Written by Steve Weinstein
If Patrick Guay seems to have a special knack for getting the guys dancing, it could be that he comes to DJing from a background as a professional dancer and choreographer. After establishing himself as a rising star in the hothouse atmosphere of Montreal’s club scene, the good-looking Quebecois is poised to break out onto the international Party Circuit.
The secret to his success lies in his twin loves of music (especially classic house) and dance. His performances on the stage for huge scale events like those at Black & Blue have profoundly influenced his DJ style, giving him a flair for the theatrical. “The point is to give it back to the crowd,” he says. Directing groups of people as a choreographer “takes practice and dedication,” he explains. “The same goes when I’m making people dance on the floor.“ Guay as DJ directs the people on the dance floor using feelings and emotion in the tracks he chooses.
Patrick began dancing when he was 17, in 1990; two years later, he was part of a professional troupe and began choreographing routines. His introduction to Montreal’s vibrant nightlife began a year after that, when he hit clubs like the legendary KOX and Groove Society. “In those days, there was a high emphasis on décor, dance, drag queens, intense visuals, and house music,” he says. “Up until then we were using pop, hip hop and R&B in our choreography. With the discovery of house music it showed a whole new perspective offered to me. I saw huge potential to start to produce dance shows to this type of music, but my first big problem was how to get the certain pieces of music that I wanted because I wasn’t a DJ. So I started shopping for music.”
From there, it was a learning curve. How the heck do you mix the two or three songs for one choreographed dance number? That’s when he met Eric Laporte, also known as Little Eric. Patrick would direct Little Eric in the mixing and editing of the musical montages to be used for his shows. Sitting next to Eric at his mixer, Patrick caught the DJ bug. Two years later, he was mixing his own soundtracks. From there, he bought his first mixer and two turntables. Last year Patrick marked his tenth anniversary as one of the choreographers of Bad Boy Club, the producing organization behind Black & Blue, Wet & Wild, Twist and other major local events. And in 2003, he made his debut as a DJ at Church, spearheaded by Montreal promoter Stephane Prince.
It helped to be located in Montreal, which has become the party capital of North America. As the world’s largest freshwater port, the island city is a crossroads of currents, from Great Britain, Europe, Latin America and the United States. “Each of those styles are very specific,” he notes. “In Montreal, we take what we like from all of them, and that enables us to evolve and expand our horizons.” The cosmopolitan nature of the music scene is reflected in the clubs, where gay and straight mix more easily than anywhere else on the continent—along with their DJs and musical styles.
Thanks to his present monthly residence at Parking, Patrick has had the opportunity to interact with an array of top talent, including Israel’s Offer Nissim, Brazil’s Ana Paula, and the U.S.’s Manny Lehman. Now, Patrick is planning a full-on assault on the United States. He’s already played Ptown, but, he says, “I’m anxious to bring a new wave of freshness to the Circuit, to show off the ‘Montreal Circuit Sound.’” He’s also looking at far more distant shores, like Sao Paulo, Rio, London and—his personal dream job—anywhere in Australia.
Although he keeps body and soul together moonlighting as an accountant, he manages to squeeze in six hours every week buying music. As a dedicated house DJ, he loves vinyl, rare as it may be. He doesn’t want to be typecast, however; he can vary a set from deep house to progressive after-hours, from tribal to diva anthems. But he draws the line at dropping the lyrics: “It’s sad that vocals are all but gone in minimal and electro music,” he complains. “Vocals are the only human thing left in music since computers took over.” He waxes hot over the “warmth of the human voice, to feel the sensations. Thank God vocals are coming back! The dance floor is always more full with vocals. The reaction is always stronger,” he says. “Sometimes, you hear the crowd singing the song—and it’s so cool!”
As someone with hands-on experience in the performing arts, Patrick prides himself on being able to “read” the dance floor based on the crowd’s reactions. “I love to see them happy and smiling,” he says. “They send me energy, and it’s a constant feedback.” Often, he records his sets, then listens back and critiques them.
He’s especially looking forward to his first compilation CD—“when my turn comes, all in good time.” And after that? Production. He also credits his dance background with an ability to hear all the sounds in a song, as well as a firsthand knowledge and analysis of music.
In the end, what he’s really doing is enabling the crowd to experience the exhilaration of a professional dancer on stage; that is, dance as the physical expression of the innermost emotions.
“Dance helps you understand the feeling of a song, to uncover the emotion hidden behind that creation,” he opines. “Choreography is the physical manifestation of music, and the DJ permits all those who are not dancers to dance, to express themselves to their favorite music.”
Visit http://www.patrickguay.com for a special noiZe download mix and upcoming play dates.
I have had the chance to see Patrick Guay a few times when I went to Montreal, he is an amazing dj, great beats full of energy! He does some amazing build ups with the crowd going crazy everytime! Truly a master of his skills, this guy has found a way to keep the dance floors where ever he goes full of energy!
Can’t wait to see him again!!!
By Frederic Larue on 02-21-2009