Mary Velo has a fierce and unrestrained back-catalogue of warehouse thumpers behind her. The Toronto-raised producer has made notable impacts on labels such as Frozen Border and Att Series, disoriented 4/4 and twisting, discordant melodies perfectly suited to mind-bending, early-hour trips. As a DJ herself, Velo has become well-versed at creating music which balances functionality with densely interwoven melodic textures.
Her latest excursion comes in the form of ‘The Examination Of Witnesses’ EP, which as the title suggests could easily soundtrack the latest colour-drained Nordic detective series. Alongside the stuttered hi-hats, thudding bass and clattered snares, Velo deploys ghostly swathes of ambience, and reverberant industrial sonic oddities.
With the release having been out for several months and an upcoming 12” split with Advanced Human and Headless Horseman, we decided to invite Velo to contribute to our That Time When series, discussing five of her most memorable gigging experiences.
I remember when first time I was asked to play at Berghain, I was so excited I was literally shaking! It’s the best club in the world in my opinion and I was going to play there. I was unable to sleep for weeks. I was nervous that something would stop working or I would have a heart attack! When the day finally came, I was lucky enough to have one of the best set times - 7pm on the Sunday, right before Rodhad. During my set, I was just thinking how cool it is to see the club and people from the DJ booth. I realised I was nervous for no reason as it was my best DJ set ever! It was packed, everyone was into it and so was I. I basically just said to myself ‘it can’t get any better than this’.
The Bunker crew from Melbourne are a great bunch promoting techno all the way in Australia. They asked me to come down and play. I have never been to Australia due to the fact I didn’t think I could survive the long plane ride, as well as those huge spiders you hear about over there. So not only was I excited about DJing in Australia, but this was maybe the only time I could go there. So around 30 hours later, I landed in Melbourne during the day, hung out in the city and played the same night. I thought maybe I should sleep, but I just couldn’t. Later that night the bunker guys and I went out for dinner and drinks. I had this fancy coconut with an umbrella and I felt ready to party! It was four hours and I loved every minute of it! Everyone there was so friendly and there’s a really good scene over there! I loved Melbourne so much and can’t wait to go back there!
I fell in love with Depeche Mode in the early ’80s but never got to see them live until 2001. That’s a pretty long time not seeing your favourite band! I don’t know why I didn’t see them earlier but I heard they were coming to Toronto and quickly got a ticket. The venue was the Molson Amphitheatre which is outdoors, the sound was not the greatest because of this but the show they put on was breathtaking! They had an amazing set up and the visuals were beautiful. Martin [Gore] was looking so cute wearing his white wings! I have seen Depeche Mode a few times since, and each time I’m in awe, but this was the best show I have ever been to. If you have never been to a Depeche Mode concert, I strongly recommend it!
Oh Motörhead… I never considered myself a huge fan until I saw them play live back in June of 2000. The only reason I went to see them was that my friends were going and they had an extra ticket. I figured I should join them, and I was so glad I did!
The opening band ‘Nashville Pussy’ - they were playing really hard. Their music is described as ‘psychobilly, southern rock, cowpunk and sleaze rock’. I was really into punk back in 2000… Motörhead finally came on and I was up in front when the mosh pit started, but I had these huge guys behind me who I felt were protecting me, which was great considering my size. So I was right under Lemmy, man he is such a bad ass! The whole atmosphere was different from the other punk/rock shows I’ve been to which in general had a younger crowd. Most of the people there were older and it felt like what a real punk/rock show should be like. RIP Lemmy!
I decided to include the show that disappointed me the most - Madonna in October 2005, in Toronto. I must admit, I grew up listening to Madonna in the ’80s and ’90s and sadly didn’t get to see her during her good days.
So there I was thinking this was going to be her last ever concert… I wanted to get the best seats I could no matter how much it cost. So $300 later, I got a space on the first row to the side. I had to go alone because none of my friends cared about her.
There’s not much I can say about the show, except that it was my most expensive, disappointing and boring concert ever. After watching her earlier shows from the ’90s on video, you can see that she really has changed a lot… for the worse. At this one everything just seemed superficial and cheesy. I should have saved my money!