Greek DJ, producer and songwriter Stoim (aka Kostas Stoimenidis) has been busy carving a name for himself on the Toronto House scene for the last 20 years, since relocating there. As a DJ, he’s graced the decks at some of Toronto’s hottest spots as well as regularly playing in the USA and Europe.
Having recently turned his hand to producing, releasing his impressive debut single, ‘Forgive’, on Double Cheese Records, 6AM Digs Deeper to find out more about this up and coming talent…
Hi Stoim, it’s a real pleasure to chat with you today, how are you?
Thank you and likewise. All things considered during a global pandemic, I’m doing well!
Who or what first turned you on to DJing and writing music?
DJing was a natural progression deriving from my love of music. Experiencing club life as a teenager and witnessing the effect of a carefully curated soundtrack by the DJ piqued my interest to explore the art of selecting, programming and serving music that intrigued me, to share with my audience. As a child, I learned how to read and write music through classical piano studies. That gave me the confidence to write my own music, and years later complete my vision by writing lyrics to all my productions as well.
Who did you listen to growing up and do they influence your music career at all today?
From a young age I could be found digging through my father’s record collection and I became familiar with soul, funk and jazz from the 70s. I was exposed to the sounds of anyone from James Brown to Stevie Wonder to so many others. They definitely have an influence as they all have significant characteristics in the style of music they represent that moves and inspires me.
You have just released your brilliant new single ‘Forgive’ featuring Lee Wilson, please tell us a little about the release and how it sounds?
‘Forgive’ started with an 80s inspired baseline that turned into a soulful groove. The keys were added and gradually it turned to a deep house earworm. I wrote the lyrics with a very specific sound in mind and Lee Wilson delivered an emotional, heartfelt performance. He brought my vision to life!
You also have remixes from Coflo and Luyo, what did they bring to the table?
Coflo is someone who expresses himself through dance, and as a result brings a unique perspective in music production. He is very talented and has an innate ability to know what will make people move. Luyo is an experienced producer with a deep love for afro and soulful sounds. Also, as the head of Double Cheese Records, he has an uncanny ability to recognize what will resonate with the underground community. I feel very fortunate to have collaborated with such incredible talent.
How did you connect with Lee Wilson and will you be working together again in the future?
I was familiar with Lee Wilson’s previous work for a while now and always wanted to have him help me bring one of my projects to life. Thanks to social media, I was able to connect with Lee and quickly determined that he would be a great addition to my music. I am looking forward to working with him again in the near future.
Who else would you like to work with?
There is a long list of very talented people that I would love to collaborate with. Essentially people that are not afraid to think forward, step outside the norm, cross boundaries, and experiment with different styles and sounds. There are people I have looked up to for decades and the idea of working with them would be a thrill; but there are so many undiscovered yet immensely talented people that I can’t wait to share my creativity with as well. Time will tell!
Please tell us a little about your writing process and what inspires your songs?
It all starts from a captivating groove. Working on beats, then layering bass and guitar once I determine the chord structure. That creates the skeleton of the song. From there, I write lyrics to fit the work I’ve done musically. Lyrically, I’m inspired by human experiences…some may be my own, and others of people close to me. Human emotion and reaction is something I find very powerful and that can be observed in times of happiness, sadness, and self-exploration.
What’s your favourite piece of studio kit and why?
Without a doubt, Ableton! It has made music production accessible and easier than ever before to experiment. What was once an expensive and unimaginable feat is now possible!
As a relative newcomer to the production side of music, how has it been for you getting things started and what obstacles have you come up against?
As someone that hasn’t been formally trained in music production, this has been a journey of self-discovery. With that journey comes some realizations of where I have strength but also my areas of growth and opportunity. While it is easier than ever before to make and share music, an over-saturated industry has made it really hard to stand out since everybody has access to the same marketing and promotion tools.
As a DJ, you’ve played all over Toronto, USA and Europe, where was your favourite gig and where would you most like to play in the future?
Having shared half my life in Greece and the other half in Canada, it’s so hard to pick a favourite gig! I love the recognition North America provides for the performance and value of a DJ, however, it’s hard to beat the energy and excitement European lifestyle offers when it comes to club life. Truthfully in Europe there are less restrictions and therefore less inhibitions. People come as they are and let loose and that is a different level of recognition that you can observe.
What can we expect to hear in a Stoim DJ set?
I approach my DJ sets with an open-minded music policy, without bias against any genre, style or era. I always consider the crowd I am playing for, the location, the time slot, the environment and I select the music accordingly. I like to choose tracks that can stand on their own, played in their entirety. Every song must be of a certain quality and should be able to transcend a feeling. I don’t believe in fillers. As a fan of long DJ sets, I appreciate the opportunity of taking my audience on a musical journey across the spectrum without limiting myself to current trends or the ‘flavor of the month’.
Name a tune which never leaves your box?
Roland Clark’s ‘I Get Deep’ has been a staple in some remixed form for almost a decade now. But that’s just one that comes to mind over an extensive folder of tunes.
Who are your top 5 current producers?
In no particular order, I’d have to say Louie Vega, Doug Gomez, David Morales, DJ Spen, and Timmy Regisford.
How has COVID-19 affected your work?
There are two sides to this answer. My performances have been reduced significantly for the time being. This is difficult because I love performing and am energized by it. However, Covid19 has also afforded me the luxury of time which I did not have before. I have been very busy writing songs that I can’t wait to share with everyone and I have also been sharpening up my studio skills.
What else have you got coming up that you can tell us about?
In the next few months I have upcoming releases with Tracy Hamlin, Laura Jackson and Unkle Chriz that are currently in production. On top of that, a couple of projects with no lyrics that express the darker and edgier side of my music.