Toronto based duo Casualties of Sound, are made up of the talents of Alan Guzman & Ronald Gourlay. These two are no strangers to the music scene, and one simply cannot anticipate what to expect from this act, due to the sheer consistency of satisfying curve-balls that are tossed into every set. Combining Ronald’s Toronto roots, with Alan’s LA/Toronto upbringing in the scene, the product of their performance is unlike anything you have ever heard before. We spoke to Alan and Ron ahead of their performance at the season finale of Electric Island on September 1st, and here’s what they had to say…
Tell us a little bit about how you two met? Besides the love of music, what mutual area of interest sparked the bond between the both of you?
Alan: We met through mutual friends at The Guvernment one night in late 2008 and we both ended up at the same after party. Ron DJ’d on Traktor for hours, while I sat close by watching him. I had been bedroom DJ’ing but I had never seen or heard of Traktor. I asked him what it was and how it worked and I ended up hopping on and playing a few hours myself. This lead to a conversation about DJ’ing and ultimately that was the interest that sparked the bond between us.
At what moment did you decide it was time to form the duo ‘Casualties of Sound’? What were some of your biggest struggles when first starting off in the Toronto scene?
Ron: The first talks of COS started at that same after party. I came up to Alan while he was playing and we started throwing ideas back and forth about what styles of music we liked and if there was any interest in pursuing DJ’ing as a career. We were both on the the same page and started to discuss more about how we could blend our styles together. By the end of that after party, we both knew we had something we could develop further so we started getting together to do exactly that.
Alan: As any new DJ, getting any venue or promoters to trust you with playing music is difficult. When you’re young and unexperienced in the scene, people will try to take advantage of that and it’s hard to distinguish who’s being real and who’s just blowing smoke. Another struggle was trying to navigate the scene, as we’re both somewhat reclusive – we had to put ourselves out there, even if we felt uncomfortable about it at times.
‘I love the musical puzzle aspect of playing a set and the energy exchange with the crowd – there’s no other feeling like it. Curating sets is dependent on multiple factors – what we’re feeling individually, the venue, the crowd, who else is on the bill.’ – Alan
How do you two mix your sounds together and create harmony during your sets? What do you find most difficult about performing as a duo as opposed to on your own?
COS: Communication is key! We try to find a balance of having light and dark elements within our sets. We are constantly showing each other music and talking about songs or artists that we’re feeling at that time. We communicate before/during the set, so that all helps with predicting what the other person is planning/feeling. At this point, we’ve been friends and playing together for close to 10 years! So there’s a certain musical chemistry there that just clicks. There’s nothing too difficult about playing as a duo, it’s more so time slots are too short or too many acts on one show.
‘The DJ booth is the place I feel the most comfortable, no matter how hectic things get, I truly feel like I am at peace.’ – Ron
What do you love most about playing a live set? Do you curate your sets for specific crowds or venues you play for? What do you hope to translate from your music to the listeners?
Alan: For me it’s two things: I love the musical puzzle aspect of playing a set and the energy exchange with the crowd – there’s no other feeling like it. Curating sets is dependent on multiple factors – what we’re feeling individually, the venue, the crowd, who else is on the bill…When we open or close for headliners we try to curate something within their same sound realm, which is important. We don’t want to completely change the direction of the night, but at the same time we want to provide something unique.
Ron: I enjoy the calmness of it. The DJ booth is the place I feel the most comfortable, no matter how hectic things get, I truly feel like I am at peace. It’s doing something that you really love to do and being trusted by others to love what you do, so they can go home happy & fulfilled. We are known more for Techno but when opportunities to play progressive or slower atmospheric techno presents itself, we jump right on that. It all depends on what the type of booking it is or if there is too much of one sound in that night
COS: We want the listeners to feel something.
You are performing on September 1st on the Moog Audio Stage at Electric Island. As Toronto locals yourselves, what are you most looking forward to about your set at this infamous techno festival?
COS: The whole summer the Moog stage has seemed to have a different vibe, it’s smaller and more intimate with the crowds interacting to everything that sounds good. We just want hands up, smiles and dancing.
Make sure to catch Casualties of Sound and many others playing on September 1st, at the season finale of Electric Island. Tickets are available online through this link, and make sure to RSVP to the Facebook event.
FOLLOW CASUALTIES OF SOUND