Deejay 4Korners is the official Deejay for the 2019 NBA Champions the Toronto Raptors. Deejaying for the Raptors since 2005 and now an international Deejay and producer. With some of the biggest clubs under his belt as well as Cannes Film Festival, London Fashion Week, Abu Dhabi Formula 1 and the Olympic Games.
It is not unusual to see A‑Listers like Drake, Michael Jordan, P‑Diddy and many others at his events. 4Korners has many awards including Canadian Deejay of the year.
Late last year he launched his indie Music and Lifestyle Brand “JN SHPPRD”. Using his influences and international experiences to create a platform to express his creativity.
What was life like before 4Korners growing up in Canada? What where some of your earlier aspirations.
Before I was anything, I was a Black Boy. I grew up here in Toronto, Canada and although the general global perception of Canada is one of peace and harmony and everyone is polite etc, etc, I think it’s important to say that this has not been my experience. It is not utopia and racism does and always has existed here. I’ve experienced Anti-Black Racism consistently my entire life. I don’t remember NOT being aware that some people didn’t like me because I’m Black. And despite the fact that 2020 has been trash in many ways, the world’s eyes have been opened and we’re now working harder than I’ve seen in my lifetime to create the change that has been needed here and everywhere for far too long.
Now, as far as my career wise, honestly, before 4KORNERS I had zero aspirations of being a musician. Like NONE! In hindsight, I realize that I was destined to live a life of music, but I really didn’t see it growing up. The irony is, I took piano & music theory lessons as a child. I even did some classical music competitions, but I quit around age 12 or so because it stopped being fun. I was in band all through high school too, playing brass & woodwind instruments, but after I graduated, I stopped playing those too. And ever since I can remember I was into records. My Dad had a dope collection and I used to use my allowance to buy records when I got old enough to choose my own music. But even through all of that, I thought I was going to be a writer / journalist with mild aspirations of being a pro basketball player. That’s what I went to university for. But while I was there, I discovered nightclubs, got heavy into DJing and it’s been all music ever since.
What music did you grow with & what artists/groups influenced you?
I grew up on a whole lot of music. Michael Jackson was and is still my favourite artist of all time. I had posters, pins, knock off jackets lol, everything. Beyond him I grew up on everything from Prince, to The Beatles, Cameo to Culture Club. Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, Motley Crue, INXS…pretty much everything my Dad listened to and what I saw on TV and heard on the radio. My Dad was definitely my biggest influence musically. He was in a band in the 70’s and was always a music guy. As I grew. I got into Run DMC, LL Cool J, Tribe Called Quest, NWA, Bell Biv Devoe, Janet Jackson, Inner City. I could go on forever. Basically, my musical taste has always been really, really diverse.
What got you into Deejaying and who if any are your favourite Deejay’s?
I knew about DJing growing up from seeing guys like Jazzy Jeff and Jam Master Jay on TV. My idea of a DJ was the guy who played the music in Rap groups. But when I got to university, I saw club DJs for the first time & fell in love with DJing and DJ culture. Local guys like Baby Blue Sound Crew, Dr. Jay and Starting From Scratch were the big names in the city and I got to know them all just from going to their parties and being around. When I started DJing at home, teaching myself how to mix & scratch, I started going to the clubs before they opened and helped them carry their records inside so I could get in for free and hang around the DJ booth to watch what they were doing. Sometimes I’d hand out flyers for them. And for local promoters, for a small fee, but more to get in. Good with them as I was trying to get a foot in the door to DJ myself. They noted the hustle, and it definitely paid off later.
OK so, why 4Korners – how did this name come about.
Everyone always asks that. I guess how DJs get their names is kinda interesting to most. Mine, long story short I always wanted to travel as a DJ. I decided really early that I didn’t want to be local. I wanted to tour the world. So, I took the saying “4 corners of the world” and adopted it as my name, kinda like speaking it into existence. I changed the C to a K (because my name is Kirk) and boom! I had my DJ name. For a while it was actually the 4KORNERS Sound Crew, there were other members, but as time went on, I ended up being a solo act again. I like it better this way.
Did you think that Deejaying in the retail store would get you here?
