Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Jonathan Peters’ remix journey

Legendary DJ kicks off Pride

MOBILE SOUND FACTORY. Jonathan Peters brings his uniquely crafted vocal house to Toronto for the first time.

New York DJ Jonathan Peters is used to long hauls behind the decks. As the resident DJ of legendary megaclub Sound Factory, he would play continuously for up to 20 hours, beginning Saturday night at 11pm and ending the next evening.

“It’s a long night but you’re able to go to a lot of places musically and not get stuck to a certain style,” he says. “In 20 hours I have a nice little chance to create a journey.”

Peters tailors his sets to the vibe on the dancefloor by mixing loops and effects into his sets. He spent thousands of dollars customizing his equipment with Pink Floyd’s keyboard technician. He even furnished his console with sturdy airplane buttons and knobs so switches aren’t flipped in the heat of the moment.

“I’ll do a lot of remixing on the fly,” he says. “The way my console is set up, I’m able to be a little bit more creative. Instead of playing one or two tracks, I’m able to really get a little bit deeper and do some remixing and have a capellas and beats playing.”

For his appearances at Pride Toronto on Fri, Jun 26, he’ll debut a brand new remix of C+C Music Factory’s “Pride (A Deeper Love)” that he created especially for the gig. “I always wanted to do it and it’s time,” he says. “I did my little thing for the party. I live for the parties so that’s what inspires me.”

During those epic, 20-hour-plus sets clubbers could expect to hear a variety of musical styles, but it’s vocal house that he finds the most inspiring. “My two favourite singers are Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder,” he says. “My favourite vocalist to work with is Sylver Logan Sharp. She’s Chic’s lead singer and she’s mind-blowing. I love her sense of power and strength and confidence.”

Peters is a native New Yorker. He grew up in the West Village and now lives in Chelsea. For most of the ’90s he was a regular on Manhattan’s afterhours scene, earning a rep as one of the city’s best hard house DJs and most prolific remixers before replacing Junior Vasquez as Sound Factory’s resident in 1997 when the club reopened on 46th St following its forced closure two years prior.

The deal he signed with Sound Factory owner Richard Grant forbid him to DJ anywhere else, so he lived for the club’s weekly Saturday night parties. But the party didn’t last. New York City authorities repeatedly raided the club, dragged Grant to court on accusations of operating a narcotics “stash house.”

Though he was eventually acquitted, Sound Factory shuttered for good in 2004. “I remember days I’d walk into the club and there’d be five lawyers waiting in the booth. It was crazy,” Peters says. “You can’t fight New York City because it is what it is. If you try to, you can’t, because it’s New York.”

Cut adrift from his cozy custom DJ booth and dream sound system, he played different places but despite the city’s hostile attitude toward clubs, he missed having a space to call his own. So he returned to the old Sound Factory space as the resident of newly installed Pacha where he’s spinning for slightly shorter periods of time — 15 hours.

“I love New York, it’s in me. It’s a part of my life,” he says. “Although they make it really hard to survive, I also believe you have to be in it to win it, you know?”