DJ 4Korners has worked with the Toronto Raptors organization for 12 years and toured the world playing in cities such as Brussels, London, Barcelona, and Dubai. However, living in such a multicultural city like Toronto is what makes it the best city in the world to him. With such amazing artists emerging from Toronto finding great success, he sees so much potential for the music industry in our city.
Photo Cred: Heritage Park Studio | Bag: CamPro Grey
What does being a Torontonian mean to you?
4KORNERS: It meant a lot of things over the years, but right now it means being from the greatest city in the world. It is the city that everybody's watching and the best thing about us is the fact that we're so multicultural. There are people from all over the world here. I feel like I grew up in a bubble of ... I mean, I'm aware of things like racism and classism and the what-not, but I kind of feel like I've grown up in a bubble, me and my group of friends, that is not at the front of mind. It's not the type of thing that plagued us growing up. Now that I travel a lot, I see different places that are really segregated, and it's weird to me, because we're so not. It's definitely something to be proud of because we understand each other, and therefore we understand the world a lot better than most people do.
What made you fall in love with music?
4KORNERS: I think it was inherited, really. My dad was a chef, but before he was a chef, before I was born in my first few years, he was the lead guitarist in a band. And, they toured locally and like, did some stuff. And, he actually had an opportunity to join a super important funk band, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. His band opened for them and they kind of tried to draft him, but his mom was not having it ... my grandmother, she was not having it ... He was like, I don't know, 18, 19 years old. She was not trying to see him go into that lifestyle.
Skip ahead, he had me and music was always in the house. He had a dope record collection that I went through, even before I knew what DJing was. He played guitar, taught me a little bit. I took piano lessons. Music was in my veins.
At what point did you start DJing?
4KORNERS: DJing kind of just happened by accident. I had no plan to be in music. I didn't even know what I wanted to do. And then when I got into school, I was actually going to be a writer because all my teachers were pushing me towards that. I was really good at it and it came naturally. But music was just always one of those things and I ended up fooling around with the decks that my dad had in the house all along. I really enjoyed it and I got really good. Started going to parties. Started seeing DJs rocking it. Then it just evolved into something that I figured, you know what, let me try to do that. From there I went from DJing small parties, to bigger plugs, to now making music, to working with artists and I'm just swallowed up by the music biz.
Bag: CamPro Grey
When you do play a gig, how much of the music would you say is created by yourself, versus other people's music that you are playing?
4KORNERS: I would say about 50/50. I play a lot of popular music and things that I think people should hear, of course. I make my own stuff and then, what I do a lot is make my own versions of songs that people know. So that's why my DJ sets are always different than everybody else's. I might play the song that you know and love, but it's going to sound different because I did something different with it. I like being different. I always want to not be the same as the next person. I think that's what makes us all great. Nobody great is like everybody else.
Your music has taken you around the world. What would you say was the tipping point that took your DJing to the next level?
4KORNERS: I had a friend who introduced me to a guy who I now consider family, DJ Psar, from Belgium. He was based in Brussels. We became friends over Myspace. He then arranged for me to DJ a couple of small gigs in Belgium. So, I went to Belgium and tore it up at a couple of really small parties. I really just wanted to go for the experience because I was in love with Europe and had to go. And then from there, word started getting around. He was then able to hook me up with a gig in Paris at a really famous hip hop club, called Gibus. That gig was the tipping point! I found out later, if you make a buzz in Paris, you're good in Europe. The DJ community, the club community, the promoter community, they hear about it. From that gig, the calls started coming in. And, shit just spread from there.
The Toronto music scene has gained significant popularity over the recent years, what do you see for the future of Toronto artists and music?
4KORNERS: More and more and more and more. I work closely with the Raptors, and I understand why it was important that we have the Raptors here. It's the same thing with how important it is that we have big artists coming from Toronto. The reason there's so many young basketball players in the NBA that are Canadian now, is because they got to grow up watching NBA basketball right here, right in front of their face. Kids growing up now, them growing up with Drake being the biggest thing in music. They're growing up with Bieber being the biggest thing. Weeknd, all these guys, it's normal for them. When we were kids, that wasn't normal. We were like, "Yo, Kardinal has a song with Akon. That's sick". He made it. Because he hooked up with somebody else. Now other people are trying to hook up with us. And the mentality of it is different now. So, kids coming up now, they look at Drake, they look Abel, they look at all these guys and they're like, "I can do it too. These guys are from my neighborhood. They're from my city". So I think it's only going to be more and more and more. Every day I find out about a new Toronto artist, that's actually doing something really, really dope. The sky is the limit for Toronto. And plus, everybody's messing with us now, so…
What has been the highlight for you, as the official DJ of the Raptors?
