Ottawa transplants prove that they're not just remix artists on their new EP.
“Going retro” is a potentially dangerous course for any artist to chart, but it’s especially perilous for musicians. Used correctly, a fresh take on an old sound can create a broad-based appeal that simultaneously tugs at listeners’ sense of nostalgia while still sounding fresh and current. Go overboard, however, and you risk becoming the musical equivalent of a Merchant Ivory film.
Thankfully, JOT5, the latest EP from Ottawa-born, Toronto-based duo Jokers of the Scene, has just enough retro juice to evoke the golden age of raving, but still manages to sound up-to-date. On one hand, the Jokers—whose accessible, ass-shaking sound betrays their early days as loft-party DJs—are happy enough to throw in a whole slew of classic dance music staples. “In Order to Trance” has the classic “Woo! Yeah!” loop made famous by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock and used by dozens of artists since, while “Organized Zounds” is built around an ominous vocal sample and a simple kick-and-snare pattern, and is oddly reminiscent of the Utah Saints.
On the other hand the duo, consisting of DJ Booth and Chameleonic, also take full advantage of the 21st century technology at their disposal. “Black Mountie” has a rich, full, multi-layered sound that is pretty much the exact opposite of the stripped-down aesthetic of late-80s and early-90s techno, while “Zounds” eventually builds to a sort of orchestral quality that the Jokers’ old school inspirations could only dream of.
JOT5 further cements Jokers of the Scene’s reputation as musicians in their own right. Even with a handful of successful singles under their belt, the Jokers are still generally thought of as remixers first, producers second. That’s fair enough, given that NME dubbed their reworking of witch-house weirdoes Salem’s single “Asia” to be one of the best remixes of all time, and that they’ve brought their special brand of fist-pumping magic to everyone from Mika to She Wants Revenge—but fans and the industry alike would do well to remember that these two are perfectly capable of bringing the heat all on their own.