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Name: Dwayne Minard
Loner and outcast — not exactly words you’d associate with a DJ who’s making waves as far away as in the U.K. and Argentina. But for Dwayne Minard, those descriptions have been constants in the Torontonian’s life.
He grew up in the Ontario housing projects. The last of five kids and the offspring of divorced parents, Minard took to school with few friends by his side.
Solace was found through a set of headphones. There was KISS and Kate Bush, and by 1987 at age 17, Minard re-discovered the sounds of the ‘70s. Unbeknownst to him, Donna Summer and CHIC were laying the cornerstones to his adult life, disco beat by disco beat.
Breaking away from the university-bound scholastic pack, the black sheep charted a career into music with a stint managing and performing with Toronto alternative band, Brother Love Canal circa 2000
Mixing records, however, ultimately spawned his true calling.
Now, at 36, the office worker by day and DJ/ producer by night still feels like an outcast — this time by his own community, the gay community.
“Clubs here regard me as a great opening act DJ or a great Sunday evening DJ, but in Vancouver or at venues in the U.K. like Passion, I’m booked as a headliner,” says Minard, who refuses to deviate from his brand of light, up-lifting, U.K.-inspired disco house music.
It’s a sound that hasn’t yet taken flight with gay partygoers here, who prefer to stomp away in the comfort zone of their more established brand of house music typified by harder-edged, high-energy beats complete with climactic crescendos and wailing divas.
On the flipside, Minard recently packed in a huge straight crowd at a gig in Vancouver proving his point: “I’m not a gay DJ. I’m a DJ that spins music with universal appeal.”
Universal enough at least for the U.K. Together with fellow producer, singer and songwriter, Gavin Bradley, and under the moniker Righteous Remix, the duo churned out Love Is Love featuring New York vocalist MJ White.
Not to be confused with an old Culture Club track, Love was snatched up by large U.K. dance label, Hed Kandi, and was featured in its Disco Heaven compilation released earlier this spring. The CD also saw the light in the U.S., sparking favourable media club buzz along the way.
Other successes include The DJ Plays, which emerged in London and Argentina. And then there’s the duo’s bootleg remix of Nelly Furtado’s Try, which still gets pumped on CHUM FM 104.5.
Tina Turner’s Let’s Stay Together has undergone a Righteous re-working, resurfacing as Stay Together — another impressive bootleg track that charted in the U.K and Canada, and garnered club play from as nearby as New York to as far away as Sydney.
“I was a loner in school and I’m a loner in the Toronto DJ scene, but I don’t feel that when I’m in the U.K. or spinning elsewhere,” Minard says without a tinge of bitterness — he is, after all, due in London for a holiday next month. But something tells me he’s going to work the clubs armed with a stack of promo CDs under his arm.
• Log on to www.righteousremix.comto hear some of Minard’s work.