In modern waves of dance music, artists and projects come and go with the tide of trends. It’s rare to find timeless sounds coming of age in the digital present. Bred on Montreal’s budding night culture of 90s rave, Clarian North has built a catalogue of unwavering consistency on both sides of the Atlantic. We dig through Brooklyn after a recent gig at the Mirage. North talks live origins, why he doesn’t carry around a record crate, and the wild story behind a recent release.
A passion for live instrumentation trickled over into analog electronic through an ‘enigmatic’ character call Spaceman. This close friend’s studio would open North’s traditional background in guitar to modular bliss. Taking a deep dive in a short time, he was quickly soldering machines to build new sounds. This early interaction with sounds that fueled the 80’s made a lasting impact on solo and group creations going forward.
His initial entrance to the global dance scene was a new wave band with Montreal friend from school. Clarian admits that Footprintz started ‘Flight of the Conchords style, in a basement… we’d just get drunk before going out, jam and play 80s music’. Debuting on Detroit’s Visionquest collective in 2011, the two quickly found their way to the main stage delivering a unique live experience.
In terms of sound, the Clarian project takes a ‘naked’ approach to dance tones. Collaborations with legends like Guy Gerber, Tiga, ‘just listening to (and) the enjoyment of the natural sounds the synth is making’. During his late-Summer show at the Brooklyn Mirage, North played stripped back synth lines on a Juno 60 to a soaked crowd of ravers. It’s a cathartic affair, pure passion for dance music in the rain. A quick stream through the Clarian catalog reveals the same. Still dedicated to actually playing music, he releases skirt the boundaries of pop layered on a strong club framework.
Quality-centric sounds seem to find their way to well-respected labels who push the boundaries of dance music. Three EPs on Kompakt’s main label marks North’s most frequent roster in recent years but Suara, Turbo, and Guy J’s Lost & Found all have Clarian records within the last year.
Clocking three releases already this year, North is clearly active in the studio. Clarian’s recent ‘Time Safari’ release saw him field recording in underground rivers and building underwater microphones to record crocodiles. The three-track twelve inch is evidence of exploration. Regardless of genre, this is some far out fusion of synthesis and the real world. Make sure to watch the entire video for the story on the trip.
Looking to the future, the Clarian project is just getting started. As electronic sounds drive the evolution of mainstream pop, producers rooted in the classics are creating a new age of trends. North’s appealing take on dance floor sounds with live performance create new experiences for both listeners and dancers.