There are a myriad of images that could pop into your head when you think about a big house. Maybe you’re the quintessential commercial chick who pictures the classic pink-and-white Barbie playhouse complete with singles-only elevator, sparkle barbeque and tiny stable. Maybe you’re a goth at heart and you picture something brick and European, drafty, with walls covered in tapestries and cobwebs.
If you’re Toronto DJs Van Helder and Barletta, however, something infinitely cooler comes to mind: Hefner.
“I had this copy of an old ’80s Playboy,” says Van Helder (aka Violca Yryku), “and there was this ad for [the TV show] Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Imagine it, Robin Leach and Hugh Hefner, a combination of big dreams, big money and hotness. Eighties excess, baby. You just can’t get that kind of wow from an iPhone.
For Van Helder, who wanted a new band name for herself and Barletta that would be iconic, a standalone like Metallica or Justice, it was a classic eureka moment. She was hit with the perfect name that would create big sound for a DJ duo aiming to bring back “big room house music.”
The combination of Van Helder and Barletta comes courtesy of a chance meeting at a Gay Bash party. A Toronto original, Van Helder had been DJing and producing parties since 1999, initially as part of the Mississauga drum and bass scene and then as part of the dance band Fritz Helder and the Phantoms. Recently, Van Helder crossed Canada with Pink Mafia’s all-girl DJ tour Get Er Done. Originally hailing from Scarborough, DJ Barletta (aka Hans Edquist), at the ripe age of younger-than-you-think had already made a name for himself in the electronic music scene for his bold rap-inspired mixes, tearing up many an electronic music blog in the process. At Gay Bash the two hit it off immediately. Even before they had their name they were furiously at work making music.
The philosophy guiding their music-making?
“Have fun when you’re making music,” says Van Helder.
“Don’t stress,” Barletta adds, “and don’t care about following anybody.”
Mansion’s long-term plans are to tour and eventually release an album. In the meantime you can check out their music at Myspace.com/mansiondj. Plus, this Friday, Mansion debuts its big house sound at an official release party held by Sport Pig at the Bright Pearl (346-348 Spadina Ave). The event will include a massive set of exclusively Torontonian DJs including Vaneska, St Mandrew, Nasty Nave, Merk Meny and Syntronics.
The location will sound familiar to Sport Pig and dumpling fans. The Bright Pearl was Sport Pig’s launching spot for DJ trio of Lil Jaz, kos and Justin Peroff (Broken Social Scene) two years ago. Dumpling fans will recognize the Bright Pearl as one of Toronto’s favourite all-day dim sum restaurants (with fairly excellent spring rolls). Dim Sum will be served during the event, presumably to give partygoers the energy to dance the night away.
The duo has held off booking any prior events in order to launch all new and all original material at the release. Booze, amazing music and many hot dancers are on tap: “Rowdy” is the word Mansion comes up with to describe the festivities.
“Skin tight all night.