Thursday, October 28, 2010


  On a Saturday night, many young Ottawans can be found preening and polishing, preparing for a night out at the clubs. While mainstream dance clubs are the usual destination of choice- there are some alternatives in our capital city. If you are looking to escape the hordes of depthless dance floor devotees, Death Disco at Swizzles can act as your refuge from the counterfeit, crowd-pleasing masses. It is true that Death Disco is a pastiche of the goth, industrial, metal, electronica and punk scenes and it seems the darker the scene; the more accepting the individuals who make up that scene are. After all Death Disco's tag line is "sexy, freaky, fun."

Danny Gorny photo
  Death Disco is the brainchild of Ryan Clark, also known as DJ Dolston. Clark was first introduced to heavy music by Kevin Priest who fronts the Ottawa metal band The Haunting. Priest recommended Type O Negative's album October Rust and Clark credits that discovery as the catalyst for his foray into spooky music and subsequent projects. Clark was driven to create an alternative night for the city in 2007 when the annual industrial Ottawa Halloween party was abolished. Clark's dark ambitions fructified in December '07 when Re-Vamp was born; Death Disco followed in March '09.

  "We play heavy, guitar driven music. It's meant to be dark and it's supposed to be heavy," Clark said. "We've really touched a nerve with Death Disco. It is something very unique in North America."

Ryan Clark, aka DJ Dolston
  Death Disco fixture DJ Alice Keller says what the attendee will encounter at Swizzles on Saturday nights crosses all genres.

  "It's not just an industrial night, it's not just a metal night. We try to do everything. Each DJ brings their own flavour to the mix. We have our more metal DJs, like Ryan, and then the more industrial DJs, like Phil and Knived," Keller said. "I guess you could call it a goth scene. Goth is one of those terms that encompasses a lot of things yet also pigeon holes a lot of things too. Goth and industrial kind of go hand in hand."

Alice Keller, aka DJ Alice
  Independent minded music lovers and independent music also go hand in hand, however Death Disco has attracted some big names in the past and hopes to do so again in the future. Darkwave legends Attrition recently graced the Queen street stage and Clark says that their Death Disco performance was a highlight on his extensive list of concert going experiences.

  "We spent two years trying to make Attrition's show a reality and this past June we made it happen," Clark recounts. "I'm sitting there watching them, they are doing their encore and it's 'Mercy Machine' one of their big hits. TyLene [Paisley, Attrition's vocalist] comes over and puts her boot on my friend's back and says 'Everybody must kneel before the Mercy Machine' and the entire bar got on their knees.  Here we are with this massively influential British band doing their first ever Canadian show at Swizzles; what an event."

  It's big bookings like Attrition that prompt club-goers like Faith Graves to sing Clark's praises.
"Thanks to Ryan we have a better scene in Ottawa than those found in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal," Graves offered.

  As for future events, Clark has his sights set on turning Death Disco's Valentine's Day event, Everyday is Halloween, into a festival and will possibly be collaborating with event planners Harsh Reality for a Canada Day steam punk-themed event. Yet Clark's aphotic aspirations don't end there. He hopes to kick start a scene that will rival those of our larger neighbours- in the opinions of music lovers outside of Bytown's boarders.

  "Everybody sits around and talks about how Ottawa doesn't compare to Toronto or Montreal. I want everybody to know right now that the most interesting things happening in Canadian spooky music are happening right here," Clark explains. "If you're into indie live music, industrial, emo, goth or electronica we are the place to be. In ten years, I want people to look at Ottawa with the same reverence and respect that they look at New York and London's goth scenes with. That's where I want us to be. I say that unabashedly and I think we can do it. I had someone who asked if it's OK to tattoo the Death Disco logo on their arm for god's sake. We are doing what we set out to do. It's one of those ideas. Take over the world with goth industrial music? Why not? Live the dream."

  Death Disco dreamer Josh Mooney adds that however abrasive or sombre the scene may appear to be on the surface, the DD crowd are tolerant troopers.

  "Everyone is welcome here, regardless of if you are gay or straight. It doesn't matter what your background is, if you are a peaceful person you are always welcome. It's a place that accepts the differences in people and promotes positivity. We're not here to hate," Mooney said.

Death Disco
Saturday nights at Swizzles
246 Queen St.
Ottawa, ON
Join the Death Disco Facebook group

Type O Negative - Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young cover) from October Rust

TOKiMONSTA - Death By Disco from Midnight Menu

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