Five Questions With… Felix Cartal
The Vancouver dance music DJ and producer is up for two Junos this weekend and is the house DJ for the awards broadcast. In this interview, he discusses that honour, his upcoming album, and the joys of playing in Kenya.
By Jason Schneider
Juno weekend is shaping up to be a special one for Vancouver’s own Felix Cartal. He is nominated in the categories of Producer and Dance Recording of the Year and is also the house DJ for the Juno broadcast on March 25.
This all caps off a stellar 2017 for Cartal whose breakthrough single, a cover of the New Radicals’ ‘90s hit “Get What You Give,” was recently certified Gold in Canada and racked up over 19 million streams globally.
Cartal is building on that momentum with a new single, “Runaway” featuring vocalist Regn, which offers an early taste from his forthcoming full-length album, due later this year on Physical Presents/Cadence Music.
With his dreamy and melodic yet dance-floor friendly sound, Cartal has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in modern dance music. His Spotify channel has garnered over 75 million streams, propelled by other tracks such as “Killing Time” with R3hab and “Get What You Give”’s b-side, “Hold Tight.” His edge seems to be an ability to convey complex emotions through his dance-oriented approach, which has led to full crossover success on many prominent charts. Following the Junos, Cartal will head to Las Vegas for a residency at Drai’s Beach Club kicking off April 8. For more info, go to felixcartal.com
First, congrats on the Juno nominations and the house DJ gig. What are you most looking forward to about this weekend?
Thank you! I can’t believe the timing—the year I’m nominated twice, and it happens in my city. It’s a bit surreal. I’m excited to DJ at the broadcast and ask Michael Buble for his song requests during commercial breaks. I’m also excited that my parents can come to the show and support.
You had a breakthrough with your version of “Get What You Give.” What was it that attracted you to that song?
It was one of those songs I grew up with that always felt like a soundtrack to my youth. When I got older and heard the lyrics again, it felt as if they became more important. Sort of like re-reading a classic piece of literature and you pick up on lots of subtleties that escaped you when you were too young to understand it fully. That’s what makes something timeless, and that’s what made me want to flip it in my own way. I wanted people to hear the song again, and I hope I did it justice.
Your new full-length album is coming out soon. What can you say about it at this point?
It’s the most personal piece of work I’ve ever put out. I wrote all the music and the lyrics with the vocalists and collaborated with a few songwriters to help express different aspects of my life. Mostly the record is a vehicle for the message that everyone should follow their creative dreams. It’s a grind, but if you’re not afraid to work hard, I feel anyone can do it. I want to help inspire people to do what they genuinely want to do.
What other projects do you have in the works for this year?
I've done a few remixes that will be coming out soon. The full album drops in May, and we have some music videos we’ve done. And we’re working on building a different kind of show to support the entire album. I’m feeling like it’s going to be a great year.
What’s your best touring story?
A few years ago I was doing a tour in the Middle East and South Africa. We had a few days off in between and got an offer to play in Kenya. We mostly played for the cost of getting there, but it was one of my favourite parties I’d ever done because I felt like we were playing in a place where a lot of touring artists never get to play. The fans went crazy, and I thought that they were appreciative of us being there. It was surreal. That’s what it’s all about, bringing music to people who appreciate it.