If your ears work, you
can’t not have fun
at a Smalltown
DJs gig. That’s
a scientific fact.
Look it up.
The Canadian duo’s uncanny ability to make crowds
feel like schoolkids at recess stems naturally from their
focus on maximizing fun for themselves.
“We’re just out to consistently have the best time possible,”
says Pete Emes, who shares space behind the
decks with partner Mike Grimes. This fun maximization
philosophy is the unifying force behind the Smalltown’s
genre-warping club sets, which cover vast musical territory
but never veer from the good times vibe.
Smalltown DJs began in 1999, when Emes and Grimes
started playing records out together. Before long the
duo had launched Hai Karate, a weekly Thursday
smash-up that’s still going strong. Now in its twelfth
year, Hai Karate is a free-for-all dance party that borrows
a little from each of the scenes that shaped the
Smalltown sound: community hall punk rock, block
party hip-hop and early nineties rave.
The long-running night is now hosted at HiFi Club, the
Calgary nightspot that the Smalltowners opened with
a partner in 2005. In 2011, they added to their clubland
empire with Commonweath Bar & Stage, a much larger
venue that has already become a linchpin of Calgary’s
When they’re not deejaying or tending to their businesses
in Calgary, you can usually find Smalltown
DJs on the road headlining shows and performing at
festivals throughout North America and Europe. You
can also find them on the airwaves. On Scion Radio,
Emes and Grimes host a bilingual radio show called “Le
Gros,” alongside fellow Canadian deejay, Neoteric. CBC
Radio 3 also called on the boys to deejay a set for its
inaugural podcast featuring all-Canadian electronic and
At the same time, Smalltown DJs stay busy on the
production side of things, putting out dancefloor-friendly
music both as a duo and as members of Smalltown
Romeo, the trio they formed with Wax Romeo in 2010.
“Boom Ha,” Smalltown Romeo’s breakout single, was
recently featured in the box office hit The Sitter starring
Jonah Hill, and the trio has made a pile of notable
remixes, including ones that saw release on Fool’s Gold
records (owned in part by A-Trak) and Teenage Riot. As
a duo, Smalltown DJs have upcoming releases slated
for Top Billin, T&A Records, Sol Selectas, and Bigfoot
(their own label). Not surprisingly, the squad’s production
style resembles their approach to deejaying – polymorphous,
party-focused and pretension-free.
Smalltown DJs’ quest to maximize fun for themselves
and others is an ongoing saga. They continue to tour
relentlessly. Look for them in your town soon.