By Paul Rodgers
CALGARY – The annual Mountain Magic Tour is presently meandering it’s way through various mountain, and even some prairie towns across Western Canada. Spearheaded by Smalltown DJs and supported this year by other festival favourites like Neon Steve, Skiitour and then a few Dirtybirds Justin and Christian Martin and Ardalan, the tour brings serious multi-headliner raves to smaller centres.
“It’s been amazing so far,” says Pete Emes of Smalltown DJs in a conference call with BeatRoute and Justin Martin. “The way we’ve done it in the past, like Justin hasn’t been on any of the shows yet, but he always kind of comes in like a hurricane, or like a mountain snowstorm after a few shows …”
“Like a wild yeti,” Martin suggests.
“Like a wild yeti,” agrees Emes, “and he turns it on its head. So we’re looking forward to getting Justin on his shows. But so far we’ve had some great ones.”
So far, just to highlight a few, Smalltown has had a Vancouver with Skiitour and Justin’s brother Christian that Emes is likely their craziest show in Van ever, a show in Saskatoon with Christian and Neon Steve and another in Edmonton with Christian and Ardalan.
The guys try and sneak in some skiing amongst their hectic touring schedule, which seems fitting as they stop in places like Revelstoke and Fernie, but they add more dates to the tour each year so it becomes tricky.
“It’s sometimes difficult because we’re travelling in between but we always get a couple great days on the hill during the tour. And that’s part of the reason why we put the whole thing together was for us and our friends to be able to go to these towns,” Emes says, adding that some of the smaller venues may not be able to afford triple-headliner bills, so it’s cool that they are able to make that happen.
“For me, my favourite part is always the journey of the whole thing and spending time with the Smalltown guys and my brother, cruising from town to town,” Martin says. “Last year we had a pretty hectic drive schedule, so we just thought of creative ways to pass the time and we made this silly movie one of the days.”
The video Martin speaks of, is indeed quite silly — silly, awesome, hilarious — the product of four friends with a lot of time on their hands, musical talent, and the stunningly adept video shooting and editing skills of Martin.
“We were like, ‘is this even going to work?’” says Emes. “And Justin was like, ‘yeah, give me a few days and I’ll see what I can do’ and then he sends it back and it’s like this hilarious, creative construction and I was like right away ‘oh it’s a masterpiece.’”
In fact, Emes laughingly added that he was so excited about it he felt like they should, “instead of everything else we do, DJing and all this other bullshit …” the four of them should just start a company where they sit around in a room making ridiculous videos.
“(Laughs) Totally,” responds Martin. He adds that he always says that this tour is “such a great thing for our souls to spend time together, it’s like a yearly tradition that we just get to hang out and catch up and just have a really, really good time. And I couldn’t imagine being stuck in a car with a better group of guys.”
Both artists in this interview have played to countless enormous festival crowds throughout their lengthy careers, and indeed their summers are already stacking up with numerous such bookings, but they both agreed that they love the energy the crowds in these smaller towns have to offer.
“You have a whole new energy and vibe and people are stoked because I feel like ski town winters is like people’s summer,” Martin says. “People are there just looking for something fun to do at nighttime and we get to come to town and kind of enjoy that energy.”
“I feel like the cool thing that is in Western Canada because the festivals like Bass Coast and Shambhala have such a big influence that you can get a really awesome crowd in some of these smaller towns that you wouldn’t normally get in other parts of the world where they don’t have that kind of like festival culture as established,” Emes adds.
This tour culminates with performances from Smalltown DJs and both Martin brothers alongside numerous other international headliners including Odesza, Gorgon City, Billy Kenny at Snowbombing Canada, which takes place during the first weekend of April in Sun Peaks B.C.
“Last year was a blast and this year also looks like it’s going to be fun too so hats off to Snowbombing,” says Emes, with Martin adding:
“Toques off to Snowbombing!”Billy Kenny, DJ, Gorgon City, Justin Martin, Mountain Magic, ODESZA