HAHA! No way, not even a little bit. Retail? I started DJing at the retail clothing store Roots Canada on weekends simply because it was a gig. I worked 5 hours a day every Saturday & Sunday for $10/hour. So, 10 hours of DJing for $100 essentially, but I wasn’t DJing anywhere else at the time so it was worth it to me. It was like a retail job but instead of folding sweaters I played music. As I started getting club gigs, I still did the Roots thing because it was fun, it was extra money and I made some good contacts there. DJing there led to a lot of opportunities that I would have never expected.
How does it feel being the official Deejay for the 2019 NBA Champions the Toronto Raptors?
Being the champ feels awesome!!!! I’m a lifelong Raptors fan to begin with, I’ve been working with the team since 2005 and we weren’t always a winning team, so going all the way was incredible! There are only a handful of DJs that are NBA Champions. I’m in an élite group of guys with one of them BIG RINGS!
How do you plan a set or do you just go off the cuff?
How I plan my sets really depends on the type of show. At nightclubs, I generally put together a folder of songs that I want to play for sure and then I freestyle it beyond that. That’s especially important when I’m touring internationally because every city / country has their own local hits. When I’m doing a stage show I usually plan my set list from start to finish because I treat those more like concerts. I’ll perform my own songs, have artists that I’ve collaborated with hop on stage and perform with me, sometimes I’ll hire dancers etc. So, it really depends on where and what type of performance I’m doing.
How do you find your music? Do you use music pools? Or do you rely on the connections from other Deejay’s?
I find my music in various ways. I work with the world’s largest record pool, DJcity, so I definitely get a LOT of my music from there. Beyond get(ing) music sent directly from record labels, artists themselves, I trade music with other DJs and when necessary I buy music from Beatsource or iTunes. But more & more I’m playing my own songs that I’ve made. That’s really where I’m taking it.
What are the best ways now to crate dig or source new music with there being so many new artist/producers these days?
First things first, I only play music that I really like. So, I crate dig on Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal…I check out a lot of curated playlists to find new sounds that I might not know. I also use Shazam a lot when I’m out or watching TV or whatever and hear something dope that I don’t know. I’m really big on finding new music & artists. I take that info then I check DJcity and Beatsource to grab them and add them to my collection. Another great way that I mentioned is trading with other DJs. This is the BEST way when it comes to touring. I have a network of DJs all over the world so if I’m headed to Europe on tour, I hit up my people in each country to get a few key records from the countries I’ll be hitting. I learn so much that way. Like, for example, nobody knows what’s hot in the Paris clubs better than the dopest DJs in Paris. We all lean on each other & learn from each other that way. There’s a real DJ community globally.
How did your Indie Music and Lifestyle Brand “JN SHPPRD” come to life and why “JN SHPPRD”?
Aww man, JN SHPPRD was such a natural progression. The moment I decided to start seriously making and releasing my own songs, I knew I was going to start my own label. A lot of my favourite producer / artists had their own labels which gave them the freedom to make and put out whatever music they wanted. Pharrell Williams & Chad Hugo had Star Trak, Dr. Dre has Aftermath, Diplo has Mad Decent, Skrillex has OWSLA etc, etc. That freedom is essential to me. My first label was called Wrong Angle Records which I launched in 2016 but honestly, my music was trash and I had no idea how to run a label. So that tanked. I took some time, put my head down and worked at my craft before launching JN SHPPRD in late 2019. I’m still building the brand but it’s definitely on track.
What is the ultimate goal for “JN SHPPRD”?
The ultimate goal for JN SHPPRD is for it to be part of my legacy. I named it after the neighbourhood where I grew up (Jane Street & Sheppard Avenue) and I’m taking this brand global. I don’t know if I’m gonna be like the Rolling Stones and continue to tour forever. But I do know that I will always want to make music, sign and develop artists, design clothing and other products, produce events, make films and beyond. I say music & lifestyle brand because at its core it’s about the music, but from there nothing is off limits.
You have a very unique Deejay job spinning at The Raptors Games. How would you say this differs to event and club Deejaying?
DJing the Raptors games is very unique. I’m one of the first DJs in the world to be officially linked to a pro sports team. It’s awesome and super challenging. At clubs and events, my job Is to make people dance and there’s generally a narrow demographic of people in the room. At the games, it’s more of a production. There’s a script, specific musical cues and moments and my job is to curate a playlist that creates the right atmosphere and touches 20,000 people of all walks of life. Where a club might have 19–30-year olds mostly, a game has everything from babies & toddlers to senior citizens and everything in between. You really gotta know your music and have a firm grasp on what to play & when, while following a schedule and working with a full team of entertainers. It’s a lot!
