Written by Aerrow Farr
Photos by NDK Images and Stassie V (Cover photo by Stassie V (@stassie.v))
For the past 5 years, Ever After has been bringing heavy bass to Canadian bassheads every summer. Based in Kitchener, Ontario – about an hour outside of Toronto, Ever After is a top Canadian favorite. In the past 2 years, Ever After has really been trying to expand to house featuring a whole stage just for house artists, while the other stages still pop off to some heavy dubstep.
This year over 32,000 festival goers came to Ever After, making it the biggest Ever After yet. This year saw an upgrade in sound and light production, camping perks, water supply, VIP benefits and the use of cannabis inside the grounds.
There were three stages at this year’s EA – including the Ontario Stage, the Excalibur Stage and the On the Grand Stage. Friday night was closed out by Kill the Noise and Snails, who have only joined forces behind the booth a handful of times previously. Saturday saw a headlining appearance from Excision who played over an hour and a half of mind-numbing bass. Excision even brought out Sullivan King to play with him for part of his set. Sunday was closed out by fan favorite ILLENIUM. Illenium played a live set, with Dabin (a Toronto native) joining him live. He dropped a new unreleased collab with the Chainsmokers as his final track of the night.
The On the Grand Stage, located on the top of a hill overlooking the rest of the festival, hosted different stage takeovers every day. The day 1 takeover transformed the stage into the Dub Arena, with an opening performance from Toronto talent HYDEE, and Clouds, NC-17 & Vegas dubstep producer Aweminus. These sets were followed by Alix Perez who brought a heavy drum & bass set, followed by an old school Rusko set. Lastly, NOISIA took the stage for a class dnb set, closing out the Dub Arena for day 1. The On the Grand stage turned into the UpsideDown House Stage for Day 2, which included the likes of Green Velvet, Chris Lake, Justin Martin, Chocolate Puma, and Wax Motif among others. Lastly, the ChopUp Hill stage takeover featured heavy dubstep and riddim on Day 3. Festival goers had eight hours of riddim from the likes of Dirt Monkey b2b SubDocta, Infectb2bMvrda b2b Oolacile, Riot Ten b2b Sullivan King, and Boogie T b4b SQUNTO b4b Subtronics b4b Al Ross.
Our Festival Squad Exclusive Interview with BIJOU at Ever After
FS: Thanks for sitting down with me and giving me this opportunity. Before anything, I want to ask you how did the name come about? It’s French for jewel, right?
Ben: It is, yeah, but I’m not French, but ..
FS: You’re not, you’re from Arizona.
Ben: ..I’m from Arizona yeah, so my older brother started calling me this randomly. He’s like, oh, I saw it on a TV commercial. They started calling me this and well I needed a DJ name. So he’s like well, why don’t you just use that? Since then, that was in 2009 and since then it just stuck. It came from my older brother.
FS: Have you ever thought about making a logo, like a jewel to play off the name?
Ben: I have, but I feel like a diamond or a jewel is kind of played out, it’s been done so many times.
FS: That’s fair. So how did your DJ career start? I know you did baseball, how did you transition from baseball to being a great DJ?
Ben: Thank you, first of all, I started as a promoter when I was playing baseball in college, so I was doing online promotions, selling tickets, stuff like that. I was just on the street team, like even handing out flyers. So I started from the bottom and at the same time I was learning how to DJ; and then 2012 came around, I started playing more shows, we started producing and then in 2013 I retired from baseball and was like all right, I’m going to try this full time. And then just kept going and going and going. Finally, in 2015 I was able to quit my job and do music full time.
FS: And you just built it up from there?
Ben: Yeah, little by little. And it’s just crazy cause it’s been like one step at a time, online promoters, street team promoters, selling tickets, just teaching locally and it just continued to go, so it was cool.
FS: Wow, quite the journey. So through that process how did you settle on your sound? Did you start DJ’ing Hip Hop, and House kind of grew on you or vice versa?
Ben: So this is gonna be confusing, right? I started as a Trance DJ, like Markus Schulz, Koma, all the Coldharbour (Record Label); like the dark stuff, right? But I always loved Hip Hop, I always loved House and I just couldn’t figure out how to put the two together. And then I heard Rondo by Torren Foot, Destructo played it at Hard Summer years ago and I was like, Yo, they did it. So they just played Hip Hop vocals on a house record and then they made it a little darker. I realized that’s g-house, that’s the stuff I’ve been looking for. At that point I was like, alright, that’s what I want to do. I figured it out and then I just started doing it myself and here..
FS: It’s worked out beautifully.
