PHABRIK Magazine

Living the Better Life

By Avery Kremer

March 2015

Navigating the Electronic Music World with Better Living DJ’s

Music has always been a key indicator of the characteristics that define a decade. The 60’s saw The Beatles pave the way for popular culture and the 90’s saw Nirvana lead the underground grunge community to mainstream praise. It’s now 2015 and like clockwork, music is showing its cultural flags.

It’s the electronic music decade. And house music, the genre’s originator, is back in full force. Here, 4/4 beats and bass propelled grooves fill the musical landscape. Pair these constructed tones with house music’s broad drops, melding rhythmical patterns and layered vocals and the result is contemporary electronic music.

So where does Edmonton-based DJ and production duo, Better Living DJ’s, fit into this electronic music declaration? Well to start, the resumes of members Kurtis Schultz and Keith Walton read like a how-to book for an aspiring DJ-producer. Their strength as a pair is easily heard in their most recent release, the EP “Love Alive” from Vancouver-based record label Filter Records. The track, featuring vocals by Canadian singer Julie Adams, is bound for international attention if the strong buzz surrounding its release is any indication.

As part of their 2015 plan, Filter Records will also release the original production “Game Tight,” which features a remix by John Glassey. Add the March 2015 launch of the duo’s EP “Take Me Higher” that features another performance by vocalist Adams, and Better Living DJ’s are prepped for expansion. “2015 will really define a new direction for us,” said Walton.

Loving The Underground

They’ve had their sights set on this moment since their 2012 inaugural year, one that found both men out of typical employment after they chose to pursue music full time in lieu of “working for the man.” Both Schultz and Walton quit their nine-to-fives and immersed themselves in the world of music production. At the duo’s initial encounter at a friend’s rooftop party, a partnership blossomed instantaneously. Schultz explained, “Monday morning we were in the studio working on our first track. Since then, we’ve been working together continuously.”

Schultz’s history as a drummer naturally brought out the four-beat rhythms necessary for a pursuit in house music production. His previous producing partner had moved to L.A., leaving an opening that Walton quickly embraced. Walton’s entrance solidified the pair’s direction as house music producers. “As soon as we got together, it was obvious that house music was what we were going to be making,” Schultz said. “It just felt natural.”

Easily falling into the rhythm of the genre, Schultz elaborated on the skills he acquired from his drumming background. Walton’s admiration for the music was formed on the dance floors of early underground house shows. He remembered, “I felt like every DJ I saw had a different message. After, I realized I had a message of my own and wanted to take people on a musical journey.” Their backgrounds brought the contrasting dynamics into their production procedure and were a necessary component in the music that began to flow from their studio sessions. “Keith and I have strengths in different areas musically,” Schultz said, “so it’s been great to help each other along the way. We each bring something unique to the table.”

Not to be overshadowed by her male collaborators, Julie Adams provided the powerful vocal touches that drive many of Better Living DJ’s productions. She was an essential part of the track’s overall direction. Recalled Walton, “Julie is one of the most talented vocalists we’ve ever encountered. After listening to her perform with her band Unwed Mothers, of which Kurtis is also the drummer, it seemed inevitable that we would collaborate in the house music realm.”

Outside of the studio, weekly residencies and continuous show bookings keep their schedules full and serve as a platform to test their personally-produced material. “There’s nothing better than playing out your own songs to a responsive crowd,” Schultz expressed. “It changes what DJing is, because you’re not just playing someone else’s tunes anymore; it becomes a performance.” It is these performances that both men consider to be their artist outlets. Walton explains, “It’s raw and poetic. It’s a form of communicating without ink.”

Like the musical heroes that shaped the decades before them, house music artists, including Better Living DJ’s, are driving this generation’s musical direction. As awareness for the genre grows and electronic music tracks are accepted into rotation on mainstream radio stations, these two guys are standing in the perfect position to take this house music trend to new heights.

There are new rules and formulas for success as fresh players emerge to elevate the entire game. But it’s a game that these two fellas sure know how to play! Now that sounds like a better-lived life to me. Good luck guys—house music anxiously awaits your next production.


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