You Deejay a variety of music including Afrobeats and Dancehall what do you think about the Soca Scene in Canada?
My DJ sets are filled with all kinds of music from all over the world, but especially Black music. My parents are from Trinidad so Soca is in my blood, and with that Caribbean upbringing comes reggae and dancehall for sure. As for Afrobeats, I was introduced to it 4–5 years ago from playing shows in the UK, France & the Netherlands where it’s been big from time. I’ve been peppering my sets with artists like Wizkid and Mr Eazi and more for years, so it’s really dope to me that the music has gone global and people everywhere are now into it and superstars like Burna Boy and Afro B and so many more have emerged.
What music do you listen to when you are not planning a or playing a Deejay set?
What I listen to in my spare time really depends on my mood. I like to listen to House Music in the mornings to get my vibe and energy high. When I’m chilling, I like R&B and Soul (music). Artists like Masego, Jorja Smith, Janelle Monae, Syd, Daniel Cesar, stuff like that.
Where is favourite place to Deejay and why?
Of course, I love playing Raptors games, and I love being on stage where I can perform my music and bring out guests on a concert vibe. But as far as nightclubs, honest answer, anywhere that the energy is right. Anywhere that I can take the crowd on a genre bending musical journey and they ride with me the whole time. That’s my favourite. There are a few rooms in particular that I’ve played in recent times that really fit that description. Maddox in London. Theatro in Marrakech, ASL in Shanghai, Soubois in Montréal, there are a bunch.
Have you had any crazy situations whilst Deejaying?
HAHA aww man, I’ve had a lot of crazy moments. This DJ life is really on some Rockstar shit for real. I work with some very family friendly clients so I’m not really gonna go into any of that on the record, but yeah…I got stories lol
From all the A‑Listers you have had the chance to meet who have been some of the most memorable?
THIS I can talk about. Jay‑Z is the man! I met him here in Toronto. He’s literally one of the greatest of all time and he was so chill. Another one, I was in Vegas one time and someone bumped into me. I turned around and it was 50 Cent saying “I’m so sorry” lol. Most polite celeb I’ve ever met. Chris Tucker is hilarious. I was playing a party that he was at once and he ran across the room to ask me to play “Royals” by Lorde, only he didn’t know what it was called so he kinda performed it for me, dance moves and all. He was EXACTLY like you’d imagine him to be. I spent the afternoon with Ryan Leslie & Cassie at the studio once, they were both so dope. Ryan put me onto a lot of game & Cassie, who was pretty young at the time, was an absolute sweetheart. Another, I was on tour in Canada with The Game and we went to Dairy Queen together lol. I there’s a lot man. I’ve been doing this for a long time.
Have you ever been star struck or caught off guard by any A‑Listers?
YES! That same party that His Tucker was at, it was the Hockey Hall of Fame induction private party for NHL legend Chris Chelios. And bare legendary celebs were there. Cindy Crawford, Cuba Gooding Jr, Kid Rock etc. But at one point I saw them all geeking out around this one guy, but his back was turned so I couldn’t see who it was. I was taken aback though because these are all big movies stars and rock stars and all that, but they seemed to be fanning out around this one dude. Man turns around and it’s Michael Jordan!!!! I froze! I wanted to go say hi but I couldn’t move my feet lol. That’s the only time I’ve ever been starstruck in my entire life!
Some Deejay’s hate requests from the crowd how do you feel about this?
Nah, I’m not big on requests either. Don’t get me wrong. Every now & then someone asks politely enough and has a dope request. But for the most part people are obnoxious and demanding and are asking for songs I’m gonna play anyway or songs I would NEVER play! Best practice in my opinion, talk to the DJ like he/she is a human being. Ask, don’t demand. And you will always get further if you tip. Swing me a 50 or 100 and yeah, I’ll squeeze your song in. Some DJs really hate that so that one is not universal, but in some cities it’s a common thing. I’ve doubled my pay a few times in certain places, I’m not mad at that!
In July you collaborated with Top Tier DJ’s across North America including DJ Enuff, Kardinal Offishall, Diamond Kuts, Franzen, Justin Credible, Fafa Fahn to name a few for DJ’s United Against Racism. How did this project come together/about?
