When Havana Club asked us to find a local who’s becoming a major player in Montreal’s nightlife, we got in touch with Francis Di Stasio, a.k.a Ledisko, rising DJ and label manager for the locally-based Turbo Recordings. Ledisko greeted us at Turbo’s offices, where we caught a glimpse of their extensive collection of local gems and internationally-acclaimed pressings. Quality time calls for quality drinks – we cracked open a bottle of 3 Year Old white rum and sipped it neat while discussing Ledisko’s musical background, current projects, and love of Montreal.

Ledisko was born and raised in Montreal. After early involvement in the city’s dance scene and a brief stint studying film at Concordia, Ledisko completed a music business program at UCLA before returning home to make a few waves of his own. Ledisko is now sitting tight as the label manager for Turbo Records, the Montreal based label of the internationally renowned Tiga. You may know Turbo as the label that produced Chromeo’s first record and put other artists, such as Gesaffelstein, Duke Dumont, Proxy, and Azari & III, on the map. Ledisko’s role at the label is growing by the minute, putting him in prime position to discover new Montreal talent and influence the rapidly growing electronic music scene.

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When did you get into DJ’ing?
When I was younger, I hated the idea of clubbing. It was totally not my style. Then I found out about Neon shows, where you can dress up in jeans and sneakers. Everyone was cool. I remember being at Metropolis on the dance floor and looking up at the DJ and having no idea what he was doing and thinking, “that looks like a hell of a lot of fun.” I think it was DJ Mehdi; he always had this trademark smile. I started messing around and made some friends in the scene that had a residency at Blue Dog. My first night, I played from 10-11 on a Wednesday and all of my friends came out. I think what kept me going was that my first experiences were so great — right off the bat, people were dancing to the music.

What brought you into Turbo records?
I used to be more of an alternative kid. I listened to punk rock and ska. When I was in grade ten, Tiga gave a career day speech at my high school and, if you’re familiar with his humour, you can bet it was the most interesting event that day. That’s what introduced me to the music. Knowing that he went to the same high school as I did and that he’s a Montreal local made him one of my favourites. Much later, a friend lined me up with an internship at Turbo, which I did for two years. Then it was about being at the right place at the right time. One of my teachers at UCLA said that success is when opportunity meets readiness. This was the case when I returned from LA. A position opened up and I ended up in charge of running the label.

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There’s a reason you got this far. Do you know what it is that makes you relevant and how to stay relevant?
Musical trends come and go and, when something new arrives, I tend to get excited and dive into it more than some of the other stuff. Your style will fluctuate, but as time goes on you’ll eliminate certain specific sounds. It’s about being open minded and always on the hunt for what’s going on. It sucks to hear someone playing the same music as you, and it’s important for me to have music that other people don’t play. That’s why I like to buy vinyl-only stuff. Also, working at the label gives me exclusive access to music that might not otherwise see the light of day.

What makes the Montreal scene right for you?
Montreal is a good hybrid between a big city and a small one. When you go to the clubs in LA, nobody knows each other. Here, it feels homier. You run into people you know more often. There’s been some awesome developments in the scene, recently; a couple new venues that have really helped Montreal are Datcha and Stereo Bar. Since those two came in, it seems really good for me here. Before that, it was hard because the music I’m into wasn’t so popular and the venues that catered to that sound didn’t exist.

When you were younger, playing at Blue Dog with friends is what got you in. Have there been any nights since that really stood out?
Back when I was playing those small bars, it was tough. We’d have a lot of bad nights, but that’s where you learn. Since I’ve been back, every time I’ve played has been awesome gig after awesome gig. Every time I’ve played at Datcha has been bona fide stellar — no complaints, whatsoever. Everything falls into place, the crowds have been great and the vibes have been awesome.

Is there anything about Montreal that you love?
I can think of all the things that I don’t like right now: the system sucks, the roads are brutal, there’s no Mexican food anywhere. The weather is unbearable and the winter is coming, but I’m prepared. I just ordered crazy layers and long johns.

Stuff I love: Datcha and Stereo Bar —which has one of the best sound systems in north America and it’s the nicest looking club I’ve ever seen. I like Big In Japan. It’s really dope. Bottega makes the best pizza. And the culture amongst young people is really good; people here are smart and cultivated. People hustle here. There’s a lot of small venues and really good platforms for people to be heard. Anyone who has an original idea and wants to get into it, the opportunities are there. It’s like everyone has ADD now — I think it keeps things fresh. The scene is constantly evolving and there’s no old guard keeping people out. Anyone can step up and throw a party and there’s always new stuff going on.

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Ledisko is a monthly resident DJ at Datcha and is also part of Neon’s “Contrôle” night at Stereo Bar.

For a selection of classic Cuban rum cocktails and further information on Havana Club’s fine heritage of distilling, ageing, and blending premium rums, visit http://havana-club.ca/.