Welcome home, Takis.

Welcome home, Takis.

The DJ, dance music composer and former Winnipegger returns for his first gig in the city in more than five years Friday when he plays the OV Club (108 Osborne St., $10 at the door), a place an 18-year-old Peter Takis remembers as one of many in Winnipeg where he honed his DJ chops for next to nothing.

"I DJ’d at almost every venue that would give me free wings and a beer, and I’d DJ from 9 till 2, no questions asked," he says. "(Friday’s) a real full-circle moment because I played that venue when four people would show up and maybe I got one drink ticket for my pay."

SUPPLIED</p><p>Takis — DJ, dance music composer and former Winnipegger</p>

SUPPLIED

Takis — DJ, dance music composer and former Winnipegger

Away from the turntables, during his teens he interned at two Winnipeg radio stations to learn about that side of the music business, including training from city morning man Ace Burpee at 103.1 Virgin Radio. 

"It opened my eyes to that music can actually be a job," Takis says. "I certainly grew up in my household very traditionally, that music’s going to be your hobby but you’re going to have a job. Once I saw people on the radio and saw people DJing in town... it was like this 16-year-old’s a-ha moment where this is a real thing. This is a real job."

Manitoba’s WCMA nominees

Ariel Posen, BreakOut Artist of the Year

Takis, Electronic & Dance Artist of the Year

Kelly Bado, Francophone Artist of the Year, Global Artist of the Year, Recording of the Year

Sala, Francophone Artist of the Year

Manitoba’s WCMA nominees

Ariel Posen, BreakOut Artist of the Year

Takis, Electronic & Dance Artist of the Year

Kelly Bado, Francophone Artist of the Year, Global Artist of the Year, Recording of the Year

Sala, Francophone Artist of the Year

Casimiro Nhussi, Global Artist of the Year

Don Amero, Indigenous Artist of the Year

Sebastian Gaskin, Indigenous Artist of the Year, R&B Artist of the Year

Jocelyn Gould, Jazz Artist of the Year

Will Bonness, Jazz Artist of the Year

Vagina Witchcraft, Metal & Hard Music Artist of the Year

Begonia, Pop Artist of the Year, Recording of the Year

Deadmen, Producer of the Year

The Bros. Landreth, Recording of the Year

William Prince, Recording of the Year, Roots Solo Artist of the Year

Mise en Scene, Rock Artist of the Year, Songwriters of the Year

Slow Leaves, Roots Solo Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year

Jake Fretz, Spiritual Artist of the Year

Steve Bell, Spiritual Artist of the Year

Martin LaFreniere & Philippe Bellefeuille, Video Director of the Year

Kevin Cronin, Visual Media Composer of the Year

 

Industry nominees

Roberta Landreth, Excellence in Visual Design

Birthday Cake, Excellence in Artist Development, Impact in Music Marketing

Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club, Impact in Live Music

West End Cultural Centre, Impact in Live Music, Impact in Music Marketing

The Village Idiots, Impact in Music Marketing

Times have certainly changed for the 26-year-old Transcona Collegiate grad, whose many singles and relentless touring schedule around the world — prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, of course — led to the 2021 track All Time, a collaboration with singers Jamie Fine and Brandyn Burnette, which reached No. 28 on Billboard’s hot adult-contemporary chart, lofty heights for a electronic or dance music performer.

"That song for us, it didn’t break into the top-20 on the pop charts in Canada, and for a pop artist that would be frustrating," Takis says. "We experienced how rare it was and how few DJs impact pop radio charts. 

"When you look at the top-40 charts in Canada, it’s Drake, it’s Justin Bieber, it’s the Weeknd. You’re competing with the biggest artists in the world... That was probably my biggest accomplishment, is having one (hit) that mattered, and I’m really praying for two, because for a DJ to have two pop-radio records that mattered on one project in a span of eight to 12 months... That’s the mission."

