Chances are you’ve seen the carefully coiffed stache of Tyler Fedchuk behind the turntables. This man started up from nothing, and is now one of Vancouver’s most popular DJs. Besides playing weekly nights such as Night Shift! and Ice Cream Social, he is in charge of Radio Zero on CiTR every Friday, and started the well-known DJ collective 1/2 Alive with friends Tony X and Jason Sulyma (a.k.a. my!gay!husband!). I caught up with Fedchuk and we jived to the vintage tunes at Ice Cream Social. We headed to a laundry room tucked away in the back of Gastown’s Honey Lounge, cold Stellas in hand, to discuss his venture into the DJ lifestyle. Initially, his primary focus was saving for photography school, but spinning vinyl proved more fascinating and quickly won him over. His love evolved into a trip to New York where he met Nadine Gelineau, founder of CBC Radio Two’s Brave New Waves. “I talked to her and she kind of lit a ﬁre under my ass, and I came back to Vancouver, started a radio program, got a record label going and then, one thing led to another.”
“Yeah, I probably should have had some experience, somewhere, with that,” he joked in explaining how his record label, Gang of Youth, got started. “I did everything from scratch. It was super d.i.y. Then I made this really good mixtape to go along with that for the ﬁrst 25 people who bought the record from Juno Records in the U.K.; they got a copy of the CD. That was sort of the ﬁrst vinyl mixtape I ever made. It went over really well. The marketing director from MTV Europe emailed me saying how much he liked it, and I just thought that was really cool that he took that time out of his schedule.”
He learned the basics from Avi Shack, who is responsible for These Are The Breakson CiTR. He tried to mimic what Shack was doing with funk and hip-hop, but with New Wave, punk and disco records. “I ended up having this really strange style of mixing where I was using the start and stop buttons on the turntables instead of slip-cuing, and people thought that was strange,” he noted. “Nobody ever showed me how to do it so that was just what I thought worked the best.”
His passion for music matured into an idea that would revolutionize the Vancouver party scene. “I was really not impressed with the calibre of parties going on around town, so I just recruited my roommate, who was the only other person I knew that had Fridays off. I was just like Tony, here is a box of records, you’re gonna play these and I’ll play these ones here and we’re gonna start this party.” Thus, 1/2 Alive was born. The group was then joined by my!gay!husband! two months after its formation. It has since dissolved, but with the edits they turned out, they proved to be a powerhouse.
Fedchuk can be found at any local hotspot any given night of the week. He plays Ice Cream Social at Honey Lounge on Mondays and Night Shift! at the Astoria on Saturdays. Whatever he decides to bring to the swarming crowds at the shows he plays, he always goes in with a certain mindset. “I guess I like to frame it up depending on what is happening that night,” he quipped. “Depending on what I’m doing, I’d like to be as professional as possible. So depending on what kind of night it is, I approach it that way.”
Of course, preparation goes hand in hand with the night’s theme, but you won’t ﬁnd Fedchuk at a loss when it comes to new music. “I do a lot of reading. I get lots of records, albums, and plough through it. I mean, obviously I don’t DJ out thrash metal or psych music ever, except once in a while. But I mean I listen to a lot of oldies and disco and stuff like that as well at my house.”
Our meeting concluded all too quickly in the dank laundry room at Honey. I only had one piece of unﬁnished business: to join in the sock hop at Ice Cream Social and top off the night with a bowl of maple walnut.
Check out Fedchuk’s show, Radio Zero, on www.radiozero.ca