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The Chaz Interviews - July, 2003
by Chaz and the MP3.com artists

It was the summer of 2003 and MP3.com's active message board community was heating up as well -- with flame wars. Along came Chaz Fanaro, looking to cut through the negative noise. He began to interview many of the musical artists who pitched a tent on the popular indie music forum. Others pitched in with questions of their own. July of 2003 could have turned ugly, but thanks to the interviews blanketing the forum, it became a home for insight and mutual respect. The forums were wiped clean by Vivendi in December, 2003. The interviews live on.

Shirtlifter

Artist description
SHIRTLIFTER was Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada's capital. He was first influenced by electronic music with the invasion of electro-pop disco and punk back in the early 80's. His first DJ residency came at the age of 18, and soon after started creating music as part of a prolific production team called Boy's Life. In the late 90's Shirtlifter teamed up with U.K. legend DJ Paul Walker to pursue more underground musical interests. Now, as a solo artist, Shirtlifter continues to push his diverse-influenced house music sound, and re-mix internationally from his Toronto base. SHIRTLIFTER is a red jello addict, and his mantra includes : "I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener". His biggest pet peeve is a barbed wire toilet seat. The band enjoys watching the Price Is Right while formulating new ideas for up-and-coming Shirtlifter material. Bad is good...good is better. Shirtlifter, also a magician, continues self-levitation, and wishes to one day recover his crashed UFO.

Music Style
Electronic / House

Musical Influences
Dan Hartman, Kraftwerk, Con Funk Shun, Parliament, David Bowie, Nile Rogers, William Orbit, Motown, Robert Fripp, Brian Eno

Similar Artists
Daft Punk, Armand Van Helden, Phats n Small, Junior Jack, Soulsearcher, Moby, Basement Jaxx, Earth Wind & Fire, Todd Terry, Morris Day, Culture Club, Roxy Music, New Order , Prince, Duran Duran

Artist History
My earliest musical memories are in Ottawa, my parents garage. I would frequently set up a make shift drum set consisting of four inverted metal garbage cans, using their lids for cymbals. I used found wood dowels for drum sticks, banging away for hours at a time. I begged my parents for a pair of sticks like those I had seen the drummers use on television. I felt like a rock star the day my mother surprised me with the real mccoy sporting those gleaming white nylon ends. By eight I had truly caught the musical bug, and began taking piano and guitar lessons. I was spending every bit of my pocket money on Rock and Funk records. The first record I ever purchased was a copy of Magical Mystery Tour. Every single week I would add another album to my collection with the allowance money I received from numerous chores around the house. I purchased my first pair of decks at a garage sale right around the time of disco. It was a $100 hand made DJ unit in a wood box with two dual turntables, home made mixer, and amplifier. My best friend and I would carry around this box like coffin, accompanied by three crates of records playing weddings, or special events we could talk people into hiring us for. As the 70's faded, I followed the 80's musical trend from Rock and Disco to Electro-pop and New Wave, but it wasn't really until I moved to Toronto in 1979 that I discovered the thrill of playing my very first nightclub. The first week I started at the newly constructed Cornucopia Lounge, the music format was disco. About a month later, when disco was starting to suffer a horrible fate the owner Frank came to me and asked "what the hell was going on?". Why was his popular club now seeing attendance numbers drop off considerably. I explained to him that disco was dead and new wave and punk was all the rage. I will never forget the look on the old guy's face when he looked at me, and said, "Punk... what the hell is punk?" Frank was not very impressed when I introduced him to the Sex Pistols, but after much thought and deliberation on his part, Nuts and Bolts was born. In a few short month's we watched his club reach record breaking attendance, with line ups sometimes in excess of hundreds waiting to get in. Within a year he had to renovate in order to double the capacity of the club by converting a large back kitchen area to usable space for his patrons. The newly renovated club now had a twelve hundred person capacity and was packed solid every singleweekend for the next few years. Nuts and Bolts had become the most notorious club in Canada, and needless to say, Frank was a very happy man. The mid 80's brought about the advent of the all-in-one synthesizer complete with on board sequencing and included many sampled instruments like basses, strings, brass, and drum sounds. I was in my glory by the fact I could have virtually a band in a box to express my musical ideas. I thought at the time this would be the only synth I would ever need, but over the course of several years, all the money I made from each gig was spent on the latest piece of high tech electronics I could afford. Eventually, I found myself in a small room surrounded by gear, this became my first studio. I began working diligently on experimental music, infused with rock, disco, electro-pop and punk. The next five years gave way to a Chicago-type sound. I worked with as many musicians as I could get into the studio, learning the foundation of composing, arranging and mixing. I spent all of my spare time reading manuals, and being in music stores asking sales people technical questions . By the end of the 80s I had recorded some fairly serious sounding Techno / House tracks. Into the 90's I continued to DJ and experiment in the studio. I wrote prolifically with a House project duo, Boy's Life, as well as continuing to compose my own personal material. Around the mid 90's I constructed my professional studio in a funky Toronto downtown loft. I finally had a control room with proper acoustics, and a good size vocal booth, both fully equipped to do some serious song writing and recording. In the late 90's I teamed up with UK legend, DJ Paul Walker to explore a harder, more underground techno-type sound in the guise of Monogamy. In 1999 I decided to go solo and start a new House project. The sound of Shirtlifter took on a driving beat, speaker-busting basslines and a cool, funky feel. The sound I had been looking for. It felt right and people were beginning to respond. After two records, Dirty, Funky, House, and Fuel, and several singles, I now hear daily from people all over the world. Gid Up ( a gogga maha), from the first record was selected for inclusion on Locked In which was distributed by Klublife magazine with the participation of Smirnoff. The determination and hard work is finally paying off. With a growing network of support, my music just keeps getting better.

