Good People Finish First

By Charelle Evelyn on February 26 2013

Pete Emes and Mike Grimes are anything but small town. The pair, who have
been spinning together since the late 90s are some of Canada’s best
exports on the dance music scene and can be found on the road
in North America and Europe playing some of the world’s biggest

They were also tapped to co-host Scion Radio’s Le
Gros with fellow Canuck Neoteric and deejayed a set for
the inaugural CBC Radio 3 podcast featuring all-Canadian
electronic and dance music.

But the duo, billed as Smalltown DJs, still run the
weekly Calgary dance party they started 12 years ago,
Hai Karate.

“We’ve had the opportunity to move away,” said
Emes, but for them that wasn’t an option. “The scene
supported us, the people recognize what we’re trying
to do and accomplish and they have respect for it – and
we have a lot of respect for people who support us in

A lack of ego and love of music have helped make the
Smalltown relationship work over the years.
“We were able to drop our egos on the business side
pretty quickly,” Emes said. “If you’re not willing to do
that sometimes, that can definitely hurt a working relationship
between friends.”

And their relationship is anything but hurting. In addition
to music, the pair runs Calgary nightspots the HiFi
Club as well as Commonwealth Bar & Stage.
“It started out as DJing, but now it involves production
and also operating the bars here where we’re able
to book the bands and music we love,” Emes said. “It’s
all centered around the music.”

When the pair first got together, it was because they
were playing the same kinds of music and it made more
sense to team up, Emes recalled.

“To talk about it now, it seems silly to say we were
playing funk and soul and disco and hip hop and house
and club music all together,” he said. “But at the time
that was rare and now it’s pretty commonplace. It took
years for that to become the norm.”

What has also become the norm is teaming up with
other acts.

“It’s always fun to pair musically with different
people,” Emes said.

This winter, the duo is hitting the road and pairing up
with Team Canada DJ Grandtheft for the Good People
tour, which lands at Heartbreakers in Prince George on
Dec. 1.

The Toronto-based multi-hyphenate act was one-half
of the 2010 Winter Olympics’ official DJ crew and spinner
to the stars. He has also supported bands such as
U2 and Arcade Fire.

‘[Grandtheft] is kind of on a similar path that we are.
He’s the east coast version of us,” Emes said. “When
we get in the studio, we’re really on the same page.”
New York’s T&A Records will release the Good People
EP Nov. 20.



Journalist, west coast native, music lover. Made in Canada.

WGO2013Norm Coyne