’ll get very homogenous.”
And now that he’s on the international scene, he’s eager to help expand the tastes of his non-Caribbean audiences and counter their own insularity.
“Caribana is supposed to be the largest street parade in all of North America, but I meet people in Toronto who’ve never been. Because I tend to play more for a hipster crowd now, I try to blend Caribbean music with current club music so people have a bit more context. It’s about trying to mix what we listen to in the First World with what we listen to down there.”
Leacock has probably attended more Caribana parades, including the last two, than most Torontonians. While he has fond memories of them, he feels that the omnipresent security fences detract from the participatory spirit of Caribbean carnivals.
“I actually hopped the parade fence a couple of years ago and ran into a couple of aunts of mine who had come up on the bus from New York City.
“In Brazil, you buy tickets to go to the stadium to watch the carnival, but in Trinidad you buy a costume and take part. There are very few things that can rival that experience. Being from there, we just hop the fence.”
On top of constant DJing, remixing and producing, Leacock is starting a record label as well. Creating that infrastructure, he says, is an important part of moving the culture forward.
“Over the last few years of touring, I’ve had so many young kids ask me how to get signed and get more gigs. The Catch-22 is that to get more gigs you need to get signed, but there aren’t many indie dance labels in North America, so it’s not easy.”
For the original report go to http://www.nowtoronto.com/music/story.cfm?content=185023