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Teen Daze

Web Of Influences

The Vancouver electronic producer shares the music that made him.

By Drew Millard


I legally changed my name to “World’s Strongest Man” around the time that I became the strongest man in the world. This was to celebrate the fact that all those years of lifting, diet management, training, focus, creatine, steroids, reading bodybuilding.com forums, etc. were absolutely worth it. But immense physical strength comes, I have found, with immense psychic loneliness. People do not love me for me; they only love that I pick up very large objects on basic cable programs dedicated to various feats of strength. When I go to shake the hand of a prospective new friend, they recoil, anxious that I might accidentally crush their miniscule bones. But I, the World’s Strongest Man, am gentle. I am kind. I am worthy of love, as we all are. I blog about music on the Nina Protocol in the hopes of showing my true nature to the world. 

I do, however, have one friend, and that friend is the producer Teen Daze. He respects my takes on things like the synth tones on Emeralds’ Does It Look Like I’m Here?, and I appreciate the unknown city pop jams he sends me in return. Last weekend we got together at a random bad bar in Brooklyn and protein-maxed by swallowing raw eggs whole. Teen Daze started the year by winning a Juno, which is the Canadian version of a Grammy. (I appreciate the design of the Juno statuette, for it is gold and pyramid-like and therefore heavier than the leg-day-ass zinc alloy that makes up the Grammy trophy, but that’s a take for another post.) He spent a good chunk of the year putting out various EPs from his home studio in the Vancouver-ish area, and ended it by temporarily relocating to Los Angeles. His most recent release is Quiet City, a three-song cycle that I listened to on repeat while blasting through the second-most meditative workout I had last Friday. It was so good that I awarded it the vaunted Nina Staff Pick.

Teen Daze - Quiet City EP
Teen Daze - Quiet City EP

  • 1Quiet City
  • 2Life Style
  • 3Night Club

If I had to take all of Teen Daze’s music in my gigantic hands and mash it all down into a single word, that word would be “smooth,” for he is a master of the art of sonic silkiness. Just when you think you’ve got his chill-ass ambient work figured out, he’ll hit you with a club jam where the vocal sample doubles back on itself, or maybe something where the sounds of a babbling brook merge into the drums. Then once you feel like you’ve got your feet set for the squat, BAM—the Herbie Hancock homages start coming, and oh my God oh my God you find out that Teen Daze also has a Substack where he explores an alternate, and entirely smooth, history of music. After spending enough time in his Extended Universe, I transcended the realm of the physical and can now lift barbells with my mind.

To paraphrase the renowned scholar Wayne Campbell: “Was it Kierkegaard or Jay Z who said, ‘Do you listen to music or do you just skim through it?’” No one—not Jay, Kierkegaard, Wayne, or even Garth for that matter—would ever accuse Teen Daze of even fathoming the possibility of skimming through a piece of music. The man cares too much about The Craft to ever disrespect a fellow practitioner like that. To prove it, I talked to him about the music and scenes that helped shape his sound.

Nina: What was the first album or song you remember making a big impression on you artistically?

Teen Daze: I talked about this record a lot when I was doing press for my last LP, Interior, because I feel like it had a direct influence on it, and that's Discovery by Daft Punk. I heard it when I was 15, and it really did inspire me to want to make dance music, not just enjoy it! It’s the kind of record that so many people have tried to duplicate, but no one quite has the same SAUCE that Tomas and Guy-Man have got. Actually, what I love about it, and why it continues to inspire me, is [that] the album becomes this puzzle that you can never solve. I can keep trying to “make my Discovery” but it's never gonna happen, and hopefully, my results will be special in their own way.

Were there any subcultures/scenes that you were into when you were younger?

Well, I don’t know if this constitutes as younger, but in my late teens, I was definitely into emo/screamo/hardcore. In that order. I heard [Dashboard Confessional’s] The Swiss Army Romance in 2001, and it was just Right Place Right Time. I was feeling emo about “leaving behind my small town to head to college in some other small town.” It was a fun time in life. I played in a screamo band for a few years, and had my first experiences with playing shows/touring/recording, and it was all very pure and magical. I think it’s why I fell so hard for the Turnstile’s Glow On! It made me nostalgic for that time in my life, while still being incredibly contemporary. I love that band.

Who is someone who helped you develop as an artist?

I wouldn’t be doing Teen Daze if it weren't for my friend Cecil Frena, who had an incredibly influential project called Gobble Gobble (and Born Gold after that). I happened to open up for Gobble Gobble in Winnipeg, MB in 2009, and that encounter changed the course of my life. As I was working on the first Teen Daze EP, Cecil invited me to send him demos, gave me tips, introduced me to people in the scene, and invited me on tour. A huge, huge shout out to him for taking someone under his wing like that!

What scene, if any, do you feel like a part of now?

This is a tough one to answer. I’m a little bit in my own world. That being said, when I think of a scene that I find myself drawing a lot of inspiration from, it's gotta be this world of diggers/selectors/DJs who play Bar Part Time in San Francisco or Homage Brewing in Los Angeles. My entry point into this world has been by playing at this space in Vancouver called Paradise, which is my favorite club in the entire world. I’ve danced to so many good DJ sets there and met so many great people, let alone having the thrill of playing to the lovely group of dancers that have found themselves there when I’ve DJ’d. 

When it comes to my peers, it’s tough too. I have so much imposter syndrome, because I’m kind of entering this world of music after years of making more traditional “indie electronic” music, rather than just DJing. So my peers are more like the DJs that I look up to.

Who is an artist that you feel is a touchstone for the music you make now?

Speaking of DJs I look up to: I’m going to shout out my buds from Vancouver, Pender Street Steppers. They’re incredible producers, DJs, and humans, and if I could make dance music that felt the way their music feels, then I feel like I would have done my job.

Are there any artists who have told you that your music has inspired or influenced them or who you view yourself as a mentor of?

Definitely, and it’s always the coolest thing to hear. When people have told me this, I almost have a stock answer, and it’s that that is wild for me to hear because I have those artists myself. And to think that I’m that kind of artist for someone else is a really surreal feeling. It’s quite an honor.

Who is a younger artist working today that you see as kindred in spirit artistically and who you want to put on right now, in this very interview? 

There’s a handful of DJs coming up in the UK that I’ve been really into: NIKS, Scarlett O’Malley, and Ariane V. There’s a lot of joy in all their mixing, and their taste and selections are all on point!

Teen Daze photo by Paulina Isaak

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