Time flies when you’re fusing genres…
Exactly 10 years ago, at the start of 2022, a very young Toronto Is Broken dropped Move It, a ravey, breaksy, energetic, no-rules mixture of dancefloor flavours. Released on Sub Slayers and weighing in at four tracks it captured the post-breaks, pre-EDM melting pot that was briefly labelled ‘future jungle’.
Much more pertinently for Toronto Is Broken, it lead to some exciting instant success as one of the tracks – Spirit Song 2012 – became a runaway anthem, picked up by the likes of Sub Focus, Netsky and even foundation UK house/trance pioneer Paul Oakenfold. It even went on to be used as a theme tune for Arcadia’s eye-watering shows at major festivals such as Boomtown.
Now ten years, three albums and his own label deep, Toronto Is Broken (real name Christian Hoffmann) has rebooted his debut release. Entitled Move It X, it includes Spirit Song 2017, remixes from Lateral, Mojay and Corrupted Mind and gives him a moment to look back at how the EP sowed the seeds of his career and set him on a path for fusion that still thrives today.
Last featured on this site exactly a year ago to discuss the release of his last album Clare and his love for mixing metal with D&B, he’s back again to discuss his roots, future jungle… And what’s coming up in 2022. Let’s get moving.
10 years… Does it feel like 10 years or does it feel like longer ago?
So just after the EP dropped, I found out my girlfriend at the time was pregnant with my daughter, at the age of 18, and as anybody who has kids can relate to, you honestly can’t picture or imagine what life was like before them. She’s now 9 and carries me when we play Fortnite together. I’ve gotten fatter in that time, but at least the hair has stayed the same.
Haha. Genre titles haven’t though. I’d completely forgotten about the term ‘future jungle’ from this era until I read the description in the release blurb. Silly title really, but the melting pot vibes were great fun. Breaks, dubstep, rave, everything was welcome in the cauldron wasn’t it?
Yeah, it totally was, very much like drum & bass which is why I probably resonated with it so much. It was such a blank canvas and so exciting to me at the time, much like what I do merging metalcore and drum & bass today. It was also at the peak of when there was such a variety of bass music genres emerging around 140bpm, future jungle, dubstep, future garage, and everything was so malleable and flexible. But myself and my old manager Jay Cunning (who also ran Sub Slayers) always described it as old school 90’s rave music produced with today’s modern techniques.
What lessons or inspirations could 2022 music take from ‘future jungle’ and the 2012 sound?
I think it’s the big genre divide we get these days, especially in drum & bass, I’ve always considered myself a multi-genre artist. Nowadays as opposed to exploring different tempos I’m incorporating metal with my sound, I now consider myself a metal and D&B producer, not just a D&B producer who has some distorted guitar riffs in his tracks.
Drum & bass is honestly one of the most broad and diverse musical genres, with so many influences and vibes, all glued together with a straight-time drum pattern at 174bpm but you still see so many people saying “dancefloor is pop & bass” or “jump up is for kids” and so on. Guys, more flavours within D&B just mean longevity and more people in the dance, isn’t that what we just want for the genre we all live, breathe and love?
Amen! So, as you just mentioned, you were only 18 at the time when you released Move It and Spirit Song 2012 had huge support at the time. That must have been quite a thrill having legends from Paul Oakenfold to Netsky playing one of your debut tracks! How did that feel?
I remember sitting in one of the computer suites at college and was having heart palpitations listening to Sub Focus play Spirit Song 2012 during a set on BBC Radio 1, he’d slowed down his entire set just to facilitate the track, likewise with Netsky! It’s because of that connection with Netsky which eventually led me to remix his track Snitch in 2019.
Those acts were and still are superheroes to me, and you can’t really fathom what it’s like to get their seal of approval, particularly with your debut EP – I’m still not even sure if I know how I feel about it now!
Your sound has developed and matured and gone in all kinds of exciting directions since Move It and, as a producer, you’re always learning… What elements are you most fond of on Move It?
I think just the whimsical nature of it all, it was just fun! It also sounded so unpredictable, and I have fallen foul of making very predictable music since then – it’s probably because I had no idea of what I was doing back then and what were the “must-do’s and must-not’s”. I’ve obviously listened to it a lot recently in the run up to the anniversary edition for the first time in many years. To be honest, for the longest time I was sick to death of hearing Spirit Song 2012 and, for the longest time that’s how people knew of my work thanks to Boomtown Festival using it as their official anthem for a few years as part of the Arcadia Spectacular show.
I’d love to take some of the musical themes embedded within this EP and see how I can incorporate that with my current metal sound. Nu-Junglecore anybody? Ha! That sounds awful.
Hehe, yeah it does. Okay, so which elements do you wish you’d explored a little differently now with 10 years of hindsight?
It’s an incredibly nerdy one, but the sub bass. Back then I had no concept of how things translated to a club system and there are points where the sub drops so low it would be inaudible on most club system, but it’s all part of the learning journey. However, I do envy the lack of knowledge and naivety I had back then as nowadays the greater technical knowledge I have can be subconsciously restricting when writing.
Yeah I hear that a lot. You know too many rules now! So if you could go back in time, what advice would you like to you give 18 year old Toronto Is Broken?
Keep going kid, it’s just going to get better! And don’t worry, it’s not until recently that I worked out what Toronto Is Broken actually sounds like, but mate, you’re going to be so stoked!
And what message would you like to leave the 38-year-old Toronto Is Broken in 2032?
Remember when you used to juggle running a label and teaching in a school fulltime? Hopefully, my current severe lack of sleep has paid off!
Finally – what’s coming up from you and YANA in 2022?
Tons of singles, brand new exclusive acts and of course the big one, our 50th release on YANA, which is shaping together very nicely; I can’t wait to share it with you all! Regarding Toronto Is Broken, you can expect plenty of remixes and a couple of original singles from myself, first of which being Circle with my pal Sebotage (who you may remember from our track Gunfingers). Honestly, it’s so nu-metal you’ll be manifesting big Fred Durst energy whilst listening to this.
But the big thing for me is to get deep into the writing of the next record, which is pushing the metal-crossover sound I established in last year’s Clare album. I’m working with tons of exciting people and acts on that record, most notably George Lever who’s produced for the bands Sleep Token, Loathe, Monuments and Thornhill, as we really push the boundaries of the metal aspect in my D&B sound.