All the attention has also earned Takis a nomination for Electronic & Dance Artist of the Year from the Western Canadian Music Awards, which will be announced on a Facebook Live stream Friday at 6 p.m. (facebook.com/breakoutwest). There’s also a free viewing party — attendees need to register at eventbrite.ca to watch — that is scheduled for the West End Cultural Centre, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.

Takis unveils his debut project, Welcome Home, on Oct. 22. The release is getting such a push from his label, Armada Records, that it's been advertised on the electronic billboards in New York's Times Square. (Supplied)

Takis unveils his debut project, Welcome Home, on Oct. 22. The release is getting such a push from his label, Armada Records, that it's been advertised on the electronic billboards in New York's Times Square. (Supplied)

Takis’s next step is the release of his debut project, Welcome Home, which drops Oct. 22, and is getting such a push from his label, Armada Records, that it’s been advertised on the electronic billboards in New York’s Times Square. 

"Going against the grain, I thought it would important to do a debut project, a series of songs, a story we’re trying to share, artists I’m really proud of," Takis says. "Let me tell you, it’s a risk. Record labels aren’t exactly too excited about projects in 2021 — they want singles to market for streaming and radio — but we had a serious conviction that we wanted it to be a project and let people know I’m more than just a single DJ or a radio singles guy."

Welcome Home includes several of the singles Takis has released in the past two years, as well as two new tracks he’s put together during the pandemic, a time when he would ordinarily be busy performing.

"My entire career has been based off touring since I was 20 years old. It was about as many shows that I could do within my physical and mental health," he says. "With the pandemic, that made everything change. That let me take a step back and say, ‘We’re not going to be doing this for a year, I’m not going to be on a plane for a little while, so let’s put together a project and hopefully make a statement."

Takis, a DJ, dance music composer and former Winnipegger is nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award. (Supplied photo)

Takis, a DJ, dance music composer and former Winnipegger is nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award. (Supplied photo)

Among those whom Takis has teamed with for Welcome Home include Selkirk singer-songwriter Goody Grace, another Manitoba performer who’s built a career in the the U.S. Their friendship goes back to their teens when they were making their first awkward attempts at making music.

For Welcome Home, they’ve teamed up with rapper Ant Clemons, who has recorded with Kanye West and Justin Timberlake, for a track worth remembering, Takis believes.

"Goody and I have been friends for over 10 years and we were making songs that, most have been scrubbed from the internet, thankfully," Takis says with a chuckle. "We were kind of laughed at a lot as teenagers trying to make music, which we kind of deserved because we weren’t very good, but there’s been an incredibly cool beauty in coming back. 

"He has a major-label situation, I have a major-label situation. He has success in his genre, I have success in my genre... I joke with him all the time that we’ll keep putting out songs till we’re 50 and I’ll keep annoying him with ideas."

Takis is a DJ, dance music composer and former Winnipegger (Supplied photo)

Takis is a DJ, dance music composer and former Winnipegger (Supplied photo)

Takis has been busy on social media promoting Welcome Home, but he shut off all his feeds for 30 days in 2020 — he even turned off his phone and had to print out his daily schedule — to focus on creating new music without interruption.

He documented his experiences in a fascinating essay in the online magazine Musictech titled The Great Switch-off, where Takis writes about the pros and cons of a social media detox.

"This is a huge topic, not only for artists but everyone in my age demographic," he says. "If you go online there’s two real sides and they are very strongly worded sides. One is social media is absolutely mandatory for a business life, a creative life, to be a musician or an entrepreneur in any capacity, post 10 times a day, have your notifications on.

"And the other side is that social media is the worst thing for mental health and creativity, and I tried to offer an honest and balanced and middle-ground picture.

"When it’s time to plant your seeds and create things, I think social media is a huge distraction and it has hurt my creativity. But when it is time to speak to fans and engage, then that’s a whole different season and that season is being on Instagram Live on launch day."

 

alan.small@freepress.mb.ca  

Twitter:@AlanDSmall

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Alan Small

Alan Small
Reporter

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.