DJ Praiz has been a staple in the Whistler club scene for over a decade now, but this year he's decided to step out of the bubble.
Not only did he release his debut EP, Sleight of Hand, last month, but he's also delved into the world of social media. "I have the EP on Spotify (and online), now I just have to get people to go to it," says Praiz, a.k.a. Akber Taimuri. "It's like, 'Let's market it.'"
To that end, in the last couple of months, Taimuri has beefed up his Instagram feed with high-quality videos showcasing his talent at the turntable. Alongside promoting his new release, they've also earned him some attention.
"I haven't done a technical scratch in a while; I can scratch pretty technical," he says. "A couple of scratch blogs hit me up and they'll share some of the videos."
Taimuri first moved to the West Coast from Montreal back in 1998. While he had been in a successful jazz-based turntable band in Quebec, he kept finding himself pulled back to the resort. "Whistler had its party vibe," he recalls. "I did waves where I started coming to Whistler in the early 2000s and I went back to Montreal and went to business school... I was just going back and forth for four years."
He made fast friends with local DJs like Mat the Alien and Chili Thom, using his musical skills to launch into the scene. "People were like, 'Hey man, wanna do a set?' I'd go all out and use my musical background and put it all together," he says. "Whistler (became) a homebase and people who just saw me play would network from there."
He quickly built up a busy schedule performing live, both in Whistler and on tour — though he never really had an urge to record. In that way, Taimuri's sets remained special; one-night-only, in-the-moment, never to be heard in exactly the same way again.
"I guess it took some time for me to sit down and focus," he says. "I knew I was capable of putting out my own stuff; I was just focusing on the DJ side of things. What I could've done more is document more, share more and use the internet more to my advantage instead of just living in the present and being like, 'That was a pretty amazing set, but I don't have that recorded.'"
But that's all changed now with the release of Sleight of Hand. The three-song release features all-original music with the hypnotic opener "Tuke" to the upbeat, jazz-inflected "Driving" and the made-for-the-dance-floor closer, "Van Gritty."
"Everything on the EP is not samples; it's all played on the synthesizer," Taimuri says. "It's not MIDI control software, it's all two synthesizers."
The goal now is to spread the word. "As soon as people grab onto it and post it, that's when I think it will really catch on. Now it's time to expand and enjoy getting it out there," he says.
To hear the album visit www. djpraiz.com/index.html.
You can also catch his weekly residency at Garfinkel's in Whistler every Thursday.