Espinet decided to gather some of his friends and connections to put together a party that would play music outside of the current music perimeters. He worked with DJ Starting from Scratch, and Jason Chambers, who are now legendary worldwide DJs; to put together an event called ‘Amnesia’.
The first-ever event was hosted at Granite Lounge Club and had a turnout of over 150 friends, as a result of proper planning, promotion and most importantly the DJs.
“My partners were relatively big DJs but, I renamed them,” says Espinet. “Starting From Scratch was already a huge DJ in the city and country, and Jason Chambers was very well known in the mix-tape circuit. I called them Mark G and Jason Chambers, that’s why Jason until this day is known as Jason Chambers.”
But soon, that successful night blossomed into several events that forever changed the music scene in Canada.
Espinet is one of Toronto’s most respected event producers with several high-profile events under his belt. He continues to provide people with what he calls ‘balance’.
“Before you had A Tribe Called Quest making music about girls, Common making conscious music, Public Enemy making political, and you still had Kool G Rap and Mob Deep making murder music, but there were different food groups and everyone was eating equally.”
Amnesia DJ’s play genres from New Jack Swing, Rock, Pop, and Hip-Hop. “If you put my DJs against DJs in other cities, just based on versatility they are the best,” he says.
Now celebrating its 15th anniversary, Amnesia is onto bigger and better things across the border. Expanding the retro party, and keeping Old School culture alive, Espinet joined with Freedom NYC Party, to host the first-ever Amnesia party in the U.S. on December 12, 2014.
Prior to the event, Espinet says he was flattered by the press releases calling Amnesia “North America’s Largest Old School Party.” With that expectation, he knows that his party will continue to grow across the U.S.
It’s no doubt that the title is well deserved. In the past, Amnesia has hosted the likes of Maestro Fresh-Wes, Bell Biv Devoe, Dru Hill, MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, Naughty By Nature, Michie Mee, and many more.
With so many well-known Mc’s, DJ’s and artists added to their profile, Espinet stands proud behind his decision to start a party for the old school music lovers.
“We were looking for something [in the clubs] and it wasn’t being serviced, so we did it. You have to be the change that you want.”
As traditionalists, each member who made Amnesia happen is stern on the belief of preserving music through the respect for the artists who came before.
“A culture without its roots can’t survive,” says Espinet. “When we celebrate the hip hop awards and such, we have to realize there was a time where we didn’t have respect, we weren’t televised and we were boycotted.”
Espinet says the importance of Amnesia is for music lovers to really pay homage and admire the pioneers of whatever genre of music they love.
“It’s ridiculous to say that you love something and not understand and know where it came from, so Amnesia in our little way is the defence of that culture.”
When you’re not focused on showing respect, the atmosphere generates a fantasy about your youthful days.
“Old school is in direct correlation to your teenage years. If you were 15 when Ashanti came out, it’s old school for you… that is when you were most musically attentive, you listened to the most, collected the most, and you learned dance moves as you watched music videos. Those are the greatest musical years of your life!”
15 years and going strong Amnesia will be celebrated Saturday, December 13th at Sound Academy with DJ Starting From Scratch and DJ Jason Chambers, plus An All-Star Line Up of 12 Surprise Performers, including the Legendary Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.
“We’ve made it acceptable to play certain types of music and DJ’s feeling comfortable playing things. Playing a Phil Collins record would’ve made you an outcast 15 years ago, but now it’s okay.”
From purchasing his first record by Fu Schnickens, to having them appear at his party is one of the many accomplishments Ian Espinet has achieved through Amnesia.
Espinet believes Amnesia will never become out-dated, but only better with time. As long as good music exists, Espinet and his team vow to continue bringing heritage back to life.
Amnesia: 15th Anniversary Celebration
The Sound Academy | 11 Polson Street
Saturday, December 13th, 2014
Doors Open at 10 PM
Tickets $30 in advance | More at the door
Music by DJ Starting From Scratch & DJ Jason Chambers
Hosted by Ian Andre Espinet
PLUS An All-Star Line Up of 12 Surprise Performers Including the Legendary Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five