SkiiTour Chats New York City Debut, Shambhalove & American Taco Bell
So often we are drawn to events and music festivals by the familiar artists we see on posters and lineups. However, more often than not the unknown names we bypass without a second thought are the ones that last longest in our memories. Few things in the world are better than discovering a new favorite for the first time, in the ideal setting of a music festival. The energy of the crowd, the grandeur of the stage and that feeling of musical exploration all contribute to making a truly unique and lasting experience.
A few years ago we dove head first into that experience when our eyes were open to the magic of SkiiTour at Shambhala Music Festival. As an integral and storied part of the Shambhala culture, SkiiTour’s annual set (now sets) is easily one of the most anticipated performances of the incredible weekend. With a style and swagger all their own, a dedication to creating the best possible party experience and a fully stocked arsenal of tasty beats, the duo of Tim Livingstone and Dave Rollie has etched their name in Canadian party lore.
Now SkiiTour is set to conquer yet another frontier as they bring their sound to the east coast and make their New York City debut with the H<3art Beats family this Friday at the Knitting Factory. We caught up with the fellas before things get hectic Friday night to talk about their early beginnings and where they are headed next.
Sensible Reason: Firstly how did you guys come up with the name SkiiTour?
SkiiTour: When we produced our first track we didn’t give much thought as to what name we should release it under and hastily put it out under a hybrid of our individual DJ names. Honestly, it sounded like we were a law firm but that was the name we stuck with for a while. Eventually, we were gifted the name SkiiTour by a (visionary) local producer who thought that since we lived in a ski town (Whistler) we need a to reference that. He had been throwing various ski-town themed name suggestions at us for months which we had been rejecting but then at the end of our 2012 set at Bass Coast Festival, he jumped on stage to make a surprise announcement that from that point forward we were to be called SkiiTour. Now we owe him a dollar from every show we perform.
SR: When did you start making music together and how would you describe your sound?
ST: Our first studio session was in the summer of 2010 and the first track we finished was a disco house track. As for our sound, we would say that we like to make & play fun funky upbeat dance music. We have been heavy on the house tip for the last while in both our production & DJ sets with a couple of other genres always sprinkled in.
SR: Hitting our first SkiiTour set at Shambhala a few years ago was such a mind-blowing experience. What makes a SkiiTour set so unique?
ST: When we were given the opportunity to play on the Thursday afternoon a few years ago, it wasn’t really a prime time slot but we were so stoked & we thought we would make it an ‘event’ by throwing a retro après ski party. Bright 80s ski gear was acquired and we purchased 2 movie-effect snow machines for the occasion. Before our set, we got to meet this amazing dance crew that would be performing with us and they had dressed up as ski bunnies in all white complete with earmuffs. Despite the sweltering heat (both our computers melted down towards the end of our set) we stayed in our extremely bright (fully insulated) winter gear for the whole set. People seemed to love it because from that point onwards, it doesn’t matter where we play in the world, there are always people wearing goggles & fluorescent retro gear on the dance floor. It seems each year our Shambhala sets just gets crazier and somehow busier (even though the dancefloor is completely packed). Our dance crew (Cosmic Co-Motion) really steps up there game & we always try and do something a little different. One year we had a shaved ice truck come up from Portland and they made 6 triple sized coolers full of snowballs and brought them to the dancefloor so we had a 30-second snowball fight. Two years ago we bought a professional snow-cone machine & we have had volunteers hand out yellow snow cones to the crowd the past couple summers.
SR: What has Shambhala meant for your musical journey and how does it feel to be such an integral part of the festival?
ST: We were both attendees of the festival years before we played it is the goal of all aspiring DJs on the west coast to be asked to perform. We felt very fortunate that we got that call as it is the premiere platform for electronic music in Canada. It’s truly hard to describe how amazing the vibes are there. Most of the artists performing there will stay the whole weekend just to take it all in which is quite rare. In addition to playing our Thursday sets at The AMPhitheatre stage, we have been asked to drop a couple of sets in the funk-mecca The Fractal Forest and those have been really special as well.
SR: How excited are you to play in New York and what touristy things are you going to do while in town?
ST: We need to figure that out quick. Eating way too much pizza will be at the top of the list.
SR: What are the biggest differences, if any, between playing in the States and in your native Canada? What’s life like on the road do you get a lot of production done while touring?
ST: We only eat Taco Bell in the USA. For some mysterious reason, it is way better than Canadian Taco Bell. When we are on the road we try to get some snowboarding in if there are powder conditions but we save the producing for when we are in the studio.
SR: You recently collaborated with a local New York hero Dances With White Girls on your track “Bad Behavior” also with Smalltown DJs. Can you tell us a little bit about how you all came together and what the production process was like for that track?
ST: We had written that track a few years ago with Tim on the vocals and we didn’t really think it was that good so we shelved it (tbh this happens to a lot of our tracks). When Smalltown DJs hit us up for a collab it was one of the tracks in the folder we sent them. They thought it had legs and hit up DWWG to replace the vocals. We thought he was just going to redo what we had written but he sent an amazing stream of consciousness that was about 30 minutes long. Out of that, we were able to pull out the vocal hooks and after another year of fiddling with it, we had a song. Speedy is not a word that comes to mind.
SR: Finally, what are you most looking forward to in 2019?
ST: Well, we are running out of time for pow days here in Whistler but we are stoked to be heading back to Australia & New Zealand next month. Also, we love the summer festival season & can’t wait to cap it off at Burning Man again.