Music touches emotionally where words alone can’t, and where words leave off music begins, and where words fail music speaks. Perhaps the art to thrive passed some of the complexities in life’s uprisings reside in a functioning music relationship, like that of Toronto’s Father/Daughter techno duo Upper Regions Jim Roditis and his daughter Christine.
HOLISTOCRAT: There must have been an initial tell tale to have entertained the thought for a father to share with his daughter the world of music. Tell us about that moment, what were early signs that you saw in Christine that gave you the thought that she might naturally show interest in music?
UPPER REGIONS: When I used to record in the studio in the 80s, when she was very little, she used to sit and listen, and I would let her sing along on the microphone. She was not a natural singer. I wouldn’t say there was specific moment but more of a gradual build up over the years. We always listened to the same music which helped.
I had all kinds of instruments in my studio (synth, guitar, drum pads, etc.) and out of all the instruments I had, she took an interest in the one I didn’t own; bass guitar. She joined a rock band in highschool and then liked music so much she wanted to follow it as a career. We tried to talk her out of it because it’s such a tough road, almost regretted introducing her to it, and tried to explain it might be better as a hobby than a career. She ended up graduating from University of Toronto in an equally as difficult field, Fine Arts, but still kept doing music on the side.
HOLISTOCRAT: There is an obvious generation gap between you two. How does a Father/Daughter come to connect in such depth and understanding for mature sound?
UPPER REGIONS: Music gets rid of the generation gap for us.
QHRISTINE: My Dad introduced to me to most of the music I like today. When I was young, before I understood or liked electronic music, we’d be in the car and he would play these songs over and over that I found incredibly irritating. Eventually I just began to like it, because if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
We also have another major hobby which we’ve done together since I was in highschool; photography, though my dad did it long before me, having studied it in college. We would go out most days driving in the country looking for landscapes to shoot. We’d listen to ambient or classical music as we drove because we decided it made everything seem more cinematic, and it definitely influenced our photography.
Fast-foward to a couple years ago when we did a two week photo roadtrip through Nevada and California. This time we blasted techno as we drove through Death Valley.
But more seriously, he introduced me to so many genres of music at a young age from classical to 80s to trip hop. I’m glad now to have the capacity for a diverse appreciation.
HOLISTOCRAT: Jim, your productions carry a sound that looks to the future yet carries a sort of classic rave nostalgia. What artists or movements have inspired you along the way?
UPPER REGIONS: Favourite artists: Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, 808 State, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack.
In the early 2000s, I kind of gave up on music until I went to see a Massive Attack concert. The next day, I serendipitously ran into Massive Attack singer Andy Horace on the street in downtown Toronto. We talked for about fifteen minutes and he gave me some words of inspiration to never give up on writing music. I was very pessimistic, I used to think because music was going digital everything would just be stolen, but his words were “you gotta get it out of your system”. And here we are today. It’s funny how a small moment can influence your whole future.
HOLISTOCRAT: What specific sounds in our history of underground music do you hear transpire today?
UPPER REGIONS: Percussive-focused music is in the forefront now. Percussion used to always be in the background, but now it’s a main focus. Cinematic sounds also, blended with percussion in a minimalistic way. A lot of the 90s techno style has been given new life today.
HOLISTOCRAT: What technology are you working with in terms of your live sets?
QHRISTINE: Keeping it “simple” for now, using Ableton and Push. There are so many ways to use the technology and I feel like I’ve only cracked the surface. I like to write a rough song structure but then have the flexibility to mix it up live.
UPPER REGIONS: We both found Ableton to be a good common ground as a DAW, in combination with Native Instruments (Reaktor, etc.). We are both into sound design and trying to create original sounds. Sometimes we sit and work on songs together, other times we write individually and share our work with the other. When you are stuck for ideas it’s great because the other person finds a totally new way to see the song. It ends up going somewhere completely different.
HOLISTOCRAT: A determined up and coming artist, what is your focus Christine?
QHRISTINE: Keep experimenting, learning, and make music that feels right for me. Much like my Dad, we usually just kept our music to ourselves, but recently are putting ourselves “out there”. It’s very new to me and really cool to see a response. Anything that comes of it is a bonus!