Ben: Thank you, man. Thank you.
FS: On that note, what artists do you like working with and then collaborating with on your music?
Ben: Umm, I think Doctor Fresch is an obvious one. We just got done with like a week long production retreat. We finished four new songs.
FS: I saw your Twitter. That view out the window was so good man.
Ben: Man, that was his grandma’s place. So it was cool. I got to stay there. Um, Wax Motif is right next door. I’ve worked on a bunch of stuff with Wax, we just haven’t finished anything yet. Jerry Ganza from the early days, he taught me so much production wise when he was doing his last project. A lot of the house guys I’m working with, AC Slater was a blast. So that little realm, like all of us are friends, you know, and everyone knows each other and everyone just really gets along. So it’s cool and it’s fun.
FS: That transitions beautifully to my next question for you, actually. What can we expect from BIJOU in the next year? Albums, shows?
Ben: My album’s going to come 2020 in the Fall. I wanted to do it this year but I didn’t want to rush it, you know, I don’t think that it would be fair to myself or anyone if you rushed an album. So a big single coming on Dim Mak in July and then another single on Dim Mak coming in September that we’re doing a whole Fall tour around. I have a big tour in Australia in July. I’m sitting on a ton of music. I’m working on some remixes right now for a couple of guys and there’s a lot, man. I’m sitting on probably 14, 15 records; some of those will be on the album and some will be singles, so I’m trying to get together like 20, 25 tracks and then really cut it down to 10 to 12 to have the whole album. I’m going to have some Hip Hop records on the album too, it’s not going to be just House. So everything that I love is going to be on that album. So people are like, all right, that’s who he is. Then people don’t just know me as an artist, they know me as a person too, so it’s more than just BIJOU, it’s Ben too.
FS: Okay. In terms of you showing yourself as Ben and not just BIJOU, you tweeted that you listen to Reggae..
FS: And how it was a very fresh sound for you. Do you think you will expand the genres you play besides Hip Hop and House?
Ben: Maybe. I actually grew up on Reggae. My Dad is a huge Reggae fan. Peter Tosh, Freddy McGregor, we actually went to that concert that I mentioned recently. It was me and three other people and it was a blast. It’s funny cause my dad’s friend who owned a record store in Phoenix, he’s like I hear Reggae influence in his (BIJOU’s) music and I didn’t even realize it. It’s just like subconsciously there and in my music from when I was growing up. So it’s already in there but I don’t even hear it. Maybe other people recognize it, you never know. But I always stick to house in some way, cause that’s really my thing. The release in September on Dim Mak, it’s like a bit poppier, it’s a little bit more radio sounding and I want to be able to expand my sound like I did with Your Love, like I did with Memories. This one will be like that and it’s with a really amazing singer named Tyler Graves out of LA. So I’m excited about that.
FS: Is there anybody that you haven’t collaborated with before that you look forward to working with?
Ben: Does it have to be a DJ?
Ben: I want to work with Vince Staples.
FS: I love his music!
Ben: Dude is sick, right?
FS: Whats that song, Nom Nom ?
Ben: Norf Norf! Yeah, him. There’s this really cool rapper named Night Lovell from Ottawa. I’m working on trying to do stuff with him and then I really want to work with Suicide Boys. Really cool man. That whole realm of rappers.
FS: Right on. What about in terms of shows? Is there any festivals that you look forward to playing in?
Ben: We just did EDC, which is crazy. Electric Zoo in August, I’m excited for that. I’m really excited to go back to Australia because I haven’t been back in about a year and a half. I’m really excited for that. More D & D shows with the label. We just did the LA show and it was amazing, sold out. I’m really excited to really get the label out there, you know? That’s like my main focus right now.
FS: Not Electric Forest in two weeks?
Ben: I will not be at Electric Forest, I know, I wish. I was there two years ago on vacation when Dr. Fresch was playing. I’m going on vacation thinking that it would be chill. It was the opposite. It was not a vacation. It was a party the whole time, which I’m cool with, but I was trying to chill, you know? So yeah, there’s a lot more club shows this summer we’re going to be doing some more festivals in the Fall to go along with the tour.
FS: Canada too?
Ben: Yeah, I’m doing Calgary the 21st of this month, so I’ll be in Calgary. I was just in Ottawa last night actually. Yeah, some Canada shows, so I’ll be all over the country.
FS: Hopefully I can catch you on another one of your shows, man.
Ben: Yeah, definitely.
FS: Thank you for sitting down with me to meet you. Pleasure to meet you.
Ben: Of course man, I had a blast. You as well. I appreciate it.