Group Members
Shirtlifter (Jeffrey Leclair), artist / producer

Instruments
Behringer EuroDesk, Mac 9500 450Mhz / 192ram / 13gigs, Cubase 4.0, Fostex D-5, Event Layla , Yamaha Burner, Opcode Studio 4, Akai ME30P, Technics SL-P1200, Marantz PMD 502, Akai S-900, Tascam 32, Sony TC765, Teac A-3440, 4 x Tascam 133, Ampex AG-44OB and AG-445B Recorder / Reproducer, Roland JV-1080 , Alesis Quadrasynth, Yamaha TG 77, Emax SE, Novation Bass Station, Yamaha TX 81Z, Yamaha RM-50, Korg Poly 800, Sound Canvas, Alesis SR-16, Boss DR-550, Roland MK II Octapad, Behringer Virtulizer, Yamaha Spx 90, Sony HR -MP5, Rocktron Stereo Chorus / Delay, Boss SE-50, BBE Unimax, Behringer Composer MDX2100, Behringer Composer Pro MDX2200, Alesis 3630, Ashley Dual Channel Compressor / Limiter, DBX 208 8-Channel Noise Reduction, Alesis MicroGate, Crest Audio FA601, Adcom GFA 535, Paradigm Mini Mark III, B&W DM100, K+H Telewatt, Koss PCM 225, 2 x Audio Technica AT 4033, Shure 588SB, Beyer Dynamic M88N(C), 2 x AKG K 240D, 2 x dbx PB-48, guitar, pipes, chains, handcuffs.

Albums
F O U R on the F L O O R e.p (1999) Dirty, Funky, House (2000-01) Fuel (2001-02)

Additional Info
A very special thanks to Lorne M÷wer and DJ Paul Walker.

Location
Toronto, Ontario - Canada

Chaz the Spaz
What are you currently working on?

S H I R T L I F T E R
I am currently in the studio working on my next album which should be due by the end of the year. I have changed my writing focus some what from the 'dance floor' to more of a 'listening audience', i.e.. radio friendly. It's kind of like Shirtlifter stepping out of the D.J. booth. I am looking for a more mature, live sound, I am really happy with outcome thus far. I hope my listeners are going to welcome the change who have been use to Shirtlifter's full on house sound with not a whole lot of deviation.
This record promises to explore the genres of House, Dance, Club, Lounge, Downbeat, Two Step, Industrial Electronic, and most likely others.
Over some time I have been toying with my own vocals but have never really taken them too seriously. On this record, I have written my own lyrics and performed them. This is a huge and exciting step for me as I finally have the confidence to do so. I think it adds a certain texture and flavour to my work that was not there previously, it seems to be that one final element I had been missing.
As an advance promotion for the record I have released a 2003 E.P. containing 5 songs. The release should be live on my page in the next 48 hours and available for listening.

Chaz the Spaz
You have an impressive instrument list, is everything set up, or mostly in storage?

shirtlifter.
Yes, everything is set up that appears on my current instrument list. However, there are a few dinosaurs in storage like several old atari's, a few Macs, some really cheesy mixers, and other things that will remain secret. I like to keep as much on hand as I can, you never know when you will need that special little some thin' an old synth or processor can bring to the table. Ok, Ok...I confess, I'm what you would call a gear pig... oink, oink!

shirtlifter.
That's it, that's all? Well, that was easy, thank you very much ... didn't even hurt a bit... loved hanging around so much, I took a picture.

