Self-Portrait: Pacific Rhythm


It’s no easy feat to permeate the dance music aether over in Europe when you’re living on the other side of the world. But Vancouver-based DJ and “dance opportunity facilitator” Derek Duncan AKA DJ D.Dee has managed to bring the sounds of his stomping ground to a wealth of discerning listeners across the pond with his Pacific Rhythm imprint.

Alongside co-founder Early, Derek started the label in 2013 with a mission to share some of the music surfacing from the city’s underground scene. Their first transmission came in the form of Rhythms Of The Pacific, the first in what would become a long running series of V/A releases showcasing local talent. As the label grew, so did the roster, adding releases from Canadian artists who have since become regular fixtures on the lips of promoters, labels and music lovers across the pond. Including the likes of D.Tiffany, Unknown Mobile, Flørist and Neo Image, Derek and Early have built a close-knit family around the label that brings that innate, personal quality that some labels can lack these days.

We invited him to give us a taste of what the future holds for Pacific Rhythm with an unreleased mix of forthcoming material, alongside an interview about the label’s beginnings through to the present day…

Pacific Rhythm began life in 2013 as an online record store and distributor. Can you tell us a bit about where the idea came from to start the label? What’s the philosophy behind it?

At the time Vancouver’s underground scene was really starting to bubble and so much music was being made (and still is). I wanted to put together a compilation that showcased the diverse and original sound coming out of the city and that’s how the Rhythms Of The Pacific series began. I was grateful to cross paths with Alan from Honest Jon’s right around the time the first release was coming together and they graciously offered to press and distribute the record for us. It all came together quite naturally. Right time, right place I suppose!

The label serves as a platform to showcase music from Canadian artists and has helped break artists over the pond. Can you talk us through the close-knit family you’ve built around it? 

I’ve never released a record from somebody I haven’t met in real life or at the very least had a long standing relationship over email and telephone with. I guess that likely has something to do with the close-knit nature of it.

I mentioned in an interview I did with Groove Magazine a few months back that we’ll be “opening up” the label and releasing music from friends in the USA and overseas in 2020. I think it’s important to grow as a label and mix things up a bit. Things will definitely remain very tight though, I think it’s very important to know the people behind the music you’re putting out and I am always a bit wary of labels that just scoop up random demos. I guess it always comes back to the old saying “different strokes for different folks” though.

As a younger label, are there any labels that you look up to or have inspired you along the way?

Yes, many! Here’s some of my favourites in no particular order: Prescription, Mood Hut, Music From Memory, Seance Centre, Invisible City, Planet Trip, STROOM, Naff, Temple, Underground Quality, Acting Press, Peoples Potential Unlimited, World Building, Planet Euphorique, Be With, Superior Elevation, and many, many more.

Since starting Pacific Rhythm what has been the greatest difficulty you’ve had to overcome?

Hm! Probably running a record label from the edge of the continent a million miles away for the global centre of the dance music world. There’s always been a pretty major leap of faith in our distributors to get the records out into the right places but I think they’ve always managed to do a really decent job of it. I’d love to be a lot more hands on in that department but shipping from Canada is incredibly expensive and the bulk of the record buying public lives overseas or in the USA so it doesn’t make much sense from a financial standpoint. Thank god for the internet.

And the greatest achievement?

Still being around seven years later and being able to sell people music and t-shirts that say “Stay Out Late It Feels Great!” for a (partial) living.

What’s coming up on the label? Any releases we should know about?

Yes, lots! We have Active Surplus’ debut EP coming out next month on May 22. Two of the tracks from that EP are featured on the mix I recorded for you. After that we’ve got two tapes coming out from Digital Rain Systems and Corben. There’s some of that material featured on the mix as well. After that we’ve got a handful of other 12″s and a really special LP in the works. It’s looking like it will be our busiest year for releases since we started back in 2013.

This mix is comprised of 100% original Pacific Rhythm material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?

They’re all quite special to me but I guess if I had to choose I’d say “Luckey” by Jesse Futerman & Beverly Glenn-Copeland. It’s something else and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to release something from such a legendary Canadian musician.

The track-list for the mix is below. Be on the lookout for these releases and more on Pacific Rhythm in 2020.

Corben – An I, For I
Corben – Go On
Active Surplus – One Beyond
Kennedy – Inter-Atlantic
Active Surplus – Meera
Jesse Futerman featuring Beverly Glenn-Copeland – Luckey
Digital Rain Systems – Blade Hits

Anything on the horizon you guys are excited about?

It sure would be nice to eat at a restaurant and go to a party someday soon. Otherwise I’m just excited to wake up and work on music and other interesting projects everyday. Life is something special!

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