DJ Starting From Scratch is Taking Over Toronto this Weekend with 5 Epic Events

Twenty-five years in any business is cause for serious celebration.

For DJ Starting From Scratch, one of the world’s most respected DJs, marking a quarter century in business means a five-event, four-day celebration – and it kicks off tonight in Toronto.

The “Starting from Scratch” (or #SFS25) event series takes over the city with things like a talent-packed show tonight at Tattoo, a DJ-filled club night, a roast hosted by Scratch’s longtime friend Russell Peters, a post-roast after party (naturally), and a Sunday brunch (check out the full series line-up here).

Other famous friends to hop on board include Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, Shawn Desman, Keshia Chante, and DJ Jazzy Jeff, just to name a few.

There’s a lot to celebrate, after all.

Starting From Scratch has been on the airwaves on Flow 93.5 since 2001, has toured with Usher, and is now heard daily and on Saturday nights on Virgin Radio Toronto – while still touring the globe with Peters. We caught up with him to hear more about #SFS25.


What can we expect and what are you most looking forward to?
It’s really spread out over four days because I kind of had no choice, after being in the business for so long and forging so many relationships with artists, DJs, and comics. If I didn’t spread out the event, it would otherwise be a 9-hour day. What am I looking forward to the most? I know it sounds cheesy and cliché, but each event is so different and so special to me, so I’m really looking forward to all of them. Obviously the fun one – because I will get to show a different side of myself and everyone will get to attack me for a few hours – will be the roast. I’m looking forward to that. The concert in general will be totally different from the club night and the after party on Saturday, or the roast or the brunch.

What makes your event so unique, in your opinion?
I think it’s just the combination of the lineups. I think, to get everybody in one room is tough in general, and usually it’s a show of three or four people. Thankfully, everyone has agreed to do it based on the strength of our relationships. To pull off a show at Tattoo with so many artists and so many legends from our city is very hard to do. I think the reason everybody came together was a respect level on both sides; I respect what they’ve done, and they respect what I’ve done. It’s the same thing with the DJs; usually it would be too expensive to get these guys, but luckily, I’ve had good relationships with people. That’s the only way this could happen. Otherwise, it couldn’t happen on a realistic budget level.

Speaking of these long relationships with people, you’ve worked with Russell Peters for a while; what’s the best part about that?
I’d say the spontaneity. He is like a ticking time bomb; he never shuts off, and he also has the biggest heart in the world, so combine those together, and it’s always fun. We’re friends before we’re business partners, so he always takes care of me and vice versa, and he is super, super excited about this week because he gets to do a lot of stuff he doesn’t normally get to do. I can’t ask for much more seeing as who he is in the world right now and his stature. The fact that he’s so willing to come and do this for me this weekend is amazing.

Obviously it’s a reflection of your relationship with him, but do you think it’s also a reflection of his love for the city?
Absolutely. This event, I guess on paper, it is about me, but it’s way more than that. It is kind of a history lesson of 25 years of the Toronto music scene, and he was a huge part of it. He is obviously one of the first people I contacted to see if he was on board because he is a huge piece of my puzzle and right off the bat, he said whatever I need, he’ll do. He is the biggest name in the comedy world, and he always carries Toronto on his back. He never shies away from that and is super proud to be here too.

In your whole 25 years, what has been a career highlight?
Obviously, the Russell stuff, but I think the Usher tour really struck home for me because he’s obviously a superman in the music business and the way it kind of all happened was very organic. He kind of saw me and what I did, and a couple of weeks later, I was on tour with him. He really put a lot of faith in me on the tour, and I was really the backbone of his night. I had solos, we did stuff together on stage, and he put a lot of trust into me. That really brought me out of my element and turned me into a different person. He made me more aggressive and confident in what I’m doing. So, I think that was a huge turning point in my career.

Do you think the club scene has changed for the negative as opposed to how it was back in the day?
For me, it’s negative. Others may see our scene from back in the day as negative. It’s just a different vibe and I think people go out for different reasons. The music has changed so much; it’s not really party music anymore. It’s not really music made for a guy and a girl to go out and dance together anymore. It’s more separated – it’s more of a high school dance feel when you go out now than it was. Back in the day, people would show up earlier, they came for the right reasons, and they actually partied and had fun. Now, it’s more of a showcase; it’s more of a models and bottles type vibe.

What’s the best thing about Toronto right now?
Diversity has always been the first, and that plays out on so many levels. Musically, I think you can do anything you want in Toronto with anybody at any time if you do it properly. We have things like the NBA All-Star Game coming, I mean; the city has a huge buzz right now. People always have been looking at us, but now they have no choice but to look at us. In general, Canadians are dominating the music world, and it’s a lot of the new guys. But there are a lot of people who have put in the work and made it possible for the Drakes and so forth to be on the worldwide scene…it’s going to be nice for them to get a shot for people to see who they really are this weekend.