Chaz the Spaz
Jeff, I usually ask one question at a time but since your INTERVIEW started a late I'll give you all the questions so far.
Practice makes perfect, do you practice?
What are your musical goals?
How did you pick the name Shirtlifter?
Can you tell us of some 'notorious' happenings at club Nuts and Bolts?

S H I R T L I F T E R
Practice makes perfect, do you practice?
Yes, I do with as much frequency as I can afford and that is quite often. You see, I am not a tube baby, soap operas make me crazy. Now, I consider practicing anything such as engineering, writing, or playing an instrument. The only way to hone your craft is with patience and practice. I am a firm believer in working every single day. If we do not give time to our craft we can not expect grow and blossom as an artist.

S H I R T L I F T E R
What are your musical goals?
Oh how silly, to have a number 1 Billboard hit of course and then...world domination. But most of all, continue making music that I believe in. If I love what I do, the rest will follow.

shirtlifter.
How did you pick the name Shirtlifter?
I was looking for a name that was slightly controversial. I am also fond of outrageous things.
In Europe, the name Shirtlifter has strong connotation describing a 'fag or homosexual' and here in North America very few people have a clue what it means. I found it ironic that a name had such a negative effect in one place and absolutely zero meaning in another. I had learned the word from close friend and fellow producer who hails from Manchester. He told me the name Shirtlifter signifies the action of men taking their shirts off in a gay club while dancing. I thought, what the hell, more power to em', must mean they are enjoying the music!!! So, Shirtlifter it is.

Chaz the Spaz
Haaaa! My impression was just the opposite, woman lifting their shirts, as in Girls Gone Wild.

S H I R T L I F T E R
Can you tell us of some 'notorious' happenings at club Nuts and Bolts?
Twisted, that's all I can say! That was the time disco was dying, everyone was fed up, burning records and such. People needed an outlet and Punk / New wave gave it to e'm in spades. I was always amazed by the angry and outrageous characters the likes of The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Cramps and Japan had spawned. It was a veritable freak show every weekend.
Of course, I had my own ideas on how to make people think. One of my favorite things to do while spinning was to crawl to the middle of the dance floor with a 50 foot extension on my phones. I would then lay on my back and do the 'squirm'. One night, after doing this for a while I looked up after a mix, wouldn't you know it, there was some guy spawled out (sans de phones), doing the same damn thing. So, if you ever see some dude or dudess doing the squirm, tell e'm I invented it!!!

shirtlifter.
Haaaa! My impression was just the opposite, woman lifting their shirts, as in Girls Gone Wild.
You see Chaz, it's all good!!!

S H I R T L I F T E R
The 2003 E.P. has just gone live.
Any comments you may have would be greatly appreciated.

S H I R T L I F T E R
Are we finished ??? I just cooked up some popcorn!!!

Chaz the Spaz
Your new music is very club oriented, have you played any of your music in clubs, and if so, how was it recieved?

S H I R T L I F T E R
I think the "FUEL" album is very club or 'dance floor' oriented. And yes, I have personally spun my own material in a club surrounding or there are other people giving it rotation. "Light My Fire (Shoo Be Doo Mix)", "I Wanna Funk" and "Alive" has been very well received.
"So Good" from Shirtlifter's first album Dirty, Funky, House has also faired very well on the floor, DJ Lafleche (sona) lost it for this track! DJ Paul Grace (boom tang boys) and Jelo gave some exellent exposure to "For Your Mind (body and soul)", from the same album.
As far as Shirtlifter's latest 2003 E.P. is concerned, I can see most of the tracks crossing over but it is primarily targeted at a listening audience. I had a radio market in mind, not just the 'dance floor' setting. It's much more up close and personal in retrospective and not so much yahoo, let's go, let's party.

S H I R T L I F T E R
Any more Q's from you Chaz my friend or any one else for that matter. Or, am I finished here?

S H I R T L I F T E R
Well....I guess that answers my question.
Chaz, thank you for taking the time to interview me. You have done a 'bang up' job with the Interrogation Station :INTERVIEWS.
Special thanks to my listeners.

Chaz the Spaz
You're welcome and thank you for participating, Jeff.
I only wish I had time to ask everyone more questions. All my free time in July was spent working on my idea, and needless to say, I fell behind on a lot of my regular activities.

MORE INTERVIEWS WITH CHAZ

  -- Rick Munarriz

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