Yes, that was a really important initiative. I’m always down to donate my services for the greater good and in light of the resurgence of the Revolution against Anti-Black racism, I was proud to participate. The homie DJ Charlie B from here in Toronto put this together and we raised over $55,000 and donated it to the Black Health Alliance. Beyond that I put my mix up on my Bandcamp page and am donating all proceeds from the sales of that mix to the same organization.
What is your inspiration behind your singles?
The inspiration behind my music varies. I do have two main objectives when making music though. One is to make music I can perform at my shows, so generally danceable music. I’m a DJ first and I want to be able to play my music out, so no ballads or anything lol…not yet at least. I never say never. The second thing is I make it a point to be diverse with my releases. I make all kinds of Black music. We are a global people and we’ve created so many genres that it doesn’t make sense for me to pigeon hole myself into just one category. People see me and assume Hip-Hop, and they’re right. But I also make House Music (as 4KORNERS and also as part of my group 401 WST), I make R&B, Twerk, Trap, Dancehall, Afro, Pop, Rock…I don’t limit myself. Just like all the music I grew up on, and all the music I discover while touring, I put all that in the pot when I’m cooking.
Do you build your tracks around the artist, with the artist or for the artist?
All of the above. My favourite way to create is to get in the room with the artist(s), spark an idea and write and produce the record from scratch. But thanks to technology, I’m not dependent on being in the same place to create with someone. On some tracks I’ve sent the production over email and they’ve sent me back their vocals. Sometimes I’ll send ideas back & forth with another producer and we come up with the record that way. I even wrote and recorded a song over Instagram Live earlier this year with an artist by the name of City Fidelia. I’m open to all forms of creativity, as long as we end up with a dope record in the end.
As this pandemic has hit the Deejay scene very hard. Few Deejays could use SM platforms to spin due to copyright’s whilst others got an in. My question is what does the future of Deejaying look like for you?
Hey man, we’re not gonna be quarantined forever. The future of DJing will always be playing music for people in person. But for now, we’ve had to get a bit creative. I’m not worried. People will always want to party and go to concerts. We’ll get back to that once it’s fully safe to do so. And when we do, I think people are gonna go harder than ever!!
Will we/club/Deejay’s ever truly recover after Covid. as things open up slowly how do you see the club and night scene in the near future?
100% we’ll recover. Near future? Doubtful. But eventually, absolutely. And quite honestly, a lot of DJs won’t be DJs at that time. They will have had to do something else to pay the bills. But for those of us who are lifers, we’ll always adapt and keep doing what we love. I’ve said this before many times. DJing isn’t what I do, it’s who I am.
Do you think that a digital Deejaying maybe be the future & if so, how could we make this work?
I think it’s definitely something that has been added onto the pot. I think it will be dope for DJs to live stream from venues even as things open back up. I’m already seeing some do it. Imagine being able to hear your favourite DJ spin and get a feel of the club or concert atmosphere even when they are in a different city or country? I think it will be dope to offer that to my fans. Like, come on tour with me virtually. It’s definitely something to add to the arsenal.
What tips could you give up and coming Deejays?
My advice, if you love music, do it. DJing is so much fun! But if you want to take it seriously and make it a career, practice, practice, practice! And make sure you love the craft enough to do it for free or for very little money because that’s how it starts for most of us and it takes time to move up the ladder. But definitely do it and have fun with it!
Have you any advice on how to get on the Deejay circuit? Also, would you say it is true it is who you know rather than what you know?
The best advice I can give on that is very simple. Wherever it is that you want to DJ, go there. Support the venue, the promoters, the DJs. Be physically in the building and get to know the people who make it happen. But also make sure you’re building your skills all the while. Who you know is definitely important, so get to know the movers! If ever there’s an opportunity, they’ll be much more likely to give the DJ that they know and like a shot than a stranger. But once you get that shot, you better be able to handle it. Like KILL IT!
What have we got to look forward to from 4Korners?
Look forward to not being able to go anywhere without hearing me! SO, much more music and short films from 4KORNERS and from my House Music group 401 WST. And also expect music from some of the artists I’m developing and merchandise coming through JN SHPPRD! I’m being very prolific with it. And when the world opens up again, I’ll be in your city!
I want to thank 4Korners for taking the time to talk with us. I am looking forward to his future endeavours and when he is in town, I will defiantly try and sneak in to one of his events. For more on DJ 4Korners click on the links below.
& All That Good Stuff!
Jay St Paul
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