4KORNERS: So many, man. I mean, just getting the gig in the first place. When they contacted me to do it, it was a no brainer. The VP of marketing actually asked me, "Is this something you might be interested in?". That is the dumbest question ever. Absolutely. 100%. Where do I sign? Let's do this! I'm going into season number 13 right now. Another big one was when we made the playoffs for the first time in a while and Jurassic Park became a thing. Seeing that many kids outside a stadium, 5000 kids outside, 20,000 inside, supporting the team, it was mind-blowing. I would also have to say, Djing at the All-Star game in 2016, which was like, never in a million years did I think that would be a thing. There was so much going on, and everybody in entertainment was here. It was so memorable. That week was one of the most incredible weeks of my life and I got to be like, right in the center of it.
Photo Cred: Heritage Park Studio | Bag: CamPro Grey
Music and fashion have always kind of intertwined. How has that affected your personal style?
4KORNERS: The same way that I treat my DJ set, is like the way that I treat my fashion sense. I always want to not be the same as everybody else. I'm not trying to be weird for the sake of being weird. I like forward thinking. I like breaking the rules and boundaries. I like no restrictions. I wear what I think is dope and I'm confident enough that if people don't like it, they don't have to look. If they don't like it, they don't have to listen. But, in my experience, most of what I've done, people have been like, "I get it". Or, "Kirk, you can do that, but I can't do it, but I admire you for being able to do that".
So why is it that the VENQUE CamPro is your pick of the litter?
4KORNERS: I chose that one because of the compartments. It's perfect for my DJ gear. I can slide my laptop in there, and a couple of other things. Headphones, what-not. But also, I'm getting into photography and filming. Just as creative outlets. The fact that I can convert it to that and fit my lenses and my cameras in there, it's dope. Like I just flip it whenever I need to. If I'm going to do a DJ gig, I can throw all my stuff in there and do it. If I'm going to go out and shoot for the day I can throw my other stuff into it. If I'm just going somewhere overnight, I can take all the compartments out and just stuff some clothing in there and go. I think it's a perfect all purpose. Of all the choices there, that's what spoke to me the most, because it was the most versatile for my gear. It's all really tight and compact. I don't like big bulky bags. It's nice and slim, and it works great.
You are playing a gig, who is your ideal audience and where are you playing?
4KORNERS: I'm playing on the top of a pyramid in Egypt. The Sahara Desert, with a legion of open-minded people who are not coming to hear music that they've heard before. They're coming to hear vibes. So, there might be some stuff that they know, there might be some stuff that they don't know. As long as the energy's good, they vibe with it. That's how I feel about music. I don't need to know the artist in advance. When I go see a DJ play, or go to a concert, it's exciting to me to hear sounds that I haven't heard before. There's people that come out and are watching me, listening, dancing and I see them jamming. Because they're like, “I don't know what this is, but I want to know what this is”. That's the greatest thing in the world to me. Everybody knows the popular songs. How many times can you hear Bad and Boujee? Don't ask me for Despacito. You know what I mean? We know it, you know it, everybody knows it, fine. What about this shit that you might not know, but now you know because of me!? That's the shit that's dope. So, if I could have like a hundred thousand people in the desert, I'd be up on top of the pyramid, that'd be the ultimate gig for me.
What's next for 4KORNERS?
4KORNERS: Short term and long term is actually the same thing. Making music, traveling the world, enjoying this life. I know a lot of people get caught up in their own head, “well I'm not there yet, so I've got to just put my head down and work towards it”. I don't believe in that, I believe you should keep your head up all the time. If you put your head down, you miss shit. The journey is dope. Getting there is dope. All the things that you encounter, all the people that you meet, all the influences that you get that go into your art. That all happens along the way, it's not just, start here and end here, and nothing else matters. It's the entire thing that matters to me.